The Album Leaf's Jimmy LaVelle on the influence of Eno and the draw of San Diego
On A Chorus of Storytellers, Album Leaf's mastermind/frontman Jimmy LaValle once again proves he isn't a spectacular wordsmith - like a derivative musician who needs to widen his exposure to sounds, LaValle's lyrics suggest he could benefit from studying poetry for a bit.
Just the same, his calm, enigmatic techno-suites impressively pick up where Broken Social Scene's epic electronic instrumentals left off, with a little headphone pop-rock tinge thrown in. In advance of his band's show tomorrow night at the Bluebird, we caught up with LaValle and asked him about being influenced by Eno and what it is about San Diego, exactly, that he loves.
Westword: Just curious -- do you ever get irked by people not knowing your real name? Owen Pallett finally ditched his Final Fantasy alias for his given name -- are you next?
Jimmy LaValle: I really don't have any experience with people not knowing my name. It literally does not happen. Fans of the Album Leaf know exactly who I am. I'd like to know where you got that info from!
WW: You're currently celebrating a decade performing and recording as The Album Leaf. What are some favorites and least favorites from your catalog?
JL: Favorites would be "Lounge Act" from Orchestrated Rise to Fall, "Gust of..." from One Day, "Pn Your Way" from In a Safe Place, and mostly all of "A Chorus!" I think they translate to how they sound live, and I think you get the experience from them that they are presenting.
Least favorite would be "Vermillion," "2214," "Outer Banks," "Always for you"... because I feel like they are not as powerful as they actually are performed. I didn't think they translated on record. But if I was to be very critical, almost everything is not recorded right! It's hard to think things are done. I feel like I can always do more.
WW: "Tied Knots" reminded me so much of Music For Airports, which is our newborn daughter's favorite album. Has Eno been an influence and/or a hero of yours?
JL: Brian Eno is a huge influence to me. From day one when I was 16 starting to make four track recordings, I was always influenced by him. It might even be too obvious at points!
WW: What is it about San Diego that you've found inspiring and unable to give up?
JL: I have left, actually. I now live in Santa Cruz with my wife. But San Diego, in general, is a great place to be. It's a very close scene and a very help-each-other-out kind of place. I love it there but also have no plans on going back, just because it's nice to be away and experience different places.
WW: What were the biggest differences and improvements in your recording experience with a full live band?
JL: Well it was nice to not have all the responsibility only my shoulders for once. Even though it always is, but it didn't feel that way this time. It was a great experience to have other people contribute but still be the "boss" in the situation. I still had final say in what was played. But everyone contributed such great things that it was very great.