Published on August 9th, 2016 | by The Beige Baron0
Interview: Lorelle Meets The Obsolete
“This [Brain Jonestown Massacre performance] was from when we had no fans or friends, just haters and enemies,” says guitarist Ricky Maymi about a 1993 bootleg he posted recently on Facebook.
The comment is revealing, coming from a member of a band that many feel revitalized rock at a time when mainstream “alternative” music was descending into nihilism and self-parody — a band that now packs every venue to capacity any time they tour.
It’s a reminder that artists with meaningful influence share one thing in common: they stopped caring what anyone thought and did things their own way.
“Developing our own rules and ideology was one of the main reasons we started”
For Alberto González and Lorena Quintanilla, the dissolution of their band Soho Riots was an opportunity to pursue a creative vision on their own terms with a project called Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, whose growing fanbase eagerly awaits their forth LP Balance set for release on September 16.
With freedom to play and record everything themselves with no outside expectations, the band began to uncover new pathways into psychedelic music, evolving the smacked-out no-wave garage vibes of early works On Welfare and Corruptible Faces into the beautifully vivid and intricate tapestry that is Balance.
“Developing our own rules and ideology was one of the main reasons we started Lorelle Meets The Obsolete,” agrees Lorena.
Formed in Guadalajara, the band soon moved to Mexico City, but living in the capital didn’t agree with the pair, and they relocated to the border town Ensenada after the release of their Corruptible Faces LP.
“It was a period where we got bored of living in the same place and we couldn’t find any jobs related to our college degrees in Guadalajara, so we decided to try something else in Mexico City. On Welfare, our first album, was about to come out, so it made sense to have a fresh start in a new city.
“Moving to Ensenada was absolutely driven by music and it was a decision we made soon after we agreed on turning music into our profession and way of life. By moving to Ensenada, which is only a few miles south from the US border, touring in the States is much easier.”
Lorelle Meets The Obsolete’s output caught the interest of analog tech wizard and musician Cooper Crain, the Chicago-based keyboardist for CAVE and Bitchin’ Bajas and mixing/mastering professional at Real Reel Pro.
“I don’t know why we sound like we do. It’s a mystery. Our filters are just the way they are and we try to keep them clean.”
“We’ve known him for a while now, as he mastered Corruptible Faces and recorded and mixed Chambers,” says Lorena.
“We love and respect his work, so we always had him in mind at some extent when we were recording Balance.
“In fact, once the tracking was done, we had to wait around five months for a clear space in his schedule, because he was so swamped with touring and recording other bands that he couldn’t start working on our album until late January.
“It was worth the wait.”
Further demonstrating Lorelle Meets The Obsolete’s impact in certain musical spheres, the band was able to recruit one of their own musical heroes, Sonic Boom, to master third album Chambers.
But for LMTO, the journey of creation began with finding a shared musical vocabulary.
Lorena describes the band’s sound as “pattern music” for its roots in repetitious groove. Drowned in fuzz and reverb, billowing synths, and motorik rhythm, it’s LMTO’s ear for melody that provides a counterweight to the hypnotic elements within the music, setting it apart from the usual garage psych fare.
“I just really like repetition, groove, noise, and nice melodies, and all of these can be found in all kinds of music,” Lorena says of the band’s influences. We asked whether a straight line can be drawn back to prototypical ’70s fuzz, krautrock, and kosmiche, or if their sound is a more a melting pot of influences.
“Yes, we listen to the genres you mention, but not as much as we listen to other styles. I don’t know why we sound like we do. It’s a mystery. Our filters are just the way they are and we try to keep them clean.”
Put on the spot to name a piece of gear and a single album fundamental in shaping the band, they answer with little hesitation: “The Shin-ei Fuzz Wah and Exploding Now! by Los Llamarada,” says Lorena.
“The Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man, and Sonic Youth’s Murray Street,” answers Alberto.
With fuzzy, repetitious, effects-heavy structures, Balance is still rooted in garage-psych tradition, but it gathers its influences from everywhere into vast and spacious compositions, making it an enthralling and deeply satisfying listen.
“I’ve never judged music based on its nationality either. To me it is just music.”
Whether it be double-tracked Bardo Pond vocal harmonies, funky Afrobeat guitar and drum rhythms, chiming Byrds progressions, or the spacey whoops and squalls of Hawkwind, the variety of sound reflects the effort that’s gone into every track while showing a band that resists being defined by a single influence.
Describing the process of writing the album, Alberto says, “It’s a constant ping-pong between the two of us. We try to detach from the songs and stay critical. For the last album we developed this rule where both had to love something in order for it to stay.”
“I took one singing lesson … the teacher laughed when she heard my voice, so I never went back.”
“Also,” says Lorena, “On this album we tried this method where I would do my version of a song and Alberto would do his, and at the end, we would go with the one we liked the most.
“Both versions always sounded very different from one another. It was interesting and fun.”
Balance seems to be a branching out for the band. I suggest the music is similar to Pinkunoizu’s remarkable album The Drop. While he’s never heard it, Alberto agrees about an expanding scope, adding that it took almost three years to get a result both were satisfied with.
“We started crafting the songs in the beginning of 2013 and slowly reworked them during the next couple of years. We did alternate versions of most of them until we decided it was time to record.
“We did the tracking at home during the spring of 2015, but as a consequence of isolation and the ping-pong I mentioned before, it got to a point where we felt we’d lost perspective.
“As a consequence of isolation, it got to a point where we felt we’d lost perspective.”
“Ben from Captcha gave us feedback, so we added some final touches with a refreshed point of view in mind and finally Cooper worked on the mix in a beautiful way.”
I ask what role music plays in daily life in Mexican culture, and whether the band grew up on Mexican folk or pop, or if music from outside the country exerted the stronger pull.
“Music has a very important role in México, and when I grew up with my parents, it wasn’t the exception,” says Alberto. “They didn’t listen to a lot of traditional Mexican music like mariachi or norteño, but they were fond of pop interpreters such as Alberto Vázquez and Marco Antonio Muñiz. Pérez Prado, The Beatles and Mecano were also in the mix.
“It’s important to mention that all media in México is globalized, so the music supply was wide within the spectrum of ‘mainstream music’. Radiohead and Café Tacuba were thrown in the same basket as I grew up.
“In high school and college, I guess I developed some kind of preference towards foreign music, but never stopped listening to Mexican music, and I’ve never judged music based on its nationality either. To me it is just music.”
Lorena says she also came from a musical family, and grew up in alongside other families passionate about music.
“There was always music in the house, and in my father’s car we would listen to the radio or we would play cassettes on the way to school.
“I have an uncle who was in a psych band in the ’70s, and my father, who plays very well, taught one of my brothers and me to play as a trio and play Beatles songs on guitar.
“I also grew up with MTV, and through my brothers I got to know about the usual big names. And like Alberto, I didn’t think a lot about nationalities. To me it was just music as it still is.”
“I love the cracking voice of Karen Dalton and also strong and loud voices such as Dorothy Moskowitz”
A defining quality of Lorelle Meets The Obsolete is Lorena’s vocals. I wonder if she could always sing, if her siblings gave her a hard time for trying, and if there is anything she wishes she could change about her voice.
“Yes, I do remember I annoyed some of my brothers when I was a kid. In fact, all my family used to say that I couldn’t sing at all, so they used to tell me to shut up!
“Then, when I was 13 or 14, I took one singing lesson, but I quit immediately after I noticed all the girls in the class could sing loud and beautiful. The teacher laughed when she heard my voice, so I never went back.
“But I don’t know. I just couldn’t resist singing. I tried it again, with the right songs for my voice, the right amount of reverb, and surrounded by friends, and realized I wasn’t so bad at it. I’m still getting used to my range and type of voice.
“Can’t wait to start playing live again. It’s been almost two years.”
“One of my all-time favorites is [Sonic Youth’s] Kim Gordon. I would love to sound louder, that’s for sure.”
Having toured around the world, what does the band feel like when they come home? Is there a sense of worry or frustration with the political situation? Are they content?
“I love living in México,” says Alberto. “Ensenada is a beautiful and very benevolent town, but there is so much shit happening in the country right now, as in many places in the world really, that I can’t help getting furious and frustrated every day as soon as I read the news.
“This is a country where disappearing 43 students, dissolving social protests with the extreme use of force, murdering journalists, acquiring mansions where conflict of interest is evident, and exploiting the national wealth in favor of the few in power, are not crimes.
“Somehow Mexico’s illegitimate president Peña Nieto is still in charge and getting away with it.”
Moving on to a more optimistic topic — touring — and Alberto is hyped again, particularly about the band’s much-anticipated appearance at Liverpool Psych Fest September 23 and 24 and Oslo Psych Fest November 11-12.
“TOURING!!! Can’t wait to start playing live again. It’s been almost two years. Lorena also has an album coming out under the name of J. Zunz, which we are excited about.”
Joining Lorelle Meets The Obsolete for their live shows on the European leg of their tour will be Fernando Nuti on bass, José Orozco on synth, and Andrea Volpato on drums. Balance is available for pre-order on vinyl, CD, and digital download via Captcha Records in the USA and Sonic Cathedral Records in the UK. Tour dates follow, please follow the band on Facebook for more information.
European Tour Dates
09.22 UK Sheffield — The Audacious Art Experiment
09.23 UK Liverpool — Liverpool Psych Fest
09.25 UK Glasgow — Broadcast
09.27 UK Bristol — The Exchange w/ Acid Mothers Temple
09.30 UK Brighton — Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
10.01 UK London — Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen w/ The Warlocks
10.04 IL Tel Aviv — Ozen Bar
10.07 IT Pordenone — Astro Club
10.08 IT Rome — Fanfulla
10.09 IT Trani — Korova Lounge Bar
10.12 GR Thessaloniki — Rover Bar
10.14 GR Athens — Death Disco Club
10.20 SK Bratislava — Fuga
10.22 DE Dresden — Reverberation Fest
10.24 DE Hamburg — Grüner Jäger
10.25 BE Brussels — Magasin4
10.27 FR Strasbourg — Mollodoi
10.28 FR Nantes — Soy Festival
10.29 FR Clermont-Ferrand — Baraka Bar Club
10.30 ES San Sebastián — Dabadaba
10.31 ES Madrid — Wurlitzer Ballroom
11.02 FR Marseille — Molotow
11.03 CH Genève — L’Ecurie
11.04 CH Düdingen — Bad Bonn
11.05 BE Zwevegem — Motokotoure
11.06 DE Krefeld — Jazzkeller
11.07 DE Berlin — Schockoladen
11.09 SE Malmö — Plan B
11.10 SE Stockholm — Landed
11.11 SE Gothenburg — Smedjan
11.12 NO Oslo — Oslo Psych Fest