Lucid Nation

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Lucid Nation
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Alternative rock
Riot grrrl
Years active 1995–present
Labels Brain Floss
Members Tamra Spivey
Ronnie Pontiac
Dave Greene
Margaret Maldonado
Phoenix LaFollette
Past members Debbie Haliday
Erin McCarley
Tia Sprocket
Margaret Maldonado
Danette Lee
Patty Schemel
Greta Brinkman
Larry Schemel
Diane Naegel
LaFrae Sci
Ken Schalk
Rob Cournoyer
Justin Citron
Jody Bleyle
Denise Saffren
John Sellers

Lucid Nation is an American Los Angeles-based experimental rock band formed in 1995. More multimedia collective than traditional band Lucid Nation projects include zines, documentary films, e-books, art, and Newtopia Magazine's second incarnation. Lucid Nation is on their own independent record label Brain Floss Records.


The band was formed in Los Angeles in 1995, when founding drummer, Debbie Haliday, met Tamra Spivey and Ronnie Pontiac. Spivey and Pontiac were already playing in a band called Cat Cult, which was short lived. The three soon formed Lucid Nation and had their first live gig, a fundraiser for a riot grrrl art and zine collective known as Revolution Rising. The show was at a club called Cell 63, where they opened for two local riot grrrl bands: TummyAche and Crown for Athena. Debbie, Tamra and Ronnie became members of the collective.

Their next show was in a downtown LA art gallery opening for Team Dresch, followed by a show opening for Bikini Kill in Montebello. Lucid Nation toured the West Coast next, playing seven riot grrrl conventions in one summer. They also backed Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn at several live shows.

After her apartment was ransacked and a gang member was shot dead in the doorway to her apartment building, Haliday decided to move back to Florida for college. Spivey compiled the band's work thus far and put out an album entitled The Stillness of Over (1997). The album reached #11 most added on the CMJ charts.

Tamra Spivey on The Stillness of Over: "'The Stillness of Over' has a triple meaning. Obviously it refers to the exit of Debbie, and also to the end of the golden age of riot grrrl. But 'The Stillness of Over' is also the instant when a hurdle is cleared."

The last track of the CD featured a guest drummer, Nick Romero (of The Limeys), who joined the band after Haliday left.[1] The track was recorded live at a protest show headlined by iconic activist and poet John Sinclair during the Republican National Convention in San Diego.

In 1997 Tamra Spivey's zine writing was included in A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution (St. Martin's Press, 1997)

With Romero on drums they were most often playing at Impala in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. They focused on improvisation, including lyrics. When Romero left, Erin McCarley took over on drums. Spivey had met McCarley in an online riot grrrl newsgroup. McCarley was also in charge of the first riot grrrl chapter in the O.C. At this point, McCarley introduced the band to the peace punk scene. In 1998, they released their second album, American Stonehenge.[2]

At Koo's Anarchist Cafe in Santa Ana, California the band played matinees promoted by Jang Lee and Erin McCarley, including Food Not Bombs fundraisers. At these shows they became acquainted with the local Black Panther movement, which had renamed itself New African Vanguard. New African Vanguard helped distribute Lucid Nation zines including Eracism to prisons all over the western United States. Lucid Nation's "The Stillness of Over" was positively reviewed in the Black Panther newspaper. While on their national tour, McCarley had to fly home, and the band had to replace her. They turned to Tia Sproket, formerly of Sexpod, who was on a break from touring with Luscious Jackson. After the tour, the band (Spivey and Pontiac) invited Sproket to write and record with them back in L.A. Spivey's former bass teacher, Margaret "Grit" Maldonado (bassist from Girl Jesus), began playing with them. Guitarist Danette Lee (formerly of Butt Trumpet) was also added when Sproket arrived Christmas 1998. They shortly began to record and were close to signing with Danny Goldberg's Artemis Records, but faced with a decision between mixes made by Neil Perry (who had worked with Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins) or Nitebob (whoworked with Iggy and the Stooges, New York Dolls, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper) and Mike Barile (who worked with Candiria), they decided to go with the latter two and began mixing at Unique Studios on Time Square, where Tupac was shot.

Before this group of musicians could perform their first gig together in Olympia, Washington (headlining a fundraiser for The Transfused at the Capital Theatre), the band imploded and did not sign with Artemis Records. However, the band put out a CD in 1999 of those recordings titled DNA. Holly Woodlawn provided spoken word for the song "L.A. River," a song Rolling Stone's guitarist Keith Richards called "marvelous". The band name after that was often displayed with a capitalized DNA in the middle: luciDNAtion. Two songs from DNA "Las Vegas the Instrumental" and "Fun" were chosen by Sasha Grey for two scenes in avant garde porn filmmaker Jack the Zipper's "Naked and Famous"[3] Alternative Press singled out the song "Las Vegas the Instrumental" when Lucid Nation was included in their "100 Bands You Need to Know: 2002".

In 1999 Tamra Spivey's zine writing was included in Hillary Carlip's book Zine Scene (Girl Press, 1999)

In 2000 Lucid Nation put out another collection of recordings from the same sessions called Suburban Legends, a totally improvisational album. The album was the least popular Lucid Nation album on college radio stations.[citation needed] However, the album got the attention of Randy Roark (assistant to Allen Ginsberg for sixteen years) who was interested in Spivey's writing. In 2002 Laccoon Press released "Dialogue of a Hundred Preoccupations" by Roark and Spivey.[4]

In February 2001 the band recorded a live show at the college radio station KXLU, in L.A. during one of the worst storms Southern California had ever seen. The gig would become their fourth album. The only members of Lucid Nation left from the previous group of musicians were Spivey and Pontiac (two of the three original members). The rest of the band at this time consisted of the following:

  • John Sellers on bass.
  • Troy Taroy on guitar.
  • Liam Philpot on saxophone.
  • Craig Waters on drums.

The album was named Nonpoetic Rain:Live on KXLU and distributed in a limited edition of just one hundred home made signed CDs.[5]

In 2002 the band came out with a double CD of improvised songs named Tacoma Ballet. Patty Schemel (of Hole) played drums and Greta Brinkman (of Moby's backing band) was on bass. Larry Schemel of The Flesh-eaters and Midnight Movies played guitar. Diane Naegel was recruited on keyboards and Lucid Nation recorded the whole album in Tacoma, Washington at Uptone Studio. There were no rehearsals, and Diane had never played with a band before. The band recorded fifty-two tracks, thirty-two of which ended up on the album. Recording ended on September 10, 2001 and several of the songs foreshadowed 9/11 including the phrase "homeland security" and the chorus "everything's falling down" from the song "Fall." After some rearrangement, the songs were revealed to depict a story about a girl who realized the hypocrisy of her town, her family, and herself .[6][7] source 7 Tacoma Ballet was broken into two discs of sixteen songs each. The first was labeled What is the Answer? and the second one was named What is the Question? (inspired by the final words of Gertrude Stein). The album gained critical praise from Rolling Stone, Magnet Tacoma Ballet hit #8 most added on the College Music Journal charts in July 2002.

In January 2002 the band recorded Tribeca Shockwave with New Yorkers Lafrae Sci on drums and Jezebel Kipp on bass, keys and production. The recordings include many references to 9/11.

After 9/11 Tamra refused to tour, telling her fans that it would by hypocritical to sing songs protesting oil wars while burning fossil fuels during long drives. Lucid Nation has expressed a desire to stay out of the mainstream,[citation needed] but Tacoma Ballet did bring them somewhat into the spotlight of small college and commercial stations with playlists chosen by DJs, known as the secondary market in the music business. There was a chart to measure those stations, called the New Music Weekly Combined College Radio and Secondary Chart (aka NMW Chart). By November, Lucid Nation had broken through to the top five on the NMW Chart and reached #1 in December 2002, after six months of slowly climbing, with more spins than Ryan Adams, The Breeders, The Donnas, The Vines, Beck, or The Pixies, becoming the first freestyle rock record to hit #1 without tour support or radio promotion.[8]

From July 2002 to October 2005 Tamra Spivey was an Art Editor and then Senior Editor for Newtopia Magazine, an award winning website of progressive politics and under reported news. Ronnie Pontiac was Art Editor, a member of the New Poetry Collective and then Poet in Residence for Newtopia Magazine. Individually and in collaboration they produced articles on Jean Smith, Michael Ruppert, Danny Goldberg, Larry Tramutola, Rachel Corrie, and others. [9]

2004 saw the recording of mung jung bushi with Jean Smith on guitar and David Lester of Mecca Normal on guitar. Also on MJB was LaFrae Olivia Sci on drums and keyboard. There were no vocals on this album. The album name 'mung jung bushi' was thought up by Jean, and is a rough combination of Chinese and Japanese meaning "grumpy dance".

In 2005 Lucid Nation released a 'best of' album named Public Domain: The Best of Lucid Nation. This compilation featured songs spanning the entire career of Lucid Nation. Also on the CD was a song titled FUBAR, which Lucid Nation collaborated with Jody Bleyle of Team Dresch and Hazel on. This song was originally created for the P.E.T.A. compilation by Fat Wreck, but rejected because it was "too raw". Denise Saffren of Wench played drums.

In January 2006, Tamra Spivey also began a process she named The Hundred Song March. With the help of Jonathan Krop for programming, Tamra began to post one song every day for about one hundred and fifty days, starting in January. The songs were posted chronologically, from least recent to most recent. They were all available for free download by MP3, RSS, and podcast.[10]

In Summer of 2006, Lucid Nation recorded improvisational sessions with Ken Schalk of Candiria on drums and Justin Citron on guitar. Tamra Spivey has released a few rough mixes from "A Bird in the Stairwell" (her name for the collected sessions) including the YouTube videos "Stray" "Token Voter" and "Pretzels for Algernon."[11]

In Summer of 2007, Lucid Nation recorded songs with drummer Rob Cournoyer and guitarist Justin Citron. Again, only rough mixes have been shared including the YouTube videos "Last Day of Pretend", "Pressure Cooker" and "World's Guiltiest Pleasure."[12]

In 2008 Lucid Nation headlined RockNRead at the VirginMega on Hollywood Boulevard where they covered a protest song written by Alex Maranjian called "Bring My Brothers Home" which became the band's most popular YouTube video.[13]

In Summer of 2008 Tamra Spivey and Ronnie Pontiac associate produced The Gits documentary with Executive Producer Danny Goldberg and Liberation Entertainment.[14]

In Fall of 2008 Tamra Spivey collaborated with Danny Goldberg to connect music artists and management with the Obama campaign to help bring rally concerts to key counties. [15]

In 2010 Lucid Nation released "Second Skin by The Gits with guest drummer Steve Moriarity, who played with the original Gits.

In 2011 Rookie included Lucid Nation in Girl Germs, its list of favorite riot grrrl songs.[16] Lucid Nation provided the music for deaf Muslim punk playwright and filmmaker Sabina England's experimental performance and video Vazzxo Alien Dance.[17] Mixing and new recordings continued with the advice of skilled veteran producers Rob Fraboni and George Daly. Both Tamra and Ronnie Pontiac became bloggers for the relaunch of Newtopia Magazine. Tamra's first blog for the relaunch was an interview with Kelly Heresy a day one occupier at OccupyWallStreet, the first protestor pepper sprayed.[18] Her interviews include presidential candidate and former governor Buddy Roemer, celebrated documentary director Rob Kenner, writer Marianne Williamson, poet and AIM activist John Trudell, Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey, legendary music producer Rob Fraboni, and the Beehive Design Collective.[19]

In 2012 Tamra became a digital outreach assistant for 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film. She connected the directors with the Brooklyn Film Coop and organized the initial submissions to the film's YouTube channel. In 2013 the film premiered at Sundance.

In June 2012 Lucid Nation's Mommie Dearest the Musical, a rock parody, was released on YouTube.[20]

In 2013 Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War a documentary by Jesse Acevedo about the Cuban hip hop legends Los Aldeanos premiered at Miami International Film Festival where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.[21] The documentary played the Sound + Vision Film Festival at Lincoln Center on opening night. Tamra Spivey and Ronnie Pontiac are among the several executive producers of the film. In 2013 Tamra Spivey and Ronnie Pontiac as producers also began production on Exile Nation: The Plastic People a documentary about Zone Norte directed by Charles Shaw[disambiguation needed]. In 2013 Tamra Spivey and Ronnie Pontiac as producers also began production on GRRRL a documentary short about the riot grrrl movement. GRRRL featuring songs by Lucid Nation, Bikini Kill, Pagan Holiday and others, augments Alien She, the first comprehensive museum exhibit about riot grrrl, hosted by Carnegie Mellon University, and touring other museums for three years. Lucid Nation's song "Landmark" is included in the exhibit's California section.[22]

In 2014 Tamra Spivey and Ronnie Pontiac became producers for Angie Young's documentary The Incest Machine and a documentary about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Charles Shaw titled At Home in the Dark. In May 2014 Lucid Nation was filmed in rehearsal and interviewed for a riot grrrl documentary by Sonia Gonzalez for Arte the French/German arts channel. Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War screened at IDFA2014, Movies That Matter at the Hague, was chosen for the Embassies Program, and won the Student Jury Award at One World 2014 in Prague and the Student Jury Award at the Kraków Film Festival. Edward James Olmos became executive producer and narrator of Exile Nation: The Plastic People, became available on Netflix in February 2015. In March 2015 an excerpt from Ronnie Pontiac's first novel The School of Outlaws will be featured in Exterminating Angel Press: The Magazine.

In Jan. 2015 Rookie included Lucid Nation in its list "Staying Power: Music that endures." [23] In February 2015 band members Tamra, Ronnie and Grit Maldonado appeared on a panel about riot grrrl for UCLA's History of Punk class.


Rolling Stone wrote "If Spivey sounds spacey, she's not. Her songs range from aggressive, screaming punk to beautifully melodic rhythm and blues, the very definition of garage rock. Like Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill -- Lucid Nation has opened for both -- her band's music is raw, poetic, sloppy and infectious...simply bare-bones, kick-ass rock and roll."[24]

Magnet wrote "a punk rock Exile on Main Street with shades of The Stooges, riot grrrl, Pere Ubu, and even The Doors."[citation needed]

Mario Mesquita Borges of Allmusic wrote "Lucid Nation's creations expose fierce streams of experimentalism within the rock genre by captioning a singular set of conceptual alternative pop/rock style, somehow following a similar trail as the one unclosed by Sonic Youth... "[25]

Band members[edit]

Past members[edit]

  • Debbie Haliday, drums, guitar, vocals
  • Nitebob, guitar
  • Diane Naegal, keyboard
  • Jody Bleyle, bass
  • Greta Brinkman, bass
  • Danette Lee, guitar
  • Justin Citron, guitar
  • LaFrae Sci, drums
  • Lita Penaherrera, keyboard
  • Erin McCarley, drums, guitar, bass, vocals
  • Liam Philpot, saxophone
  • Nick Romero, drums
  • Denise Saffren, drums
  • Larry Schemel, guitar
  • Patty Schemel, drums
  • John Sellers, bass
  • Tia Sprocket, drums
  • Kristian Storli, guitar
  • Troy Taroy, guitar
  • Craig Waters, drums
  • Ken Schalk, drums
  • Rob Cournoyer, drums
  • Jimmy Shines, harp
  • Art Johnson, fiddle
  • Mardhavi Sakuntala, bass
  • Holly Woodlawn, spoken word
  • Imran Asif, drums
  • Jason Kirk, bass
  • Jezebel Kipp, bass



  • The Stillness of Over, 1997.
  • American Stonehenge, 1998.
  • DNA, 1999.
  • Suburban Legends, 2000.
  • Tribeca Shockwave, 2001, unreleased.
  • Nonpoetic Rain: Live on KXLU, 2001.
  • Tacoma Ballet, 2002.
  • Ecosteria: 2006-2012, unreleased


  • Public Domain: The Best of Lucid Nation, 2005.
    • FUBAR, single, 2005, included in this compilation.


  1. ^ "Archive: The Stillness of Over (1997)". Official band site. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  2. ^ "Archive: American Stonehenge (1998)". Official band site. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  3. ^ "Archive: DNA (1999)". Official band site. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  4. ^ "Tamra Spivey Interview November 2001". Randy Roark. 2001-11-01. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  5. ^ "Cat Cult: The Origins of Lucid Nation". Official band site. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  6. ^ Nichols, Kimberly (2002). "Interview: Lucid Nation's Tamra Spivey". 3:AM Magazine. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  7. ^ "Featured Artist: Lucid Nation". gURLmusic. Archived from the original on 2003-02-18. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  8. ^ "TradeBit". Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  9. ^ "Newtopia Magazine". Official band site. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  10. ^ "What is This?". Official band site. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  11. ^ "YouTube – Lucid Nation – Stray". Lucid Nation. 2008-12-25. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  12. ^ "YouTube – Lucid Nation – World's Guiltiest Pleasure". Lucid Nation. 2008-10-19. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  13. ^ "The Rockers". RockNRead. 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  14. ^ "Us (Credits)". The Gits Movie. 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  15. ^ "Some Love from Tamra to You". MySpace. 2008-11-05. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  16. ^ "Girl Germs". Rookie. 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  17. ^ "Vazzko Alien Dance". 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  18. ^ "Mongrel Patriot Review". 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Mommie Dearest the Musical". YouTube. 2012. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Alien She". Carnegie-Mellon University. 2013. 
  23. ^ "Staying Power". Rookie. 2015. 
  24. ^ Friedland, Benjamin (2002-08-19). "Lucid Nation Make Improvised Misery". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  25. ^ Mesquita Borges, Mario. "Lucid Nation > Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 

External links[edit]