Little Lizard have been making otherworldly funk-punk for the past few years, and now they’re turning their attention to their home planet with the new album Earthlings. The Minneapolis-based duo is made up of Shea Daniel and Lizz D. The two use a wide array of instruments, from bass and trombone to trumpet and theremin.
Earthlings shows off Little Lizard’s signature sound, which layers effects over trombone melodies and drum machines. The album is their second full-length release, and it’s out today (October 23) on Guilt Ridden Pop Records.
I caught up with Lizz and Shea to learn more about the array of instruments they used to create Earthlings, how the title track’s music video was made, their love of sci-fi and cheesy horror movies, and more.
Colleen Cowie: What are each of your names, pronouns, and favorite dance moves?
Shea: My name is Shea Daniel and my pronouns are he/him. It’s hard to choose but my favorite dance move is to just do fancy footwork kind of stuff.
Lizz: I’m Lizz D. and my pronouns are she/her or they/them. I love dancing but I wouldn’t say I’m a good dancer, my favorite move is probably a shoulder shimmy.
When did you two start making music as Little Lizard, and how did the band form?
Lizz: We started Little Lizard three years ago. The band started to take form when we were out bowling and my bowling handle was Lil Lizard, I was like dang that would be a good band name.
Shea: Yeah, actually our first show was almost exactly three years ago. Once we had the name the music just started coming together. We both were looking to do something musically different and wanted an excuse to play our horns.
When did you start adding effects to brass instruments and how did you formulate Little Lizard’s style of funk punk?
Shea: In a way from the very beginning. Using effects with my trombone was one of the reasons I started writing music for Little Lizard. It was something that really interested me and I didn’t see very many people doing it. It took me a while to figure out a working setup so there aren’t any effects on our first two EPs.
Lizz: We haven’t added any effects to my trumpet parts yet but it is something that may happen in the future. I think funk punk is really a combination of our individual musical inspirations. By creating a genre we could each identify with we created a sound that is unique, it felt like we could be our most authentic selves. I like to think I bring the punk and Shea brings the funk but over the time that we’ve been playing together those roles change depending on the song and I think that has made us both better musicians.
Your second full-length album Earthlings comes out on 10/23 — congrats! Are there any lessons that you learned from making your first album or anything that you intentionally did differently this time around?
Lizz: Our first album was recorded in NYC. It was super fun to visit friends and get to make an album in a day. But it did have drawbacks, carrying a bunch of gear on the subway in 90 degree heat was maybe the sweatiest I’ve ever been!
Shea: We took our time recording Earthlings and did it here in Minneapolis. Spacing out our recording sessions was a nice change that also let us focus more on each song.
Which instrument or piece of gear were you most excited to use while making this album?
Lizz: I was pretty excited to bring my multi-instrument skills to this album. I broke out the trumpet on this album for the first time and the theremin. I think the theremin adds a really fun element to this album that’s inspired by old sci-fi movies, it really brings the concept full circle for me. The song “Ghost Shows” has me playing theremin and trumpet!
Shea: For me writing for both trombone and trumpet was really exciting.
What inspired the music video for the song “Earthlings”?
Lizz: I found out with Little Lizard that I love to make music videos. For “Earthlings” I wanted to make a video that was about us as humans. We wanted something that felt like an anime intro and old school Sears glamour shot with Little Lizard vibes. During quarantine we’ve really been focusing on video work and want to keep pushing ourselves, this is our first video using green screen. I really like clothing and styling which played a big role in this video for how we tell our story as earthlings.
What do you miss most about playing live shows?
Both: All the wonderful people!
Lizz: I miss all our friends that we made and got to see at shows. I used to drink coke or red bull only at shows, now I treat myself with one for the nostalgia of being at a show.
Shea: Performing is my favorite part about Little Lizard. I feel like our music really connects with people live.
Are you doing anything special to celebrate the release of Earthlings?
Shea: Yes, we are going to be doing a live stream on YouTube on October 24th at 7pm.
Lizz: We are currently brainstorming ways to make our rehearsal space where we will stream from more fun and celebratory. Maybe balloons?
You’re having a movie marathon and you have to pick three titles. Which do you choose?
Shea: Funny you ask because we’ve been working on watching all of our DVDs during quarantine. We’re only about halfway through. Since it’s the season and I love horror movies my choices are: the original “Dracula,” “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers” with Paul Rudd, and “The Cabin in the Woods.”
Lizz: That is really tough and I’m kind of fickle so my answer will change every time I’m asked this question. I always pick a Studio Ghibli and lately I’ve been partial to “Howl’s Moving Castle.” I also always pick a Wes Anderson movie, we have a song called “Maybe a Wes Anderson Movie?” for a reason, I think “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is probably his best. We’ve been watching a lot of creature feature monster movies lately and I really enjoyed “Creature From the Black Lagoon.”