Smile Politely

Meet dream-grunge band LLO LLO

When I first heard LLO LLO’s song “Rabbit’s Moon” I was floored. The song explodes right from the start with a wall of sound and a distorted guitar riff cutting through, only to quiet back down for the hushed vocals to come in — think My Bloody Valentine’s “Sometimes” meets Perfume Genius’ “Describe.” However, to even compare LLO LLO’s music to others would be a moot point. While they have only three songs out on streaming services, all three give off completely different vibes but yet manage to sound cohesive and unified. The band consists of Johnny Cummings (rhythm/lead guitar, vocals), Dominic Folino (drums), Grant Goode (bass), and Shane Morris (rhythm/lead guitar, vocals). I got to sit down with the band over Zoom to learn more about them ahead of their Friday show opening up for Bartees Strange and Ganser. 

Smile Politely: So the first question I have to ask is, how do you pronounce the name of the band?

Johnny Cummings: [Laughs] we get that a lot, it’s actually pronounced “yo-yo,” the double ‘L” makes a “Y” sound like in Spanish. But we like it because it kind of gets people talking about us!

SP: You are from Chicago right?

Cummings: Yeah. I used to go to school in Champaign-Urbana, so I go back and forth between here and Chicago a lot. We’ve been building a following down here playing house shows and DIY shows and such. We are mostly Chicago based but definitely have a home here in C-U. One thing we love about Urbana is that it is so open to bands. Chicago is tough to make a name for yourself, but Urbana is always like “come on in!”

SP: When did LLO LLO form? 

Cummings: Three months ago? June I think, around the beginning of the summer. Dominic and I have been playing together since we were juniors in high school,but we started jamming in January after our former band broke up. Grant hit me up and said “me and Shane are looking to jam” and we were like, this is perfect! 

Grant Goode: I had played with Dominic a few times, so we’ve all kind of played together and known each other for a while. 

Shane Morris: Grant and I have been playing together since high school, we’ve known each other since we were little kids. I think the band kind of formed seemingly “post-pandemic” even though we’re not really post-pandemic. We saw shows were happening again and we were like, “we’re hungry to play, we all know each other, let’s start a band!”

SP: You have three songs out right now on streaming services. Is there an album in the works?

Cummings: Not an album right now, I think we are just thinking about a lot of singles right now.

Morris: Yeah, singles, an EP, maybe two EPs. We have lots of tunes we are playing and writing. I think all of our songwriting chops are different, so we all come in with different ideas, so everyone puts their own little spin on it. 

SP: Yeah because the songs that are out right now, they all have these different vibes and feelings, but they work together well. Is that an example of everyone bringing something different to the table?

Morris: Johnny kind of wrote those three that are out right now, I don’t think Grant or I played on those recordings at all. We are working on some tunes right now that everyone is playing on. Personally I think our voice is a little different from what is out right now — not to say that “Rabbit’s Moon” and “Let Me Know” aren’t good and fun to play — but we are really excited for what we are writing collaboratively, we are really proud of it. 

Goode: It’s cool because it’s like there are these three songs that Johnny and Dom wrote before we were in the group, and when we start putting out the new stuff, it’s going to be music that Shane and I helped write as well, so it’ll be a cool progression. 

Cummings: Yeah we’ve been writing a lot of tunes kind of similar to “Rabbit’s Moon” and “Let Me Know pt. 2,” kind of what we like to call “dream grunge.” With “Rabbit’s Moon” that’s the direction we kind of want to continue heading in, just that heaviness. 

Goode: Yeah that is probably my favorite to play live because it’s so loud and heavy and then you can really bring it down when the vocals kick in at the softer parts. 

Morris: Yeah it’s also very “riffy” — riff heavy stuff. People will hear it and be like, “okay these guys can actually play guitar” [laughs]

The band plays on stage, with Shane playing a green guitar, Johnny singing into the microphone, Dom playing drums, and Grant playing bass.

Photo by Mike Monaco

SP: Is it safe to assume you’ll be playing some new songs at the Bartees Strange show? How are you guys feeling about that show?

Cummings: Absolutely we’ll be playing new stuff. We can’t wait for the show Friday. We were supposed to play a show at U of I this last weekend, but we got a message at the last minute that someone at the house got COVID. Obviously we understand, but we were really bummed. We were doing the Charlie Brown sad walk [laughs]. But we’re so excited to be playing again. 

SP: Where can people keep up with you?

Cummings: Instagram, it’s primarily the only place we have right now. It’s @doublello. It’s mostly just Shane doing goofy things. 

Morris: Pure goonery, as we like to call it.

SP: Anything else you want people to know?

Morris: We’re just looking to have fun! We are just happy to be here, we love meeting new people, making friends, playing shows, and just being buds!

Check out LLO LLO on Apple Music and Spotify, and listen to “Rabbit’s Moon” on Youtube below. Follow them on Instagram.

Catch them on Friday, September 10th opening up for Bartees Strange and Ganser at the Rose Bowl Tavern. Find tickets here

Top photo by Mike Monaco.

Music Editor

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