In With the Serotonin Crowd
5HT's mood-elevating rock rises out of isolation
David Lyon of alternative-rock band 5HT—who recently returned from a 10-year sabbatical—feels a bit isolated in San Clemente, but as a recluse, he's found that isolation's not so bad.
Where is 5HT based?
We live in San Clemente. The drawback is that we're not immersed like in LA, where you can walk down the street and see a band. We're a little isolated. In the end, it works for who we are. We're reclusive personalities.
So 5HT were a band called the Shade in the mid-'90s, and you broke up but re-formed 10 years later?
Pretty much. I went away for graduate school and moved out to Nashville for a while. It was career-related, deciding to be a grown-up for a while. Then I moved back in 2004. We had talked about it on the phone before I came back, that we should get the band back together.
But the band name changed?
Yeah. For one, I don't think the drummer liked the name. And we found that there was a band in Pittsburgh called Shade. They had a MySpace page and everything, so we decided to change our name.
Do you still play songs you wrote in the earlier version of the band?
We have probably 12 songs we've played from the previous period, and we've written some new songs since getting back together.
What's it like playing songs 10 years after you wrote them?
More than anything, we're tired of those songs, so probably half of those we hardly play. But we've done things like reduced the amount of effects on the guitar because back in the '90s, it was all flanger and digital delay. I've gone for a cleaner sound now.
Does that have anything to do with being 10 years older?
It maybe has to do with being older. A lot of our early songs came from listening to alternative bands in the '80s. It's probably because we're older. It sounds like I'm trying to rationalize it.
What are some other differences between the first time around with the band and now?
We have more money now, so we're able to buy equipment. I think we feel more comfortable with however things work out with the band, so long as we are able to play a couple of times a week. If things work out a little for us, that would be great. But there's no pressure because of our age. We're comfortable where we are. We have other responsibilities. And we don't have the pressure of “Should we try to make it in the band, or should we get real jobs?” We have real jobs, and the pressure is off. But having said that, we're trying to make a push to get some recognition and to play more clubs because we do enjoy it.
Did you play any music while you lived in Nashville?
Not really. The nine years I was gone, I touched my guitar maybe a handful of times a year. I really took a break from it. So now there's this motivation to keep it going because it wasn't fun to be away from it.
What does the band name 5HT mean?
It's the abbreviation for the chemical name for serotonin: 5-hydroxytryptamine is what 5HT is short for. Drugs used to treat anxiety disorders and depression affect levels of serotonin in your brain. So we thought it would be appropriate to have something brain-related and psychology-related because that's what we're interested in.
Are you saying you want the band's effect on people to be similar to serotonin?
I didn't think of that, actually, but it sounds pretty good. At one point, I thought of goofy things like, “Your iPod needs more 5HT to be happy,” and geeky slogans like that. We wanted to be called Serotonin because it has a nice sound to it, but there are so many bands called Serotonin. But 5HT wasn't taken.