While Seattle's La Luz has their recent debut EP under their belts (released on Burger Records), just this past week saw the pre-release send-out for the band's first seven-inch single on Suicide Squeeze Records: it's called the "Brainwash" 7" and although we were lucky enough to get it early on the pre-order (colored golden yellow vinyl and limited to 500 - ooooh!), you can still order the single digitally, but it won't be available in select stores until July 16th, 2013! There are only two tracks on the single - a perfect mix that includes organ-infused "Brainwash" and a B-side that features an end-burner in the bouncy hand-clap and backing 'ooo's' of mostly instrumental track "T.V. Dream".
We spoke with the group about their aspirations and backgrounds; Shana in particular is really fab and creative soul with drawings depicting several of the band's influences as well as a breadth of really different and interesting poster design and freelance work. If you haven't had the chance to give them a listen, and are looking for a haunting or more ethereal surf-sound (imagine if Jan And Dean hadn't written "Dead Man's Curve"), this group is the band for you.
La Luz Upcoming Tour Dates (on the second leg of the tour and headed our way):
Jul 9 - Knoxville, TN - Pilot Light
Jul 10 - Nashville, TN - Stone Fox
Jul 11 - Boone, NC - Black Cat Burrito
Jul 12 - Baltimore, MD - Golden West Cafe
Jul 14 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
Jul 15 - Boston, MA - TTs the Bears
Jul 17 - New Haven, CT - BAR
Jul 18 - Harrisburg, PA - The Makespace
Jul 19 - Cleveland, OH - Happy Dog
Jul 20 - Detroit, MI - Garden Bowl
Jul 24 - Denver, CO - Moes
Jul 26 - Boise, ID - Neurolux
Jul 27 - Seattle, WA - Capitol Hill Block Party
Girl About Town: La Luz has one EP (Damp Face) right now: are you planning to record a full-length next, and what kind of process is it for the band when new songs are being written?
Shana: We have all the songs pretty much ready for a full length and are going to start recording soon after we get back from the west coast tour we're on now! Usually I write the songs and bring them to the group and then if anyone has ideas for changes in the structure we try stuff out. We work out most of the backup vocals as a group.
How did your partnership with Burger Records come about, and what are some of your favorite groups on the label?
Shana: When our friend Sasha first heard our music she wrote me and was like "I want to send this to Burger Records!" which was great because that's something I was secretly hoping would happen. I was listening to a lot of Burger tapes when I was writing the music for the band. Mostly The Shivas, Ty Segall, Shannon and The Clams, and Mmoss. Lately I've been really into the Growlers, Massenger, and Guantanamo Baywatch.
Did you use any favorite pedal effects and/or alternate tunings for Damp Face, and also--the album was recorded with a local friend of yours/the group's; what can you tell us about your experience recording and what would you change or keep the same for future recordings?
Shana: We recorded with our friend Johnny Goss, he was in The Curious Mystery, me and Marian's band before La Luz, so he's a good friend and it's fun recording with him. He lives in a trailer park outside of town and with his partner Ola and they are like 'mad scientists' of music and have converted their apartment into a recording studio. I sent him a bunch of recordings of The Ronettes and some other stuff and told him I wanted it to sound like that. He didn't use many effects, just lots of reverb! I have an old 60s Gibson reverb unit that I always play guitar through. We really like the way it turned out so we're gonna record our full length with Johnny too.
Some members of La Luz are formally trained musicians. A Seattle Weekly article touched on your feelings regarding this a bit when you spoke about how good it makes you feel to be on stage and know what's up when it comes to your instruments and how having a formal background have made you who you are.
What are some of the challenges you face as a trained musician starting a new band and what's the biggest piece of advice you would offer for/to musicians (beside the obvious of learning your instrument) who may or may not have a similar background in music?
Shana: I'm more or less self taught. My parents are both self-taught musicians, so I take after them, I guess. Gotten some tips from people here and there, but I've learned to play mostly from playing along with recordings I like. I don't know if there's any difference really. I mean, there's definitely no difference in the quality of the music made by trained musicians vs. not trained musicians...it's just all about what you do with what you know. The idea I was trying to get at in that interview didn't really come across the way I intended, I think. Personally, I don't think artists necessarily become better artist through schooling, but who knows?
Marian: I don't feel like we've faced any challenges as musicians who have been trained on our instruments. If anything I think it makes it easier to communicate what we musically want or need from other members of the band. We're all speaking the same language, so to speak. And at least for me, having grown up with lessons, drum ensembles, bands, orchestras, etc. makes it easier for me to take criticism or direction. No hard feelings, yo!
Abbey: I come from a pretty strong background in music. I'm finishing up my Classical Performance degree at UW (I play double bass in orchestras mostly) and so have had a lot of theory and music history training, in addition to working on my chops! Sometimes when I hear music by bands that just picked up their instruments recently, it sounds disjointed, and other times it's really inspiring, because they don't have any rules to follow. Though sometimes I hear a chord progression and it just stabs me in this really awkward way. Voice leading is key! :D One thing that easily turns me off of a band or a recording is the playing quality, particularly intonation and time. If it's wonky it just makes me uncomfortable and I have to turn it off. So when I play, I really focus on making it sound good and natural; in the case of La Luz, making bass lines that fit really well with the other instruments; and most importantly, liking everything that I play, and figuring out how to make the band sound good to me/us.
For Shana: does your artwork play a role in your music, and vice versa?
Shana: Just in that I mostly draw people who inspire me in some way musically.
What instrument does each member play; and are there any great/notable stories (untold) behind them?
Marian: Drums. My parents forced me to play the piano for 6 years before I was allowed to try the drums. I always have and will suck at the piano.
Abbey: Double/electric bass. When i was in middle school, I played flute in the concert band. My band teacher asked if anybody wanted to play the electric bass in the jazz band and I thought, "Hey! why not!?" (having never played a stringed instrument) and did. Played lots of bossa lines in middle school, then had to play the double bass for the high school jazz band, and had to be in the orchestra too....ended up really liking orchestra. Now i perform in orchestras, play free jazz, and do this stuff! Funny how it's turned out. Great story, right?
What is your favorite thing to do together as a group when you are not playing shows/writing/practicing?
Marian: My favorite things to do with the band are swap embarrassing stories, check out cool scenery, and drink whiskey in moderation. I especially love singing with them in rest stop bathrooms.
If La Luz could collaborate with any person living or dead, who would that be and why?
Abbey: First person that comes to mind is Jimi Hendrix. He's a total bad-ass and can shred for dayz.
Marian: Is it lame to say early Elvis? I'm madly in love with him, and I think he'd bring in some wicked good energy. He'd probably dig our dance moves, too.
Shana: I'd like to play on a 60s TV show with Bo Diddley and the Dutchess.