The Los Angeles-based garage band pays tribute to its California roots.
Los Angeles-based garage rock revivalists Allah-Las exemplify an aesthetic awareness that is deeply rooted in place. The quartet, composed of vocalist/guitarist Miles Michaud, lead guitarist Pedrum Siadatian, bassist Spencer Dunham, and drummer Matthew Correia, are self-described surfers, and three out of four members met while employed at Hollywood’s legendary Amoeba Music.
“The job we all had in common was called 'case switching' which was basically putting fresh jewel cases on beat up CDs,” says Dunham in an email interview. “It was cool because you got to sift through all the CDs that people would sell to the store. Amoeba served as a giant music library, and we got to listen to a bunch of records that we probably wouldn't have found out about otherwise. “
The band’s specific musical upbringing is echoed in the vintage feel of the sound. The music is a happy hybrid of a modern, ragged garage rock ethos and old-school surf-rock sensibility. Songs such as “Sacred Sands,” an instrumental track off their self-titled album from 2012, are reverb-drenched, relying on riffs from 12-string guitars. “‘Sacred Sands’ was the first instrumental song we wrote,” says Dunham. “We considered putting lyrics to it, but the idea of having an instrumental song in our set appealed to us, and since then we've written more instrumental songs. The B-side of our upcoming single will have a cover of The Frantics’ instrumental titled ‘No Werewolf.’ Our album, Worship The Sun, coming out in September, will have two additional instrumentals on it.“
The organic, simple-chord quality of the sound conjures a surfer-dude’s landscape of L.A.: sun, sex, waves. More directly, so does the sun-and-sand inspired art that has populated the covers the group’s two albums. “The cover of our album [Worship The Sun] is a photograph by David Hamilton that we felt was fitting for the record,” says Dunham. “We’re not trying to incorporate the beach or sea into our music or artwork in a trite and cheesy way, but we're not opposed to having those kind of motifs. It makes more sense for our music than neon UFOs or decapitated Cabbage Patch Kids.”
The group’s affinity for '60s-style reverb has caused many to call Allah-Las “psychedelic,” a term that has followed the band since its inception in 2008. Ultimately, the group argues that they are more L.A. than LSD, serial samplers but not necessarily psychedelic.
“I think people use the word ‘psychedelic’ to group certain bands together, the same way people use the word ‘indie,” says Dunham. “There are a lot of bands, probably most bands, that listen to older music, not just contemporary bands, and if it shows through in their music, people sometimes will call them psychedelic.”
Concludes Dunham: “I don't really have an opinion on whether it's good or bad but it's often times not very accurate. We're not going to try to move away from the music we made on our first record, but I think our new record has more variety, and some songs might not fall under the umbrella term of psychedelia.”
Allah-Las play One Eyed Jacks Tuesday, June 10.