Lake Street Dive Band
By Phil Reser
Dive InOctober 2015
By Phil Reser
Over the past decade, Lake Street Dive has steadily built up a worldwide following thanks to energetic, highly infectious pop songs that draw on influences from Motown and ‘60s soul to British Invasion and jazz.
The indie soul and jazz band has a somewhat unique instrumentation, with lead vocalist Rachel Price, Mike “McDuck” Olson alternating trumpet and guitar, Bridget Kearney on upright bass and Mike Calabrese playing drums.
All profess to love the entire Beatles discography, along with The Mamas and the Papas, ABBA, The Drifters, Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates, the Jackson 5 and McCartney and Lennon.
They’ve graced late night show stages on The Colbert Report, Conan, and The Late Show With David Letterman.
But their humble beginnings were rooted while students at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 2004.
A 2012 homemade YouTube clip provided their biggest break. A recording of their slow, soulful cover of the Jackson 5's “I Want You Back,” filmed on a Boston street, got more than a million views after an anonymous fan posted it on Reddit. Actor Kevin Bacon tweeted about them, and T-Bone Burnett gave them a spot alongside Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford and Justin Timberlake at a New York concert celebrating the film “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
At the same time, they were immersed in recording their 2013 release, “Bad Self Portraits” with producer/engineer Sam Kassirer. The album earned some of the best reviews of the band’s career, including one from Rolling Stone, which named the group one of thebest artists of 2014.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE LAKE STREET DIVE MUSIC?
You know how earworms are hooks that get stuck in your head and you can’t help hearing it? We want to inject a healthy dose of those into your brain while simultaneously injecting worms into the parts of you that dance, such as your legs, rear end or pants. So, “pantsworms”?
TELL US THE STORY BEHIND THE BAND’S NAME.
Once upon a time a pale, struggling trumpet player from Minneapolis called three other people into a classroom and told them that if they didn’t play bar band music with him, the kind you’d hear in a dingy bar on Lake Street in his hometown, he would freeze our assets and post mean things about us on Facebook. We humbly agreed and gladly stuck around. Our assets are now liquid and we’re making more music than ever.
DESCRIBE THE BAND’S DECADE TOGETHER.
Year 0-4: “Are we doing this?”
Year 5: “Let’s make a record.”
Year 6: “Let’s make another record and go places other than Boston.”
Year 7-9: “Let’s keep making records and quit our jobs.”
Year 10: “Are we doing this?”
WHAT’S THE ADVANTAGE OF THE WHOLE BAND HAVING A BACKGROUND IN CLASSICAL AND JAZZ MUSIC?
Advantage is most evidenced in the ease of rehearsal and arrangement. The common ears and vocabulary make things run smoothly.
WHAT EXPOSURE HAS BEEN MOST INFLUENTIAL IN GIVING YOU A HIGHER PROFILE?
Most assuredly the “I Want You Back” video. That was at least the first biggest thing. One million views is currency this day and age.
WHAT ARE THE INDIVIDUAL MUSICAL INFLUENCES THAT EACH OF YOU BRINGS TO YOUR SIGNATURE SOUND?
The Beatles for their limit pushing, Ella Fitzgerald for the swing, Miles Davis for the fearless cool, Carole King for the timeless melodies and meaningful words (from lyric writers, but still).
HOW DOES “BAD SELF PORTRAITS” COMPARE TO YOUR TWO PREVIOUS PROJECTS?
In a word, maturity. The songs have more depth, more weight, more experience and road testing behind them. There was purpose behind it, too, that extended beyond the desire to create a coherent work of art. We wanted to bare ourselves a bit more and turn some heads if we could.
HOW DOES THE SONGWRITING AND PERFORMANCE COLLABORATION WORK BETWEEN THE FOUR OF YOU?
Performance has always been liquid, shared; collaborative to a fault. Sometimes we have so much fun goofing around together we have to remind ourselves there are people watching. Songwriting happens one at a time, alone in a room, worked out until it’s right. We’ve been moving slowly, organically toward more song building as a group. Perhaps if we did more together it’d be greater than what we can do as individuals.
WHAT IS ON THE HORIZON?
Bigger shows, musical departures, farther reach in tours, making families and hopefully a little more time to rest. We’ve been hitting it hard.
Friday, October 30,
Cascade Theatre, Redding
Tuesday, November 3,
Chico State University