Lift To Experience, the short lived indie-rock/shoegaze outfit through which Josh T. Pearson rose to prominence, are reuniting for the first time in 15 years.
They’re headlining Meltdown Festival on June 10, an event curated by Guy Garvey (of Elbow fame) taking place at London’s Royal Festival Hall.
If you’re new to their music, here’s a beginner’s guide to the Texan band.
Lift To Experience formed in 1996, consisting of Pearson as vocalist and guitarist, drummer Andy “The Boy” Young and bassist Josh “The Bear” Browning.
They went on to have a short but sweet career, releasing their only album – The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads – in 2001 before breaking up shortly after.
Produced by Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins, the record was straight-up indie-rock, but with shoegazey flourishes and lyrical swipes at “all you haircut bands doing headstands thinking you’ll turn the world upside down”.
It was a double-disc concept that included the 28-minute closing track ‘Into the Storm’.
Best album? (OK, only album?)
The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads
Of course, Lift To Experience’s only full album to date is the best record, but The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads would still sit pretty among a more prolific selection of works.
Released on Bella Union in 2001 (who signed the band on the spot after being so impressed with their performance at South By Southwest a year earlier), the album’s lyrics are awash with Biblical imagery and recount the Second Coming of Christ, while also professing a love of their home state of Texas.
The band managed to conjure a fairly unique shoegaze sound through their use of effects pedals and modified equipment, which helps it to stand out today against a backdrop of Wall of Sound imitations.
Three Defining Tracks
‘Falling from Cloud 9’
A far cry from the folky, solo-career Josh T. Pearson would go on to have, Lift To Experience’s lilting shoegaze vibe is most apparent on The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads‘ third track ‘Falling From Cloud 9’.
‘Into The Storm’
As far as album closers go, you can’t get much more epic than this 28-minute barnstormer which combines a shoegaze wonk with a driving rhythm. It showcases the kind of boundary pushing the band were known for in their brief existence.
‘Just As Was Told’
The opening track to The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads starts with some acoustic strumming reminiscent of Pearson’s later solo works, but then kicks into the band’s Wall of Sound noise, setting the tone for the rest of the record perfectly.
How It Ended
Lift To Experience ended abruptly and shortly after the release of their 2001 album, though a handful of dates carried them into the following year.
When pressed on the issue of a reunion as recently as a few years ago, Bella Union told fans the band had no plans to reunite.
Outside of Pearson’s solo career, Andy Young formed Western Arms alongside Elbow frontman Guy Garvey before forming another act called The Flowers of God, and Josh Browning played bass in Texas-based shoegaze band, Year of the Bear.
But the cult act are back after 15 years away from the spotlight to celebrate the album’s anniversary, and will be taking to the Royal Festival Hall on June 10 as headliners of Guy Garvey’s Meltdown, as well as re-releasing the record.
Who They Influenced
Lift To Experience’s cult status means you probably won’t see them pop up on many lists of influences, but you can trace the sound in a number of directions.
Modern day shoegaze types like Cheatahs no doubt get a kick out of the aesthetic, while bands like The Black Keys have taken Pearson’s electric guitar sound and repurposed with added blues.
Meanwhile, Pearson’s folk output continues to influence bedroom songwriters everywhere.