Q&A with The Life Electric
Boston indie-rock quintet, The Life Electric are gearing up to release their new album, The Real You this year. With already a few songs released ("Heartbeat" and introspective track, "Gone, Gone, Gone," which can be heard below) The Life Electric are already gaining quite a bit of momentum in 2016, with even more plans for the rest of the year. We recently caught up with the band about The Real You and their goals for 2016.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Can you tell us a little bit about The Life Electric for any readers who may not be familiar?
Joey [vocals]: The Life Electric is a rock band out of Boston MA. We’re a small local band making big songs. We aim to make the catchiest earworms we can while still keeping it interesting for our audience. We want people to sing along but not feel dumber for having done so.
You guys are gearing up to release your new album, The Real You this year. What does The Real You mean to you?
Joey: The Real You came out of a extended period of change for everyone in the band. We all went through the good the bad and the in between, and came out with a bit more perspective than when we started. The Real You is a reflection of all that change. From my perspective each song explores who we are at given moment. Are we what happened, what’s happening, or what is going to happen (or what we think is going to happen)? It’s probably a combination of all of those things. It’s fun to take a step back and try to figure it out though.
Ben [guitar/keys]: Yeah, and you’re not conscious of these songs capturing that period of time for us, but that’s almost always how it comes out. With that perspective, now that the album’s done, I’m proud of many of the themes that run through it. Searching for the best in relationships, in yourself, seeking catharsis… they’re universal pursuits, but we approached expressing them in a way that’s uniquely ours.
How would you say that The Real You compares to your previous releases? What changes or noticeable areas of growth can listeners expect to hear on this album?
Joey: What’s most apparent to me is having listened to the album so many times is how Ben & Cory (bass) went way out of their comfort zones to explore different genres and styles without turning the album into something that’s not us. Brian Charles, from Zippah, produced the album. He took what was us, musically, dipping out toes into genres we liked but hadn’t explored yet as a band and pushed us to jump in and embrace all these different ways of attacking specific songs. We’re better musicians for it and the album is so much better for it.
Ben: Working with Brian and recording everything in the studio was like playing in the big leagues. I think the songs are smarter, better produced, and hopefully catchier. We also had the luxury of having a wealth of songs in our catalog, so we were able to choose the strongest, most cohesive ones of the bunch.
Was there anything you wanted to experiment with or touch on with this album?
Joey: I guess this sort of ties in to the previous question. We were very excited to work with one of the best producers out there and we really let him guide us. We tried a ton of different approaches for each song. Having a steady hand that we all trust leading the way, allowed us to drop any presumptions we had about what kind of band we are and what kind of band we should be. For me, this recording process helped me to realize that we can explore in every direction and, in the end, we will always be us. So, to answer your question, I think our experiment this time around was to get as far away from ourselves as we could and see what the walk back brought out in us. It worked out really well.
Ben: I think something that’s interesting was just how much wasn’t a digital effect or a plug-in. All those crazy delays and effects were recorded real time as the parts were being performed. Even the synthesizers were recorded as audio. But it was a lot of fun having a bunch of guitars at my disposal. And I finally got to play a real mellotron! Of course the first thing I played was “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
You recently released the first single from The Real You, titled, “Gone, Gone, Gone” - can you tell us about the track? What makes it special to you?
Joey: “Gone, Gone, Gone” is one of those songs that happened quickly and that we all knew would at least be in the running for our first single. In my mind, it’s what I hope for in any uptempo song we write. It’s hooks on hooks and sounds huge. Lyrically, though, it’s a tiny little story. Two people together all there lives looking for the next best thing. The years pass and one of them starts to see the pointlessness of obsessing over the new as opposed to enjoying what you have, while the other keeps on searching for what’s next. It’s special to me, because I feel like at any given moment I could be either one of those people. Sometimes it feels like if you stop searching then you’re giving in to the passage of time. And other times it feels like the whole point is to stop and enjoy things while you still can.
What have you learned or how do you feel that The Life Electric has grown with the writing and recording of The Real You?
Joey: I think we were able to reevaluate and recommit to each other and to the band. Recording can feel like a long slog and it can get frustrating. When you hear the finished product, though, it all feels worth it. Being in a band lines up pretty well with those feelings. It can all feel a bit overwhelming, sometimes like it may too much, but when you get a chance to perform and share what you’ve been working so hard on, it’s worth it a thousand times over. This process helped us remember how worthwhile creating music with your best friends can be.
What has been the most challenging part about creating this album? What has been the most rewarding?
Joey: The challenge is getting things right. There are parts of this album that we worked on for hours upon hours. Will someone who downloads or picks up our album notice that Ben spent two hours finding a specific tone for a backing guitar part that is artfully buried in the mix? Probably not. Would they notice if that wasn’t there? Hopefully, at the very least, they’d notice something was a little off. Like when you’re little and someone besides your mom makes a grilled cheese. Do you notice that you’re mom uses a tiny bit more butter when you’re 5 inhaling that sandwich? Probably not. Do you notice when your friends mom doesn’t? Damn straight you do... sorry, I’m hungry. The reward is getting it as right as we can so we’re not serving up the weird grilled cheese.
On top of The Real You coming out this year, do you have any other big plans for 2016?
Ben: Our album release show is March 25th and we’re very excited for that. We have a lot of stuff in the works that we’re not quite ready to talk about, but we you will be seeing our faces outside of Boston & New York very soon.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ben: We appreciate the questions and we hope you dig the music! Thanks so much!