Here’s our chat with the affable Lea Cho and Russ Waterhouse from Blues Control. We talked about moving from New York City to the Pennsylvania countryside and their new album ‘Valley Tangents’ out now on ‘Drag City Records’. Full podcast below.
NT: You guys moved out to rural Pennsylvania from New York City about three years ago, how much influence does living in the country have on the new album?
RW: Ya, we moved out here in spring 2009.
LC: We were influenced by the move, but i’m not sure there is a difference in how we approach our writing.We still kind of do what we do, but the move did effect certain topics on the album we were writing about.
RW: The tone of the record id definitely influenced by our day-to day life here, which is a bit less stressful then living in New York City. I think that might be reflected in the music, but probably not the music in Lehigh Valley.
LC: It was more about where we are now as people, rather than the surroundings.
NT: What’s it like living in the country? Most bands move from the country to New York City, You guys did the opposite. Do you enjoy living rural Pennsylvania?
RW: Yes definitely, I think it’s being outdoors more and being exposed to nature, the felling of having open spaces and a bit more freedom. There is a more privacy here, were not living with people on top of us or beside us.
LC: We lived in New York City for a really long time, I think it was definitely time. It was personal, I mean when I was younger, It was really inspirational to move to the city. Then moving out was inspiring as well.
NT: There are few different instruments on the album including a flute, you channel quite a few different influences on the album. I hear moments of Dave Brubeck, Ian Anderson, even Black Sabbath. It must have been interesting recording. As well, playing them live must be quite fun.
LC: Yes definitely, for each song there are so many different influences.
RW: It’s been fun to play the songs live. It was a little challenging learning the songs, because in the studio you can do it over again till you get it right. Live, you only have one chance per show. Lol. We tweaked a few things to get it suitable for a live performance.
NT: How many people are you taking on the road with you?
RW: It’s just the two of us.
LC: Ya, lol
NT: That’s incredible!
NT: Your releasing ‘Valley Tangents’ on cassette, and you have released other music as well on that format. What’s the attraction to that technology?
LC: We actually use cassettes in our setup, we have since the beginning, it’s a big part of what we do.
RW: When I was very young, the immediate choice was cassettes. It was before cds and I didn’t have a turntable. So I bought everything on tape. When I moved to New York to go to school, I was buying as much music as I could. There was alot of lo-fi and experimental music coming out on tapes in the 90s. I started my own tape label in the late 90s, I did it for quite a long time, till the mid 2000s. Then when we started doing backing tracks for Blues Control, we did it on tape. So we’ve always released stuff on tape. It seemed like the natural thing to do. There’s a company in the States that manufactures alot of cassettes for labels. apparently the wait time is quite long because they are so swamped with work.
NT: For the video ‘Loves A Rondo’ you use ‘Allstar The MTA Mime’. How’d you find him? How’d you come up with the concept for the video, it’s great!
LC: Cool, thanks.
RW: We can’t take any of the credit for that. It was all the director, she lived in New York. She first wrote us in 2007-08, she was doing alot of animation and asked if she could use one of our pieces. We said sure, because we liked her work. When we wanted to do some videos for this record, we immediately thought of her. She asked us if she could do something besides animation, we told her to do whatever inspired her, we thought it would be best for the song. We didn’t find out about the concept until just before it was shot.
LC: It was great, she just shot Allstar on the Subway. She just got his info, then used him in the video.
RW: We also got her to shoot some visuals for the live show.