Life’s a beach
“Everybody says very much that they can hear the beach in our music,” said Jay Hatchett, the 26-year-old vocalist and guitar player of Lizano.
It’s true. The beach is transmitted through both their lyrics and the way they talk about themselves. It’s more than just a theme. It’s a philosophy.
“Life is about positively vibing and riding the wave, no matter if it’s a big or small one or there’s a lull in between,” Hatchett said. “That’s what music is about for Lizano, is just trying to spread that message and that vibration in a tangible way.”
But there’s a lot more than just beachy surf vibes coming through as the band progresses through a set of songs that speaks to their reggae, punk, rock and rhythm and blues influences. The instrumentation is complex.
“We all look at music as having a conversation, and we all want to have an intrinsic point of view,” Hatchett said. “We want it to be expansive, and we want it to be elaborate because everybody gets their turn to speak in different ways when you play the songs.”
The Lizano conversation started three years ago when Hatchett and Sal Greco, 28, met at a hostel in Nicaragua. After brief introductions, the two guitarists jammed together for hours during an open mic night. People in the crowd asked them how long they’d been playing together.
“A few people were like, ’Man, I think you guys really got something. You guys should hold on to that,’” Hatchett said.
So, they kept it up—meeting in Nicaragua several times a year to play together and write songs. “It was kind of like the Lizano incubation chamber,” Hatchett said.
Last summer the guys decided to take a stab at being professional musicians. Greco left his home in Florida to join Hatchett in Reno, and the two started looking for a bassist and a drummer who would embrace the band’s principles and its intricate sound. They found what they were looking for in 21-year-old bassist Evan Stokes, who joined the band six months ago.
“The music we create and the level that we can communicate on has kept me commuting from Gardnerville just because I want to come and create this kind of stuff with these people,” Stokes said. “It’s something special and you know when you’re playing in something like that with the people you love, that it’s going to be something. Others will know when they see it, and they have.”
The band’s drummer, Amearist Phillips, saw it. Phillips, 27, was working on another project when he was approached by Hatchett, who invited him to jam with band. Minutes in, Phillips and the guys knew it was a perfect fit. He’s spent the last several months wrapping up his other projects.
“It’s harder for me because this is where I want to be,” Phillips said. “This is like home versus other bands that are like motels and hotels, just for like the night of and all of that. I think the biggest challenge right now is just me coming to grips with it all and then eventually having to find my stability here.”
He has time. Lizano has only been together a matter of months, though their sound and style suggests longer. Phillips recently returned from a jazz tour, which took him away for 20 days. Now, he and the rest of the guys are busy playing gigs and writing new songs, a process Greco likens to a body shop. New songs are brought into the garage where each member of the band then helps to build and refine the final product.
“You have to be able to bring your own flavor on the spot,” Greco said. “To that effect, it’s all exponential when we’re together. We all push each other to play to that level of, you know, being in that moment, and having that enjoyment is the only thing that’s going to make someone else feel it too.”