On Saturday afternoon, Burnheart’s Bar in Bay View will throw caution to the sub-zero, face-numbing February wind when it holds the first-ever Mitten Fest, an outdoor festival featuring live music, barrel-aged beer and local crafts. Despite the frosty conditions, Burnheart’s was able to round up an outstanding trio of bands to perform, most notably local punk heavyweight Call Me Lightning. The band has been relatively quiet since the release of 2010’s When I Am Gone My Blood Will Be Free, so we swapped e-mails with guitarist Nathaniel Lilley to get up to speed on the band’s recent whereabouts.
It's been a while since you guys played in Milwaukee – or anywhere, for that matter. What has the band been up to for the past few months?
We've mostly been writing and recording new songs at Shane's recording studio.
Any immediate plans for releasing the recordings?
They'll come out sooner than later, but we're still figuring out the details. We don't exactly rush things anymore.
Was there a time when you felt it was more important to release things quickly? What changed?
Well, we've never really worked quickly – there are generally two- or three-year gaps between releases. But we used to tour a decent amount and answer emails quickly and just, in general, worry about things more. I think, through 11 years of playing together – and all the ups and downs that come with that – we've maybe developed the patience to allow ourselves to not give a shit about getting anything done for extended periods of time. Sometimes practice is watching rap metal videos on YouTube. That said, we have a bunch of new stuff and, yes, we will be playing new songs at Mitten Fest.
Do you think rap metal has any redeeming qualities?
Absolutely. The YouTube videos are great. That's why we watch them instead of practicing.
There is a pretty noticeable shift in style between your last two records. Was that a conscious decision? And do the new songs seem to be moving in a different direction?
As far as the change in styles, that might fall under the umbrella of not giving a shit. Stakes are pretty low. We're only going to do what we like.
As you said, Call Me Lighting does what it likes. What did you guys like about the idea of playing Mitten Fest?
A block party in February is a ridiculous idea. It's going to be a ridiculous day.
Mitten Fest begins at 12 p.m. Saturday. It is a benefit for the Hunger Task Force, and will be accepting non-perishables, winter clothing or cash donations.