George Lewis followed up 2010's Forget with the recently issued Confess , mixing the classic sounds of new wave with a more modern R&B twist. Speaking from the tour van as it crossed the California desert, and in anticipation of tonight's show at Trees, Lewis spoke about the unusual path he has taken to create his sound.
Your stage name is very unusual. I have to ask where it came from. It's just a combination of words, words that I cared for. I do have a twin sister, so it kind of comes from that. It comes from this picture we had when we were little.
Why not just use your real name, George Lewis? I don't know. Sometimes you like being anonymous. Sometimes the name is more in vibe with the music.
You were born in the Dominican Republic. How old were you when you came to the U.S.? I was two years old. I don't have many memories from there. I've visited there a few times. I certainly didn't grow up there.
Do you speak Spanish? I do. I don't speak it perfectly, but I do OK.
You recently did a tour with Florence and the Machine. That's quite a different sound than what you do. Yes, it's also a big production on a big stage. It was a very positive experience. We really appreciated them taking us out.
You lived in Boston for a while and even fronted a punk band there, Mad Man Films. Was it straight up hardcore punk? We were hard to pin down. It was a mixture of hardcore and funk. We dug the Bad Brains and stuff like that.
Do you still listen to that style of music? I was just listening to the Bad Brains the other day. I am still a huge fan.
Many music writers have a hard time pinning down your sound. Do you have a label for it? I have a hard time with that question. I can't really say what I sound like. I guess I would say I sound like Prince, but that's only because he seems like the kind of guy I am. I am not even sure. Say whatever you want to say.
Do you think the best bands are the hardest to describe? Not necessarily, but there is something to that. There is a certain amount of originality that a band has to have.
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How severe was the motorcycle accident you were involved in? It wasn't too bad. I got a little banged up. It was when I first started riding about eight years ago. It's always life threatening when you have an accident, but I got lucky.
You put a lot of care into your lyrics. Do you consider them poetry? I guess you could call it poetry if you wanted to. I think poems are different than songs in the same way that a movie is different from a book. They are all closely related, but slightly different. I do care a lot about my words. I make sure they are painting a better picture than a lot of lyrics I hear. I understand why people say my lyrics are poetic.
How was making your sophomore effort, Confess, different from your debut album, Forget? It's hard to describe, because I had learned so much between the two records. It's like going to a country and not knowing the language and going to one and learning it. It's like going back to a country after you have learned the language. That's how I look at it.