FOUR ALBUMS AND A DECADE TOGETHER, THE ALLAH-LAS HAVE BRANCHED OUT FROM THE SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SOUND THAT DEFINED THEIR FIRST FEW RECORDS. TRANSLATING THE EXPANSIVE, LAYERED AND HYPNOTIC SOUND OF THEIR LAST ALBUMS TO THEIR LIVE SHOWS, THEY’VE HIT THE ROAD ACROSS EUROPE, ASIA, AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AFRICA, LATIN AMERICA, RUSSIA AND THE U.S., ALL WHILE STAYING GROUNDED AS A BAND THAT REFLECTS LOS ANGELES’ UNIQUE SCENE.
The band has covered the map on tour, from dropping into Tokyo for sold-out gigs, to spending months touring Europe and North America in support of their records. Along the way, they’ve shared the bill with such names as Nick Waterhouse, The Growlers, The Black Angels and Alabama Shakes, hitting a mix of clubs, outdoor festivals and theatres. Stops include legendary venues like Berlin’s Kesselhaus, the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., Brooklyn Steel, and band favourite Pappy and Harriet’s, a rock ‘n’ roll desert outpost in Pioneertown, California.
Earlier this year the band released their latest album “LAHS”, charting new sonic terrain for the band with bright, sprawling arrangements that demonstrate notable evolutions from their previous work with a razor-sharp focus on the groove. In the whimsical videos for two of the tracks “In the Air” and “Prazer Em Te Conhecer” we find the band behind the controls of an airplane and a helicopter taking in the world around them—an appropriate metaphor for a moment in which the Allah-Las are clearly taking off.
WHAT’S THE FEELING BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT ON THE ROAD?
A healthy mix of excitement and trepidation. We haven’t done such an extensive tour in a number of years; it will be fun but gruelling, no doubt.
HOW DOES YOUR SOUND TRANSLATE DIFFERENTLY IN OUTDOOR FESTIVALS AND SMALL CLUBS? DO YOU APPROACH THESE VENUES DIFFERENTLY?
Outdoor festival sets, especially during the daytime, tend to be a bit more relaxed, we tend to feed off the energy of the audience, it’s a reciprocal exchange.
YOU GUYS HAVE HIT NEARLY EVERY CONTINENT AT THIS POINT—HOW HAS TOURING CHANGED HOW YOU SEE THE WORLD? AND HOW YOU SEE YOUR MUSIC?
It’s humbling to know that everywhere we go, there are people who like so many of the same things we do, despite other language and cultural barriers. We hope to discover more of that in even more distant places.
“LAHS” IS YOUR FOURTH RECORD—TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE PROCESS THIS TIME AROUND.
We spent a lot of time going into our space and jamming. If anyone was especially fond of a riff or idea, they’d take it home and work on it and bring it back and that’s how most of the songs were written.
WHEN YOU WALK INTO A RECORDING STUDIO, WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU LOOK FOR?
YOUR SOUND HAS DEFINITELY BRANCHED OUT ON THIS RECORD, BUT IT’S ALSO VERY MUCH ROOTED IN THE STYLE HEARD ON YOUR DEBUT. HAS YOUR LIVE SOUND EVOLVED, AS WELL?
Yeah, it’s better now. We’re able to dial in the sound we’re going for better.
“REVERBERATION RADIO” THE PODCAST THAT YOU GUYS ARE INVOLVED WITH IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. HOW IS THE CREATIVE PROCESS BEHIND THAT DIFFERENT THAN PLAYING WITH THE BAND?
The mixes can be any theme or no theme at all. The difference is that you're expressing something with someone else’s music.
SOME OF YOU GUYS MET WORKING AT LA’S AMOEBA RECORDS LOCATION—HAS THAT SET THE BAR IMPOSSIBLY HIGH FOR FINDING GOOD RECORD STORES WHEN YOU’RE ON THE ROAD?
Amoeba was like a library for us, and so many others, but there are lots of amazing record stores everywhere if you're curious enough to look.
WHAT’S THE KEY TO GETTING ALONG TOGETHER FOR SUCH A LONG STRETCH ON THE ROAD?
Don’t make mountains out of mole hills. Sometimes the late night, long drives and overall stresses of the road can put you on edge but it’s important to try and step back from the situation, take a few deep breaths and relax before overreacting.
WHAT MUSIC SCENES HAVE YOU STUMBLED ACROSS ON TOUR WHICH CAUGHT YOU BY SURPRISE? OR WHERE THE MUSIC SOUNDED EXACTLY LIKE THE PLACE IT WAS BEING MADE?
It feels like LA is the only place that has that going on right now. I can’t think of another place that has a distinct connection of that kind, at least not currently.
AUTHOR JOHNNY DWYER PHOTOGRAPHER MIKE LOPEZ
The Allah-Las are a Los Angeles four-piece featuring Matthew Correia (drum), Spencer Dunham (bass), Miles Michaud (rhythm guitar), and Pedrum Siadatian (lead guitar). The band formed in 2008 and released their first self-titled album in 2012. Allah-Las have since released two more albums on the Mexican Summer record label, as well as a dozen singles. They are also the only band whose members who have both worked at Los Angeles’ famous Amoeba Records and appeared on the store’s “What’s in My Bag?” record shopping video series.