LUMP perform songs from 'Animal' in virtual session

LUMP - Virtual Session (MPR)

LUMP--the collaborative project between Laura Marling and Tunng's Mike Lindsay--join The Current to play songs from their sophomore record, Animal. The duo catch up with The Current's Jill Riley about how they came together, the freedoms of exploring a new sound in this project, and the 8 foot tall tulle puppet Laura's been working on.

Interview Transcript

Edited for clarity and length.

JILL RILEY: Hey, I'm Jill Riley from The Current's Morning Show here at Minnesota Public Radio. And it's time for another virtual session with an artist that you've been hearing on The Current and I'm very happy to be connected to Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay, and together they are known as LUMP. I hope you guys are well.

LUMP: Thanks for having us.

It's been nice to continue this way of connecting with musicians and bands, as in the time that we're still living in where we can't have you actually come into the studio, because, well you're across the globe right now, but it's it's been nice. It's been nice to connect with folks right now. So Laura, and Mike, welcome. I just want to say congratulations on that new record, which is due out shortly.

LAURA MARLING: Thank you very much.

MIKE LINDSAY: Thank you.

For anybody who doesn't know, we've probably got a little bit of a delay going on, which is--the cable is very long to England, I'm told. But for anybody who doesn't know your backstory--Laura Marling. We know you as Laura Marling, singer songwriter, Laura Marling. Mike, you're in a group called Tunng, but I wonder if you could talk about how you started collaborating together. Laura, if you want to start and then yeah, Mike, if you want to just go ahead and jump in.

LAURA MARLING: We met a couple of years ago, when a mutual friend, my guitarist, a very talented man introduced us at an after show party after one of my gigs. And Mike came up to me and said, "I want you to come and sing on something that I've been working on." Usually I would politely decline and walk away. But for some reason I said yes. I was familiar with Mike's oeuvre , as it were, and I went into the studio the next day, and we ended up making the first LUMP record in the following couple of weeks. So it was totally out of the blue and totally random, and we didn't know each other very well. Mike's musical world is very different to mine, and then we ended up touring that album, we loved it. We love playing it live. Then completely unexpectedly, we did it again. And here we are. So it's been it's been random so far.

MIKE LINDSAY: Yeah, it was just how Laura said it just now. I've been a fan of Laura's for a long time. Since the beginning, since since you first started releasing records. Then just saw this opportunity to ask if you wanted to do some tunes, because I was in the same room as you, which was pretty rare. It wasn't just any gig, Laura was supporting Neil Young at The O2, it was pretty amazing. We happened to be bowling as well, while we're doing it. So it all started with a bowling match.

That was good. You caught her at the right time, probably flying high off of a gig where you're playing with Neil Young, but then to be able to find that opportunity to just ask and then you just never know what's gonna happen when you just say yes to something, which is kind of the beautiful thing. When you started recording together, and you didn't really know each other, what did that kind of atmosphere contribute to kind of being collaborators when you haven't really had the time to really feel each other out? You've kind of established I would assume some roles in a collaboration. Like you said it was kind of off the cuff, but how did those roles in the collaboration come together? Because it sounds like it happened pretty quickly.

LAURA MARLING: Yeah. I've spent the majority of my career saying no to things. I don't know why, you know, I'm kind of an uptight person, maybe or whatever, but I liked to keep things quite contained, and I like to keep the Laura Marling world quite distilled, you know? Quite simple, and I just had reached a point in my life where I was totally ready to completely relinquish any responsibility, I guess. Mike really provided that opportunity because he had the music written, he had the sonic palette ready. Something about not knowing somebody very well, as well, especially if you're a slightly shy person adds a kind of tension in the room. That means you can be quite like you can kind of indulge in weirdness. And the first LUMP record was surprised me with its weirdness, so unlike anything I've been able to access before lyrically. That's a huge relief, obviously, as well, because it's not tied to a persona that's been well established. So that was it for me. What about you Mike?

MIKE LINDSAY: Yeah, I don't think there was any discussion at all, still isn't really, about who would take on which role, but I think the precedent was set that first time you came in the studio for that first record, and I actually--it sounds like I had loads of things ready to go and I was very on on it. But actually, I was sort of blagging it really, and I had some really, I thought, beautiful music that was originally a pitch for a film that didn't work out. And I thought because Laura came to the studio within a day of meeting her and I didn't think that was going to happen. I just started playing this, this track, which became the first track on the first album, "Late to the Flight". I think because that just clicked so beautifully and you were clearly inspired to come up with those lyrics that were un-Laura Marling-esque, I feel like those boundaries and those roles were kind of set. And then we just kept making more more music, whether you'd come to the studio, we wouldn't talk, we'd make music, you'd leave. And that was how it went. And then we became rock and roll stars. You do the math.

So as you started working together, at what point did you have the discussion of, "Well we need to name this something, what are we going to call this?" How did that come to be?

LAURA MARLING: So the week before Mike had--like really weirdly, and coincidentally, the week before Mike approached me I'd been playing a different show. And I was sound checking and I was just line checking some drums. And I brought my five year old goddaughter with me because she loves that kind of stuff, obviously. So her and I were hitting the drums and I said, "What should we call our band?" And she just put her drumsticks up and she was like "Lump!" screamed, lump. And that was it. Then next week I was in the studio with Mike and we were clearly halfway through making an album and LUMP reappeared into my brain. And I thought, "That's perfect." Upside down name.

MIKE LINDSAY: It's perfect that Luara named it because it has such innocence. And you know, this kind of immediately felt like a character like rather than other associations with the word. So it completely gave a world for us to start working in. Suddenly we thought well, maybe lump is a being, is a sort of amalgamation of our fused personalities or something. So it's good, it was a really handy tool to have and to finish working with a record and then we had the visual element to go along with that.

I'm talking with Laura Marling, and Mike Lindsay, together they are LUMP and after getting some background about the project, I'd love to talk more about the new record. But first let's check out another one of the performance videos that you all put together for this virtual session for a song called "We Cannot Resist" and again, I want to leave you enough room to talk here because I know that we're have a little bit of a delay between us. So if I'm quiet it's only because I'm listening to your answer. But I wonder if you could both chime in with a little bit of background on this song "We Cannot Resist".

MIKE LINDSAY: After you, Laura.

LAURA MARLING: Well, it's like a classic "kids on the run" story with a little bit of LUMP wonk in it. There's a couple of words that I was--for the first album, I was using the surrealist manifesto and nonsense poetry as like lyrical jump off points. So the thing that's become apparent in LUMP is that it's like very...I'm trying to twist stories so that they're a bit wonky. So for this one I was using psychoanalysis as a jump off point. So there's a couple of things about hedonism and drive and desire and objects and things that you liberally invest in. And so this song's about the bitonal investment I guess, and it's particularly vibrant in teenage desire.

MIKE LINDSAY: For me, it's also this combination of pop music versus something very dark that's constantly fighting with it. So it's kind of three songs in one and those moments that those kind of chanting "we cannot resist" moments are taking that song somewhere else and that's the underworld coming coming through the cheeky storylines. That's how I see it.

Alright, well, let's check out this performance video. It's a virtual session here on The Current with LUMP.

[music: "We Cannot Resist" by LUMP]

Hey, it's The Current's virtual session with LUMP. I am connected to Laura Marling, and I'm also connected to Mike Lindsay for this virtual session. We got a little backstory of the collaboration of LUMP, now the new record Animal, which we've been playing the title track here on The Current, the new record Animal is due out on July 30, which believe it or not, is right around the corner. So, getting some background from both of you, this was something that happened in the studio the first time. When did you realize that this wasn't just a one off thing that you wanted to make another record together, and when did that happen? In the timeline of the past year and a half, it's so hard for me to piece together the past year and a half because of you know, a global pandemic, but when did you get together and and where to make a new record together?

LAURA MARLING: Mike?

MIKE LINDSAY: Yeah, well we started to get the vibrations of LUMP speaking to us again at the beginning of 2019, at least, to me again, and I think at that point, sort of got in touch with you and said, "I might think about starting to write some new music," which was probably about a year after the first record came out. But we hadn't planned to make any more music, it was just supposed to be, we didn't know really. Maybe a one off collaboration. But we did some shows, some live shows, and that kind of took on a whole new form of LUMP and it became kind of bombastic and shoegaze, and wild and exciting. I think that kind of paved the way for "maybe we should try and make some more music" based on some of those feelings that we achieved on the live show. So I started to get some things together at the beginning of 2019. And then Laura came that summer to Margate where I live, which is on the East coast of England. It's full of sort of smugglers and pirates proper.

Laura, when you went to Mike's house to start working on some new music, how did that feel being able to go to a place outside of the studio? I mean, it's a home studio, but I imagine that it can feel maybe a little more relaxed when you can show up to your palace house to make some music.

LAURA MARLING: Yeah, it's funny actually, because it very much mimicked the first record in that I would sit behind Mike and sing. I'm singing nonsense lyrics over the top of the music that I've heard for the first time, I'm trying to pull the melody out of it. Which is a very easy task, when the music is so great. So Mike has a case--you can see behind him, that's where I sit. So Mike has always got his back to me. And I'm always saying really random things into a microphone behind him. So it's quite similar to the psychoanalytic setting. You can end up saying some really weird things without really meaning to. That's quite useful.

Yeah, it's almost like you have even kind of a bit of a Sigmund Freud set up there where perhaps you were laying on the couch and sharing some of the things about the subconscious. Maybe Mike turned around and said, "Laura, tell me about your mother," and that's how some of it came out. So just for a little perspective on what was, you know, going on--if this was 2019, Laura, were you working on your solo album at the same time? Or was this kind of independent of that?

LAURA MARLING: I was. I was sort of doing them both, which was interesting, it's actually really useful to have two very clear different voices. And I've been waiting to make Song For Our Daughter for quite a long time for various boring reasons. So I was really sort of done. I was like, in the process of literally recording the album. So I was just all the writing had been done. But the Laura Marling voice occasionally turned up in the LUMP setting, and it was really clear the difference between the two. I guess traditional songwriting in the style that I do, it's very sincere. And it's a very, sort of--you're trying to tell a really concise narrative story, and LUMPs almost apathetically insincere, and it's trying to tell a really wonky story that that doesn't make linear sense. So it's quite obvious when the wrong voice arises. But thankfully, it didn't happen very often.

I think it's really incredible that you as the songwriter, lyric writer--that you can, as the person can separate or identify them as two different voices. I mean, that's pretty incredible. I don't know a lot of people that can do that.

LAURA MARLING: I've done a lot of psychoanalysis to help me deal with this. [laughs] I started Laura Marling as a songwriting entity when I was 16. So there's quite an established line that I'm following, which is good. I'm very grateful for that line. Sometimes it goes slack and that's a bit scary, but usually it's quite tight, and I understand where it's going. And then LUMP is this totally--this thing that's totally out of my control. The music's written by somebody else, and so you're sitting there waiting for that environment to call itself into being. LUMP has this--we're a bit prophetic about lump, I guess, but because it's such a special--a successful collaboration. Such a special rare thing, especially when it's done without cynicism, and we're clearly not in the business of writing pop hits. We really do it because it's magic, so it's a great experience for us. I'm very grateful to have it.

MIKE LINDSAY: I mean, it's quite hard to write pop hits.. We probably would would, if we could.

LAURA MARLING: No, we don't write pop hits because we're not physically capable of doing it.

[laughs] Yeah, it's, it's almost like you can you can kind of leave that aesthetic to--gosh, who am I thinking of? Inara George and Greg Kurstin, The Bird And The Bee, they do it very well, you know? But it was interesting, the first time that I had really heard of your collaboration was this new record, and I had to go back and read about the history of it, but that song "Animal," I played it and I went, "Gosh that voice sounds like Laura Marling," and it was really cool to to be able to hear that that familiar voice, but in a completely different context, in a completely different form. So, I imagine that it's got to be a little scary but freeing at the same time to be able to do something out of maybe the expected zone, I guess.

LAURA MARLING: Yeah, it is. I remember when the first album was coming out, I had this huge wave of I guess anxiety about the fact that it was revealing something that I've never revealed before so I didn't know what to expect. It's not like I was--I reveal far, far more in my songwriting, my more traditional songwriting but something about stepping out into the-- [dog barks] Oh! There's my dog--stepping out into the unknown, and doing something a bit weird and out there that's clearly not going to be for everybody [dog whines audibly] is scary. But I'm really glad--it's good to push yourself to the edges and I had somewhat of an experience with it when I worked with--I did a my sixth album with Blake Mills, who did a similar thing. He was using my songwriting as a starting point, but he created this extraordinary sonic world, and it puts you in this really amazing headspace where you can be something else. It's quite scary.

Now, are you going to be able to tour? Have you made plans to get on the road? And if yes--you talked about LUMP being a visual thing as well. What are your plans when you can actually get this show on the road?

LAURA MARLING: I mean, we're hoping we've got shows booked, we're rehearsing and getting getting the show together. And I spent the pandemic mostly building an eight foot puppet out of tulle. Like tutu fabric for our live show, so I'm gonna be doing that. And yeah, hopefully we'll be--I mean, it's it's crazy here right now. So who knows, I mean, I hope for the sake of the entertainment industry in the UK that shows will continue. But who knows, at some point LUMP will be on the road.

MIKE LINDSAY: Yeah, we have a few shows in England, and a festival and things coming up in early autumn. So hopefully they'll still be full and not full of other things. But it'd be great to come out to America one day, you know?

It would be nice to have you, and yeah, I mean, things are starting to open up. Gosh, a few weeks ago, I feel like we just kind of pulled the band aid right off. The clubs here in the Twin Cities are opening, the theater shows are being booked and festival shows are on the books. At this point, we're keeping our fingers crossed for everyone. For the musicians, for the crew, for all the people that work at these venues that we're going to move forward in the right direction. So yep, when the time comes, it would be nice to to see you guys here in in Minnesotam in the great US of A. LUMP--Laura Marling, Mike Lindsay, the new record is called Animal and it's due out on July 30. And I know we have one more video to show. Thank you to engineer Eric Romani and producer Jesse Wiza. Again, that second album is called Animal and LUMP, thank you, Laura and Mike for joining me here for another Current virtual session.

MIKE LINDSAY: Thank you!

LAURA MARLING: Thank you so much for having us.

Songs Played

01:13 Animal
16:37 We Cannot Resist
34:07 Climb Every Wall
All songs appear on LUMP's 2021 record, Animal.

External Link

LUMP - official site

Credits

Host - Jill Riley
Producers - Jesse Wiza, Christy Taylor
Technical Director - Eric Romani

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