Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Spotlight - Loch Lomond

This week's Sunday Spotlight shines bright on the sun deprived Portland band Loch Lomond. The group, which includes anywhere from six to nine members depending on the track, released their third album last year titled Paper the Walls. In tone it very much brings to mind a Henry David Thoreau quote: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." It holds a desperate melancholy to it that aches while not sniveling or choking itself up on tears. The texture of the album is very reminiscent of another group that also got their start on Hush Records: The Decemberists, albeit perhaps a little less poppy and a little more contemplative.

Ritchie Young, who's responsible for writing most of the tracks on the album as well as providing the vocals and some of the guitar, bass, and percussion, was kind enough to tell me about the opening track of the album, Carl Sagen. Here's the track to listen to while you read its story. Any text in black is mine, all text in red is Ritchie.


Carl Sagan is one of the very few songs I’ve written that is about one of my personal stories; a moment in my own timeline. It was one of those perfect summer nights: a small group of us were running around in a park at night, horsing off as they say, and enjoying that time of year that we knew would end only too soon; not unlike childhood. It occurred to me that I wanted to remember that night as a special one. So, Carl Sagan was born.

I actually wrote Carl Sagan years ago, it just never culminated, until (relatively) recently. The amazing musicians I work with now allowed the song to come alive. I think Laurel’s piano came first, then Amanda’s viola, and all the other talents fell into place like we had been playing the song forever. I can’t remember how it got started, but at one point, we decided to add these silly whirlygig plastic toys (the ribbed plastic tubes that make high-pitched hollow noises when you whirl them in the air). I think we all fell in love with the eerie sounds they made and the idea that we were bringing it back around: loss of childhood, children’s toys… Not to mention, audiences seem to get a kick out of seeing those played in our live show.

I think each of us in the band has a special connection to the song; and it means something a little bit different for each of us. I hope people that hear it can personalize it and remember one or two of those care-free child-like moments in their own lives, too.

And a few more questions for Ritchie:

1.) Working with eight other band members must be challenging in several way I'd imagine. At the most rudimentary level, how do you coordinate nine people's schedules to ever get together and play? On a more meaningful level, is there ever any friction in determining the path the development of a song is going to take?

It was very difficult to organize such a great number of people at the beginning. We went through a lot of struggle, what it came down to is a core group within and then rotating members that float in and out. The core group is five and we have three that float in and out depending on their schedules. We are very good at this process now. As far as friction in determining a path is concerned we have never had even an inkling of a problem with that, We are very open. We are not made of steel but we communicate very well. There is no real method or over-thinking when it comes to writing we just shut off the self critical parts of our collective brains and work. When it is all over we open six bottles of wine and talk everything out and usually end up dancing to Stevie Wonder and dork out.

2.) On a similar note, do any of the band members have side projects going on in addition to their work with Loch Lomond?

Yes, Heather Broderick is in a band called Horse Feathers, Dave Depper is in Laura Gibson's band as well as Norfolk & Western. Scott Magee is in the Nick Jaina band and we all have private recording projects. We are not a jealous band we allow, with open arms, other projects to exist and apply no pressure to be monogamous.

Nick Jaina - Maryanne : Wool

3.) The album has a quiet but strongly tragic sense to it. Is the group just a mass of depression? Is this an album of cathartic purging? Can we expect the next album to be more upbeat or will it be filled with more doom and gloom?

Loch Lomond very much is our venue for cathartic purging. We are not, nor do we contrive ourselves to be sad bastards in our daily lives. We have so much fun together before and after practice or tours.


Again, the album has been out for a while, so you should have no problem finding a copy of your very own. Although not an album that will lift your spirits necessarily, it is one that is great to spin if you're in a pensive mood. Enjoy the following:

Loch Lomond - Carl Sagan : Paper The Walls

Loch Lomond - All Your Friends Are Smiling : Paper The Walls

and one from their last album

Loch Lomond - Bird And A Bear (I Am The Bird)
: Lament For Children

Visit their website, their label Hush Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

1 comment:

Loch said...

Ah yes. The Thoreau quote rings true. Very happy to be associated with such a thought...