The Lost Clog (Pamesta Klumpė) is a band of Lithuanian Australians. It’s not the only one out there but definitely the most fun. The members of the band tend to interpret our traditional songs and dances in a local way – and that’s a very honest way indeed. They’ve actually managed to perform Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, dressed Lithuanian from head to toes, on Australian national TV.
The band’s newest album is called No Sleep Till Kaunas. Its promo shoot features a pack of Soviet fags and a matchbox with a picture of Soboras on it. When asked about whether these were precious souvenirs, Stepas Levickis, one of the founders of the band, told us Lithuanian Australians are more known for hoarding than collecting memorabilia, so anytime the band needs a promo shoot, they just raid one of their grandparents’ attics and find all sorts of vintage wears.
It’s worth liking The Lost Clog on Facebook, too. A new psychedelic profile picture collage containing the members of the band all tucked into a gigantic clog pops up on occasions like Christmas, Independence Day or something more private. Oh, well, handing the mic over to Stepas now – the man’s got a lot to tell!
How did the band come together and who was the mastermind of the project?
Me and my friend Gabrielle had often toyed with the notion of starting a post-Soviet Lithuanian acapella pagan folk bush band singing ensemble, and on one of our weekly Monday lunch-time meetings over beer and tacos we decided that the time was ripe.
All of the band members were all born in Australia. We kept our interest in Lithuanian heritage through an active Melbourne Lithuanian community who encouraged us to join folk dancing, singing, scouts and potato worship groups.
We handpicked each of the other 8 members who we knew (or hoped) could sing, and were also fun people. Kind of like a Melbourne Lithuanian version of Oceans 11. But 10. And not thieves (that we know of).
Does the name of the band have any symbolical connection to the Cinderella tale?
It didn't, until now. We love the idea of finding the elusive calloused foot, just the right fit for our Lost Clog.
You’ve toured Lithuania before. What are your best memories of the trip?
The night swimming at the lake in Molėtai at Tundra, the love we received from our Lithuanian mother, Zita Kelmickaitė, and the warmth from our goddess, Veronika Povilionienė. The reception of the general Lithuanian public, too – because, let's face it, we were singing songs that are hundreds of years old in The Motherland, with Australian accents and interpretations - we would have understood if the Lithuanian public took one look at us and returned to watching Lietuvos Rytas vs Žalgiris replays.
We’ve seen pics of the band performing in a balcony on Laisvės avenue. That’s absolutely kaunastic. How did that happen?
Don't tell the lovely people at Metropolis Hotel what we did! That was the balcony of Alex's room, I'm not sure it was quite rated to fit all 10 of us (especially after 3 weeks of Lithuanian food). Fortunately for us they didn't notice, and it was the first stop on our busking tour of Kaunas, the final gig on our tour of Lithuania (and a little bit of Poland).
Your music is on the Lithuanian streaming site ‘Pakartot’ – was it your initiative? Do you get lots of feedback from Lithuania?
That was Jon's idea. The website has been a great vehicle to make our songs more accessible. Given our first album, Lost in Transnations is (almost) sold out (our Mums bought 20 CDs each) it saves a re-print. We get a bit of feedback via our Facebook page. For the most part it has been positive, but we note that we haven't been invited to represent Lithuania in Eurovision yet.
How do you choose the songs to perform? Is it something you would consult older Lithuanians about?
Some of our initial repertoire came from our parents, grandparents and other Melbourne Lithuanian folk ensembles which we had performed in. We try to learn the songs aurally – in the old traditional tradition of learning traditional folk music. Besides, none of us can read music. Another brilliant archive of Lithuanian folk music is the ancient tomes of YouTube. We love bands like Kūlgrinda, Ugniavijas, Gile and of course the Great Antanas Fokas and his boys in Sutaras. Every week Jievute comes to rehearsal with a new instrument she has seen one of the groups play. The latest is a hog skin drum.
The costumes of the band. Did you get them tailored for you?
The costumes are a collection of hand-me-downs and gifts. Some or the clothes are very old, owned by parents or grandparents. The Lithuanian uber-folk-disco-pancake cooking-band Sadūnai gifted the men some shirts, which we haven't taken off for a year.
We loved your tshirts of ‘Klumpė’. They're kind of suggesting you’re very laid back about traditions and are not afraid to incorporate modern methods. Is that right?
The ‘Klumpė’ t-shirts are a one off limited print, designed and gifted to the group by our sub-woofer, Jon. We wear them because black makes everyone 10% better looking. Vyt also designed a bright orange limited edition 110% owl t-shirt, which we love because we can find each other in the Lithuanian foggy bogs. And they are also helpful so that we no longer lose Lina and Tooty in the Lithuanian amber markets.
Tell us more about ‘No Sleep Till Kaunas’. Where does the name come from? The cover design of the album is also very interesting! Was the picture shot in Kaunas?
Aside from being a nod to the Beastie Boys album, No Sleep Till Brooklyn, the album title sums up our 2015 tour of Lithuania. Contrarily to the Beastie Boys, we never really had to fight for our right to party, we just had to make sure that someone took turns to look after the kids. The front cover image is from Siauliai, which was before Kaunas (our last stop) on the tour – hence the beds were not slept in.
Do you have fans outside of the Lithuanian Australian circle?
Fortunately for us, Melbourne is populated by uber-chic-hipster-world music loving-cold press coffee drinking-protagonists, who for some reason enjoy our music, and come to see us at festivals and concerts around the city. We have also performed all around Australia to audiences of Australians and Lithuanians alike. The Australian audiences have been very generous, and our mums tell the Lithuanian audiences to clap.
Questions by Kotryna Lingiene. Pictures by the band.
The article was published in the February edition of „Kaunas Full of Culture“ magazine.