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Not to be confused with Lilies, Lillies, or Lily's.
Origin Washington, D.C., United States
Genres Indie rock, indie pop, shoegaze, dream pop
Years active 1988–present
Labels Slumberland Records, SpinART, Ché, Primary, Sire Records, Darla, Tiger Style, File 13, Manifesto, Rainbow Quartz, Rocket Girl, Frontier Records
Associated acts
Members Kurt Heasley
Past members
  • Harold "Bear" Evans
  • Ken Heitmuller
  • Mike Glasgow
  • Dana Cerick
  • Alex Hacker
  • Archie Moore
  • Beth Sorrentino
  • Jay Sorrentino
  • Paul "Pablo" Naomi
  • Art Difuria
  • Bryan Dilworth
  • Mike Lenert
  • Dave Frank
  • Michael Deming
  • Rich Costey
  • Robert Andreano
  • Thom Monahan
  • Aaron Sperske
  • Trevor Kampman
  • Torben Pastore
  • Jason Faulkner
  • James "Fuzzy" Sangiovani
  • Steven Keller
  • Mickey Walker
  • Gerhardt Koerner
  • Don Devore
  • Mike Musmanno
  • Don Piper
  • Michael Johnson
  • Tim Foote
  • Mike Hammel
  • Matt Horn
  • Tommy Joyner
  • Steven Keller
  • Chris McAllen
  • Trish Scearce
  • Mario "Pel" Lopez
  • Mark Scott
  • Ariel Pink
  • Dan Horne
  • Jesse Gallagher
  • Spenser Gralla
  • Noah Bond
  • Doug Tuttle
  • Matt Werth
  • Alex Craig
  • Travis Roseberg
  • Chris Colley
  • James Richardson

Lilys are an American indie rock band formed in Washington, D.C in 1988. The only constant member is Kurt Heasley, with the line-up changing regularly. Several of the band's tracks have been used in television advertisements, and the band's biggest hit was one of these, "A Nanny In Manhattan", which reached No. 16 in the UK after being used in a Levi's advertisement directed by Roman Coppola.[1]


The highly influential indie rock band Lilys is the constantly changing concept vehicle of Kurt Heasley, the group's frontman, founder and sole constant member. His harmonically complex songwriting has resulted in six albums and five EPs. Originating in Washington, D.C, the nomadic Heasley refers to Lilys different periods as Epochs I, II and III. Through him and the rotating players the musical style and approach shifts continually. The early recordings or Epoch I, including 1992's stunning, noise laden debut album In the Presence of Nothing and the etheric sophomore album Eccsame the Photon Band, were strongly influenced by My Bloody Valentine. The first seven-inch single “February Fourteenth,” released on Slumberland in 1991, even gives direct tribute to their impact. The spare, minimalist Eccsame the Photon Band is described as a “hallucinatory revelation” by Marc Hogan of Pitchfork,[2] ETPB marks Kurt Heasley's Lilys shift to a slower, moodier, and more spaced-out sound. Robert Christgau describes the band's sound at this time as "amplified watercolors".[3] Epoch I continues in the same year with the mini LP, A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns, on which Lilys refashion themselves as a dream infused experimental noise pop group. The album features the track "Ginger", which was used in a well known CK1 advertisement in the mid-nineties. Shortly thereafter, Epoch II is born as a now Boston-based Heasley delivers Better Can't Make Your Life Better, and with it evidence of a strong British Invasion. The album's single, "A Nanny In Manhattan" rose to #16 and became a hit in the UK Singles Chart (reaching No. 16 in 1998),[4] after being used in a 1998 advertising campaign for Levi's directed by Roman Coppola. The following year Lilys perform the first fully live performance on Top of The Pops in almost twenty years. Epoch II recordings go on to include The Services (For the Soon to Be Departed) EP, Zero Population Growth EP and The 3-Way. The new millennium dawns and with it a Philadelphia-based Epoch III including the Selected EP, Precollection and Everything Wrong Is Imaginary. By 2008 and 2009 a post-Epoch version of Lilys performs live shows in and around San Francisco and Los Angeles, the All Tomorrow's Parties festivals curated by My Bloody Valentine in the abandoned city retreats of New York and London and open for MBV at some of their other US shows.[5] A meticulously remastered vinyl version of Lilys’ second full-length album, Eccsame The Photon Band was re-issued in 2015 through the legendary Frontier Records. The 21st anniversary re-release includes original artwork and has an enhanced dynamic range with the reordering of songs.

In Fall of 2015 Lilys perform a one-time-only, sold out, “big band” show called “Corruption Wrecked My Life”, featuring never before or rarely performed early material by LILYS - EPOCH I, circa 1990 - 1995. With Don Devore (Lilys, Sick Feeling) as musical director (Gtr,keys,samples) for this one-off event, they put together a version of Lilys, that in addition to Heasley, features James Richardson (MGMT), Travis Roseberg, Matt Werth (RVNG Intl. founder), Chris Colley (School Of Seven Bells), and Alex Craig (Limited, Ducktails, Big Troubles).[6][7][8] The expanded format of “Corruption Wrecked My Life” is just another development in the Lilys’ ever-revolving lineup that has included more than 72 different musicians since 1991, .[9][10][11] as well as a myriad of collaborators. Heasley said of the ever-changing line-up in 2003:

"I love turnover in the band because some people can't add to the student-teacher relationship. I need them to teach me what they want to do in the band so we can quickly move into that area. You always reach these incredible compromises, hopefully they're democratic, but I guess they're more like mono-monarchies. I guess it is democratic. You're giving each person a stake in the law but I've always been the majority holder."[10]

Heasley is always pushing the boundaries of his music. This curated show can be seen as a retrospective performance celebrating the brilliance of his craft and his lasting influence on the current indie scene.

Heasley collaborations and productions[edit]

Heasley has collaborated with other acts such as Nobody, appearing on the band's 2005 single "Fancy", a cover of the Kinks song.[12] and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, singing "Tschuss" on their 2003 album And This Is Our Music. He also contributed "effects" to Poole's "Snowcicle" on the band's Alaska Days album, and performed on Apples In Stereo's 1995 album Fun Trick Noisemaker, and Neko Case's 2009 album Middle Cyclone.[13] He co-wrote the Twitch Hazel contributions to their 1997 split double-7-inch EP Kramer's Beach. He has also produced recordings by other artists including The Asteroid#4 (Apple Street: A Classic Tale Of Love And Hate, King Richard's Collectibles), The Ladybug Transistor, and Mazarin and co-engineered Echo Orbiter's Laughing All The While.

Musical style[edit]

The band's music has shifted style several times in its history. The early recordings, including debut album In The Presence of Nothing, were strongly influenced by My Bloody Valentine.[1] They then moved through dream pop before settling on a new style that has been described as mod revival and a particularly strong influence from The Kinks, and other 1960s bands such as The Monkees and The Zombies leading to the 1996 album Better Can't Make Your Life Better,[10][14] Later releases included elements of psychedelic rock and a return to their earlier shoegazing sound.[1] The band have gained a reputation for sounding very similar to other artists and bands over the years, with Michael Sandlin of Pitchfork Media going as far as saying "You might say Lilys frontman Kurt Heasley is a world-class thief",[15] but as one journalist put it "I know we're supposed to hate bands that sound too much like other bands, but the difference with the Lilys is that they do it so blatantly and so shamelessly that it's somehow rendered okay."[16]

Robert Christgau described the band's sound as "amplified watercolors".[3]




  • "February Fourteenth" (1991), Slumberland
  • "Tone Bender" (1993)
  • Tone Bender EP (1994), Summershine - first 2 singles re-released as EP
  • "Returns Every Morning" (1996), Ché
  • "A Nanny in Manhattan" (1996), Ché
  • Which Studies The Past? EP (1996), Sub Pop
  • Services (For The Soon To Be Departed) EP (1997), Primary
  • "A Nanny in Manhattan" (1998), Ché (UK No. 16)
  • Lilys/Aspera Ad Astra Split (2000), Tiger Style, split EP with Aspera Ad Astra
  • Selected EP (2000), File 13
  • Well Traveled Is Protest Lilys/Big Troubles Split 7" (2012), Speakertree Records

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • "Claire Hates Me" appears on Neapolitan Metropolitan (3 x 7-inch EP box set) (1992), Simple Machines
  • "Excelsior Plainslide" appears on Ten Cent Fix - A Jiffy Boy Records Compilation (1993), Jiffy Boy Records
  • "Strange Feelin'" appears on Sing A Song For You: Tribute To Tim Buckley (2000), Manifesto
  • "Dreams Never End" appears on "Slumberland Records - The First 20 Years" (2009), Slumberland Records


  1. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 836-837
  2. ^ "Lilys: Everything Wrong Is Imaginary". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  3. ^ a b Murray, Noel (1999) "Rock Steady: Three bands stay true to rock 'n' roll, with mixed results", Nashville Scene, May 20, 1999, retrieved 23 December 2009
  4. ^ Lilys, Chart Stats
  5. ^ Bruchman, Bryan (2008) "Lilys played Bell House (pics), opening for MBV @ Roseland", Brooklyn Vegan, September 22, 2008, retrieved 24 December 2009
  6. ^ "Lilys reunited for two shows at Baby's All Right, playing FREE BV CMJ party on Saturday night (pics / setlist / video)". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  7. ^ "Lilys repressing 'Eccsame The Photon Band' on vinyl; Brooklyn shows are this weekend". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  8. ^ "Lilys sold out Baby's, add Philly & second Brooklyn show". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  9. ^ Rapa, Patrick (2006) "Tall Tale Storyline: A brief history of the amazing Lilys.", Philadelphia City Paper, February 16–22, 2006, retrieved 23 December 2009
  10. ^ a b c Howard, Brian (2003) "A Man Up", Philadelphia City Paper, 22–28 May 2003, retrieved 23 December 2009
  11. ^ Orgera, Alexandra; Saul, James; Howard, Brian, & Rapa, Patrick (2006) "The Lilys Family Tree", Philadelphia City Paper, February 16–22, 2006, retrieved 23 December 2009
  12. ^ Mosurak, Doug (2005) "Still Single, Vol. 3", Dusted, 2005, retrieved 24 December 2009
  13. ^ "Here’s Neko Case With The Weather". Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  14. ^ Lewis, Catherine P. (2006) "Lilys Everything Wrong Is Imaginary", Washington Post, February 3, 2006, retrieved 23 December 2009
  15. ^ Sandlin, Michael (1999) "Lilys The 3-Way", Pitchfork Media, April 20, 1999, retrieved 24 December 2009
  16. ^ Chang, Vickie (2006) "Sounds Just Like Awesome: 90s rockers the Lilys ripped off pretty much every band ever", OC Weekly, July 6, 2006, retrieved 24 December 2009

External links[edit]