Lakes - Sound In The Signals Interview

Dylan Nolte 

I recently had the opportunity to interview Matt Shaw of Lakes ahead of the release of the band’s new album, which is out today. We discussed writing and recording the band’s new album, ‘Start Again’, how they explored new guitar sounds, which song was the easiest to write, a favorite musical moment from the album, creating the artwork, and more. Check it out below.

First, thanks for the interview.

Hi! Thank you!

Your new album ‘Start Again’ comes out on July 30th. Can you tell me about the writing and recording process for the album?

We started writing new music as soon as our first albumThe Constance LP was released in August 2019. We quickly got a batch of songs together after that but then had a change in line-up and it slowed down a bit. We decided to focus on two songs first and release them as the 7" in 2020. As soon as the pandemic hit though we found we had more time suddenly! I was working less and there was no band practice or shows or anything. So we quickly finished writing the last few songs and started tracking them. I recorded the drums on my own in a room for a week as we weren't allowed to be together. We then slowly tracked the other instruments as and when restrictions allowed. Finally Roberto and Blue recorded all their vocals at home. 

We then threw this mountain of files at Neil Strauch in Chicago via Google Drive and he started making sense of it all! That part of the process was super fun, seeing him assemble it and adding tweaks here and there. We'd get an email from him or have a Zoom call and he'd be like "I need a saxophone playing the lowest note it can here", or "give me more layers of guitars than you can ever imagine here". We finished the final mixes in February, had it mastered the next day, and then it went to the pressing plant the day after that! It was a super quick ending to a very drawn out process!

Did you try anything new with your writing process for this album?

We wrote as we always have done - sending phone demos around, upgrading those to pretty decent demos, and then adding vocals at the end. I would say sonically we just weren't afraid to explore loads of new guitar sounds this time. All the first batch of songs from 2018 and 2019 had a clean telecaster 99% of the time. But since adding more members, more influences, more guitars and way more effects pedals we just explored all these different tones this time round.

What was the easiest song to write?

"Talk!" probably came together the quickest. It was super fast to write, one of those songs that people say writes itself. Which is probably why it's the most poppy song we've ever written. I love it though - it was just a vibe that was captured nice and quick without overthinking.

Do you have a favorite musical or lyrical moment on the album?

My favourite musical moment on the album is the build-up section in “Matches”. It's in 11, which is a super cool timing. Plus all these different elements pop in, with the violin, backing vocals, lead guitar. Then it all breaks down to the opening guitar riff at the end. Very proud of that section. Lyrically, I love all the little fire references sprinkled throughout the album - try and spot them!

I really like the artwork for the album. Who came up with the concept for it and designed it?

We found Laura's artwork online and knew we wanted her to do it. We saw an earlier version of this image and loved it, especially as it complemented the fire references in the lyrics. It also matched the album title so well. Laura changed a few elements of the original image, adding in one of my own photos for the mountain background and then literally cutting and sticking it all by hand to create the final analogue image. 

What’s the meaning behind the artwork?

Did the kids start the fire? Maybe they were playing with matches. Are they fleeing their burning home? Are they running away to Start Again?

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you so much! I really hope people enjoy the album, and I guess I'd like to say it wouldn't have been possible without all the awesome help we had along the way. It was a truly collaborative experience, and we're very grateful to all the legends that helped us out.

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