the Pitchfork alum & Chicago-born-band speaks up
We sent two of our writers to Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival. They went, they listened, and we’re surprised they came back. Luckily for us, they’ve gotten in touch with A Lull, who’ll be coming to Philly to play Kungfu Necktie tomorrow. Check out the interview here.
Street: What was it like to play at Pitchfork and in your hometown of Chicago?
Mike Brown: It was fun, man. We all get pretty nervous playing in our hometown but it went a lot better than anyone expected. Crowd was into it, it was just a blast.
Street: We were standing next to one guy who kept saying, “Come to Grand Rapids, Michigan!”
MB: [Laughing] We’re going there next month!
Street: What did you guys manage to catch at the festival? Any highlights?
Ashwin Deepankar: I really enjoyed Godspeed [Godspeed You! Black Emperor].
MB: I loved Hot Chip. I had really wanted to see them, so I was really excited — they were my favorite act of the weekend.
Street: Does it feel good to get Pitchfork’s stamp of approval, given that it’s a Chicago publication?
MB: It feels good! I think, nowadays, they have a pretty big name — a lot of web traffic, a lot of pull — so it’s really cool that were at least on their radar. You know, it feels good that if we do something, they can talk about it, they have our backs. It was just an honor to play the festival, even if it weren’t in Chicago. We all read the site and appreciate what they’re doing.
Street: We’d never seen you guys live and thought it was really cool that there are two drummers. How does that work?
AD: Well, most of our songs start with drums, so usually it’s just the five of us in a room and we’ll come up with a beat and try a progression with it and take it from there. And then Mike and Nigel [Dennis] will add some texture to that. Doing it live, it’s pretty cool having our own personalities behind the kit and complementing each other well. I love playing with Aaron [Vincel]. He’s the backbone of A Lull. Without him I’d go and venture off without having that foundation. We work well together.
Street: You each are multi–instrumentalists — how does that play into your process?
MB: It works out well. We all sort of have rhythm and everyone plays the guitar. Instead of just me and Nigel playing guitar, everyone does. And when one of us comes up with a beat, like five of us can dissect it instead of two guys…Like no matter what song it is, there’s always someone to pick up the — I don’t want to say slack — but there’s always someone to do something.
Street: Now, with Meat Mountain under your belt (which was really amazing) what’s next? You’re working on a full length, right?
MB: Yeah, we have demos and stuff, but we’re gonna start when we get home from this tour in August, then we’re gonna buckle down. I’d like to have it done by the end of the year. I’d love it to come out in spring, early summer of next year, but all of that is completely tentative.
Street: Was there anything different in what you all tried to do on Meat Mountain as opposed to Confetti?
MB: On Confetti, we’d do like 150 tracks on a song, just for no reason…On [Meat Mountain], we just tried to pull back, utilize some empty spaces, don’t try to put like 90 guitar tracks on this one bar, don’t throw a bunch of shit against a wall — just try to write.
Street: Pitchfork likes to say you guys sound a bit like Sigur Ros and Yeasayer. To what extent is something like that true and are there any other bands that inspire you?
AD: Personally, I think I can speak for the whole band when I say I don’t hear it. I don’t hear Sigur Ros at all. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing or a good thing, I’m just saying I don’t hear it. I mean, maybe Yeasayer, but as far as influence, I think we all bring something completely different to the table and I think that helps a lot in writing. I wouldn’t say there’s one band we admire and say, “Oh, let’s try to do something like this, on the same measure as this.” I think it just kind of happens.
MB: I mean we all just like different shit, you know? I love Yeasayer, I love Animal Collective, I love Grizzly Bear. It’s hard to not. And I’m not saying we’re completely unique or anything. But we draw inspiration over influence. I think the five of us find different stuff in music. It’s hard to be unique. But I totally don’t mind when people consider us a band of that caliber. It’s pretty cool.
Street: That sort of leads me to my next question: what are you guys listening to right now?
MB: I really like the new Beach House record. But at the same time, I listen to endless amounts of Fela Kuti, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon. That’s all in my rotation and never going away. I know a few of us are really into hip-hop and stuff like that.
AD: I really like the new Wilco record. I think they’re fantastic — my favorite band.
Street: Mike, you work at venues — I don’t know if any other of you guys do. Any crazy stories?
MB: Not really — I work at a small place, like 100-200 cap. We get some big bands because of the name, but it’s mostly small bands, so nothing crazy. Like, the craziest thing that’s happened is some chick that fell asleep at the bar…The bands that come through are usually pretty cool. You get the occasional asshole rock stars, but for the most part, it’s an extremely chill place.