by Clare Knight
The folk band from Providence, Rhode Island formed in 2006 and have released two records with a third being released early next year. Milky Tea Kid met up with the band for a chat before their Brighton gig at the Komedia.
MTK: How long have you been in Europe so far?
LA: 2 weeks.
MTK: How’s that been going, have you enjoyed it?
LA: Yeah, we’ve enjoyed it very much. We got to travel in Scandinavia and play shows there for the first time and we’ve played some great festivals.
MTK: Has it been mainly festivals?
LA: The tour was routed or… (changes to British pronunciation) routed as you say, to hit a lot of the festivals that we wanted to play. So we played Haldern Pop, Way Out West, Lowlands… and we are going to play Electric Picnic and End Of The Road before we go home.
MTK: Do you see a difference between European festivals and American festivals?
LA: They are incredibly similar (smiles) … yeah, it seems like most of the bands that are over here are American anyway right? We come so far and then it’s like all our buddies from back home.
MTK: So essentially it’s the same!
LA: There’s a different vibe here I think… when it comes to certain things like… in America a lot of the festivals are more propped up by sponsorships, you see a little bit more advertising. But it’s the same idea.
MTK: Lets talk about the DIY process of making your albums… you recorded it in your room…
LA: (Ben) My room!
MTK: Your room! You did the artwork yourselves etc, was this something you specifically wanted to do, or was it out of necessity?
LA: It was neither one or the other, we wanted to make a record and you know, we could have probably gone into a studio and done it that way if we wanted to but we could afford to buy the basic things to make a record. We had a cheap m-audio device with four inputs and a couple of microphones, we had one good microphone it was a C414 AKG microphone with five different polar patterns so it was very versatile. We did the record mostly by overdubs and I think that microphone was used on almost every piece of the record. It was something we wanted to understand better, so we just laboured through until we thought it sounded up to par.
MTK: Will you do a similar process for the upcoming third album?
LA: Everything changes slightly because our surroundings have changed and our process has changed. On the second record again… it was done just in the same sort of home space and done with just a few microphones but we had more means because we had a friend of ours come in as a co producer and we were able to multitrack so things were recorded live. But still a lot of the sound was put in artificially because we were in a small square room that didn’t have great acoustics. So a lot of the space and the reverbs that you hear are added in Pro Tools, which is pretty standard fare.
… But for our most recent record we self produced it again and we had, you know obviously a better budget for it this time so we were able to get a decent sound recorded. We didn’t want to use as much Pro Tools and artificial sounds, artificial effects and post production so we found a building that we were able to use to achieve a lot of those reverbs. So a lot of the production was done very site specific… it was a building the size of an aircraft hanger and we called it the pasta sauce factory because it used to be one some years ago but it’s been abandoned for 12 years.
MTK: The third album comes out in February right?
LA: Yes February… early February.
MTK: What is different on this album, what can people expect from it?
LA: Well sonically it’s very different because everything is immersed in the same space and it’s unmistakable. One of the tracks came on in the van the other day because someone’s ipod was on… and it sent me right back there, you know I could feel the dust in my lungs again and the frigid temperature of the factory in the winter!
MTK: Your live shows involve a large number of instruments! Has this developed over the years or have you always used them?
LA: No we collect them. We are always looking for new instruments for different textures or that we think might be good in the live setting, so we just gather things. On tour… we’ll come home with more instruments, always.
MTK: It must get expensive bringing them home!
LA: It’s not nearly as expensive as paying for hotel rooms or these other terrible costs!
MTK: Can it be a bit of an issue sometimes?
LA: It’s a bit hectic for sound reasons you know? It’s hard for our sound guy… we don’t make set lists either so he doesn’t know what song to expect, he just has to watch our movements and predict which mics to turn on. But it’s ok, we’re not the most polished… (laughs) that’s not the point I guess!
MTK: What is your most ideal show to play?
LA: Everytime we have a great show, the worst thing that we do is sometimes try to reproduce it, you know it seems like every show… it’s dangerous to have a great show because then you stop thinking on your feet and being awake to the reality of the moment and actually responding. I think our ideal tour has a lot of different shows that put us in different situations where you don’t get in a pattern. Maybe some opening slots mixed in with some festival slots, small clubs, big clubs to mix in with normal sort of headline club tour. I think that’s the best… keeps us on our toes.
MTK: What bizarre experiences have you had on tour?
LA: Someone slashed our tyres!
MTK: Was that related to anything?!
LA: Yeah yeah, we were in Christiania… it’s a free town hippie culture society in the middle of Copenhagen… and they have a no car policy and our van was backing up through the streets making this horrible squealing sound. We had to bring the van in to load the instruments and a group of young kids who obviously don’t like cars very much, took offence… next thing we know there is a knife through the tyre! That was interesting and recent! It happened on Friday 13th so maybe it was to be expected!
Then the band offered to put me on the guest list for the gig in the evening and it was a fantastic evening indeed! The band were on top form and it was great to see all the instruments on stage and hear the immense sound they produce as a four piece band. The opening band Mountain Man were equally as amazing.
Proof that you should always try to see the opening acts as well as the headline!
Photo: Ryan Mastro