Interview: Overlake

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Overlake Is (Band Members, Instrument Played): Tom Barrett (guitar, vocals), Lysa Opfer (bass, vocals), Matthew Siegle (drums)

The Story of Our Name: Lysa put out a solo EP a few years back called Big Lake, and one of my imaginary band names was Flags on the Overpass, so we just combined them. It was Lysa’s idea and literally only the second name we came up with when we started.

We’re based out of: Jersey City, NJ.

Any new music coming out: We recorded two songs for an upcoming 7″ in January, and we have a bunch of songs written for the next record which we hope to record this summer.

You’ve seen us before [in other bands]: WJ & the Sweet Sacrifice, Big Lake, High School Sweethearts, The Everymen, No Pasaran, American Watercolor Movement

Our sound has been likened to: My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Dinosaur Jr, etc.

Photo Credit: Stacy Swane
Photo Credit: Stacy Swane

In your bio it says you bonded over a love of 80s and 90s indie and alternative bands — what bands were those and what is it about those bands that you love?

Sonic Youth, Pavement, Sebadoh, Guided by Voices.  Dinosaur Jr. is my favorite band of all time. I can’t really say what it was about those bands that I found attractive at that time. Musically, I was lost until Nirvana and grunge, which were gateways to Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. for me. I guess I’d never heard guitars speak that sort of language before. It was the first time I can remember being exposed to that kind of chaos in music, I think. The detuned guitars and imperfect singing really resonated with me. It felt like a style that I could partake in.

You met performing in another band – what made you decide to form Overlake and make it your primary band?

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We didn’t really form Overlake while playing in the other band. It took some time. Lysa asked me to play drums on her Big Lake record and later asked me if I’d consider becoming one half of that entity. I was reluctant, only because I still had other bands going on and other projects I was still hoping to bring to fruition. It was only when we jammed with a drummer friend in Jersey City that we decided to start from scratch and form Overlake. We weren’t necessarily trying to form a band, we just got together and everything just sort of clicked.

You originally didn’t have a drummer in the band, now you have Scott Imp performing with you. What has he added to the band since bringing him on?

Um, well Scotty is actually no longer with us, but he definitely helped us come into our own as a live entity. For such a lanky dude, he packed a pretty mean wallop. I’m not going to discuss the circumstances behind him exiting the fold, except to say that we’re no longer friends and it’s really sad. Our friend Matt Siegle who plays in Secret Country has been filling in and doing a great job.

There are so many bands that are playing the Asbury scene right now – what separates Overlake from all the bands out there? Also, you guys are based in North Jersey and you play in Jersey City and Brooklyn quite often. Can you compare those scenes with Asbury?

Nothing separates us. We’re all in the same place, just trying to get our music heard by whoever cares to listen. Asbury Park and Brooklyn both have their respective plethoras of actual venues, though, while Jersey City for the time being just has these tiny little bars that do their best to serve as actual venues. It’s nice, though. You can go see Coy Kids at Abbey’s and see members of Black Wail and Desir Decir hanging out in the crowd being really enthusiastic and supporting their friends. It’s cool.

What is one of your favorite and/or most outrageous moments you’ve had performing with Overlake?

Photo Credit: Ray Ketchum
Photo Credit: Ray Ketchum

We got to open for Mike Watt at the Bell House in October. He plays in a new trio called Il Sogno Del Marinaio with these two Italian dudes. He was sitting on the couch in the dressing room and stood up to greet me, he squeezed my arm really hard and thanked me for letting him share the stage with us which is fucking crazy, but I guess it’s a thing he does. The guy is so humble and warm. He reminded me of one of my uncles, which in a way he is. And it was a great show. I’ll never forget that.

What do you love about being in Overlake?

It’s just nice to finally be doing the band I’ve personally been wanting to do since 1995 or something. I honestly didn’t feel confident enough to step up to the microphone and start singing my own songs until just a few years ago, but I feel like all the bands or projects I’ve been involved with throughout the years have helped me be able to finally do this. If I’d done it any sooner, who knows? I may not have felt ready enough and just given up or something. Now I get to make music truly inspired by the bands that are closest to my heart and feel like I’m doing at least an okay job with it. It’s very satisfying.

If someone read this interview and never heard you before, but decided to check you out, what song would you recommend they listen to in order to understand what Overlake is all about?

I guess ‘Disappearing.’ That’s the first real song we came up with together as a band. It was sort of the template for everything that came after.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?

Some local shows in the first half of the year with short weekend jaunts scattered throughout, hopefully recording the next record in the summer, and then hopefully some touring in September.

Overlake performs tonight at Happy Mondays at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park with The Drive Home, and I Have Been Floated!

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Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beauty daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom
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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites