Churls: “Born on the Fourth of July” | Hear Lincoln 2014 Preview



words by Jacob Zlomke

There’s an unmistakable impression of long days at the beach, late-night summer parties and quiet evenings on front porches in Churls music.

Indeed, it’s those types of spaces where Churls has found themselves playing most often and at their most comfortable. To hear them tell it, the group was basically born on a front porch, too. Most of all, though, Churls’ driving spirit is akin to what draws friends together around a campfire; camaraderie, the heady buzz of realized friendship.

Churls takes the opening stage for Hear Lincoln on Friday at noon for a somewhat rare performance. They’ll bring their collective sunshine-pop to 13th and O streets in an effort, according to them, to spread their churlish spirit to an audience that usually wouldn’t be found at their house shows and camping trips.

At its core, Churls is made up of sisters Lisa and Emily Lux and E. Grant E., but beyond that, just about anyone is welcome to come hang out on the front porch or sit around the campfire. Of course, there are faces that appear consistently in the lineup: Teal Gardner and Jim Schroeder of UUVVWWZ, Joe Knapp of Son, Ambulance, Dylan Strimple, who has played with Icky Blossoms and Son, Ambulance and Brit Marie Varisko. Sometimes all eight of them are present, sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, sometimes there are entirely different performers in the Churls ranks.

And it’s not just the collective spirit that harkens front-porch-nights slowly turning to dawn. Churls is conscious in its approach, with songs like “On the Beach” that directly reference the exact setting where you might want to hear, or better yet, play along with a Churls song. The vocal harmonies are in the light, tree-swaying breeze. Throwing your voice in with the pop-melodies seems as natural as digging toes into the sand.

Hear Nebraska: What was your first public show in Lincoln, how did it go? How are you different now?

Churls: [We’re] not quite certain what our first show in Lincoln was (our first show ever was Fourth of July at an Omaha pool party), but [we] think it may have been an outdoor show we did at the (then new) Antelope Valley development for Grant’s birthday. We chose to play under one of the bridges because we loved what the city did there.

We like playing non-traditional shows, we didn’t advertise or put flyers up it was just friends telling friends and we had a great turnout. The show went really well, our churlish community of friends was there and people really enjoyed themselves. We aren’t that different now: our main goal is still just to have fun and try to pass that on to others. The only difference [we] would say is that with more people wanting to see us now we are having to play more electric shows, which is really different for us and not what we prefer.

HN: What’s your earliest musical memory?

Churls: My earliest musical memory is singing in the kids’ church choir in Broken Bow and memorizing my first song, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” I was really proud of memorizing a song and wouldn’t shut up about it. It might also be singing Ace of Base, and All 4 One’s “I Swear” with my brother and sister in a car. I also remember my parents having to implement a rule of “no singing at the dinner table” at a very early age, for both Lisa and I. (Emily Lux)

Leaving the “game over’ music from Zelda on because I didn’t want to stop hearing the melody. [And] I also couldn’t figure out how The Beatles got their voices to sound that way when they were harmonizing and I asked my parents about it because I liked it so much. (E. Grant E.)

My first memory of exploring my own voice was singing Disney songs in the bathtub with Emily. (Lisa Lux)

HN: What do you anticipate the experience of playing such a non-traditional venue to such a non-traditional audience will be like for you?

Churls: We've made a career out of pool parties and barbecues. If this show is anything like that, we'll fit right in. Hopefully people will get a chance to relax and loosen their boogie shoes.

HN: What’s your best pitch for the people of downtown Lincoln weekday crowd that wouldn’t typically go see your band?

Churls: “Churls just want to have fun.” -Lisa  

“Come taste our pudding. The proof is in it.” -Grant

“Now we’re just advertising for pudding.” -Lisa

“No, it’s a saying, you eat the pudding and the proof is in the pudding.” -Grant

“It just seems like a jello ad.” -Lisa

“No, it’s like English, look up the proof is in the pudding, like Yorkshire pudding.” -Grant

“Like you could tell how good the meat was?” -Lisa

“Yeah, when you eat it, the pudding.” -Grant

HN: Do you think there is a disconnect between Lincoln’s creative community and business community? Why or why not? If so, do you see a solution? With that in mind, how do you think Hear Lincoln plays a role?

Churls: Business Technology Communities. Churls really likes to take care of business (much like the BTC guys), so when you think about it we aren't really that different.

The creative community (i.e. the serfs) … Lincoln is a capitalist society, however, the creative minds need to be valued on par with the business pigs and purely economic interest. Our contribution to this society is more important than their contribution, but if we are at least treated as equals, it could quell an uprising. Thanks for the 200 bucks, good luck. Guess what, you made us louder. Empower the Churl. Churl ON! Churls just wanna have fun! Oh wait, what does “disconnect” mean?

More real answer: Everybody’s a churl. Churls come in all shapes and sizes. Churls could be disguised in business suits.

HN: If you could (metaphorically) toss one of your songs into the window of a car on its way out of town on O Street, which one and why?

Churls: A ‘95 “Ultima Acura,” because [we’ve] always just loved those cars.

HN: What lunch is the best lunch to eat to your music? As in, what should people bring to your Friday show?

Churls: Eat local, eat fresh, share with the hungry.

HN: What’s one piece of constructive criticism you think has helped you in the time you’ve been playing/writing music?

Churls: “You guys should play more often. You guys should record your songs. You guys should get a website. How do you spell ‘Churls?’”

HN: Rep one other song by a Nebraska artists we should all add to our personal rotations.

Churls: “Prairie Kids” by Meaner Pencil. (Emily)

I’ve really been loving the music of some of the Karen groups in town. (Lisa)

“Ghosts/Imaginary Animals” by Ilaria Hawley or “Lincoln Area Agency on Aging” by Margot and Dustin. (Grant)

HN: Why do you want to play Hear Lincoln?

Churls: We have an interest in expanding our churl futures portfolio. Churls have been oppressed since medieval times. Churls need to be heard.  We love Lincoln.

HN: Best case scenario, what do you think Lincoln’s downtown weekday-business crowd will think of your performance?

Churls: They'll find the meaning of true love and remember what really matters in this world. If everybody loved each other, the world would be a better place.

HN: Do you see this kind of event as particularly important for Lincoln? Why?

Churls: Any event where Churls is can be very important if people are willing to really listen. Most of our fan base is in Lincoln so any time Churls play a "home town" show it strengthens community, much like a "corn husker" home game.

Jacob Zlomke is Hear Nebraska’s staff writer. Reach him at