Contrast Gray (formerly Lotus)
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Contrast Gray (formerly Lotus)


Band Rock Alternative


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"FLOWER POWER: Lotus Blossoms Into Rock Powerhouse"

A year ago, Lotus held the CD release party for its most recent album, ``Lost in Reality,'' at Maryville High School.

Tonight, after opening for national acts Strata and Crossfade a month ago, the band will headline its own show at Blue Cat's, the Knoxville venue known for hosting some of the biggest club acts in the nation.

It's a script right out of a fairy tale, but like most fairy tales, it's one that's taken a rocky road, from a complete turnaround in band philosophy to a steady ebb and flow of members. Through it all, original members Jason Williams, formerly of the band Surface/See Through Human, and Curt Davis, formerly of Fallen, have held strong, adamant in their determination and unwavering in their belief that Lotus is meant for great things.

``Here's the thing -- once we started playing shows, I told the guys, `I will have you playing at Blue Cat's,' because you have to set your sights high,'' Williams told The Daily Times this week. ``Now I'm telling them we're going to be playing all over the Southeast and spreading out. I believe in raising the bar a little higher and a little higher, and I refuse to take no for an answer.''

Williams and Davis, both graduates of Maryville High School, are joined in Lotus by guitarist Will Bolduc and bassist Nathan Brewster. The band came together in 2003, after Williams left See Through Human to focus on his singing instead of simply playing guitar. Bolduc and Brewster are relatively new additions to the band, which has gone through more than its fair share of lineup changes in the two years the members have been together.

``There's always the artistic differences between band members, but (former members Matt Bowling and Chad Silence) are still good friends of ours -- it's just that Lotus wasn't the thing for them,'' Williams said. ``Matt left last summer, and we went through a couple of guys until we found Will, who joined us in January, and Nate joined us back in March on bass. Chad left back in April, and it's still up in the air whether we're going to replace him or not.

``We're functioning great as a four-piece, and we couldn't ask for anything better, but I'm not opposed to bringing in a fifth member on guitar, even though five people cut down on the amount of stuff you can do on stage. Of course it's hard when you lose band members, especially a key member like Chad, and we thought about changing names and revamping everything from there, but for Curt and I, since we've been a part since the beginning, it's almost like the band is bigger than the individual pieces. We wanted to keep it going, and we think a lot of people already know us as Lotus, so we didn't want to change it.''

In the beginning, Lotus focused on hard-driving rock chords with an emphasis on the vocals. The band's influences include Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven, Soundgarden and more. Lotus' album, ``Lost in Reality,'' is a power-packed 10-song collection, with a focus on introspective, positive lyrics.

There's a reason for the upbeat lyrics, even though the hook-laden power chords reverberate with faintly ominous undertones. When the band first started out, Lotus was a Christian rock band. It's an awkward subject, and a delicate one, but it's a part of the band's history. And although Lotus isn't a Christian band anymore, that doesn't mean that the members have turned their backs on religion or started worshipping the devil.

``We did start out as a Christian band, but we also feel very bad calling ourselves a Christian band, because we're not perfect individuals,'' Davis said. ``We all believe in God, and we go to church whenever we can, but we don't want to be held up as an example. When you're a Christian band, you've got to have a positive image, but unfortunately, life isn't all peaches and roses.

``It sucks sometimes, and for me, that's the only time I feel like writing music, when things are dark and upsetting. Going from a Christian band to being in a secular band has been a lot more liberating as far as where you can play and what you can write about. The thing is, though we never really woke up one morning and said, `Hey, we're secular.' It's been more of a process of evolution.''

A few fans of Lotus the Christian band were disappointed when the group became Lotus the secular band, Davis said. But, Williams added, the process took on a life of its own and became the right path for the band to take, even though some fans may have felt the members ``turned to the dark side,'' as Davis jokingly described it.

``From my standpoint, we never intended to be a Christian rock band, but because other members had had those roots, that's where we started,'' Williams said. ``We're all about making the best music, the best rock music, possible, and we discovered that to do that, we couldn't pigeonhole ourselves.

``There's so much more to each of us than just our religious backgrounds. Our spirituality is a big part of who we are, but everybody in t - The Daily Times - Steve Wildsmith

"Lotus - Lost in Reality"

If you even considered, for one moment, adding Thornley's album Come Again to so much as your wish list, if you've ever hummed a few bars of Fuel or Breaking Benjamin as it played on the radio, and if you've ever looked somebody in the face at the mention of Chevelle and said, 'yeah, they're all right,' you are automatically in the category of MUST-BUY-THIS-CD-NOW. No, I'm dead serious.

This is the most anti-genre rock CD I have ever heard, much less heard out of this region. I can envision singles off this CD playing on pop stations, rock stations, almost blues stations, even alternative and possibly even hardcore radio. This is rock at it's best- always satisfying, never watered down... wait, that's beer. Well, this is the Bud Light of rock beers- everybody and their friggin' momma drinks it. And not that I'm a beer drinker, but it's good beer. Such with this CD.

You're never going to confuse two songs on this album, which is a rarity in any CD I own, local or not, all of them, at some point, pick some riff that must linger into one or two more songs. I've tried. I can't catch them doing it. This is the ultimate in 5 piece CDs, this is Nirvana had Cobain decided to write a few more songs, this is Aerosmith had they barred the doors against DJs and the proverbial bad techno, this is Tool if Maynard ever decided to quit whining about Christianity, this is Creed, if they ever decided they wanted to write lyrics about real life, and this is Yellowcard, if they ever decided to abandon the whiny nasal twang and actually learn how to sing from the bloody diaphragm.

This is one of those albums simply defined as rock. You can jam to it with the whole family- but it's still cool to stick in the car with you and your best friend when you can't agree on Metallica or Incubus.

The technical and musical merit of this CD is phenomenal. It's not one of those extreme progressive CDs, where you have to sit for a minute to try to figure out how you went from part A to part B, musically. Granted, the intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format is stuck to religiously, but part A to part B makes sense! I, who cannot play a guitar part to save my soul, or even follow the path of simple drumbeats, understand! There are no psycho key or beat shifts, like you so often find in amateur bands. Now, to be fair, track 7, "Best Laid Plans" does have a skewy shift mid-chorus, with the accents going from 2 and 4 to 1 and 3, but it's done so repetitively that, with a little effort and a couple of listens, you catch the gist of it quickly. It actually becomes one of the songs more endearing qualities- heck, it's my favorite track.

One of the best parts of this band is the sheer number and professionalism of effects they have at their disposal. Unlike most amateurs, Chad doesn't dump every pedal on you at once, leaving you with a very messy, very distorted, Honey-get-the-shotgun kind of sound. One pedal at a time- thank God! And used effectively to make songs stand out at intros, add those heartbreaking twangs to the solo in "Come Another Day," give you the acoustic godsmack sound in the beginning of "My Broken J.A.W." to the slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am of the chorus. Bravo on doing the damn thing right.

If they'd drag out the keyboard, we'd have Maroon 5 or Semisonic. The girl's choir, though a marvelous touch, reminded me of Celine Dion. Still, I liked it.

My biggest piece of advice for you is to keep an eye on this band- if any band in this region gets a number 1 radio single, this will be them. Period.

- - Kay McCoy


Lost in Reality - 2004
The Lotus EP - 2005
To the Point of Chaos - 2006



Originally formed as Lotus in the summer of 2003, Contrast Gray quickly set out to make a name for themselves East Tennessee area. Their drive and ambition paid off and has resulted in them opening for such national acts as CROSSFADE, 30 SECONDS TO MARS, STRATA and LUNA HALO.

Their sound is a progressive mixture of everything they love about rock, all while maintaining a modern style that is distinctively their own.

With the release of Lotus' 2004 CD "Lost in Reality", they earned rave reviews from fans, club owners and radio stations and their energetic live show proves why so many people believe they are not a band you want to miss!

2006 promises to be a big year for the band....armed with a new name and a new CD ("To the Point of Chaos" to be released February 8, 2006), Contrast Gray is ready to break out into other music scenes across the southeast!