TRIP SLAYMAKER ’18
Stage presence is a vital aspect of any great musical act. The ideal rock band revolves around not only the musical contributions of its members, but also their unique personalities. Trinity based rock band Lolita checks every box that a great college band should, especially in terms of personality. In its current lineup, each of the four members of the group has both undeniable musical talent and a kind of star quality. There is something about them that suggests they would look excellent on a poster.
Though it has a large and growing fan group on an off campus, Lolita had humble beginnings. The group’s lead singer Lydia Haynes ’18 was around from the start: “It was kind of an excuse for me to just jam…And pretend to be a rock star.”
“We were offered a show at the Mill after two weeks of playing together, and I had the thought ‘I really like this. I want to keep doing this.’” Earlier (and in some cases, future returning) members of the band include Ebban Maeda ’16, Henry Minot ’17, Alex Rusbarsky ’18 and AJ Ballard ’16.
The band’s current lineup has only been playing together for the duration of this semester, but guitarist Cooper Jennings ’19 and drummer Max Fertik ’19 played together before joining. Bassist Chuck Sweeney ’20 is a new addition, and long-time musician.
“We’re lucky to have played in bands in the past,” says Sweeney.
With the help of the students who run Trinity’s Vernon Street music center The Mill, Lolita has remained an adored Saturday night touchstone for students who gravitate toward the band’s classic rock and first-wave inspired sound. Haynes, Fertik, Sweeney and Jennings draw musical cues from the earlier iterations of Lolita, and walk in the footsteps of great bands like Blondie, the Talking Heads, and countless other seminal music acts.
When Lolita performs, students tend to swarm to them. Haynes is in the habit of going all-in on stage persona, often donning a manifestly hard-rock look for Lolita shows and on occasion, beyond. “There are people who see me and shout ‘Lolita!’ It’s kind of a persona, though now it’s more for the stage.” But the persona of Haynes and her band mates has spread quickly, and grown along with student enthusiasm.
“I saw that someone had etched ‘Lolita’ into a desk in LSC.” Jennings says. “But maybe they just wanted to say ‘I like this book title.’” The still-edgy Nabokov classic is the source of the band’s name.
Regardless of whatever fame the band might achieve, it is clear that each member is interested most of all in the joy that music gives them. Fertik is in it for the experience. “It’s a very unique feeling to perform. Being afraid to be on stage… I don’t think that’s something any of us experience. It’s such an ecstatic feeling, and I don’t want to ever get away from that.”
Now with the band becoming more established once again, the members can look toward the future. Jennings has some idea of what that means. “We’re playing a lot more originals,” he says. The guitarist seems deeply excited by the idea.
In the past, the earlier lineups of Lolita usually performed only covers. The band has often performed identifiable crowd-pleasers like Heart’s “Barracuda,” The Cranberries’ “Zombie” and the hits of Joan Jett. But with the start of a new era in the band’s history, it only makes sense to branch out. The pull to produce more music that is personally identified with Lolita itself has been growing in strength. Haynes helped write the two most polished original songs, “Serious” and “June Haze.” “We wanted to play songs that people know and would be excited about, and then hopefully they would be excited about us. But now…we kind of feel we’ve done that, and we want to show what we can do with our original music.”
The band’s original work “Serious” is a well-written song with intricate passages that make use of Hayne’s trademark soaring vocals. Sweeney supplies the powerful bassline, while Jennings’ razor sharp guitar riffs and Fertik’s drums make the sound hurtle forward.
These future developments show promise and a good amount of optimism on the part of the band. Their achievements and skill will only grow with time. Lolita might someday capture far more attention than it already does. Watch Lolita rehearse their original song “Serious” on the Trinity Tripod online Arts page.