Lake Street Dive creates a remarkably large sound for a four-piece. And they’re only a four-piece; that isn’t studio or live magic. Blanketed under the controversial industry term “Americana,” they’re doing jazz, they’re doing roots, they’re doing rock. They’ve turned a lot of heads because they do unique cover versions of songs, turning them into their own, but their original material is gorgeous, and the New England-based quartet is on its way to Birmingham for the first time.
Lead singer Rachael Price spoke to Weld before the band’s set on Tuesday at Iron City about those unique covers and her own Southern roots.
Weld: You call Brooklyn and Boston home, but if I’m not mistaken, you’re originally from Tennessee, right?
Rachael Price: Yes, I am from Nashville.
Weld: How much influence did your Tennessee roots have on your music?
RP: Where you’re raised, it’s inevitable that it gets in there. The biggest part of it is that I was raised in a city where there were a lot of working musicians, and the idea of becoming a musician was somewhat normal. I don’t feel like that is necessarily the case in other places. So I think that always made me comfortably feel like I could and would be a musician.
Weld: I know that artists hate genre, but are you comfortable as Americana, or would you prefer something else?
RP: Americana is about as vague as anything. We’re generally comfortable with whatever. We often say “soul pop” music, because “pop” is about as general as you can get as well. We play verse-chorus-verse-chorus songs for the most part. So, you know, sure, we’re totally comfortable [Laughs].
Weld: Is it just a four-piece on the road, or will you bring backing musicians?
RP: It’s just a four-piece, always has been.
Weld: I say that to say, how is it that just the four of you are able to create that large of a sound without supporting musicians?
RP: You know, we use what we have. Everybody sings, which is probably the biggest factor that contributes to making us sound a lot bigger. We do a lot of harmonies, pretty constantly throughout the show.
Weld: What can we expect?
RP: We like our shows to be high energy; we like people to dance. We like to – they’re a lot looser and a lot more spontaneous than our recordings sound. So they can expect that.
Weld: Is this your first trip to Birmingham?
RP: Yeah! Our first time in Alabama.
Weld: You’ve gotten a lot of attention from some very unique covers that you’ve done; what’s your favorite song to interpret?
RP: It really just kind of – with the covers, it comes in waves of the ones we’re really loving playing at the moment. “I Want You Back” has always been a favorite of ours because we’re really proud of the way we made it sound so different from the original.
Weld: How do you choose a cover and how do you make it your own?
RP: We pick a cover based on if it’s going to be immediately — somewhat — recognizable. For us, the point of a cover is to give them a relief from our originals and to give them something that they know really well, something that makes them feel nostalgic. From there, we see if the song has the musical elements that if we pick them apart and change them drastically, it’ll still sound good.
Weld: What would you like to do that you haven’t done?
RP: Oh so much. We have idea sessions every day: new covers that we want to do, new ideas for the show. We’re full of ideas and constantly waiting for the opportunity to actually do them.
Weld: How did you hook up with your openers, Lucius, and what is your relationship like?
RP: They’re amazing. We didn’t know them that well; they were from Boston and they live in Brooklyn now and we heard of them when they first got on the scene, and neither band has been to the markets that we’re going to, so we thought it was great to combine forces.
Weld: What do you miss about the South?
RP: I miss the people. I miss the pace. Yeah, I miss the people and I miss the pace that everybody moves at; I think it’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty different in New York.
Weld: Who are the top five American rock bands of all time?
RP: American? That’s hard. You just knocked out some of my top bands.
Big Star. All of my favorite bands are British!
I feel like that’s too hard of a question for me to answer. I’ll have to think about this one and get to you later. My brain’s like, “Wait, you can’t mention this person and not mention this person!”
Lake Street Dive comes to Iron City on Tuesday with Lucius opening. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the show scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 day of show.