Lake and Ocean: Playing (and recording) well w/others

It'll come as no surprise to readers of the site that we dig what is referred to as shoegaze. Come to find out, the Morgantown-based band Lake and Ocean were putting out their debut EP Pull, and, from what we heard on their MySpace page, we wanted to hear it.

After landing a copy, we caught up with guitarist Nick Bradley, Jill Hess (vocals/percussion) and drummer Mark Samples to learn more about the band, the CD, their sound, and their perilous snowbound trip to the Sound Factory on December 18th last year.

WVRS: How long have you guys been together/how did you form?
NB: [Singer/guitarist] Bryan [Newruck] and I started a band called Straka back in early 2007 that is was the jumping-off point for Lake and Ocean now. We ran into each other at Black Bear Burritos in Morgantown around lunch and started talking music. We discovered we were both really into Starflyer 59, and that was enough for us to go out and start a band. [Bassist] Andrew Matheny joined up soon after the inception, and is still with us now. We're like a family.
JH: Year and a half. We all played together in one incarnation or another; Straka, PurePleaser, etc.

WVRS: Shoegaze is a style not seemingly all over the local scene; what bands may have influenced Lake and Ocean or how did you guys kind of coalesce around the particular sound?
NB: I wouldn't say we're shoegaze, but yeah, that sound is definitely in the mix. Like I said earlier, Bryan and I both love Starflyer 59, plus I grew up with Swervedriver, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Yo La Tengo, etc., etc. My writing/guitar style basically reflects all of the classic rock bands like the Who and the Kinks (and their huge guitar sounds) that are my biggest influences, filtered through all that stuff in the 90's that I grew up with. Everybody in the band has very different influences. Probably the only artists we could all agree on as a major influence would be the Pixies and Pink Floyd.
JH: Influences are vast, and not simply limited to "shoegaze." My biggest influence when I started playing in bands were people like PJ Harvey, or Kim Deal in any of her various bands.

WVRS: The female vocals kind of nicely break the sound up; how does that work, kind of sharing the singing (songwriting?) duties?
NB: We're all really, really good friends so there is never any major issues. Bryan and I kind of split songwriting duties, but everyone contributes their own style to the songs.
JH: Bryan and I started playing together via PurePleaser. Historically, Bryan wrote ALL the music in that band, and I just colored between the lines with harmonies. In Lake and Ocean, Bryan and I play off each other lyrically and melodically. However, we all bring something to the table, and our musical backgrounds and personal styles create the sound.

WVRS: Where did you record Pull at, and how satisfied are you with the end result?
NB: We recorded Pull with [keyboardist/vocalist] John Morgan and Roger Glass in various locations in Morgantown; from a friend's art space in a warehouse, to the living room in Andrew's log cabin, to John's kitchen. The record was mastered by Jason Martin (of Starflyer 59) at his studio in Riverside, California. We're proud of the end result, but are really excited to put out another record and try new things.
JH: John Morgan (wizard of music) recorded Pull in his apartment. John put an intense amount of work into recording this EP, and we are all greatly indebted to him, and totally jealous of his talent. The recording was then sent to be mastered, and well, here we are...satisfied indeed!

WVRS: Just five songs, right? Set out to leave people wanting more?
NB: Honestly, I've always been a fan of the EP, and yes, I hope people like it and want to hear more. We hope to get back in the studio in February.
JH: We actually want to record more ASAP. It's a little difficult for us all to coordinate the recording process in a short amount of time due to jobs, our separate cities, etc. Life gets crazy, but we all collectively prioritize playing together as much as possible.
MS: Absolutely! Always leave them wanting more, right? In all seriousness though we just really wanted to take it slow with this first EP and have fun and LEARN this whole process. Since this was our first recording as a group, we really wanted to focus our efforts on these five songs only to make sure they were done right and to our satisfaction. Now that we have completed this EP, I feel we have much more confidence in the recording process and how each of us go about this process to go back and record something on a quite larger scale.

WVRS: Will the CD be available at the 123 and Sound Factory shows?
NB: Yes. $5 bucks.
MS: Right on -- we will have CDs for purchase at both shows, five bones and you can have us for your listening pleasure all eternity...or as long as you want.

WVRS: How treacherous was the snowbound December 18 show at the Sound Factory; did you get snowed in?
NB: It got pretty crazy that night on the roads! Despite the snow we had a decent crowd. Bryan and I went back to the house through the blizzard, had pasta at 4 a.m., and watched some old episodes of Upright Citizens Brigade with the Librarians guys, and woke up early with some acoustic KISS covers. Exciting stuff...
JH: Snowed in, indeed. The highlight of that storm (for me) was actually being held up with Mark, Andrew, and John. Activities ensued such as sled riding with carpet skates, and drunken nature photography.
MS: That was a pretty wild night to say the least. We were all staying in touch with the whole winter weather advisory wondering if we were going to get a call from the Sound Factory saying that it was not going to open its doors for the night because of the weather. Sure enough it did and there actually ended up being a great crowd of our friends that came down to enjoy the music.

I remember saying to people, "I really appreciate you coming down but seriously do you have a screw loose? There is ice and snow coming down from the sky in mass amounts -- we might run into a Donner party situation here!!!" But it was a fun show, it was getting to jam with all of our friends there and getting to see our friends and fellow bands (Librarians and Thick As Thieves) step on stage in Charleston and really play great shows that made it all worthwhile. And yes, we did make it home -- eventually.

WVRS: You’re coming back to the Sound Factory 2.12 w/J Marinelli; looking forward to that show?
NB: Absolutely! J is a good friend of ours, a great guy, and personally a big influence on me. It's always good to play with J. But don't forget we're also playing with Elephant Child from Harrisonburg, Virginia who are a great three-piece playing straight up rock, and True Colour of Blood who is this guy Eric Kesner from Washington, D.C. who does guitar based dark-ambient music. It's definitely something different for Charleston! All of the lineup, though, are dear friends of ours, we like to play with those we love.
JH: Oh yeah. J Marinelli is always mind-blowing. We're all very excited to play in C-town again, and to hang out with Jay.

WVRS: Any other big plans, goals or shows for 2010?
NB: Record, play out-of-state, and put out another record. That's our focus right now.
JH: We want to venture out more. We're looking forward to setting up shows in Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania soon.
MS: I think our plans are to really make an effort to not only play more shows in general this year but also play more shows out of town and out of state at some other venues with bands that we are friends with, and have fun playing music with. Any time in between we have free we would like to get back to doing more recording.

--- photo: Andy Pickens

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