Lord Huron Singer On New Album, Tech, And Nostalgia
A lot of fans assume that a musician’s thoughts revolve around the music, that it’s everything to them. Founding member of the band Lord Huron sheds a different light on the process of creating music, however, explaining the importance of things like social media, videos, and interactive content.
“I think if we were just touring, playing the same songs every night that we might get kind of tired,” says lead singer Ben Schneider. “Because we have these other outlets–like working on videos and other projects–while we’re out on tour, it keeps us engaged and interested.”
“To be honest, I don’t know how long it would keep my interest, but it’s because we’ve been able to integrate all these other elements that it stays fresh,” says Schneider.
Gearing up for the second album, it’s hard to ignore the feeling that Schneider is really looking to create something that sparks all of his senses. The band’s first record saw him building songs around chapters of a fictional author he created and the next record will employ a similar conceptional framework, but in a new way.
“Once again, we’re just going to let an overarching narrative drive the creative stuff and let it branch out to wherever it wants to go. One of the key components for the next record is going to be a short film. It’s going to come out before the record and will feature all the music from the record,” explains Schneider. “The experience from the first record has showed us how much fun we can have using other types of media, letting it go where it wants to go.”
Schneider recently made mention in a recent New York Times article about possibly using location based music as a way to expand the band’s experimentation. The idea is that people would have to visit a specific physical location, detected by a phone’s GPS, in order to hear certain music. It would be something new for the band, though not a completely new idea as there’s been projects that have mapped out places like Central Park in New York City to provide a soundtrack matched specifically, and purposefully, to the location’s visual surroundings.
Schneider says the band has been approached about all sorts of new creative ideas for their music. “There’s a bunch of things we’d like to try and do, location based music for this next record being one of them. At some point though, especially since we’re on an independent label, we have to make a decision whether or not to go forward.”
“Unfortunately we don’t have the unlimited resources to try everything. For us it’s been about sticking with things that are easy to execute. We’ve mostly had to focus on touring for the past few years, but looking forward to this next record there’s a lot of stuff we want to get out in front of a little bit more and think ahead about and hopefully do the next time around.”
For the singer, thinking ahead is probably more involved than most people think. The use of technology is a form of publicity, of course, but it’s also about spreading ideas. Having content spread across the internet as alternate reality games, or video, or other forms of media is a way to reach more people, but as Schneider says “It’s also a way to try and craft a mythology in the universe around what we’re doing.”
Integrating Technology Into Nostalgia
Have you ever been at an event or concert and searched through photos tagged at that location, using Twitter or Instagram? Bands are doing the same thing. In the case of Lord Huron, at least, they’re also looking at that information and tweaking their live show based on user feedback–even if people don’t know their opinion is being taken into account.
“Instagram and Twitter are instant feedback for a show, which can be really helpful especially when you’re trying out new songs, or for us, it’s a whole new production this time around,” says Schneider. “We’re playing new songs, we’re setting up our stage differently, and we have a different light show so these services give us a chance to not only see what things are looking like, but now with Instagram video, also hear what things are sounding like.”
“It also gives us insight to how people are reacting and which points of the show they are reacting to.”
Schneider even says the band has been proactive based on social media posts. “It’s been really helpful, we’ve made some changes based on videos on there [Instagram]. Plus, we’re kind of at a transitional place in our career where we’re playing all different sizes of rooms. One night we’ll play a 400 person club and the next night we’ll be playing a 5000 person venue. It’s a little weird, and our production looks different in each of these places so it’s been a great tool and resource.”
Lord Huron’s first record, ‘Lonesome Dreams’ has a thick country accent full of twang with lyrics that invoke a rustic lifestyle. The melodies are timeless with the ability to instantly transport a listener to a point in history before computers consumed our lives, or were even a thought in some science fiction writer’s mind.
Squaring the two themes of writing music about a simpler time while still pursuing the latest technology to get that music distributed isn’t as hard as it might seem. There’s a separation of digital apps and services and subject matter that would be hard to blend with the bands aesthetic.
“Maybe in 20 years it’ll be cool to sing about the Internet,” Schneider says laughing. “I just see those things as tools, not necessarily an interesting thing to write about.”
But as Schneider writes new songs for a sophomore release, he’s keeping an eye on what made the last album successful without standing still. In theory, a perfect formula to keep existing fans satisfied, while still reaching out to new listeners.
“I definitely want my writing to be new, but I think part of what has been successful about this music is that I was really open to allowing myself to be nostalgic and not having any shame about what I was referencing and inspiring it,” Schneider adding, “I think that’s connected with people.”