Lit to light up Starwood Saturday

By Cindy Watts
DNJ Staff Writer

Lit, the band who rose to fame with hit singles like 1999's "My Own Worst Enemy," is now in the business of making furry friends.

When bass player Kevin Baldes isn't on the road with his rocker buddies in Lit, he's snuggled between the sheets with his tiny gray Chihuahua, Charlie.

It's 9 a.m. California time and Baldes, already awake and on the go, calls in for his interview with The Daily News Journal.

"She's curled between my legs right now," he says of his dog from the bedroom in his California condo. "She just loves to sleep there."

While girls across the country are green with envy over the pooch's select sleep spot, they may be encouraged to know Baldes will accompany his band to Starwood Amphitheater Saturday to play BuzzFest 5. However, Charlie will not be able to make the trip.

"My girlfriend has to have (the dog, Charlie) to (be able to) sleep when I'm on the road," explains the bassist.

Baldes readily admits small furry animals and serious girlfriends don't generally play into the rock star lifestyle, but he doesn't care.

"I know," he says. "I'm supposed to go to bed at 4 a.m. and get up at 3 p.m. and start drinking beer."

When Baldes isn't behaving as the anti-rocker, he's pushing his rock band and the band's new self-titled CD, "Lit."

"We're really stoked on (the new record)," he says. "It's got the best reviews yet. Maybe when we're dead, some label will whore us out."

The new record reflects personal growth among band members. Gone are the images of hard-drinking, smoking, promiscuous rock stars.

And Baldes says that was a necessity.

"We have two guys that are married and three guys have kids," he says. "We had to grow up fast. This record is very mature. Everything feels real and the hard-core fans say this record smokes the other ones."

The recording process of this record differed slightly from albums past. Members had total control over the input on this project.

"We wrote, recorded, produced, mixed and did everything in our hometown," he says. "It's different because we did the others in Los Angeles, and this time it was all about the four of us and what we liked. We designed the entire package. We moved from RCA to an independent label. We always had control, but this time every decision was made by us."

But that's not to put down Lit's other work. Many of the band's singles have been widely accepted within the music community and "My Own Worst Enemy" is a favorite among cover bands nationwide.

"It's pretty awesome," says Baldes of the bands who cover the song. "I can't tell you how many times people have called me from a bar and the band was playing our songs."

While the bassist considers this is a great compliment, this level of acceptance isn't something the band gained overnight. In fact, it took band members 15 years to get to the point they were so deeply entrenched in the music scene others wanted to play their material.

Originally from Orange County, Lit, A. Jay Popoff, brother Jeremy Popoff, Baldes and Allen Shellenberger met while still in grade school. "Trippin' the Fantastic," which debuted in 1997, got the band off to a decent start. But it was 1999's "A Place in the Sun" that yielded the band's first No. 1 hit, "My Own Worst Enemy."

Since the band has recently moved to an independent label, they hope to enjoy as much success.

Members also hope the release of their new DVD will help in that process, as well. Due out Nov. 2, Baldes says the DVD is something the band has been promising fans for years, and he's confident it was worth the wait.

"It's got all this bonus material on it," he says. "If you've ever dreamed about being backstage, it has all those shots. You can see us drunk, you can see us sober."

In the meantime, fans can see Lit Saturday night.

Between now and then, the bass player hopes to train his Chihuahua to pee outside.

"I live in a condo so there's no backyard," he says. "We've pretty much got her house trained. She's got these pads she uses ... and I have to give her these dog treats she loves when I praise her."