Experimental jam band Lotus has never really played by conventional rules. Possessing a strange but purposeful mix of funk, jam, ska, electronic and punk, Lotus writes tunes that appeal to a wide range of audiences, and has been doing so for over a decade. After spending 2014 largely off the road, the band, located in both Denver and Philly, tours behind its most recent release Gilded Age in early 2015.
But before that, they'll help ring in the New Year with a series of dates leading up to the big day, including two nights at the Electric Factory on Dec. 27 and 28.
"It's been a while since we played Philly," said Jesse Miller, bass, sampler and Philly resident. "We did Jam on the River Memorial Day weekend, otherwise we haven't played here. It's nice when I can ride my bike to a show."
Despite not having a strong live presence in Philly over the past year, the fivesome — also including Mike Greenfield, drums, Luke Miller, guitar, keys, Chuck Morris, percussion and Mike Rempel, guitar — has spent time in town at Fishtown's Miner Street Recordings, recording Gilded Age.
"They have a nice tape machine," Miller said. "They understand the old school/new school, analog, digital, kind of hybrid that we do. We always like to take advantage of old methods with a slightly updated aesthetic."
Most of the Lotus writing and recording process toys with the old school/new school aesthetic with a majority of the composition taking place either in Philly by Miller or in Denver by his twin brother Luke, electronically transferring ideas as they work on them. By the time the group heads to the studio, members tend to gather around and just hit "record."
"For the most part, we just get the whole band together and play the whole thing," Miller elaborates. "It has a pretty live feel to it."
Which for fans of Lotus — who've likely seen them live, the band's largest calling cards has been its ability to draw crowds and gain fans via word of mouth — is one of the biggest draws to the group's music: the expansive tours, sets and improvisation.
"People are harassing us all the time to play this ultra-obscure thing that we stopped playing 10 years ago," he said of diehard Lotus fans. "That's just the nature of this type of music when people dig more and more into it."
With sets that draw upon a range of 80-115 songs per tour, according to Miller, fans can expect to hear something the maybe haven't heard before, or arranged in a way they haven't heard yet.
There will be many opportunities to experience all the illustrious genre-fusing wonder of a Lotus show in 2015, as the band is gearing up for its longest tour in months, departing in late January and wrapping things up in early March.
"There's definitely something about playing five, six nights a week. Yes, it is exhausting, but sometimes that's the only way to make certain kinds of progress or discover things especially when you're talking about improvisational music," Miller said. "You're always trying to mix it up a little bit."