Lord Huron’s Multiple Dreams
How involved is the rest of the band in Lord Huron’s songwriting process?
Generally, the way it works is I will flesh the song out during the demoing process and then, bring it to the guys and ask them if they have any ideas how to liven it up. They are such accomplished players that they always have something to add. It is really great: we all have similar sensibilities because we grew up together and have known each over for so long but everyone has different takes on things—which really spices things up. Mark studied jazz in college so he comes from more of a jazz background. So did our new guitarist Karl Kerfoot—he played a lot of jazz but has also played rock and pop over the years, too. Miguel used to be in a salsa band. But in terms of music, we all grew up with the same type of music which helps to get us on the same page. We try to rehearse as much is possible, though it is hard to get everyone in a room together all the time. We’ve been on the road for so long at this point. That’s kind of been our rehearsal—on the road—which can be kind of uncomfortable at first but is the best kind of rehearsal. We’ve learned a lot by touring.
It is interesting the way bands can grow live in the indie world these days. In cities like LA and New York, you are already playing huge clubs. But elsewhere you are doing these barnstorming, rehearsal shows.
We are kind of in a transition period in terms of where we are playing. We’re still playing small clubs in some cities but are starting to play larger clubs in other places. So we can’t really commit too much to the production financially and logistically. But we definitely want to incorporate the artwork and visual aspects a little more. Hopefully, we will be in a place next year where we can pull it off. I like that we have an interesting mix of venues at this point. It keeps it interesting to go from playing a 150-person room in Boise, ID to a 600-person room in Seattle to a 3,500 people at Coachella in a month. It keeps us on our toes
Have you started work on your next studio album yet?
Yeah. I have a bunch of demos. I try to write as much as I can on the road but it is hard when you are traveling. So I have been trying to dig into it as much as I can at home. I am getting pretty far along on whatever this next thing will be but, as always, I don’t want to rush anything. I want to let it take its time to grow but, hopefully, in the next 18 months I will have something new out.
Have you tried out those songs live?
Not really. I have a song or two but I like to let the album grow as a while—even if a song might seem done now I might write another song that will change it. So I am trying to keep it under wraps for now.
Given that your early EPs and even some of your full-length album consisted on home recordings, do you think you will stick with the DIY approach next time around?
I like the way those came out so I want to stick with the same type of approach. We did end up going to a proper studio and working with an engineer on the full length but a lot of the stuff we recorded at home ended up being what we used. These days it is possible to do it where and when you want to do it and there is a real level of comfort being able to record at home. If I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea I can record it in my studio. I think that’s crucial to the creative process.
Lord Huron is profiled as one of the 2013 Summer Stars in Relix. Did you grow up going to festivals as a kid?
I went to a couple as a kid—not to many, though. I went to Lollapalooza when I was a kid back when it used to travel around. But I was never really a too much of a festival head. But in the past three years we’ve had the good fortune to play a number of them so it has been really cool to check them out. None of the guys who have played in the band have been to either of them but our tour manager Murph has been to both Gathering of the Vibes and Bonnaroo several times. He has been pumping us up about how great they are. They are both in a pretty interesting setting which is what I like about festivals—the interesting setting. He has traveled around following bands and done sound for a few jambands. He’s been kind of initiating us into the jam world a little bit. As I said, we are all from slightly different musical backgrounds so it has been fun to see it through all of these different realms. He’s been showing us the Grateful Dead and Phish.
When I first saw you live, your psychedelic-folk songs recalled some of those country and folkie songs you listened to as a kid. Even though there were more modern and indie elements to the tunes, they had this old-school, country-western swing sensibility and an overall sense of traversing the Midwest landscape. Now that you have toured so much—and seen more of the world—do you feel like those themes of travel have continued to shape your lyrical imagery?
Absolutely! That has always been an ascetic I really liked. Especially living out here and traveling out here: it is hard to not have those landscapes affect you. So I’d say that is an absolutely correct assertion. I take so much for every place I visit and also from places I’ve been before and love. This year we’ve seen a lot of new places, especially in Europe where we’ve been able to tour for the first time. I think all of that really informs to songwriting to some degree.
It is also interesting that you are tied to those two geographic regions: LA and the Midwest. The mix of that urban center and your more removed roots also seem to inform Lord Huron’s sound.
The interesting thing about LA is though it is a huge urban area and interesting cultural center, what I love about LA is how easy it is to get out of here and into nature. There is all this nature really close by—I live in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains and just this morning I went 20 minutes and I was in a pretty remote area. For me, that is really important not only for my general well-being but also for my creative process. I like cities but I am much more of a country boy at heart. Though LA is a very different sort of nature than Michigan, I still feel like I can get out to the wilderness somewhat easily. But I miss Michigan for a lot of reasons: my family this there. I try to make it back a few times a year and I’ve entertained the idea of moving back, which I’d love to do when I am able.
People don’t normally think of LA as a place where psychedelic musicians come to flourish. It is cool that there is still a subculture where that type of music can flourish there.
I didn’t come out here to play music but what I love about it is that there is still this Wild West mentality to the creative world. There is a very open mentality—more of a chance for someone to break in or do something a little different. LA gets a weird rap and I totally had the wrong idea when I moved here. I thought I was going to hate it—as I said, I came for a girl—but it has its underground. That very superficial, Hollywood part of LA is only a small part of it that I never cross paths with.