A Little Old Wisdom from The Lotus Vellum

Cover Art: Old Wisdom EP
Photography by Steven Lindquist, Art Direction and Design by Justin Kleine

For a long time, I had heard that Conor Byrne was the place to go for a good open mic in Seattle.  I was finally able to make the trip up a couple of years ago to enjoy some time with my friends.  I don’t know if it was the mood I was in, the distraction of friends, or just the genuine lack of my kind of music that night, but I wasn’t impressed.  I remember sitting there thinking, “I’m kind of disappointed… and totally over this right now.” I was getting ready to leave when an older white-haired man with a scraggly beard started singing.  His gritty voice and adorable appearance kept me in my place for a few songs, but then he invited a tall, lanky, equally-bearded man to join him onstage.  This guy had the sweetest presence, and I was immediately intrigued.  He played a few notes on his guitar that slapped my stuck-up demeanor in the face; then he opened his mouth, let out the most soothing sound, and I melted into my seat.

That’s when I met The Lotus Vellum.

The Lotus Vellum

Rob Kleine aka The Lotus Vellum

I sat there, captivated by his peaceful, haunting performance.  Since he was the last performance that night everyone was either leaving or mingling, but I made sure to ‘happen upon his glance.’  Our eyes met, we exchanged smiles, and I nonchalantly requested an interview with him for my new Feed Me A Line series on our site.  He agreed, and I left the open mic glowing, knowing that I had just connected with an incredible artist, and one of the kindest men I had met in a long time.

I have a crazy fascination with human beings.  I like to probe into people’s lives with an almost awkward curiosity, asking all-too-personal questions. I tend to leave the conversation completely in love with who they are, regardless of how we experience and perceive the world as individuals.  There are many people who come and go in my life and rarely does our interaction stick in my mind, but I always remember the way I felt during and after a conversation.  Rob Kleine, aka The Lotus Vellum, left me wanting to dig deeper into life, express myself more freely, and humble myself into a more gentle spirit.  His music and lyrics are a lovely reflection of the experience I had with him both that night and again during our first interview.

Old Wisdom EP

Old Wisdom EP

I say first interview because it took place at Jai Thai in Fremont on a beautifully sunny day a couple years ago.  It was during my lunch hour from work, and it wasn’t nearly enough time.  So here we are two years later, the Old Wisdom EP finally being released, our “Feed Me a Line” poem is coming to light, and I decided to re-interview him to talk about the new album.  Here are a few of the questions I asked him:

 

What is the story behind your name?

The Lotus Vellum is a book by Charlotte Hunt. Over ten years ago my brother bought a used book from a sidewalk sale in Salt Lake City. I would often see the book lying around our living space and think, “That would be a great band name”. When I started writing songs on the guitar and playing shows, I thought it would be the perfect time to use the name. I’ve read the book, and as it turns out, it is a great band name as well as a great read. The Lotus Vellum is a talisman of sorts, an ancient occult writing, giving power to the possessor.

 

What was your biggest inspiration for this album?

Ultimately, I just wanted to record the songs I had been performing for the last few years. But when I started the process, I found this underlying theme through the songs. It’s about listening to what has come before you, what is greater than yourself. Heeding history of man, the earth, and the relationship between the two. That realization of a theme contributed to an overall mood for the EP. But, there wasn’t a preconceived concept or anything.

 

What’s the significance of the title?

Old wisdom, again, has to do with listening to what has come before you. Taking in knowledge to better yourself as a human living on the earth. Our modern society is constantly working to advance itself technologically. We’re so consumed with phones, computers, tablets, in connection with social media outlets. We’re all living in a false reality most of the time. At the end of the day, we still have to survive from what the earth gives us. Do we know how to farm, fish, hunt, etc? Most don’t. But they’ll gladly instagram a plate of food that they had little to do with creating. What happens when the creators are gone, and we’re just left with photographers with nothing to photograph? I’m not pointing the finger, just simply observing. When we can remember to utilize knowledge and tools for beneficial purposes, rather than entertainment, we’ll be back on the right path.

 

What do you want people to be left with after hearing it? 

The urge to play it again? Haha! I don’t know? Nothing specific. I’m not trying to send a message or change the world or anything like that. Hopefully people can connect with it in some way and get enjoyment from hearing it.

 

How long have you been working on this?

I started working on the Old Wisdom EP a little under a year ago in June of 2014. The songs were written through out 2012 and 2013. The recording, mixing, mastering process wrapped up in October and since then we’ve been working on the art and production of the EP.

 

Have you thought about what’s next for you?

I’m excited to say that The Lotus Vellum has expanded into a four piece. Chris Jordan (Legendary Oaks) will be on Bass, he also played on the EP. My brother Justin Kleine (Terminal Fuzz Terror/KLEINE) is playing Guitar, he also performed on the EP. And on Drums we have Andrew Forsman (The Fall of Troy). We hope to get back into the studio this year and record another EP as a full band, as well as play more shows of course.

 

What is this week’s obsession?

Musically speaking, I’ve been digging Ben Howard’s new album ‘I forget where we where.’ (ME TOO!) I had a chance to see him in Portland a few weeks ago, one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. New Alt-J record has had some heavy rotation. On the other end of the spectrum, Mutoid Man, saw them shred last night at The Sunset. And I’m really looking forward to the new Elder album.

 

To celebrate the release of the “Old Wisdom” EP by The Lotus Vellum there will be a release party and performance on March 11th at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard with the new band.

The Lotus Vellum band is:Rob Kleine: vocals and guitar
Chris Jordan (Legendary Oaks) : Bass
Andrew Forsman (The Fall of Troy) : Drums
Justin Kleine (Terminal Fuzz Terror, KLEINE) : Guitar

The show will be featuring:
Legendary Oaks, Goodbye Heart, and The Lotus Vellum.

 

The Lotus Vellum

The Lotus Vellum

FEED ME A LINE with Rob Kleine of THE LOTUS VELLUM

(My contributions are italicized).

Food: Panang Curry, water, and a chocolate mint hard candy to go.

There once was a woman
seeking a rock in a world of sand,
so she flew to the furthest end of her world
o
n wings of her own, with no need for a man.
She searched in silence, and she searched in screams.
She chased away nightmares and ran after dreams,
and in the midst of it all, with no more tears left to cry,
along came the stone to keep her free from strife.

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