The return of Lift to Experience mainman Josh Pearson

(Above: Pearson in Dublin, last week…)

from Bella Union…

Over the last year or so we’ve been inundated with questions about Lift to Experience: have they definitely split up, will there be a second album, has Josh given up Texas and music altogether??? The questions go on and on. As much as we wanted to answer them the truth is that we were often pretty much as in the dark as you were…until very recently.

At the current time Lift to Experience are no longer and sadly there seems to be no possibility of them getting back together. Perhaps there is just too much water under the bridge.

However after a couple of years in the wilderness, finally Josh Pearson emerged from the ashes of Lift to Experience, left all that baggage behind him and started writing again after a conversation with label boss and former Cocteau Simon Raymonde. Josh was really struggling to write a second Lift album and was feeling the pressure to write something that rivalled their landmark debut Ôø?The Texas Jeruslam CrossroadsÔø?. Simon told him to empty his mind of the masterplan for a bit and to just write something quickly, as a challenge. Josh responded by taking it upon himself to write a song a day for a week; he ended up writing easily more than seven songs. Thirteen in fact.

He is now back in the UK playing a string of shows on his own and with label mates Bikini Atoll and The Archie Bronson Outfit.

When Josh came over to do these shows he was not sure he was doing the right thing and was anxious about how people would respond to his solo project.
He needn’t have worried, the shows have been a resounding success and Josh is once again back to doing what he does best.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Stevie Chick and we hope it fills in some of the blanks. Sorry to those who’ve waited so long for answers to their questions and thanks so much for all your support.


Josh T Pearson played guitar, sang, wrote music, because it was only then that he felt the fire of God within him once again, the presence that shadowed him throughout his childhood, until his 19th birthday. The sensation of absolute belief that cradled his father, a lay preacher, so tightly he’d have his family starve, if only to prove his solemn belief that his God would ultimately provide.

Josh pieced together his opus, The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads, in solitude, every word, note, wash of feedback carefully choreographed. He gathered two dear friends, passionately gifted musicians, and laid his sacred communication down on tape. They called themselves Lift To Experience, and took to the road, every night discovering new truths within their symphonic sprawl.

The feedback rose, fierce and tapering like a flame, Josh’s voice keening, close to holy, picking out an apocalyptic parable cross-pollinating Biblical and Old West mythologies. Gentle melodies shimmered in the air, the Leslie-speaker coating the guitar with a heat-haze, the cymbals struck so hard they sprayed the drummer’s own blood and sweat. The volume soaring, until it infested you, until it felt like you might suffocate without it, gospel ringing in every gap, a call for salvation, a call to arms. The Leslie spontaneously bursting aflame, as French boys crooned sweetly, we will be free, we will be free.

With personal tragedy in the band, bass player Josh “Bear” Browning’s wife dying on the morning they touched down in Ireland for a tour in 2003, drummer Andy Young being kicked out by Pearson shortly after, Josh soon retreated from the world, from his music, from his hometown of Denton, TX. Rumours began to circulate amongst Lift’s dedicated fandom, of his exile to a shack in the desert somewhere, of his mental state, of the music within him yet captured on tape. Of whether he’d ever break his silence out there, amidst the sands and the winds, and try to channel that spirit one last time.

All that answered them was more silence, their questions amplified in the absence of a reply. Silence, save the solemn, fervent hum of an idling amplifier, its dust-laden husk cooling. The ghost within its heart dormant, but not dead.

Under the ‘X’ in Texas is where you’ll find me, it’s where I’ll be / Singing out the songs warning the world of the perils to come

These forthcoming solo shows derived from a concept Simon Raymonde, former Cocteau Twin and nurturing owner of Bella Union, Lift’s record label, suggested to Josh as he was struggling with writing a second Lift album. Empty your mind of your masterplan for a bit, write something quickly, as a challenge. Josh responded by taking it upon himself to write a song a day for a week the project; he ended up writing easily more than seven songs. 13 in fact.

“Francis Ford Coppola never meant to make the Godfather, he actually didn’t want to,” Josh says. “He thought the source material beneath him, but his career was suffering. He took a trashy novel and made a masterpiece out of it, somehow, and it gave him the power to make the movies he wanted to. I’ve been thinking a lot about that compromise, recently. I’m still not sure that compromise is a good thing, no matter the result.”

HeÔø?d been thinking a lot about film, about scoring soundtracks. Ôø?But only if the music has as much importance as the pictures,Ôø? he averred. He noted the emotional impact of music and movies, when theyÔø?re perfectly melded; when, after seeing the movie, you canÔø?t exactly describe the sounds or the images themselves, but that the movieÔø?s emotional impact is powerful. Ôø?Like when you meet someone,Ôø? he continued, Ôø?You canÔø?t explain, in words, why they mean so much to you, but their resonance, their impact upon you, is vivid.Ôø?

Demons take flight in the dark of the Texan night

He said that the closest heÔø?d got to making music lately was attending informal guitar circles in the small town where he was staying, where locals toting battered acoustics and washboard basses would sit and play Hank Williams tunes. He hadnÔø?t played at these circles yet; he preferred to sit in and simply reel at the emotional impact held by the words to Ôø?Your CheatinÔø? HeartÔø?.

However, that is all about to change. He is currently recording TWO albums, one of covers on a theme of Loneliness and secondly the solo album of his own songs.

We sing these songs because we have to, not because we want to.

The story of his life, of his music, is compelling, and near-fantastical. His myth has all of the ingredients, the portent, and the poetry of any of rockÔø?nÔø?rollÔø?s legends, the mysterious singer-songwriter with the fiery preacher father, his complex relationship with God, the seething epic visions, so finely realised. But the way in which Josh is conscious of his own mythology, his persona Ôø? he couldnÔø?t not be, given some of his pronouncements Ôø?and his enduring blindness to what Lift To Experience have wrought, is a perplexing and perhaps insoluble riddle. Just as his alter-ego in The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads couldnÔø?t seem to decide whether he were Jesus or John Wayne.

He has returned to his unfinished symphonies, and will paint his legend in sound, not pregnant silence. For his demons to take flight, in this darkest of Texan nights.

Adapted from an article by Stevie Chick.

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

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