Lake Street Dive play songs from 'Obviously' in virtual session

Lake Street Dive play tracks from their new record, 'Obviously' (MPR)

Lake Street Dive join The Current for a virtual session to play songs from their latest record, Obviously. Rachael Price and Akie Bermiss join Bill DeVille to talk tour bus memories, comedy in lyrics, how their latest record came together.

Interview Transcription

Edited for length and clarity.

BILL DEVILLE: Hey I'm Bill DeVille it's another virtual session with The Current and I am here with Lake Street Dive members Rachael Price and Akie Bemiss, how you doing? Nice to see you both.

AKIE BERMISS: Hello, how's it going?

It's going excellent. Tell us where you both are.

BOTH: We're both in Brooklyn.

RACHAEL PRICE: Not even that far from each other.

AKIE BERMISS: That's true.

Super cool. Well, we just caught the video for "Making Do," and what can you tell us about the song?

RACHAEL PRICE: This is a song that Mike Calabrese started and he wrote it with Bridget and it's a song mostly about climate change, in short. It's talking about how we inherit things from past generations. While we might want to just place all the blame on them and get really mad, we also have to just face the reality of just making do with what we've got, living in the present good or bad and accepting that, and doing what we can to move forward and make positive changes.

I like to to put it in this category of songs like The Pretenders' "2000 Miles" and Joni Mitchell's "River". Songs that mention Christmas that aren't really Christmas songs at all. There's some great lyrics in the song too, "Killer waves and riots coming to the coastline soon, counting up the new typhoons quicker than kilowatts, how could you deny it?" It's pretty evident it's about climate change, isn't it?

AKIE BERMISS: Yeah, I think so. Also, the impact on humanity as a whole that climate change, like we've created climate change. Climate change also changes us. I think that's what the song deals with on a personal level, and also like on a larger human-wide level.

Now, you've been doing this for a long time, 16 years now. It must be quite a bit different now that you haven't been on the road for what a year has it been?

RACHAEL PRICE: Oh yeah.

How did it play out? Were you guys touring back a year ago in March and had to pull yourself off the road or what was going on with the band a year ago when when the COVID pandemic hit?

RACHAEL PRICE: We were making our album a month before we went into lockdown. We felt pretty fortunate and lucky that all got done because we flew home on a Monday, and by Friday everything was over. All our tours after that got canceled. The shows that we played right before the recording were on a cruise ship. So we felt especially lucky to not have gotten stuck on a cruise ship out at sea for six weeks. Obviously it affected every single person on the planet, and we were pretty sad to have all our touring canceled, we also felt lucky that we got the album done and that we didn't sit on a cruise ship it out at sea for months.

So you started recording the album before the pandemic had struck is that how it was working?

AKIE BERMISS: It was more like the pandemic was creeping across the land as we were making the record and we felt its cold breath on our necks but we just kept barely evading it. Right before we were on that cruise ship we went and did an international festival in Mexico. Then we got on a cruise ship. I mean everything about it was like, "What's happening in the news?" Then we're on a boat, and we got off the boat, and then two days later other boats were being held in the harbor. So it was all happening at the same time that we were in the studio trying to make tracks.

What did you discover about yourselves as a band during the lockdown?

RACHAEL PRICE: Wow, as a band. Oh, gosh, well, we did so little banding. That's why I'm laughing about it because it was it was nearly impossible for us to to function, the way that we were used to functioning as a band, which is being in the same room with one another. Doing stuff virtually was great. It was fun. I think some really cool things came out of our live streams and some of the videos that we made, but in general, I think we were sorely missing the ability to play together in person. To get together two weekends over the last year with a lot of testing and a lot of potting. Some false starts even with that, and it was thrilling. I just couldn't believe how much fun it was to play music for those couple of days. Yeah, it was hard. It was really hard, I think.

Akie?

AKIE BERMISS: I agree 100% with Rachel, the two times that we got together were literally thrilling. It was amazing. It really made me treasure the idea of being in a band. But also as a recent addition to the band, I have developed strong friendships with all the other members. But one amazing thing about this band is that you see it in the live streams and the way we interact virtually, that even without being able to perform together there is this incredible bond of friendship. Just the joy of hanging out and acting like real goofs which takes a poor place for playing a live show, but actually, I feel like those bonds are a little stronger having had to work through this virtual distance time.

So what's it like Akie, to be the new guy in a band that's been around for 16 years already? Is there quite a hazing ritual you went through?

AKIE BERMISS: Yeah, it was brutal.

RACHAEL PRICE: A lot of inside jokes to catch up on.

AKIE BERMISS: It took so long to get up to speed on the inside jokes, I can't even tell you. But it's really great. It was wonderful. It was wonderful from the start, the only pressure was to sort of live up to how great the band had been up to that point, and trying to contribute on that level and be part of that organism, but in general, there was no--the hazing was merely me trying to learn all the songs in time to get on the bus to play my first show, which was, which I hazed myself preparing for that. But otherwise, it's been genuinely a pleasure.

Now, what have you missed most during the pandemic about the band Lake Street Dive?

RACHAEL PRICE: Wow, it's so many things. I missed live music the most. Just playing. Playing in a room with a lot of people and seeing their faces and the transformative experience of energy. You can be dead tired, and feel like you need to sleep for three days straight before you go on stage and then 90 minutes later, you walk off and you're like, "Huh! That was cool. Doing great!" So like, literally, my body has missed the chemicals of performing, whatever is created. The adrenaline and various things are completely foreign to me at this point. I'm sure that I'll be overwhelmed the first time we play a full show, and I get off and I was like, "Ah," because it's its own type of drug, I guess. But, you know what I also really miss is like midnight on the tour bus, when it's like a jar of peanut butter, weird meat snacks. Just like a complete--up to a place of absurdity. Just being like, "Where are we? Who are we? What do we do?" Because we exist nowhere. It's a bus driving into the sunset and we're like, "Where are we going tomorrow?" And like, really miss those times because this has been, funny enough it's like one of the most unexpected things that I could have imagined happening. Living through a pandemic, but then it's turned into like, the most predictable of times, it's like I know where I'm eating every night. It's my dinner table. I know where I'm going at eight o'clock, it's my couch. I definitely I miss spontaneity.

How about you Ackie?

AKIE BERMISS: It's similar for me. I haven't been home this long since I had a home that was my own home. Yeah, obviously the shows are amazing. I wish we could get back to that but something I do miss along with midnights on the bus is mornings on the bus. On the other side of like, "Where are we?" I always feel like it's that part of a sitcom where they've already done the cold open, they play the theme song and then as the action resumes, there's that little like [sings] "dingiddy dingiddy ding," right at the end. And it's like coming out of the bunk section, and Rachel's already got her coffee, and she's writing something, and I've got my coffee, and we kind of like, "So where are we?" And we look out the windows, and we're like, "What is this place?" I missed that. Which is strange to say because it always felt so disorienting.

I always remember the story that Willie Nelson sometimes sleeps in his bus when it's parked outside of his home. He's become so at home in his tour bus.

RACHAEL PRICE: Yeah, that's completely relatable.

All right, we're gonna have have you play "Hypotheticals," what can you tell us about that song? I sure love the groove in that song. Tell us about it.

RACHAEL PRICE: It's a total bop. Bridget Kearney wrote this song. She sent it to us complete. We heard it and we were like, "Yeah," she just like mic dropped that song onto the band.

AKIE BERMISS: Sprung like Athena from her bed.

Yeah I hear some hints of maybe some Motown and some old school soul in that one. Is that true do you think?

RACHAEL PRICE: Definitely. Yeah, I think it's very much true. The baseline and the even that Roboto intro is an old school thing to have done. I love that. But one of the other things I love the most about this song is the humor in the lyrics. I think you really can't I think humor in lyrics is somehow underrated. I always like to give it props because this song is like--I think the lyrics are perfectly crafted. The way that they're sung, the rhyme schemes--but they are super funny. They're so silly. I love them.

[music: "Hypotheticals" & "Beign A Woman" by Lake Street Dive]

Lake Street Dive, 'Obviously'

It's Lake Street Dive and that's a song called "Being A Woman" and I'm Bill DeVille. It's another virtual session with The Current. I am here with Rachael Price and Akie Bermiss and you guys worked with Mike Elizondo on the new album. What's it like working with Mike?

RACHAEL PRICE: Super fun, he's--well, Mike does a lot of different styles of music in playing. He plays bass on a lot of stuff and produces a lot of different types of music. So for instance, we were really drawn to Mike because of his background in hip hop production. He works with Dr. Dre and with Eminen, but also because he mixed of our favorite records, this Fiona Apple album, Extraordinary Machine, as well as a number of other things. He's also incredibly nice. I think the fact that he is an upright bass player was really nice, because it is a particular sound that we have and Bridget gets asked a lot, "Why are you playing the upright bass in a pop band?" So we needed somebody who really got it. Mike just kind of gets it on every level.

AKIE BERMISS: Yeah.

Did the the songwriting approach change because of the pandemic?

AKIE BERMISS: No--well, you mean, like over this past year? I don't know. We haven't really been co-writing songs. Well, I don't want to tell tales out of school. But there has been some discussion of a musical and some tunes we're banding about. But we haven't completed that. We haven't really--the way that we did the record was on the road, it was all part of that frenzy and that discombobulation of being on the road. You'd bring ideas to someone and say, "Hey, can you help me finish this idea?" Then we kind of pile them all together and that's how we did a lot of the co-writes. So that's a difficult thing to do when you're all remote and not living in the same space as each other.

Are you guys chomping at the bit to get back out on the road?

RACHAEL PRICE: Yes. Without a doubt, yes, we are ready. Of course we are absolutely willing to wait until it's 100% safe for us to do so. But just like everyone in the world, we're ready to experience it again.

Do you have gigs on on a plate yet? Or is that soon to be happening, or do you know yet?

RACHAEL PRICE: Yeah, we have hypothetical gigs ready to go. Sort of like, we're waiting in the wings.

AKIE BERMISS: Yes, exactly.

Now Rachel, the band's been around for 16 years. Did you ever dream it would last this long?

RACHAEL PRICE: Yeah, I did actually. Dream is probably the right word for that as well. Yeah, we've always been clueless dreamers in terms of how this band would work. When we were 23, and touring, we just assumed we were all going to move into the same loft and get bunk beds in New York City. We were like, yeah, we're all gonna be roommates and live together, and it's just going to be band practice, like all day long. This kind of gives you an idea of how we've sort of thought about being in a band with each other as just something that will last as long as it can last. So we didn't all move in with each other, which I think is for the best, and in the end has contributed to our longevity. We have--I think all of our discussions about what we want to do next, sort of include this idea of keeping this going for a long time. We want this to be--we want to maintain this. So when we talk about improving like our touring life, it's because yeah, we don't really want to stop.

What haven't you done as a band that you've always wanted to do?

RACHAEL PRICE: Hmm. Wow, it's funny, one of the things that I always wanted to do was make like a full-on dance music video, like really high production quality, and we definitely made like a dance music video for "Hypotheticals". That was one of my dreams. I don't think everyone in the band shared that hope, but now that scratched my itch. I'm like, okay, we can make way more styled music videos, but we'll see. We'll see what's in the future, that's the only thing I can think of right now.

So you recently covered Carole King "So Far Away" for Tapestry's 50th anniversary, and Carol tweeted at you, "Love this." How did that feel? That must have felt pretty awesome, huh?

AKIE BERMISS: Oh, yeah I was over the moon. That was that was crazy. That was insane.

RACHAEL PRICE: Yeah. She's my hero. Absolutely. She's such a star and an inspiration. When we--and I've also like--I followed her online presence and I know that she's very active with her fans. So I knew she was gonna see it when we were making the video. I mean, I didn't know, but I was like, chances are high that this is gonna get passed on to her and she'll watch this video. So, yeah, I was nervous and excited.

It's Rachael Price and Akie Bermiss of Lake Street Dive. They have a fine new album. Congratulations on the record. I think it's just an awesome release, you really did a nice job. You outdid yourself with this one, so congratulations on that. We sure hope you visit the Twin Cities soon. We've missed you, it's been far too long and can't wait for your return. So nice chatting.

RACHAEL PRICE: Yeah. Great to see you. Thanks for having us.

AKIE BERMISS: Real pleasure, yeah.

Songs Played

00:00 Making Do
15:17 Hypotheticals
19:04 Being A Woman

External Link

Lake Street Dive - official site

Credits

Host - Bill DeVille
Technical Director - Evan Clark
Producer - Derrick Stevens
Digital Producer - Jesse Wiza

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