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|The Album Leaf
: Into the blue again
Talking Heads, recording and touring with Jimmy Lavalle
by Leanda Quinquet
I caught up with lead singer and founder of San Diegoís the Album Leaf, Jimmy Lavalle at a club in Toronto, during the East coast leg of his recent North American tour. The tour was in support of their new record Into the Blue Again, released earlier this fall on SubPop.
Lavalle has been recognized in the past for his collaborations with The Black Heart Procession, and Icelandís Sigur Růs, among others, but the past year has seen the talented multi-instrumentalist focusing solely on his own personal project, Into the Blue Again, a stunning record, featuring a collection of beautiful, atmospheric songs, brimming with sensitive lyrical content and tasteful electronic elements.
Leanda Quinquet: Howís the tour going so far?
Jimmy Lavalle: Itís going great, very great so far. Itís just way better then any other tour that weíve done.
LQ: Whoís on tour with you?
JL: The same guys that are always with me. Drew Andrews, he plays guitar and sings a bit, Matt Resovich, who plays keyboards, guitars and other things, and sings, Tim Reece, heís our drummer, and then thereís Andy Pates who does our visuals. Same old crew.
LQ: You guys all met in San Diego?
JL: Yep .
LQ: Where was Into the Blue Again recorded?
JL: Outside of Seattle, Washington, just outside. About 20 minutes in a small town called Woodinville.
LQ: How did you find that?
JL: It was just an invite from the guy who runs the studio, and Iíve had friends whoíve recorded there and theyíve actually recorded some really good records there over the years, so yeahÖit was awesome!
LQ: Tell me about the title Into the Blue Again. Whatís the story there?
JL: Well it comes from a Talking Heads song, "Once in a Lifetime." In that song thereís a line that says ďinto the blue again.Ē
LQ: Thatís right!
JL: Yeah, ďAfter the money's goneÖĒ and all that stuffÖ
LQ: Thatís wicked!
JL: But then you know, with an album title you have to kind of interpret it back to yourself and what it means to you. So for me, the blue is like the chapter of this kind of run with the new record, touring and playing shows and press, and blah, blah, blah, just everything that kind of goes with it. Iím kind of referring to life in itself as a band, being blue, and doing it again, that type of thing.
LQ: Sharp. So, who produced the record?
JL: Well, I did. I had some help from a guy from Iceland, his name is Biggi Birgisson, he did my last record as well, and then my friend Josh, Joshua Eustis, who plays in a band Telefon Tel Aviv was out there, so the three of us mixed it.
LQ: Would you say that the record has a theme? Or tone?
JL: Iím not really big on that thing, making concept records with themes. Itís just a collection of songs that Iíve done in a certain time period. It could either work, or it couldnít. It could be cohesive, or it couldnít be.
LQ: Why did you decide to play everything on the record yourself? All the instruments were played by you, right?
JL: Yeah, Ďcos thatís basically what Iíve done with every record, every Album Leaf record that Iíve been doing. On the last record, Sigur Růs played some stuff on it, they didnít play that much, and I felt like there was a lot of credit given to other people aside from myself. Which sounds kind of funny, kind of egoish, to be all like ďI did that! What are they talking about?Ē Itís that kind of thing, where I just wanted to fall back, and let everybody know that this is a solo project, that itís me playing on my own, that kind of thing.
LQ: Do you think that working with these other artists has influenced you much?
JL: Not really. Weíve done a lot of touring, Iíve watched their shows to see what things I liked and didnít like, but that goes for a lot of shows. Watching the bands we play with and seeing how they keep the attention of people and how they put on a good show. We had a lot of similar approaches to writing, and to creating music, and with moods, stuff like that. So when youíre involved in that type of thing youíre definitely influenced by surroundings, your friends, the people you are around.
LQ: Your tour's taking you to Japan, have you been there before?
JL: Yes, itíll be my sixth time.
LQ: WowÖthatís deadly, Iíve never been.
JL: We do really, really well in Japan. Itís crazy, but itís awesome!
LQ: Whatís the scene like for your style of music back home in San Diego?
JL: We have a lot of support, thereís a pretty good scene in San Diego as far as local music goes, itís pretty awesome, and thereíre plenty of places to play. Thereís not really much of an all ages, but once you come of age there and you start going to shows, itís pretty great.
LQ: You recently did a documentary on the recording of your new record, what gave you that idea?
JL: It wasnít my idea at all!
JL: It was my managerís idea; he wanted to document my creative processÖ
LQ: The genius at workÖ
JL: (laughs) Yeah, he just hired a cameraman and followed me around, then hired another company to edit and put it together.
LQ: Heís got your back!! Good jobÖ
LQ: Do you like touring?
JL: Yes, but there is a point in every tour where youíre just like ugh!!! We try to keep busyÖ
LQ: What do you do? Read?
JL: No, a lot of movies. On the bus itís easier, because thereís satellite TV and you can just watch movies or sleep.
LQ: Any touring survival tips?
JL: Eat well. Itís really hard to eat well. On a bus itís easier because you can grocery shop, and eat good stuff. Umm, get plenty of rest. But itís really hard to do all that when youíre in a van.
LQ: The year is coming to a close, what are your plans for the next month or so?
JL: We have a couple of shows in Mexico and then I donít know.
LQ: Where can people find out more about you and what youíre up to?
JL: www.thealbumleaf.com and www.myspace.com/thealbumleaf. We have about 30,000 friends on there now, itís pretty amazing!
LQ: Crazy! Well, thanks for chatting Jimmy and good luck with the rest of your dates.
JL: Thank you.