Thu 10/5 @8:30PM
Cleveland’s The Lighthouse and The Whaler is setting a new, albeit familiar, creative course with its upcoming EP Paths. The indie outfit incorporated ’80s alt-pop keyboards and rhythmic vocals for more of a sunnier demeanor defined by sing-along anthems such as the title track, “Ascending” and “Made of Water.”
The five-song effort comes out Fri 10/6. The day before, the outfit, which is about to go on a four-week national tour, celebrates with a hometown show at the Grog Shop.
CoolCleveland talked to The Lighthouse and The Whaler’s Michael LoPresti about the new EP, the importance of recording in the attic and the oftentimes surreal existence of being an indie success story that calls Cleveland home
CoolCleveland: Congrats on the new EP. Before we delve into that project, let’s talk about how the group’s 2015 album Mont Royal, which received widespread critical acclaim, affected the recording process for Paths.
Michael LoPresti: I think Mont Royal was a pretty big step for us. It was our first label record. That was a really great learning experience. We were trying to spread our musical wings a little bit, and I think we hit some really good notes on it, but we also felt like there were some things we didn’t really love in the long term. So this EP was kind of a way of jumping back into some of the more energetic kind of vibes that we had become accustomed to writing in the past.
CC: Is it safe to say there’s a darkness and melancholy heard on Mont Royal that’s not present on Paths.
ML: Sure. I think for me [on Mont Royal] there was this real desire to go from writing songs that I felt like were poppier and trying to make something that was more of a piece of art. And in the process of doing that, I think that maybe it took a turn towards something that would be a little bit more melancholy than what our fans had been used to. We went to Montreal for like a month and a half. We learned a ton. I think the biggest thing we took away from Mont Royal was just that we really started to discover who we were and what we wanted to be. I think that takes bands a few records to do that.
CC: So where do you feel the band went on Paths?
ML: I think that it definitely was us kind of retaking the concept for ourselves. We wanted this EP to be something that was really like a little bit of gritty, but at the same time like upbeat and hopeful and driving and energetic. With Paths, we wanted to go back to the sort of intense, raw sound that we had sort of created. There’s sort of a fine line between when you make a pop song, how do you keep it from being something that’s too polished. For us on this EP, it was all about making the best songs we could and knowing that if we trusted what we did, that we were going to get songs that really represented who we were and the intensity we wanted to bring.
CC: One obvious difference between Mont Royal and Paths is the song “Made of Water.” If the group was still feeling melancholy, perhaps the lyric would be “Hold your head below water” instead of the actual lyric of “Hold your head above water?”
ML: Totally. I think that’s like the whole thing. We just decided and made a conscious choice that we needed to be more positive in what we were doing because there’s enough sadness in the world, especially in the recent months. It’s like we’re here to bring what we think is the truth about joy and life and communicating the best we can and hoping people can take that and find hope. I think that’s the thing that matters the most when it comes to art and music.
CC: Part of the record was recorded in your Cleveland Heights attic. How did that inform Paths?
ML: I once heard a quote from Beck, who said that every album should be recorded at home because in a studio sometimes there’s pressure to be perfect right then — you’re on the clock, you have a schedule, you’re paying for the time. Being a small indie band, we have a budget and can’t just spend days in the studio. So when we get a chance to really allow each moment the time it needs, to get the performance that we want and the sound we want, we don’t have to feel rushed. And sometimes in those moments you do one take and say that was perfect. There’s no pressure. It’s part of what that attic vibe bought to this record.
CC: Considering The Lighthouse and The Whaler’s success and notoriety outside of Northeast Ohio, what it’s like being home?
ML: It’s hard sometimes to be a part of the scene here and then also exist on the national level. It’s a weird feeling. When you’re here you’re going to shows at the Grog Shop or the Beachland, and it’s great. But there are times we have a song on a TV show or we go play Chicago and we’ll sell out a 300-person room there, it’s like, “Wow.” We’re definitely at another level, which is jut encouraging for us. The music industry is a hard place to be. We’ve been really lucky.