One of the just-can't-miss bands playing at this week's CMJ Music Marathon is Montréal's The Luyas who create an angular, yet ethereally serene brand of passionate, orchestral-leaning rock.
The Luyas, whose lineup includes former (and current) members of Arcade Fire, SS Cardiacs and Bell Orchestre, opened for Pains of Being Pure At Heart in Boston last night and play tonight, October 21, and tomorrow, October 22, in New York. They launch a brief tour with The Antlers in early December. Their followup to their debut, 2007's Faker Death, will be released on new label Dead Oceans, home to Phosphorescent and The Tallest Man on Earth, in early 2011.
The Alternate Side caught up with singer Jesse Stein over email and she told us of the band's CMJ plans, working with Owen Pallett and why their upcoming album will mark a sonic shift for the band.
TAS: What particular blueprint do The Luyas follow to survive CMJ? What other bands are you keen to see?
Jessie Stein: I don't know if were really going to follow much of a blueprint of any kind. Were more of a rainbow chasing kinda crew. We'll play our shows and walk around and get lost like any tourists in NYC. I don't even know who else is playing the festival but I'm sure that at least Pietro [Amato] and Matt [Charbonneau] will stumble into a few bars without having to try too hard.
TAS: You must be quite excited about signing to Dead Oceans. What about the label appealed to you?
Jessie: We're really very happy to be working with Dead Oceans. Their ethics and attitudes about music and how to deal with the big bad world line up with our ideals and the people at the company are awesome. There isn't much not to like - they put out some of the coolest records and they got behind us and everything kind of made sense pretty naturally.
TAS: How much are you remixing, re-recording or reworking your album for your debut? Are you resurrecting any tracks from Faker Death or is this an entirely new album?
Jessie: All the songs on the record are new and pretty different from Faker Death era stuff.
TAS: Explain a bit about the electric zither which defines The Luyas. How are songs shaped around it?
Jessie: I play an instrument called the Moodswinger that this guy Yuri Landman invented and I had to invent a way to play it. I was figuring out that puzzle as we made the record so my ineptitude shaped our writing quite a bit. I love digging my way out of not knowing what I'm doing. It's inspiring.
TAS: You're also working with Owen Pallett on this upcoming album. How did you hook up, via Arcade Fire?
Jessie: Owen was my roommate back in 2003-4. He used to wake me up writing Final Fantasy songs. We argued a lot about the place of novelty and originality in art back when my old band's motto was "what would Malkmus do?"
TAS: Director Vincent Moon is a big fan of yours. In turn, what filmmakers really inspire you?
Jessie: Of course we love the Moon best of all. Stephane Lafleur is one of our favorite filmmakers. He made a film about life in Quebec called "Continental: un film sans fusil" ("Continental: A Film Without Guns") and it's amazing.
TAS: Any movies you wish The Luyas could have scored?
Jessie: I wouldn't mind scoring "8 1/2." Not a bad film.
TAS: Okay, you're from Montréal. Explain poutine and do you have a particularly kickass recipe for it?
Jessie: I'm vegetarian and thus a bad person to ask. It's a pretty simple food concept. Fries. Gravy. Cheese. It's the kind of food that kids would invent. A maximalist affair. I think it's best kept out of the home and in the drunk night air where it was born.
10/21 – Arelene’s Grocery “M For Montreal Showcase” at 7 p.m.– New York NY
10/22 – Public Assembly “Brooklyn Vegan Showcase” at 1:45 p.m. – Brooklyn NY
December Tour with The Antlers
12/2 – Paradise Rock Club – Boston MA
12/3 – First Unitarian Church – Philadelphia PA
12/4 – The Black Cat – Washington DC