To acquire wisdom, one must observe

An interview with Elliot Lozier of Doom Scroll

Elliot Lozier and I stood beneath an awning, both underdressed for the unexpectedly snowy weather. We spoke outside Deep Cuts, a Medford music venue where I sprained my ankle just five months prior—moshing to one of Lozier’s bands. Lozier had just finished his set with his newest band, Doom Scroll, which he formed about three years ago. 

Lozier is in many bands. During our conversation he mentioned Doom Scroll, Escape From the Zoo, We the Heathens and Atrocity Solution as his most active groups, though only the first two have toured or released new music in recent years. Lozier plays a variety of instruments depending on the group; drums, guitar, bass, mandolin and piano, not to mention a combination of background and leading vocals on all four projects. “But, it’s literally just, I have no life. And I learned every instrument … because I don’t get out. I’m a hermit.”

When I asked Lozier what genre he considers his music, Lozier said, “So with Doom Scroll … I like to call it acoustic punk … Escape from the Zoo … we always say we’re ska punk. And everyone’s like, no, you’re folk punk. I’m like, what makes us folk punk? Is it the mandolin? …  But you can’t—if you put a label on everything, you’re just stifling yourself and you can’t box yourself in like that. Music is so broad. Why would you do that to yourself?” 

He says his music draws influence from many places listeners would expect, metal, ska and punk, but Lozier has a distinctive sound, which he describes as “epic,” that shows up in all the music he writes. “I’m really into classical music and metal, and just really big sounding music … like movie scores … It’s so complex, but so moving. I wanted to try and portray that into my own music. And since I’ve been doing it for years, it’s just kind of how I write now.”

Lozier, now 34, has played music his whole life and started touring in high school. “I started Atrocity Solution when I was 14 … got put on [a hardcore punk] label when I was, like, 17, and [they] put us on a tour. And I missed high school to go on my first tour, and that catapulted my entire life, basically.” His earliest tour was a particularly tumultuous one. “… I was basically a child, I didn’t know any better … The band that we toured with completely trashed motels. And, we got the cops called on us more times than any other time I’ve ever been on tour. And, I thought that was just what it was.”

Touring has changed a lot for Lozier as he got older and attempted to make a living through his music. “Now, I’m definitely not some party animal … I’m in this for the music, mostly, and when I was a kid, I was in it for the experience.” But he has always liked going on tour. “It’s always an adventure. You never know what’s gonna happen … but it’s always fun. I always keep wanting to do it. So yeah, it must—it must be good.”

Doom Scroll, which is currently on tour on the West Coast, was a pandemic project for Lozier. After a wave of inspiration that led him to write, but only recently record, a 20-song album, he fell into an inspirational lull. Doom Scroll came out of him trying to do something completely different to escape that lull. When Lozier spoke about his songwriting process, he said, “It just happens, it’s like a weird mind thing, I don’t know how to explain it. You definitely can’t just say you’re gonna sit down and write a song, it does not work that way, at all. You have to go do something else, and kind of have a song in your brain. Off to the side … and then eventually, something clicks …” He also mentioned that he doesn’t write for a song, he writes for an album, “…this is how I write wildly different songs all the time… I’ll be like, Okay, so that’s a fast, happy song, so probably keep the fast happy songs to a minimum, let’s do a slow, sad song or a weird off tempo song here. And then that’s how I map it out in my brain.”

In Lozier’s other touring band, Escape from the Zoo, he has only written a few songs for the group. He expressed he likes performing a combination of his and his band members’ songs on stage. “I like to mix it up because playing my own songs all the time, it’s tiring … [it’s] kind of taking a brain break to play somebody else’s stuff.”

In addition to writing music and playing many instruments, Lozier is an illustrator. “I went to college for two years for illustration. But I dropped out because my teachers were like, you’re trying to do something that you don’t need a degree for, don’t waste your money, and I was like, alright, if you’re telling you this, I’ll get out of here.” He still illustrates on the side, drawing logos, t-shirt designs and album covers for bands as an additional income source. 

Near the end of our conversation, I asked Lozier if he had a five-year plan—which caused him to laugh and initially answer with a resounding no. “I tried to ask myself that five years ago, was wildly wrong. No, I’m not going to try and answer that.” But he continued, “I just hope I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, I guess. It’s what I love so I’m lucky enough to do it. Lucky enough to deal with amazing people. And I just hope it keeps going.”

For readers interested in listening to some of Elliot Lozier’s music he recommends, from Doom Scroll, the songs “When Will I Disappear,” “Boss Fight” and his favorites, “Automatic” and “Anoxic.” For more ska oriented readers who want to give Escape from the Zoo a try, Lozier recommends “12 Rounds” or “Sentient Beer.” His other two bands are also certainly worth a listen, for those inclined towards folk music, We the Heathens and for fans of hardcore or metal, Atrocity Solution.

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