“Infectious pop melodies with whimsically sentimental lyrics. It is pure gold!” – Steve Diaz, The Lighthouse and the Whaler.
When you first pressed play on The Lighthouse and The Whaler’s mini EP – released a few months ago as a sneak peak of their upcoming second album – you realised you were listening to a bold statement of intent. Not only was the step up in quality so obvious, but the shift in sound away from pastoral folk towards hook-laden, whipsmart indie-pop was so delightful, you couldn’t help but sit up.
Since the Cleveland, Ohio five-piece’s self-produced and self-released debut album dropped back in 2009 the group have been building a slow and stready fanbase and have, for the best part of the last year, been holed up in the famous Bear Creek studio (Fleet Foxes, Johnny Flynn, Ra Ra Riot) with Ryan Hadlock (Ed Harcourt, Metric, Gossip) manning the production desk.
What they’ve produced is This Is An Adventure, an album full of wide-eyed wonder and indelible melodies that bubbles, fizzes and often soars, building from the foundation that the aforementioned EP laid down. Then came ‘Venice’, the first single proper from …Adventure, and showcased a deeper, more reflective sound.
The shining moment however comes in the form of ‘Burst Apart’, which best highlights Michael LoPresti’s lighter-than-air vocal and the group – made up of Matthew LoPresti, Mark Poro and Steve Diaz – musicianship underpinning the ebb and flow of LoPresti’s delicate melodies.
With the release of This Is An Adventure now around the corner in September, we caught up with Steve Diaz to discuss it’s making, 14 hour recording sessions and arriving at a formula that is ‘pure gold’.
Steve Diaz: Exactly! We had a great time writing and recording this album. There is definitely a feeling of being part of something larger than all of us, and we can’t help but enjoy it for the adventure it is! A lot of really great things have happened so far and the sky is the limit as far as we are concerned.
One of the key things to happen is the growth in your numbers. How has that changed your sound?
Yeh we’ve been a five-piece for a solid year, and in that year we’ve developed a sound that proves us to be pretty unique among indie-folk-pop bands. We kept the folk instruments, added some extra percussion, and blended infectious pop melodies with whimsically sentimental lyrics. It is pure gold!
You’ve recently released Venice. Is this a big hint to how the rest of it will sound?
Well, Venice is a special song in its own right. But it is representative of the album as it shows off the new sound and inspiration.
The tracks on the Pioneer EP are a noticeable step forward from your debut album. We’re assuming they will grace the record?
Yes, they will! The Pioneers E.P. was a taste of what is to come…it’s like that appetizer platter you can order at restaurants that samples a bunch of things on the menu…
What sort of things moulded This Is An Adventure?
That’s tough. Between the five of us, we listen to so much music – it is scary. Each of us has his own influences and the beauty of our songwriting is mashing all those influences and ideas into a song. As far as things that inspire us…circles , as in the shape, open water, and gastronomy (specifically East Asian).
How important to the recording of this record has your set up at Bear Creek been in shaping its sound?
Well, we had written most of the music before setting foot in Bear Creek, but the album is as much about the experience of Bear Creek as it was the music played there. So I’d say it was not only important, but vital. It was like we had the soundtrack to the adventure, but needed to actually have the adventure to complete the record. And now, hopefully, everyone listening to it and having their own adventures can enjoy it all the more.
How has working with Ryan Hadlock been?
Ryan and his staff have been great! We formed really great relationships at Bear Creek and some unforgettable memories. We worked some pretty long days recording – for fourteen hours straight a couple times. It was good to be able to work really hard, then step back and monitor the progress. It was also cool to watch Ryan (and Jerry Streeter) work his (their) magic behind the console.
Your debut LP was self-released, what’s the deal with this one?
This is An Adventure will also be a self-release. This is the DIY age, man! We have actually spent a lot of time talking to record labels and discussing record deals, but we just haven’t found the right fit yet. We are very interested in building a support system that helps our team grow. We don’t just want to sign a deal, we want to find the right deal. So for now, we are being patient and just doing our thing!
This Is An Adventure is out on September 17th.