If Lisah had any more personality, she'd explode. The single-named front-femme for A.M. Vibe exudes more verve and color than a pack of Catholic schoolgirls-without any sense of awkward edginess, or the skirts.
“We've been kind of spontaneous as a band. I'd say sometimes we're spontaneous, well, yeah, a lot, I'd say absolutely, we're very spontaneous,” the vocalist coughs up from across the table. She's so exultant, she can barely spit it out.
A little more than a week ago, A.M. Vibe was asked to open up for Zwan, the new band featuring Smashing Pumpkins mastermind, Billy Corgan. The project, bassist Porter says to little surprise, “sounds like Smashing Pumpkins.”
Lisah was ecstatic about the show, noting with a playful sense of skeptical disbelief that Zwan fans approached her for autographs and photo opps after the gig. The greatest moment for Lisah, however, was when ex-Pumpkin and current Zwan drummer, Matt Chamberlain, cornered her after the show to scream, “You guys are fucking awesome! I'll see you at Madison Square Garden, man!”
A.M. Vibe recently released their debut album overseas in Japan, though local fans couldn't even get a copy yet. The reason, Lisah says, is that the band was considering their U.S. options. All they had to do was sign on the dotted line for a deal with Palm Pictures, the label owned by Chris Blackwell (who brought U2 and Bob Marley to U.S. audiences). At the last minute, the band decided it wasn't the right deal.
So for now, A.M. Vibe is planning to release it on local indie, Silver Girl Records. It's run by avid music fan Keith York, who believes in the “handshake deal.”
“I feel like the luckiest person in the world because I love the people I play music with,” Lisah says. “I cannot believe how lucky I am that I play music with [drummer] Mark and Porter. They're understanding, they're kind, they're compassionate, they're patient with me because I'm a girl and I'm emotional. Honestly, I could never have asked for better musicians to play music with.”
Lisah and Mark are without Porter (and last names) on this particular night, engulfed in a bar booth to talk about A.M. Vibe and their spot in the San Diego music scene. Garnering a recent nomination for best new artist at the San Diego Music Awards, coddling a new album and enjoying the early stages of local musical success, A.M. Vibe has taken the sexuality of the Sundays and morphed it into an addictive “female-fronted Nirvana” rock kick that “just works,” Lisah announces.
“I've never understood how people can work in boundaries,” Lisah says. “We work differently. If someone said, ‘Go write a song,' I'd say, ‘Yeah, well, go fuck yourself 'cause it's not gonna happen now!'”
A.M. Vibe does not mince words.
“It really blows people's minds when they see Lisah set up the rig and nobody shows up with another rig,” Mark chuckles. “Lisah has a tough job. I don't think I'd want it.”
Don't think for a second, however, that Lisah carries a torch.
“I always encourage girls to play, but to tell you the truth, I don't even think of myself as a girl on stage. They always come up and say, ‘Wow, you're in a band and you play guitar and you sing,' and my answer is always, ‘Bullshit, I just do it because I love to do it.' I will never say I am good at what I do but when I play guitar and sing on stage. I have a great time and I love it. You can do that, too.”
If Mark ever has a daughter, he insists that she will have a female rock 'n' roll idol.
“Aunt Lisah,” he blurts.