Band Booking: Talking Pompadours and Poetry with Seattle’s La Luz

La Luz © Kelly O

Seattle’s La Luz plays sharp, suffused rock music that seems to have emerged from some weird parallel 1950s. It’s beguiling and textured, the familiar interwoven with the ambiguous — a combination that’s uniquely modern. I’d first encountered singer/guitarist Shana Cleveland via her previous band The Curious Mystery; Cleveland is also a writer, with publications as diverse as Black Clock and Vice to her credit. With a new seven inch out on Water Wing and another one coming on Suicide Squeeze, I thought it might be the right time to check in with Cleveland about the current state of all things La Luz.

The pompadour on the cover of the Damp Face EP is immediately striking. How did you come up with the idea to use this image in that setting?

I live down the road from an antique store called Silhouettes, I’ve always admired their sign and about a year ago I started drawing a bunch of silhouettes to give friends as gifts. I liked the use of it on an album cover because it seemed evocative, but of not of anything specific.

You feature a few of the same members as The Curious Mystery, but I wouldn’t describe the two bands as sounding that much alike. Would you say that The Curious Mystery’s sound had any influence on La Luz’s?

Not really. Except maybe in the way that some art movements begin as a reaction to the movement before them. Maybe it’s that kinda thing on a small scale (my head).

Where did the group’s name come from?

Driving by a church on the south side of Seattle called La Luz del Mundo. We all liked the sound of it.

You have a seven inch for Suicide Squeeze coming out later this year — is anything else on the horizon?

Burger’s gonna repress the Damp Face EP on tape. And we’re working out the details with a certain label for our full length album which we’ve just started recording! It’s sounding so good and we’re really excited for everyone to hear it.

Do you find that there’s any connection between your poetry and fiction and the music that you make?

I think the main connection if there is one is that I try to leave everything I write open to people’s interpretation a little. With La Luz I really like keeping the lyrics fairly straight forward so that people can feel that they understand them on some level right away, but make them interesting and open enough so that there’s still some small mystery there after you’ve heard them a hundred times.

Since there’s a fair amount of book talk on Vol.1 Brooklyn, I thought I should ask: what have you been reading lately?

Pnin by Nabokov; Please Kill Me, an oral history of punk; Love and Rockets comics; and Yeti magazine.

Photo credit: Kelly O / The Stranger

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