Nothing is more exciting than talking to a band on the day of an album release. Make that a debut album release put out by Leisure Cruise, a power duo of Dave Hodge and Leah Siegel. The two are indie royalty. Finger Music’s Dave – representing Canada here — has performed with Broken Social Scene, Bran Van 3000, Basement Jaxx, Feist, and Brazilian Girls. Leah – representing the US — has an admirable solo project Firehouse and sings for The Citizen Band. Together, they mesh to create a gorgeous, sythpop sound that goes more for groove and movement than airy spaciousness. The album feels retro, yet sounds so now. We talked to the two about their magical pairing and the methods to their madness.
Rachel Levine (RL): You’ve go thtis album out today. You must be super stoked.
Leah Siegel (LS): Yeah! Woo!
RL: What was it like waiting for it to come out?
Dave Hodge (DH): It was interesting. There was so much to do to get ready for a release. It seems like there’s never enough time to do everything and it’s a long wait to finish the music in January and wanting it to come out right away. So, it’s a bit of both. It’s a perfect balance of the exact right time.
LS: It’s like everything in life, you want it now and you want it perfect. It was a solid year to set up and for the PR and have a perfect roll out.
DH: We didn’t have Daft Punk’s budget for PR.
RL: Did you have any particular sound in mind that you were aiming for with the album?
DH: We weren’t really aiming for anything. We were just writing stuff that we really liked and Sailing was the first song we wrote and Double Digit was the second one.
LS: We had nothing in mind. Neither of us could have imagined that in eight months we would have formed a band and had a complete record. There were no deadlines or duties when we started. We were just honestly writing because I had my band and Dave was itching to do something. So, the whole thing was this is fun, let’s do it again tomorrow project. The whole thing wasn’t beholden to anyone or anything or any ideal. That’s how it happened.
RL: Your album has lots of guest performers on it. Can you comment on this? Was that the intent from the start?
DH: I planned to make a record with different singers on every track an having all my friends come and play. There’s also a couple of tracks from a film Two Hands To Mouth that I’d written with Sara Johnston from Bran Van 3000 and Catlow from Vancouver. I asked Leah in and when we started writing its started going so well, I don’t need to have anybody else. We were making really great stuff. So we thought, why don’t we make a band of this. The other guests are Jimmy Shaw from Metric, Justin Peroff from Broken Social Scene, Adrian Eccleston from Drakes, and Liam O’Neil from the Stills, and Tommy Kessler from Blondie. Those are all our friends. They came on to play on a few tracks. So, in sum the way to record started it became completely different.
RL: What’s the special sauce that makes the collaboration work so well?
LS: I think it’s because we started writing under the assumption that it was just for fun and I had no stake in it. Dave had ideas for a record. It was so low pressure. It was no pressure, in fact. And, if it didn’t work we wouldn’t have kept writing together. It works partially because we have similar tastes in the cross section of our likes and dislikes. We’re both a little low key. We’re both willing to go a little bit beyond our comfort zone and see the bigger picture of things. We’re not kids. I find that with each birthday I care less and less about details and little things, so maybe that’s maybe one of the reasons why it works so well. I certainly care about a lot of stuff, of course. I’ve been making music for a long time, and all I mean to say is that ten years ago, I had break downs about the slightest thing being not perfect or forgetting to bring something to a show. I don’t live in that world anymore. I like to stretch myself with another writer… especially when collaborating. Obviously, these things change over time, what I consider small. But I can’t be concerned about bitching at each other in the studio or not getting along. There are times when David and I do not agree artistically, but we communicate through them. One convinces the other of our stance or we both just agree.
RL: The album covers are by Peter Curzon of Storm Studio. You must have been pretty stoked to get them on board for that. How did that happen?
DH: I’ve always been a fan of Storm Elvin Thorgerson and Storm Studios. He designed 50 of the top 100 album covers of all time. I was thinking about him, but he had died. I went to website and there was a note there that said, we’re mourning Storm’s passing but his wishes are to continue with the studio. It took me a a little while to craft a sensitive email. It was a tragic moment for them. But I did and they wrote back a week later and were excited with the rough tracks they heard. Peter Curzon liked it and said he wanted to get on board and do the work. This was the first project Storm Studios did after Storm died. And, I’m just so happy with the covers, both of us are love it.
RL: On Facebook, the covers feature a Censored by Facebook message?
DH: With the censorship thing… We posted the covers on Facebook and got all these messages about content being removed due to being inappropriate for the Facebook community. I was shocked. A bit later, another one of the covers was removed from Facebook and they sent a message: If you repost those images, we will ban you from Facebook. It opened a bigger question in terms of what is the purpose of Facebook’s censorship program, when a porn star can put up pictures of herself greased up in bikinis intended 100% for sexual consumption, but you can’t post a piece of art with someone’s bum in it shot from 200 feet away. What are they trying to achieve? It seemed a little off. So, we got photographic designer to put censorship stickers on it.
RL: Anything else you want to mention?
DH: We’re excited to play Canada and want people to come to the show. Jon Morris is going to be there doing lights and projections. He was instrumental in the Windmill Factory and designing the Nine Inch Nails set for the Grammys and their tour. He’s brilliant with lights and projections. That adds another element to our show, so come to show to find out.
LS: Sadly, we won’t be able to bring up whole stage. Not the full shebang, but we’ll bring something great. Jon is great. He curated the projections as if art directing them. The videos that will be projected are by Matt O’Hare, who is a visual artist . He’s the hippest thing I’ve seen happen in Brooklyn in the last five years. Some videos are by Josh Higgasson, with the windmill factory too.
Leisure Cruise play with Rush Midnight at La Vitrola (4602 St. Laurent) on May 9. 9 p.m. $15