Just as the nineties dissolved into the 21st century, Lit charged up rock ‘n’ roll with uncompromising punk energy and a power pop punch. However, the Orange County-born band left an imprint on popular culture that only fissured wider over the years like a California fault line. Who could forget the immortal lyric, “Can we forget about the things I said when I was drunk?” or the time Pamela Anderson devoured the band whole in the “Miserable” music video – HERE.
The group outlasted the next two decades as well. They stood out as the rare act whose presence could be felt loud and clear at Woodstock ’99. Twenty years after its initial release, the Billboard Music Award-winning “My Own Worst Enemy” HERE not only went double-platinum, but Post Malone also covered it on Instagram Live as did Kelly Clarkson HERE and Jimmy Fallon on his late night show HERE. Further speaking to their enduring influence, they’ve inspired think pieces by everyone from American Songwriter HERE to Kerrang! HERE, while Consequence of Sound named them one of the “100 Best Pop Punk Bands.” Not to mention, their music blared through American Reunion, Central Intelligence, Parks and Recreation, Rock Band, and beyond as they also impressively averaged over 2.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify. The guys have amassed a catalog highlighted by fan favorites such as the platinum A Place in the Sun , Atomic , Lit , The View From The Bottom , and These Are The Days . Meanwhile, they teased the next chapter with “Yeah Yeah Yeah” in 2021, arriving to acclaim from Loudwire, Alternative Press, and more.
Now, the quartet—brothers Ajay [vocals] and Jeremy Popoff [guitar], Kevin Baldes [bass], and Taylor Carroll [drums]—continue to do what they do best on their seventh full-length album and 2022 debut for Round Hill Records, Tastes Like Gold.
“We made a conscious decision to go back to when we had arrived at what we represented musically,” says Ajay. “It took a little bit of time to cleanse the palette and hit reset. However, the creativity flowed better than it had in the past couple of decades.”
“We just decided to make what people expect from Lit and, honestly, what we expect from Lit,” exclaims Jeremy. “Our fans have been very cool and gracious over the years. They’ve allowed us to grow, change, morph, and explore. At the end of the day though, Lit means something to people, and we wanted to get back to that. Once the lockdowns happened, it was even more difficult to go back to that place when we were in our early twenties in an Anaheim warehouse with cases of cheap beer and friends without a care in the world other than the next show. While everybody reevaluated the whole world, we tried to make a really fun rock ‘n’ roll record.”
So, that’s what they did…
By the time the Global Pandemic hit, the Popoff brothers had both traded Sunny Southern California for Music City, even hitching ride on Jamey Johnson’s tour bus to Nashville. They hit the studio with cowriters and co-producers Carlo Colasacco and Eric Paquette, re-energizing and reinvigorating their sound.
“Those two had a big role in relighting the Lit torch,” says Kevin. “Our drummer Taylor is a monster too, and a big part of the energy of this record. ”
“They are younger dudes that grew up big Lit fans,” Jeremy goes on. “So, as we inspired them along the way, they inspired us with their modern and fresh approach to making music. We stripped it back down to the basics, and they gave us a new school energy actually inspired by what we’re known for. We focused on what Lit means to people, what it means to us, and embraced who we are. Even though we’re older and wiser now, we still love the same things we’ve always loved. Right out of the gate, we said, ‘We‘re not talking about viruses, politics, or any of that shit’. We still have a great time, party, and make music that sounds better loud.”
That’s definitely the case with the first single “Kicked Off The Plane.” The head-nodding beat and palm-muted riff underline a real-life recollection of a recent instance when the dudes were unceremoniously booted from a flight for nursing something else other than water in coffee cups…The chantable refrain instantly captivates as Ajay asks, “What’s one more walk of shame?”
“When we first started out, it took a lot to get kicked off a plane,” the front man grins. “Last year, our flight kept getting delayed, so we kept drinking. Once we got on the plane, a flight attendant asked our very honest sound guy what was in his cup. We were thrown off! It’s similar to ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ lyrically, because we’re still doing things that get us into trouble,” Ajay laughs.
Then, there’s “Mouth Shut.” The single details why it’s important to be seen and not heard sometimes as another anthemic hook takes hold over a boisterous riff and arena-ready beat.
“It’s about keeping your thoughts to yourself, because sometimes it’s not worth speaking,” affirms Jeremy.
“It’s also good advice for a marriage,” Ajay elaborates. “I’ve learned that one the hard way. We’ve all regretted hitting ‘send’ on at least one text or Instagram story!”
“Do It Again” hinges on a hummable acoustic guitar melody before giving way to another soaring chorus. It might just be the perfect pre-game banger.
“It’s the party anthem,” Jeremy reveals. “You’re a glutton for punishment, but you’re back for round two. It’s the story of our life.”
On the other end of the spectrum, “The Life That I Got” takes stock of what matters in life as Ajay screams, “Maybe I ain’t got a lot, I never balled in a mansion or a yacht, but I’m in love with the motherfucking life that I got.”
“We’ve touched on this sentiment on every record,” Jeremy continues. “We go back to a simpler time. We just loved life, and we still do today. If you keep looking for what’s next, you forget to look at what’s right now. The song is a reminder.”
In the end, Tastes Like Gold is Lit, and that’s more than enough.
“We managed to not only make a classic record with a modern approach, but we did it during a pandemic,” Jeremy leaves off. “We realized you don’t have to be consumed by negativity and social media to the point where it stifles your ability to have fun, be happy, and do what you’re good at. Maybe the music inspires you to turn all of the other shit off and get back to what makes you happy.”
“I want you to hear it and go, ‘Lit’s back’, but they’re not going backwards,” Ajay concludes. “This is new Lit, but we hope it’s the Lit you fell in love with.”