Mic Check: Family band Liliac transports their polished hard rock from L.A. to Atlanta

Liliac, the hard-rocking family band, recently relocated from Los Angeles to the Atlanta area.
Liliac, the hard-rocking family band, recently relocated from Los Angeles to the Atlanta area.

Credit: Florin Cristea

Credit: Florin Cristea

Editor’s note: With live music and concert reviews on hold due to COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is focusing on how Georgia musicians are spending their time in our feature, Mic Check.

For the past few years, Liliac has captivated rock fans with its searing covers.

A version of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” racked up 8 million YouTube views, while their taut, boisterous take on Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” attracted another 6 million.

Their performances on the Santa Monica Pier helped them hone their performance skills, while also cultivating a worldwide fan base that is also indulging in their original music.

In November, Liliac vacated their Los Angeles-area apartment, packed up the team and drove across the country to Douglasville, where relatives and a new house with a 1,600-square-foot basement awaited them.

Liliac is a family band, and by family, we mean siblings ranging in age from 22 (guitarist Samuel) to 13 (keyboardist Justin). Lead singer Melody is 19, her drummer sister Abigail just turned 21 and bassist Ethan is 14.

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Overseeing their career as manager/producer — as well as handling their slick visuals — is dad Florin Cristea, a native of Romania. (He met his wife at a Romanian church in California.) Cristea was born in Transylvania — the comfort zone of Count Dracula — which lends an aha to the band’s name; Liliac means vampire bat in Romanian.

The quintet impressively blends goth with hard rock, both onstage (they played the 2019 Kiss Kruise with the venerable fire-breathers, toured extensively in 2019 and have performed a couple of shows in Woodstock since relocating to Georgia) and on record.

A new album, “Queen of Hearts,” arrived in October, along with videos for “We Are the Children,” “Sail Away” and “Crazy Nights.”

Melody Cristea talked with us recently about Liliac’s new life in Georgia and what the band has brewing.

Q: How are you adapting to the move?

A: I do miss California a lot — the memories and the places and our friends. Especially the memories of starting the whole band with our family. It was a big change going from the apartment to a big house. We couldn’t have our own rehearsal space in our apartment, but we have the basement now.

Q: Your dad got you started with music lessons, but what was your interest in music before that?

A: Before we got into instruments, Sam used to be a Michael Jackson impersonator, and my dad started taking me and Aby out, and we would go to the Santa Monica Pier and (sing covers). We got introduced to rock, like Queen, and my dad started listening to Metallica, and we were like, “What is this?” As we started growing up and listening to that kind of music, he decided to give us instruments and to try to start a band. So, we all started taking lessons for four years, and ta da! Here we are now.

Q: Are there any family bands that you looked to for inspiration?

A: Van Halen has two brothers, and Halestorm is brother and sister. The older you get, everyone is more focused and into it and getting along.

Q: What music do all of you listen to?

A: We all like to listen to heavy metal and rock, all the classic stuff. My favorite band is Dio. Ronnie James Dio is my main inspiration on vocals.

Liliac on the set of their video for "We Are the Children."
Liliac on the set of their video for "We Are the Children."

Credit: Florin Cristea

Credit: Florin Cristea

Q: You have an impressively raspy voice. How have you worked on it?

A: We’ve been doing rock since I was 13, and me and my dad have been working on my vocals since then. Getting that attitude and grit was mostly from Ronnie James Dio. I’ll listen to James Hetfield (of Metallica) and try to add that (style) to my voice without hurting my throat.

Q: You also paint. Is that a good way to get away from the family for a bit?

A: I paint as a hobby. It’s kind of another hidden talent I can do. We’ve sold a lot of my paintings. I’m going to put out more original artwork very soon. I’ve been painting since I was 13. That’s what I wanted for Christmas — paint and a canvas. I’m pretty much self-taught. I usually do it in the afternoon when the day is over. That’s when I can really listen to music as well.

Q: What else should people know about Liliac at this point?

A: We’ve been on “The World’s Best” (talent show) on CBS. We were also on “America’s Got Talent” in 2020, before the pandemic. We made it through the first round, and then the pandemic hit, so we decided to do the album instead (the band withdrew prior to the judge’s cuts). In 2019 we toured mostly the East Coast for the first time and our song “We Are the Children” was No. 1 on Amazon.

Q: What’s next on the agenda?

A: During the pandemic, we were staying home mostly working on “Queen of Hearts” and did a music video (for the song “Nothing”) in our little apartment, and we had so much smoke that we set off the fire alarm. We’re going to do more videos that will come out really soon; we’re scouring the area. The next video will be for “Mystery” and right now we’ve got more covers — (Metallica’s) “Master of Puppets” and (Joan Jett’s) “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”

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