Student band Lotus Eater raises awareness for STLF

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Lotus Eater, a band comprised of St. Thomas seniors Andrew Smith, Aaron Hays, Mitch Schumer and junior Nick Kiekenapp, played Wednesday night at Scooter’s in a concert organized by Students Today Leaders Forever.

Junior Ben Pierce, a leader for one of the upcoming STLF spring break trips, said the concert was held to let people know what STLF is.

The organization’s website defines STLF as “an optimistic group of students who engage in servant leadership to create positive life experiences.”

Pierce said Lotus Eater fit the laid back theme he intended.

“They are doing us a really big favor by playing here because we aren’t able to pay them, and I picked them because they’re a great band, do a lot of great work, (and are) very well-known around the (Twin) Cities,” Pierce said.

Who is Lotus Eater?

Lotus Eater has played at the Triple Rock Social Club, 7th St. Entry and the Fine Line Music Café as well as other colleges in Minnesota and surrounding states.

The band has worked hard for its success and spent several years writing music, playing shows, selling and giving away CDs.

Smith’s desire to make music and to find others to do it with him resulted in the band.

“I knew I wanted to start something at St. Thomas,” said Smith, who played in high school bands but didn’t decide to get serious about music until college.

Smith met Hays and Schumer freshman year living in Cretin Hall.

“Everyone on the floor was a musician it seemed like so it just sort of happened, “ Hays said.

The band practiced over January term and played its first show at Coffee Bené on Cleveland Avenue.

Kiekenapp joined Lotus Eater at the end of last semester.

“I knew all of them,” Kiekenapp said. “They had a show before Andrew went to Greece and wanted to add another guitar…I just kind of stuck with them.”

The idea for the name came from “The Odyssey.”

“Odysseus travels through the island of the lotus eaters, (who are) a mysterious people that have left their homes and tasted the fruit of the lotus flower and never wanted to go back,” Smith said. “I also kind of think of it as a transformation thing – consuming something beautiful and putting something beautiful out.”

Smith believes Lotus Eater has evolved since its creation.

“(We) started as a really poppy, folky group, and I think we’ve added a large helping of rock ‘n’ roll,” Smith said.

Schumer said the band was “very easy to listen to (with) good songwriting” in its beginning and “transformed into experimental stuff.”

Smith said that since the release of the mostly acoustic first album, he got more equipment that “just changed the sound a lot.”

Hays thinks Lotus Eater has “grown up a lot.”

The band has currently recorded a full-length album and a five song EP. Smith and the band are working on a new batch of songs they would like to record in January with their friend senior Bo Bodnar.

Smith also envisions a spring tour at colleges around the Midwest.

“We know we’re all going to stay together after school,” Smith said.

Schumer said the band is “probably going to practice a lot more with the free time,” but he will still look for a job.

“My dream would be to be able to live off the money I make with Lotus Eater, but it’s not something I’m going to lean on as my primary source of money right after school,” Smith said.

For Kiekenapp, the most important part is “playing music, getting out there, playing for people (and) meeting people.”

The members of Lotus Eater believe that they have come a long way but still have a long way to go.

“It’s a slow climb,” Smith said. “It’s hard to do that as students.”

Showtime at Scooter’s

For the STLF concert, Pierce hoped for 30 to 40 students but an estimated 60 people attended.

Other performers included juniors Brianna Rud and Pat Sullivan, senior Nick McQuillan and Pierce.

Sophomore Chris Hannigan had heard of Lotus Eater but never seen the band play.

“When I usually hear about bands playing at Scooter’s, I think they won’t be that good, but Lotus Eater blew my expectations,” Hannigan said.

Lotus Eater will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Station 4. Tickets can be purchased from the band members for $5 or at the door for $8.

Lotus Eater is on iTunes and MySpace at For a free download of Lotus Eater’s second album, go to

Rita Kovtun can be reached at