Capturing lightning in a (Cola) bottle

Clean guitar leads, full drums, and smooth vocals complement each other to create the sound of Lightning Cola, a band that puts on an electric live show from the first beat. Collaborating through the writing and recording process, the band members capture the surreal nature of writing music as a group and allow the final piece to discover and mold itself. We sat down with lead singer, Niko Sitaras, to talk about their creative process and how free-form jam sessions transform into their tight sound.

Can you describe your music?

That’s always a tough question. All of our influences come from such a diverse palette when you put all of us together because we write extremely collaboratively. It’d be a much more straightforward answer if just one of us was writing, but because we’re all contributing it’s much more diverse.

What led to the transition in the name from Paper Days to Lightning Cola?

The transition was a pretty natural progression. When Xander joined the band, we were already named Paper Days. He was just 15 when he joined the band, and he as a musician has already grown significantly even in the short period of time from not playing in a band to being in one all of sudden. And in that transition, we’ve grown so much and keep on learning that it became a desire to reinvent ourselves in a way that we were more proud of — that better represented how we are in the moment. Paper Days sort of felt like us in the past. We wanted to separate ourselves.

How has the energy at live shows changed as the band has grown?

We’re still fairly small scale, we’re local. But the biggest thing is in the beginning, we’d play shows and just hope people would stay for our set and listen. But now, it’s really amazing to see the room fill up as we’re about to play and see people who are ready to go crazy from the first song. But that didn’t happen in the beginning. It’s really amazing to see people respond in the way that we feel about the songs.


How has recording evolved as the band has become more developed?

[Our drummer] Jordan and I just got our degrees in recording arts to be able to have more control of our end results — to make it more us. So right now, we’re in a transitional period in the band. The newer stuff we’re working on is stuff we are completely producing. It feels a lot truer to us because there’s nothing that gets lost in translation like when you’re trying to express it to a producer or something. It’s liberating. The same way that we’re collaborative in the jam room, we’re collaborative in the productions.

What do you hope people take away from your music, and what goals do you have for the band?

I don’t have expectations about what people should take away. I just think we want to express ourselves through the music and see how people respond. For goals, we just want to keep putting new music out and tour with it. Touring new material with physical CDs is the ultimate goal for now.

Taylor is a junior majoring in computational neuroscience and minoring in communication design. She publishes inbtwn., an online zine (Instagram: @inbtwnmag). On top of an interest in visual arts, she is involved in neuroscience research on facial and object recognition. She is from San Diego where she enjoys hiking, surfing (trying at least), and eating burritos on the beach.