Drummer Matthew Correia answers questions on Los Angeles’ deep roots in music and art
If you see a bright radiating light on the horizon, it’s probably Allah-Las’ tour van treading through the snow while on their current tour through North America. This four-piece of L.A. sun shaman met between the stacks of dusty LPs at the massive record store, Amoeba. Towelling off after catching a tube ride, these surfers laid down their boards to write songs on whatever came to mind. Their love of Los Angeles’ history, from the ‘50s Beatnik youth snapping their thumbs on the shores of Venice, to the aching nostalgia in Bukowski’s words on Hollywood, is all absorbed in their crystalline melodies and Western drawl. Their ‘60s-sounding songs have reverb cranked high, reflecting the slow tides hitting the shore of their native land.
Drummer Matthew Correia didn’t know much about drums at the band’s conception. During soundcheck at the band’s early gigs, the soundman would ask Correia to test the kick-drum—but the drummer wasn’t sure which one that was. He’s since discovered where the kick-drum is, and his playing throughout the album sounds moody and wonderful, like crushing seashells under your feet. He answered The Concordian’s eager questions.
The Concordian (C): Is there an ‘old Los Angeles’ feel in your music? What does that mean to you?
Matthew Correia (MC): The literature, music, art, design and photography from Los Angeles have always interested us. Those influences, along with the history and geography of our hometown, somehow make their way into our sound naturally, I think. If we grew up somewhere else we would sound different I’m sure.
C: Why was it important for your music to stray away from digital effects and synthesized sounds?
MC: We’re not against digital. We did what worked best for us. We dig music with synths, but like a lot of styles and instruments, it just hasn’t made its way into our sound.
C: Do you feel being compared to ‘60s rock in most music articles describes you well? Or are they too quick to generalize?
MC: We’re honoured to be compared to that music. We’re influenced by other places and other decades of course but people are going to hear what they’re familiar with and that’s fine.
C: Does your music correspond less with music from the ‘60s and, rather, match more with the ‘feel’ or ‘vibe’ associated with California’s previous decades?
MC: Sure. I think we’re very much a product of our environment. A mirror of a mirror of a mirror … We grew up digging through the past while listening to loads of local bands around L.A. Influence has been passed down to us as it was to them. Ariel Pink, Beachwood sparks, The Tyde, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, are a few of our L.A. favorites.
C: Is your music best sampled by listening to the entire album, end to end? As if your music is a 40-minute trip into the old L.A. histories you’ve mentioned—a change in perspective.
MC: We hope it feels like a trip anywhere you’re listening. Nearest far away place.
C: On a more personal note, I was just in California, and listening to Worship the Sun while buzzing around L.A. The music definitely fits perfectly with the setting. When coming back to Montreal and listening to it while driving through a snowstorm, it seemed to have a totally different effect. If at all, why do you think your music carries with it such a strong ‘mood’ or ‘vibe,’ for lack of better words?
MC: We’re a moody bunch. I don’t know, we put everything into those records.
It changed our lives for better or worse and it’s all in there. If you ever need some tunes for the road check out Reverberation Radio. It’s a podcast we make with our six closest friends. Every Wednesday: a new mix.
C: Your self-titled album and Worship the Sun both share the general themes of “sun” and “girls.” is surfing under the sun a remedy for heartbreak.
MC: Things aren’t always what they seem. Songs that sound like they’re about a girl, the beach or fun in the sun might be about something else. We’re happy that people associate us with sunshine and sandy beaches because we love those things, but we hope that people make their own interpretations.
These sun worshippers will be blazing through their tunes on Montreal’s chilly Wednesday night. If you’re cold and blue, step into Allah-Las’ solar furnace.
Allah-Las play Petit Campus Nov. 26 with Tashaki Miyaki