SXSW Band Preview: 7 Questions with the Allah-Las
We sound like the Los Angeles that people dream about rather than the LA that exists.
The story of the Allah-Las is like a scene out of High Fidelity – three of the four members of the band worked at the Amoeba record store on Sunset Boulevard in LA where they absorbed vintage sounds from around the world and then formed a band. The result is a sounds that's impossible to hear and not find yourself doing a little California dreaming.
The Allah-Las are also one of the awesome bands that will be at our SXSW party this year. We caught up with them this week ahead of Austin for a quick preview of what they'll be playing, what they're listening to, and what's next:
Tell us the story of how your band got its name… The name came from of mix of conversations we we're having about music and Los Angeles at the time. We had been talking about how Southern California "surf music" was derived from Middle Eastern guitar styles from the mid '50s and we kept hearing about this forgotten Hollywood hangout where F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived called "The Gardens Of Allah." Allah-Las sounded like a mix between the bands The Shangri-Las and The La's and it had a kiss of "Lost" Los Angeles history mixed in. The theme of lost LA stuck with us. Felt right.
How would you describe your sound? California rock 'n' roll with traces of other sunny yet moody genres. It's a combination of bits of our favorite sounds borrowed from the early 1960's - 2013, mixed with our own realities and dreams from growing up between the beach and the desert. Lots of Surf-Rock, down-tempo American Garage, Electrified Folk, C-86, Paisley Underground, Western movie soundtracks, Jangle-Pop, Bossa Nova and all the variants in-between.Someone recently wrote about us that we sound like the Los Angeles that people dream about rather than the Los Angeles that exists. We think that's a good way to describe what we're going for.
You're playing at SXSW this year. What do you love about playing in Austin and at SXSW? Austin is one of those well planned and maintained cities that makes you wonder why you'd wanna be anywhere else. The weather, the BBQ, cool flowing rivers and the easy going nature of the locals make Austin a fine destination in our book. SXSW week can be difficult to navigate and annoying if you don't enjoy crowds but it's a lot of fun if you can get over that. Nothing else really like it.
What other new bands are you loving right now? Tame Impala, Sonny and The Sunsets, The Blank Tapes, Ariel Pink, The Night Beats, The Entrance Band, The Black Angels, The Growlers, Father John Misty, Tomorrows Tulips, White Fence, Ty Segall, Jacco Gardener, Jonathan Wilson, Nick Waterhouse, Sam Flax, The Beachwood Sparks (always).
What's something your fans would be surprised to learn about you? People often ask us why it took us four years to make our first album. People seemed surprised that none of us had played in a real band before The Allah-Las. Matt had never even played drums before we started. We all spent a lot of time working in record stores, listening and sharing music so it seemed natural to learn to play together. We played our first show at a house party about a month after we started playing together. The next show was at a venue a couple weeks later.It sounded terrible. We had ideas but none of our songs had clear beginnings or endings yet. We kept playing shows anyway, as much as possible. I guess we kind of hit the ground running for better or worse.
What cool things are you working on for 2013? We're working on a couple singles and the next record right now along with making mixes for our weekly music podcast ReverberationRadio.com.
Sample more of the Allah-Las on their site, follow them on Twitter @allahlas – and don't forget to join us for an exclusive live performance this year at the Say Media SXSW party at the Speakeasy in Austin.