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Indie rock band Petal unpacks mental health and the music industry


Scranton, Pennsylvania-based indie rock band Petal arrives in Lansing Jan. 17. Petal, which is helmed by multi-instrumentalist Kylie Lotz, has been on the road in support of its latest album “Magic Gone,” released on Run for Cover Records, since mid-2018. Petal’s sound has a glossy tinge, but it doesn’t avoid a primal edge thanks to its use of loud power chords and simplistic, deep banging drums. Lotz spoke with City Pulse via phone about her lyrics and the tour thus far.

The lyrics to “Better Than You” from “Magic Gone” — “…You’re not doing okay, maybe tonight you could barely play…” — speak to a place of frustration and alienation. Where does that come from?

That definitely comes from feeling frustrated with myself and with the industry.

You start writing music and playing shows because you love it; it makes you happy and you continue to do it for those reasons. But, when it starts to become your job, or you decide that you want it to be your job — you tacitly sign up for all of this stuff that comes with industry, which you may not be fully aware of when you first start.

There’s also the idea of competing and seeing your peers as competition, instead of them just being your friends. It feels like you can’t really complain, but at the same time you desperately want to scream a little bit sometimes. I think I just needed to poke fun at myself and the industry a little bit to acknowledge how absurd it all is.

The music videos from “Magic Gone” are really up close and personal. What was it like to put yourself in that position?

I think music videos are so important to me because I grew up watching them. It was like way more of a part of my music culture in terms of watching VH1, MTV and all that stuff growing up, all the time.

That was always a dream of mine, to make a music video. So, a very young me is very starry-eyed over getting to make videos at all. I’m really glad people still do it, despite it not being necessarily the most relevant way to get your music out there anymore. I really love it. I hope people take the time to watch them, because I think it does take the music to the next level.

Your label, Run for Cover Records, has put out some seriously cool records in the past. How has it been working with them?

So I started working with Run for Cover when I was in college. They were fairly young, but they were putting out amazing records. They had already started working with Title Fight and Tiger’s Jaw. When I started working with them it was a kind of a surprise, because I just put my music on Bandcamp and on Tumblr and eventually, I got an email from Jeff and I was pretty surprised.

Since then, it’s done really great. They let me make what I want to make, which is a real privilege. Often times, you are sort of doing a push and pull with a label and a creative process, but Run for Cover is always really open to whatever you’re making and making sure it reaches people’s ears.

Your essay with OUT Magazine described your process of coming to terms with your sexuality and mental health and how that affected “Magic Gone.” Have those feelings changed since taking the album on tour?

Touring on this record has been challenging and really beautiful. Obviously the songs are very personal, so some nights it feels like I’m sort of reopening old wounds. But I try to just feel whatever it is that’s coming up in performing them and let it be a cathartic experience.

It’s been really powerful to talk to people at shows who have found some comfort or support in the songs.

Getting to write an essay for OUT was such an incredible privilege and an opportunity to put auxiliary material out there to accompany the songs. I got to talk to a lot of fans who felt inspired to come out to their families and friends through the music and the essay or felt some validation in hearing the record.

My mental health is something that has improved greatly but will always be a work in progress, a non-linear journey forward. I think there is no shame in struggling, making mistakes, and admitting you need help.

Being human is complicated and hard. I’m learning a lot and still have a long way to go. In the meantime, making music and talking to fans has allowed me to grow in ways I never could have imagined and for that, I am grateful.

Petal All ages $13 Advance, $15 Doors 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17 Mac’s Bar 2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing www.macsbar.com (517) 484-6795


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