Interview: La Luz on Signing to Hardly Art

Seattle’s surfiest, La Luz, dropped a triple bombshell yesterday. The band not only announced that they would be releasing their debut LP, It’s Alive on Hardly Art records this October, they also released the first single from the record “Big Big Blood,” and details that they will be touring with Of Montreal across the country this autumn.

Phew. So much announcement.

We caught up with La Luz’s guitarist/lead singer Shana Cleveland to chat about all of the new developments, as well as surfing and hanging out at the beach.

Shana Cleveland: Can you hear me okay? I have my headset on.

Seattle Weekly: I can hear you fine. Do you often talk on the phone on a headset?

Shana: Um, I’ve had to do it lately because I have this really horrible phone where if it touches my face it mutes my voice so then nobody can hear me anymore.

SW: That’s a pretty fatal design flaw.

Shana: It’s horrible.

SW: Well anyhoo, congrats on Hardly Art and releasing the new song. You guys just got back from tour right? You must be tired.

Shana: Yeah, let’s see... we just played Block Party on Saturday and got back on Saturday morning, so we’ve been back a couple of days. I feel pretty good now. Once we got on stage at Block Party I felt totally great. As soon as we got off though I wanted to go back to sleep again, you know, total nap time.

SW: When did you guys decide on Hardly Art?

Shana: It’s been a really long time actually, it’s been at least a few months I think. It was just something they wanted to wait to announce, so we’ve been having to bite our tongues about it for quite a while. We were talking to a few different labels, so it was a long process. But Hardly Art was always something I had in my mind when we started the band, so it’s really exciting for us.

SW: It seems like you guys have sort of bopped around to a bunch of labels. Burger Records, then Suicide Squeeze, now Hardly Art. How’s that all work?

Shana: The Burger thing is cool because you can kind of be on Burger but also be on other labels at the same time because they’ll do so many different releases. You can be on Hardly Art and then release the same record on Burger but they’ll just do a cassette or something. That was always something we wanted to do because the bands on that label have been very inspiring to me. We knew we wanted Burger to put our tape. It was an easy decision since we knew we could do other labels at the same time too.

The Suicide Squeeze thing worked out really well because they have this really awesome 7 inch series and we wanted to put something else out but we weren’t necessarily ready with our full length, so it was cool to be able to do a 7 inch for them. We were recording the new record around the same time as the 7 inch, we just put that release out earlier.

SW: How long have you guys been sitting on the full length then?

Shana: I guess it’s been a couple months, maybe since May. It’s all kind of blur, sorry it’s hard to remember with everything that’s been happening.

SW: Yeah, you guys seem to be super busy lately. Every day there seems to be some new La Luz thing happening.

Shana: Yeah, it’s been kinda crazy. We’ve just got a ton of energy right now. It seems weird if we are not constantly doing something together.

SW: I mean, with all the recording you’ve been doing, and touring and music videos and talking to labels, do you guys have time for jobs or anything on the side? Or is La Luz it for you all right now?

Shana: Well, we’re all kind of sorta hoping to get to the point where La Luz is it. I can see that maybe happening in the nearish future, but in the meantime... well, not everyone has jobs. Marian (drums) works at the Showbox and they’ve been really nice about giving her time to go out on tour thus far. And then Alice (keys) does private lessons, so her schedule is pretty flexible. Then Abbey (bass) just graduated from UW so she doesn’t have a job right now. She’s just fresh out of school. Then I’ve been doing some freelance writing. I got fired from my job last year for going on tour too long, so I’m just like ‘Okay I need to figure something else out right now, I don’t want to get fired again.’ *Laughs* So I just decided I need something more flexible.

SW: Well you guys seem to be making it work. Tell me about this Of Montreal tour you just announced too, that’s huge.

Shana: Our friend Sasha, who has just been a great advocate for our music, I think she talked us up to them. They’re also from her hometown, Athens, GA, so she saw that they were looking for an opening band and put in the good word for us. We’re super stoked. I listened to a track off their new album today and really loved it.

SW: It should be pretty interesting hanging out with Kevin Barnes. That guy is a very interesting dude.

Shana: It seems like it. Have you met him before?

SW: No, but I’ve seen them live and he’s sort of like a glam Alice Cooper. He’s always only in his underwear, or you know, he rode this white horse on stage in New York once.

Shana: I heard about the horse! That’s so awesome. I’m really excited to see what their live show is like, it should be a lot of fun hanging out with them.

SW: Tell me about the new album It’s Alive. Is it sort of just a collection of songs you wrote, or is it about anything in particular in your mind?

Shana: I sort of know what it’s about but... it’s a little bit creepy.

SW: Creepy?

Shana: It’s kind of like... celebrating life by accepting our... inevitable demise.

SW: That’s pretty metal.

Shana: Beyond that it’s just love songs, heartbreak and ‘screw-it let’s party’ songs.

SW: Well if you’re singing about our inevitable demise... I mean everyone calls you a surf band. If you are singing about all our inevitable demises, do you consider yourself a surf band?

Shana: Yeah, I think so. I guess when I write, I hear pretty traditional surf beats behind them in my head. When I wanna have one word to describe it I always go with “surf” just because it’s an easier description. We also often do some pretty straightforward surf instrumentals so it’s pretty hard not to call yourself a surf band when you do that. But yeah, I think it’s definitely a lot more than that. I’m not really worried about us getting pigeonholed because I feel like we’ve found our own voice within that.

SW: Totally, I mean, there’s not a lot of surfing in Seattle. There aren’t many big waves to ride up here, so if you are playing surf you’re probably gonna be doing your own thing.

Shana: I think somehow the clouds and the dreary Seattle weather definitely throws a couple of curveballs into the “surf” music we make *laughs.*

SW: Have you ever surfed?

Shana: No, I’ve never surfed. I don’t think any of us has actually ever surfed. Like, maybe we’ve all body boarded or something like that. I grew up in Michigan, so there’s definitely no ocean near there.

SW: Well you’ve got the Great Lakes.

Shana: Yeah, there’s no huge waves in Lake Michigan. I would hang out on the beach all the time in Michigan though. I’d go drive a half hour and spend all my time there like every other day and hang by the water. There’s something about surf music that resonated with me, you know, with hearing those drums and being by the water with the sand.

SW: You still go out to the beach a lot here?

Shana: Yeah, I live near the U District and Magnuson Park is pretty close so I go there quite a bit. I love hanging out at the beach.

It’s Alive Tracklist:

01. Sure as Spring

02. All the Time

03. Morning High

04. What Good Am I?

05. Sunstroke

06. It’s Alive

07. Big Big Blood

08. Call Me in the Day

09. Pink Slime

10. Phantom Feelings

11. You Can Never Know

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