You’ll be starting 2015 in San Francisco with two nights at The Chapel. It’s been a little bit on the cool side here lately, and your music has such a warm Southern California vibe, it’ll be a good way for us to start the new year.
Thank you. We’re looking forward to New Years. San Francisco is a great city to be in for the new year. It’s a small enough city that you can get around easily and not get caught in traffic like you would in Los Angeles. Also my folks were married on New Years in San Francisco at City Hall, and Pedrum’s birthday is on New Years, so it’s a little more than just another New Years to some of us.
You’ve been touring on your new album, Worship the Sun, and you haven’t yet played all of the songs from it live. Do you think you may debut some of those songs, in live terms, at The Chapel?
Maybe. We haven’t sorted out the final setlist. We’re gonna have some people joining us on stage; Farmer Dave from Beechwood Sparks is gonna be joining us.
Yeah. Who doesn’t love Farmer Dave?
He’s gonna be joining us for both shows.
And he’s opening for you too?
Both. He’s gonna be playing with us and one of the nights he also wants to do a little jamboree with some of his friends. For the most part it’s gonna be more of a party than a show where you’d go and see one band, and the next; I think we’re all gonna be playing together and have more of a relaxed vibe. Should be a lot of fun. We’re still coming up with all kinds of ideas. We’re trying to get that giant cake that the girl can pop out of.
Are you sure you want to let people know that in advance or just save that as a surprise?
It’s an idea; nothing’s set in stone right now. We’re trying to cook something up that’s gonna be exciting for everybody.
You recorded the new album in LA with Nick Waterhouse, as you did with your first album, but I understand you used a different studio this time around.
Yeah, the first studio that we recorded with was in Costa Mesa. Unfortunately the guy who ran that studio came into some hard times and had to give up the space and some of his equipment, but he’s in a new studio down in Los Angeles – his name is Mike McHugh, by the way, and that studio was called The Distillery. He’s expressed an [interest] in working with us again in the future. We’d like to, very much, work with him again ’cause he’s a very interesting man, has a very unique set of skills. He’s a bit of a genius in a very eccentric way. We love the results that we get working with him.
So you worked with him and Nick Waterhouse the first time out, and with Nick again this time. What studio did you work with on Worship the Sun?
We worked with Nick Waterhouse and Dan Horne on that record [WTS]. There’s a studio in Panorama City, and that’s where we did most of the basic tracking for the record with Nick Waterhouse, and then we did some mixing and overdubs in a studio called Lone Palm in Echo Park.
Your first album was recorded in live mode. What about this time around? Were you able to do that again in the new setting or did you go about it in a different way?
We still recorded together live but [there] was a lot more room for experimenting with different instruments and things like that on the second record. We hadn’t fully realized the arrangements; they were still kind of works in progress, so that was different. We sorted that out in the studio as opposed to live.
After these New Years shows you get a little break from touring but then you go to South Africa in February. That’s exciting. Is this going to be your first trip there?
Miles and Pedrum:
Yeah! Our first time.
Following that you’ve got a lot of dates in France lined up, not the usual one or two for touring bands from the US. Do you just love France? Is it a favorite destination?
We love France, but also we have a label in France who’s really pushing for us over there.
We do love France! France is great.
I’ve heard you talk quite a lot about how the atmosphere of the location that you’re in informs your music, so this tour should be interesting on that level. As it is now your songs are really evocative of California, and LA in particular – that indescribable but palpable feeling that you only get there. Those types of feelings are probably best left to musical description anyway and you guys do a great job of it; you really feel the warmth of the sun and the vibe of the place. How does that come about for you?
I think it’s something that happens on a subconscious level. Matt and Spencer and I were born and raised in Los Angeles or just outside, and Pedrum moved here when he was 15, so [it’s] a big part of our lives. In addition to being Angelinos we’re people who’ve always been interested in digging beneath the surface and finding out things from the past and how they interact with things from today, how history unfolds [in] modern times. I think that through our own desire to discover more about our own homeland, that has made us somewhat better informed about the true elements that define it and make it a special and unique place. I guess that just comes out when we’re making music.
And of course the music that has come out of LA has carried that history with it over the years too, so if you love music and have been listening, you’re gonna get a sense of what things had been like.
Absolutely. That’s what makes it such an interesting place; it’s a destination; it’s a melting pot, and you have so many different types of art coming out of the city at any given time.
Three of you worked at Amoeba Records in Hollywood. Amoeba Records here in San Francisco is amazing, and no matter how much you know about music, you’re still gonna get introduced to something new there. Obviously you have to love and know about music already to work there, but I imagine working at Amoeba must’ve opened up the doors to a lot of different music to you, and the history of things as well.
Yeah, definitely. I met Matt and Spencer through working at Amoeba, and it definitely informed our tastes, allowed us to explore genres, had an important part in the genesis of the band.
Are all four of you songwriters? Do you all contribute on that level?
To a degree. Me and Miles and Spencer have all written songs for the group. Matt plays drums; he doesn’t play a melodic instrument. I think it’s different for him. I think he’s trying to work on it. He has a guitar; he might learn how to play it.
You were talking about the art that comes out of Los Angeles, and something that’s really great about your website is all of the visual art that you display there. How did that come about and who in the band has been responsible for putting that all together?
It’s mostly Matt who deals with the visual stuff, the social media and all that. We also have a friend, Robbie Simon, who designs lots of posters, things like that, for us. They work together in that aspect.
I think it came about ’cause when we first wanted a website Tumblr was the only option that we knew of that looked decent and we could host the website for free. That was the first incarnation of our website. Once we started that, Matt discovered what Tumblr was all about and started blogging and sharing things. Eventually our website became what it is today. The main element of it is that kind of blog format where you have updates, if not every day, then every other day – things that appeal to our tastes and will probably appeal to the tastes of people who come to our website. We also have the Reverberation blog where we post weekly mix tapes and things. We try to bring as much of a multi-media approach to our band and our identity as we can, ’cause we’re into all different types of arts as well.
The Allah-Las appear at The Chapel for two nights during their New Year’s Eve residency: December 30 and 31. Show is at 9.