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Lucid Nation

Grunge riot grrrl rock punk female vocalists

    The band started in Los Angeles in 1994, when founding drummer, Debbie Haliday, met Tamra Spivey and Ronnie Pontiac. Tamra and Ronnie were already playing in a band called Cat Cult, which was short lived. The three soon formed Lucid Nation and in no time they had their first live gig, a fundraiser for a riot grrrl art collective known as Revolution Rising. The show was at a club called Cell 63, and they were opening for two local riot grrrl bands.

    Their next show was in a downtown LA art gallery opening for Team Dresch, next a show opening for Bikini Kill in Montebello. Lucid Nation toured the West Coast next, playing seven riot grrrl conventions in one summer.

    Unfortunately, Debbie Haliday, after her apartment was ransacked and a gang member was shot dead in the doorway to her apartment building, decided to move back to Florida for college. Tamra soon compiled the band's work thus far and put out an album titled The Stillness of Over (1997). The album reached #11 most added on the CMJ charts.

    Tamra Spivey on The Stillness of Over: "'The Stillness of Over' has a triple meaning. Obviously it refers to the exit of Debbie, and also to the end of the golden age of riot grrrl. But 'The Stillness of Over' is also the instant when a hurdle is cleared."

    The last track of the CD featured a guest drummer, Nick Romero (of The Limeys), who joined the band right after Debbie left and Lucid Nation pushed on.

    After Debbie left the band, Nick became a temporary drummer for the band. They were most often playing Impala in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. They focused on improvisation, including lyrics. When Nick left, Erin McCarley took over on drums. Tamra had met Erin in an online riot grrrl newsgroup. Erin was also in charge of the first riot grrrl chapter in the O.C.. At this point, Erin introduced the band to the peace punk scene, and the band thrived on the diverse and more peaceful environment (as opposed to the rather charged riot grrrl scene). It was 1998, and they released their second album, American Stonehenge. source 2

    While on their national tour though, Erin had to fly home, and the band had to replace her. They turned to Tia Sproket, formerly of Sexpod, who was on a break from touring with Luscious Jackson. After the tour, the band (Tamra and Ronnie) decided to invite Tia to write and record with them back in L.A. Also, Tamra's old bassist teacher, Margaret "Grit" Maldonado (bassist from Girl Jesus), began playing with them. Guitarist Danette Lee (formerly of Butt Trumpet) was also added and once Tia arrived Christmas 1998, the group of musicians known as Lucid Nation began to record. They shortly began to record and were close to signing with Danny Goldberg's Artemis Records, but faced with a decision between mixes made by Neil Perry (who had worked with Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins) or Nitebob (who has worked with Iggy and the Stooges, New York Dolls, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper) and Mike Barile (who works with Candiria), they decided to go with the latter two and began mixing in Unique Studios on Time Square, where Tupac was shot. The studios are gone now.

    Unfortunately, before this group of musicians could perform their first gig together in Olympia, Washington at the Capital Theatre as Lucid Nation, the band imploded and did not sign with Artemis Records. However, the band put out a CD in 1999 of those recordings titled DNA. The band name after that was often displayed with a capitalized DNA in the middle: luciDNAtion. Alternative Press singled out the song "Las Vegas the Instrumental" when Lucid nation was included in their 100 Bands You Need to Know: 2002. source 3

    In 2000 they put out another collection of recordings from the same sessions called Suburban Legends, a totally improvisational album. The band proved uncommonly in tune with each other, notably on the track Bad Seed/Yellow Light. The album was the least popular Lucid Nation album on college radio stations. However, the album got the attention of Randy Roark (assistant to Allen Ginsberg for sixteen years) who was interested in Tamra's writing. source 4

    In February 2001 the band recorded a live show at the famous college radio station KXLU, in L.A. during one of the worst storms Southern California had ever seen. The gig would become their fourth album. The only members of Lucid Nation left over from the previous group of musicians were Tamra and Ronnie (two of the three original members). The rest of the band at this time consisted of the following:

    John Sellers on bass.
    Troy Taroy on guitar.
    Liam Philpot on saxaphone.
    Craig Waters on drums.
    The album was named Nonpoetic Rain:Live on KXLU and distributed in a limited edition of just one hundred home made signed CDs. source 5

    In 2002 the band came out with a double CD named Tacoma Ballet. Patty Schemel (of Hole) played drums and Greta Brinkman (of Moby's backing band) was on bass. Larry Schemel of The Flesh-eaters and Midnight Movies played guitar. Diane Naegel was recruited on keyboards and Lucid Nation recorded the whole album up in Tacoma, Washington at Uptone Studio. There were no rehearsals, and Diane had never played with a band before. The band recorded forty-eight tracks, thirty-two of which ended up on the album. Recording ended on Septemper 10, 2001. After some rearrangement, the songs were revealed to depict a story about a girl who realized she was living a lie.source 6 source 7 Tacoma Ballet was broken into two discs of sixteen songs each. The first was labeled What is the Answer? and the second one was named What is the Question? (inspired by the final words of Gertrude Stein). The album gained critical praise from Rolling Stone, Magnet Magazine, Randy Roark and moreTacoma Ballet hit #8 most added on the CMJ charts in July 2002.

    Lucid Nation has purposely avoided mainstream success and expressed a desire to stay out of the mainstream, but Tacoma Ballet did bring them somewhat into the spotlight of small college and commercial stations, known as the secondary market in the music business. There was a chart to measure those stations, called the New Music Weekly Combined College Radio and Secondary Chart (aka NMW Chart). By November, Lucid Nation had broke through to the top five on the NMW Chart and reached #1 by December 2002, after six months of slowly climbing. An example of a local radio station chart with Lucid Nation on its charts can be found here: KCPR, but this is not the NMW Chart, only an example of Lucid Nation on a chart in 2002.

    2004 saw the release of Mung Jung Bushi with Jean Smith on guitar and David Lester of Mecca Normal on guitar. Also on MJB was LaFrae Olivia Sci on drums and keyboard. There was no vocals on this album. The album name 'mung jung bushi' was thought up by Jean, and is a rough combination of Chinese and Japanese meaning "grumpy dance".

    In 2005 Lucid Nation put out a 'best of' album named Public Domain: The Best of Lucid Nation. This compilation featured songs spanning the entire career of Lucid Nation. Also on the CD Was a song titled FUBAR, which Lucid Nation collaborated with Jody Bleyle of Team Dresch and Hazel on. This song was originally created for the P.E.T.A. compilation called Fat Wreck, but rejected because it was too "raw". Denise Saffren signed on to play drums on FUBAR as well.

    Throughout the band's career, the only two members of Lucid Nation who have stayed with the band since 1994 are Tamra Spivey and Ronnie Pontiac. Tamra Spivey continues to be the band leader, operating the band's official Myspace and Lucid Nation's official web page.

    In January of 2006, Tamra Spivey also began a process she named The Hundred Song March. With the help of Jonathan Krop for programming, Tamra began to post one song every day for about one hundred and fifty days, starting in January. The songs are being posted chronologically, from least recent to most recent. They are all available for free download by MP3, RSS and podcast. The HSM was created for kids who could not gain access to Lucid Nation music. Since Lucid Nation's music is mainly sold online, a vast amount of potential listeners were missing out, and Tamra wanted to open her band up to them. Along with posting the songs to download, Tamra also writes a paragraph or two for each song about the song's meaning, the process of creating the track and the musicians featured. The songs are broken up into 'Episodes' which consist of the albums and a brief history of that particular time in Lucid Nation's life.

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