Lit ready to rock Let’s Go Music Festival in Annapolis

Hear our full chat on my podcast “Beyond the Fame with Jason Fraley.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Lit in Annapolis (Part 1)

The Let’s Go Music Festival returns to Annapolis, Maryland on June 2 trough June 4 with Live and Collective Soul.

WTOP caught up with Jeremy Popoff, guitarist of the band Lit, which rocks day two with 311 and Cold War Kids.

“A bunch of great bands on this festival,” Popoff told WTOP. “We’ve done shows with all of them pretty much over the years, so it’s going to be a bunch of good buddies getting together for a good time. Even the country guys, I know all of the guys you mentioned, we live here in Nashville, so I’m sure we’ll run into them the night before.”

Born in 1971 in Orange County, California, Popoff and his brother A. Jay went to an Iron Maiden concert.

“That was the day our life changed forever because that was the first time we saw a rock band on a live stage and just how loud it was, our ears were ringing, and just seeing the guys on stage rocking out. Literally, we woke up the next day and both of us were on the same page like, ‘Yep, that’s what we want to do when we grow up. That’s it.'”

They soon formed a high school band called Razzle, playing the Troubadour on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

“Places like The Troubadour, The Whiskey or Gazzarri’s, all of the Sunset Strip Hollywood places, those were the only places that allowed all ages,” Popoff said.

“In high school, you’d rent a couple of party buses and load up 100 of our friends and that was kind of how we started that. We didn’t realize how legendary those clubs were until years later, that so many people got their start at the Troubadour … But at 15, 16, 17, it was just a place we could play.”

Changing their name to Lit, the band signed with Malicious Vinyl, the independent hip-hop label of Tone Loc and Young MC, to record their first album, “Tripping the Light Fantastic” (1997), mixing punk, grunge and heavy metal.

“That album was a crossroads, very experimental,” Popoff said.”

We were getting influenced by all this great music like ’90s grunge, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Alice In Chains. … We were selling out places as Razzle, a pretty popular local band, but we ditched all of it … then started cold-calling crappy bars [as Lit]. … One sh*tty Tuesday night we played in front of 10 people in San Diego. Two of those 10 turned out to be A&R guys for Delicious Vinyl.”

They next signed with RCA for their second album, “A Place in the Sun” (1999), which went platinum with hits like “Miserable,” “Zip-Lock” and “My Own Worst Enemy,” which topped the Modern Rock chart for 11 weeks.

It’s about a guy who wakes up with regrets after a night of drunken debauchery, asking, “Can we forget about the things I said when I was drunk?” and, “Please tell me why my car is the front yard and I’m sleeping with my clothes on.”

“It’s crazy man, that riff is two notes,” Popoff said.

“It was just something I was jamming on one night. … I was really fascinated with songs like ‘Magic Man’ from Heart. … I was really chasing down that simplicity, so I was just writing these really basic riffs to see if I could do that, then A. Jay had a couple of lyrics written down on a scratch pad in his car. That song wrote itself in about 12 minutes. … The song took on a life of its own right out of the gate.”

Their third album “Atomic” (2001) reached No. 36 on the Billboard album charts with the single “Lipstick and Bruises,” but its promotion was derailed when 9/11 happened on the first day of the tour in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

“We had a big crew out with us, a semi-truck, a bunch of cool stuff,” Popoff said.

“My birthday is 9/11, so we had gone out the night before to celebrate in Manhattan. … Just recently a couple of people shared on social media that they still have a ticket stub from that show that never got used. … That record for Lit fans is like Weezer’s ‘Pinkerton’ album, one of those fan-favorite albums that’s a great record that kind of got [overshadowed].”

Their self-titled fourth album “Lit” (2004) holds a bittersweet place in his heart as it was the last album featuring the full original lineup because drummer Allen Shellenberger tragically died of brain cancer in 2009.

“A. Jay and I had small kids, I was going through a divorce, our parents were in an accident, all of these big, huge real-life things were happening during that record and just after,” Popoff said.

“Allen getting sick was completely out of the blue. He was the most healthy and athletic, he never drank before a show, he never smoked a cigarette in his life, he was just a solid dude. … It’s bittersweet because we got through that time and came out stronger.”

Thankfully for fans, the band regrouped to record three more albums with “The View from the Bottom” (2012), “These Are the Days” (2017) and “Tastes Like Gold” (2022), all of which you’ll hear at the Let’s Go Music Festival.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, a lot of great bands and we’re going to bring it,” Popoff said.

Find more information on the festival here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Lit in Annapolis (Part 2)

Hear our full chat on my podcast “Beyond the Fame with Jason Fraley.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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