Emma Meres went behind the scenes with the LA-based Lord Huron, giving us an intimate look at the band’s history and inspiration. Read on for the author’s personal discovery of the musically gifted bunch and their insights on everything from songwriting to survival tips for long Michigan winters…
This time last week I’d heard nothing about Lord Huron. Ask me who, or what they were and I’d vacantly have guessed a character from Harry Potter. Blame the naïve Aussie immigrant in me, but they’re relatively new on the US music scene—that, and I’m still unhealthily infatuated with hits of 2010, like Twin Shadow and Ariel Pink.
Wizardry and jokes aside, I had the pleasure of seeing Lord Huron perform twice over the past week. They gave a killer performance at the Mercury Lounge on Thursday (April 28th) and backed it up with an intimate, garage gig in Brooklyn the following night. Post-performances, I can now confirm that a) they’re a Los Angeles-via-Michigan band; b) they’ve released two EP’s, ‘Mighty’ and ‘Into The Sun‘; and c) I’ve developed an unhealthy crush on them.
Led by Ben Schneider and backed by a mixed bag of hotties, it was their stage presence that incited my newfound fixation. Their music prompted immediate comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons, but Lord Huron are cut above that stereotypical indie “fashion” band. They’re effortlessly well-dressed, yet it’s refreshing to note that sweeping fringes and cigarette jeans are far and between. Their performances are energetic, unpretentious and enchanting. Their ballads are catchy, romantic and heartfelt. Throw this in with some talented guitarists and a seriously devoted drummer and you’re left wondering, is it a mid-West thing?
With so many questions unanswered, I met up with Ben to dig up some dirt and throw back some sake. However, when we arrived at the restaurant, we decided an email/phone interview would be our best bet —the sake is free after all and no, I’m not disclosing this mystery location.
Emma Meres for PTV: So I’m really digging your band— Tell us a bit about how Lord Huron came to be?
Ben Schneider: I was pursuing a career in the visual arts for a few years, but I’d been itching to get back into music. I was up in Michigan for a friend’s wedding and took the opportunity to spend some time by the lake and record some music. Encouraged by my kid sister, Kiko, I released the tracks and the response was great. A couple months later I had a band together and we played our first show in Los Angeles.
Your sound is pretty unique—an odd mix between folk and tropical pop. How do you feel about comparisons to bands such as Fleet Foxes and Panda Bear?
Comparisons like that are inevitable, and I’m sure they’ve helped turn a lot of people on to the music. In a perfect world people would listen without any preconceived notions, but I’m just glad folks are listening.
We’ve had both EPs on repeat in the Portable offices. Seriously, we’re pretty into it. I’m also a sucker for romance and there’s some pretty swoony lyrics on them, tell us a bit about what, or who, influences your song writing?
Oh, this and that. People I’ve met, places I’ve visited, things I’ve gone through. Girls and nature always seem to find a way into the songs, which I suppose is true of a lot of songs. I’ve had some calls recently from people wondering if I’m writing about them. I respond diplomatically.
[I’d be ridiculously impressed if someone wrote a song about me. I’d also have an unhealthy ego as a result—a note to any aspiring musicians I know, don’t be all poetic about my presence in your life, unless you’re willing to deal with the consequences.]
I hear that you designed the artwork for the album covers, an obvious choice given your background in visual arts. What prompted the change from art to music?
I never really felt at home in that world. The work I was doing wasn’t very viable monetarily so I was getting by doing art direction, which was a good living, but wasn’t very satisfying and took a lot of energy. With music, I’m barely getting by, but I’m feeling a lot more fulfilled. Visual art will always be a part of what I do.
What a dreamy concept, I like it. Speaking of artistic talent, the video clip for The Stranger is fantastic. I hear it was shot in North Michigan, is that really how brutal winter is in the mid-West?
Thanks a lot. We shot that with our good friend Jacob Mendel. Winters up there are pretty tough, but they’re incredibly beautiful. We spent two days out on the lakeshore in the freezing cold shooting it. It was rough, but at the end of the day we’d head inside and gather around the fire drinking whiskey and swapping stories. It was a really great time.
Sounds incredible—love a hot toddy in the winter, not that our winters in Sydney are anything to complain about. Speaking of my roots, we have a huge readership in Australia—any chance you’ll make it down there?
We hope to. Our sound engineer is an Aussie, and he’s trying to help us work it out. Know anyone we can stay with?
My mum runs a tight ship but she’d be down for hosting a bunch of cute guys. I’ll put you in touch.
Done. Next question, you’re working on a full-length album right, will this be a solo venture again or will the band be more involved in the recording this time round?
They’ll definitely be involved this time round. They’re such talented guys.
Which is why you’ve landed a spot on the Lollapalooza and SF Outside Lands lineups, congrats. What’s install for Lord Huron post-summer fun and festivals?
Thank you, we’re very excited for the summer. At this point it’s hard to say what’s going to happen over the next few months. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and see where we end up.
Sounds like a plan to us! Have a listen to their single, The Stranger—we guarantee you’ll be a compulsive hummer post-track.