Walking into a packed café on a Sunday night to meet Lotustarr, I had no idea what to expect. Didn’t even know what they looked like. It took all of a split second to spot them. Lounging at a table near the bar, three guys (bassist Ari Eisenstein, singer Paul Isaac, and lead guitarist Gerson Lima) drinking wine and smoking cigarettes, effortlessly cool, dressed down in T-shirts and jeans. They look like a band. With unprecedented ease, they greeted me, and I felt like I’d known them for years. Word is they’ve been packing shows, their single “Sublime” has been getting airplay on major stations, and their name used to be Muse. So many things I wanted to ask — thought I’d start here.
So you guys went from Muse in Miami to Lotustarr in Atlanta. Why the change?
Paul: We wanted a new beginning, new energy. We’re all from Miami and started out there playing lots of club shows, underground parties, and we felt when we left it was time for us to go try new things.
Ari: With the name Muse, we always had problems with a lot of other bands wanting to use the name or copyright it. It became less and less important.
Paul: We chose Lotustarr because it’s like a symbol for us. It’s ambiguous of us together.
Ari: Yeah, that was perfect, Paul.
How long have you guys been playing?
Paul: Eight years.
Ari: What was the question?
Gerson: Ten years.
Ari: Oh, how long have we been playing? Seven years.
Gerson: It’s a mystery.
How would you describe Lotustarr’s sound?
Paul: That’s not fair. It’s like if you had a dream and you were trying to describe what you dreamt. You couldn’t — it’s more of a feeling. It’s the most beautiful part of us. Mostly, I want to use it as an escape to leave for a while. To close my eyes and feel the truth and everything that gets numbed by the world we live in. Our true feelings are always kept hidden and covered. We all feel the same, and we all have the same dreams and hopes, and we try to break into that other side.
So ,with cities like LA and New York being so much more industry oriented, why did you choose Atlanta?
Paul: The decision to come to Atlanta was a lot easier than the name — we’d come up to Atlanta before and we liked the vibe. The art scene here is pretty cool, there’s a lot of young people trying to find something different. We like Atlanta now, but it took us a while to like it.
It’s a different world, without a doubt. Has the transition been a hard one?
Paul: Not really. It think it’s helped us find ourselves.
Ari: Atlanta is a great town for music compared to Miami. In Miami, there were only like ten local bands that were known. After we moved here, there were so many great bands, more people, more places to play. I’m lost, but you get my point.
Paul: Maybe we’re found when we’re lost.
Gerson: We were lost?
With the latest wave of bands to get signed out of Atlanta — Double drive, Sevendust, Billionaire — do you see this as the place for it to happen like a band like Lotustarr?
Gerson: I don’t know, I think with us, the music is more important than getting a deal. It comes from a real place with us. If we can project that when people come to see us, and they can feel it, we hope we’ve made a connection. And if we can get signed out of Atlanta, that’s great, but it’s not the most important thing to us.
How do you feel that all the movement in your career has affected the music?
Paul: Our old drummer, Brett, got into techno, and it’s great [that] he found something creative to do. We found something different, too. We didn’t want to be tied to old feelings and old music. Our last album, it was way too emotional. Some of those songs we can’t even listen to or play anymore. They bring up feelings that are too intense for us. And now we’ve learned our thing; how to express these emotions differently, a better way.
What do you think about all the automation that’s going on in music right now?
Paul: We don’t pay attention to those bands. Whatever’s been happening around us musically, we’ve never been into that movement. We don’t really relate [to] it. Music lately has been really boring. 1999 was a horrible year for music in general, but I think it’s about to change. I think people will open up a little more.
Gerson: We just want to keep doing what we’re doing.
If they didn’t, it would be a crime. Three of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, and three more reminders why this is such a great job. They validate the beauty of being a band.