Achieving a lifelong dream is something that all of us pursue, but the reality is that a lot of the times we fall short. When their hit My Own Worst Enemy reached the airwaves and topped the charts around the country, that lifelong dream was achieved for Kevin Baldes and the rest of the band Lit. “In ‘99 when My Own Worst Enemy took off, all of our dreams came true. We worked for years playing clubs and whatnot. All of us collectively had a dream to play the bigger stages and play in front of people like our heroes did, like Iron Maiden and Van Halen,” says Baldes. “Our dreams were realized at that point, and we hit the road. Things got bigger and bigger, and faster and faster.” Sure enough, the record that the single was on, A Place in the Sun, went platinum, and the rest was history. But stardom did not fall onto the lap of Lit overnight; the band spent many years of working hard to achieve their dreams of becoming the rock stars they are today.
Founded in 1989 under the name Razzle, they began recording demo tapes and EPs until eventually signing with a record label. Starting up in the 1990s, the band faced many challenges that bands today do not have to face. “We played a lot of clubs and we promoted ourselves via flyers. There was no internet at the time, so it was all about flyers,” said Baldes. On talking about what they did to get themselves out there: “We used to go out and plaster handbills on boxes on the side of the freeway. We did everything possible to get our name out and promote shows. We had stickers, demo tapes, all that stuff.”
It was a long road from Lit’s beginnings as an alternative rock band from Orange County, California to a platinum record, but the band was unwavering and persevered through the tougher times. When a lot of their friends moved on towards sports and other activities, Lit decided to stick with it, due to their passion and heart for music. Soon enough, though, their hard work and effort paid off. My Own Worst Enemy was released and became a hit right off the bat. Suddenly, Lit began to move away from the smaller club scene, toward bigger and bigger venues. Eventually, they were asked to go on tour with other 90s alt rock giant, The Offspring. Through this tour they were able to gain an even greater exposure playing huge shows such as Woodstock 1999 and the Warped Tour. “We were on tour with The Offspring at the time, so Woodstock was just another stop on the tour, except on a much grander scale,” said Baldes.
They would add to their already impressive resume by going on tours with other 90s star acts Garbage and No Doubt, even getting the opportunity to tour throughout Europe.
“You learn a lot, our crew learns a lot. It was a learning experience getting kind of thrown into the bigger leagues, going from little clubs to the bigger leagues. You learn the ropes from the guys that were on the road for years. By touring with a lot of the other Orange County bands like [The] Offspring and No Doubt, they were very cool about teaching our crew and tour managers the tricks of the trade. As far as bands teaching us things, they didn’t really teach us things. You just watch them and see what worked live and didn’t work live.”
Although Lit was living the dream, they were not without their own personal tragedies. Recently within the past few years, the band has faced a few years that were tough on them. Lead singer A. Jay Popoff and his brother/fellow band member lost their step-fatherin a tragic motor accident, with their mother also being severely injured. Then, in 2009, the band lost their drummer and long time friend Allen Shellenberger to brain cancer. These tragedies have served the band to see things differently, and has such affected and even inspired their songwriting and style.
On June 19th, 2012, Lit released their newest album The View From the Bottom. “There’s the normal, partying kind of songs that Lit is known for. We’re a bit older now and we have experienced some of the life stuff that adults go through. Each song has a unique story,” Kevin explained. When asked what the band’s favorite song on the album is, Kevin compared it to picking your favorite child. However, he did single out a song called The Wall, which he described as “just a picture to most people, but to the band members, there’s just a lot more there.”
The other song on the album that struck Kevin was The Broken. “It reflects the past seven years with some of the traumatic stuff that we’ve gone through. In the chorus it says you can’t break the broken and its kind of a snapshot of where the band is write now. It’s our anthem right now, our ‘we won’t back down’ kind of anthem,” said Kevin.
And backing down is something that is not on the band’s radar. After the death of Allen, Lit got together to discuss whether or not to continue. They ultimately decided to persevere, though, and grow from the tragedies, which led to their latest album. Today, Lit is currently in the midst of touring the country once again. Their album The View From the Bottom is available in stores and on iTunes. To keep up with Lit, check out their website at www.litband.com.