Love Lake: We share a love for old, weird rock music

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Photo by Jamie Valencour

Love Lake started as a one-man band, with singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Anders Carlson helming the process of producing its 2010 self-titled debut from start to near finish, having just a little help from his friends on drums, ukelele, and mastering. The heart and love of melody present on that project is not lost on his second album, Beachmaster, as he's added three bandmates to the mix -- Clay Sollenburger, Riley Walker, and Shaughn McCurdy, who all share vocal duties with Carlson. The big difference with this new project? It most definitely takes Love Lake out of the territory of navel-gazing solo act, and into the domain of true rock band.

It may not have been their intention, but they've stumbled onto a sound with this record that seems it could've been recorded in a garage belonging to one of the Wilson brothers or that of cousin Love... at some point between when it was all surfboards and girls, and when too many drugs, drownings, Stamos, and an egomaniacal Mike Love had to go and ruin everything. In advance of their record release show this Sunday at the 7th Street Entry, Gimme Noise caught up with Carlson to discuss the transition from solo act to four-piece, the magic of live-take recording and breakfast burritos, and recording under heavy influence of Coke -- the kind that comes in a red can, mind you.


Gimme Noise: Love Lake started as a largely solo endeavor led by you, Anders -- tell us about the decision to transition into a band, and how that has changed your sound, and your writing, recording and performing processes.

Anders Carlson: Love Lake was entirely a bedroom solo project for me. I wrote the songs, recorded all the instruments myself, had complete control. I was a lonely workaholic hermit. I spent over a year tinkering, adding sounds, changing tracks. There ended up being a lot of layers on that album, which is drastically different from the immediate "live band" sound on Beachmaster, our new album.

How did your current lineup come together?

A few years after I put out that first record, I got together with some guys I'd known since college. I never thought to ask to play music with them. They kind of intimidated me. They're those kind of jerks who've known each other since they were 10 and only speak in inside jokes. Those guys you just really hate. They were also in this awesome two-piece weirdo band called Ham Dance or something. Anyways, it turned out that Shaughn and Clay were actually real stand-up guys and are just great music players. We share a love for old weird rock music. They're really into Zappa and stuff like that. We all agreed that there aren't a lot of good standard four-piece rock bands doing anything cool these days. That's the kind of music we grew up loving and I think a lot of stuff these days can be a little pretentious (including, maybe, my first album). We just wanted to be a rock n' roll band.

So we needed another guitar player and we added Riley, who is superb. He studied music composition in town and we only recently met him before he joined the band. He's a stereotypical guy from California. That's all I'll say about him. Both Riley and Shaughn can rip amazing guitar solos. Clay can do miraculous things on drums as well. Those three guys are just wild players, which I love. I never got into that kind of thing. I never cared about learning guitar solos, I'm just a songwriter, but that's why those guys are great. I wanted this to be a whole new project, since the sound is so different than the first album. But we couldn't decide on a band name. We played quite a few shows under other names. Sisters was our favorite. But we learned it was already taken by some schmucks in California.

Your sound fairly seamlessly blends the melodic sounds and sensibilities of pop music from both the 1960s and today. Can you talk a bit about how (or whether) that's been a meeting point for you, and also what musicians from then and from now have proven an inspiration?

We never had any goals in mind for what sounds we wanted to make. I just brought the songs to the guys -- Shaughn also has two songs on the album -- and we'd see how it would turn out. After listening to the final product, I totally agree with you. It's obvious we're drawing from the past, but I think the reason it sounds pretty current has a lot to do with our engineer and mixer Ryan Mach. A lot of bands doing a retro kind of sound seem to also try and mimic those '60s production techniques. We wanted it to sound like a loud, fairly polished rock album, akin to stuff you might hear on modern rock radio, but also keep the '60s pop sensibilities intact.

Your upcoming 7th Street Entry show will celebrate the release of your new album, Beachmaster. Can you tell us about the album, and the process of recording it?

We recorded it last year in a house in Northeast. Ryan Mach was the man in charge of everything recording related. I didn't have to worry about untangling mic cables and setting up confusing recording gear, which is something I really dislike. So it was just the five of us in a house. It was a hot Minnesota summer day. Clay made breakfast burritos. Somebody brought one or two 12-packs of Coca-Cola Classic. That's all we drank. I don't think any alcohol or illicit substances were used. We just mic'd up all the instruments and kicked out all the songs live in one or two days. It was great! Especially in contrast to the way I recorded the first album, which I probably spent 100 total hours on, and I never once had a breakfast burrito during the process.

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The cover art for the album is amazing - who did it?

I went to a friend-of-a-friend's house party a few years ago and saw that painting on the wall. It was done by the friend-of-a-friend's dad Jay Vander Voort. Apparently he painted it while studying at MCAD in the '70s. It's so awesome and kind of sums up the sound of the album perfectly. The painting features a bull running out of the ocean towards two cool dudes in shades laying on the beach. If you can't envision the sound of the album by that description alone then god help you.

What can we expect from your Sunday night release show?

We're all friends. We all make each other laugh and genuinely have fun together. I think it rubs off on the audience. Love Lake is zany. We're currently trying to decide what kind of snack we will be offering the audience during the show. Last show it was cookies and PB & Js.

And what can we expect next from Love Lake? Any plans to tour?

A Scandinavian/Western Asia tour is currently in talks. If that falls through, we will be hitting the greater Wisconsin and Upper Iowa circuit late summer '13.

Catch Love Lake's CD release show Sunday June 2 at the 7th Street Entry (with Rubert Angeleyes and Jaw Knee Vee), 7 p.m., $5.


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