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Left Lane Cruiser Gives You All You Can Eat

By Ben Larson

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-08-25


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, chances are you’ve at least heard of Left Lane Cruiser, the local blues-rock duo, comprised of Joe Evans on guitar and vocals, and Brenn Beck on drums, misc. percussion and various other sonic items, who have a lot to do with why Fort Wayne seems to be getting some more attention lately. Well, LLC is getting ready to release their second album, titled “All You Can Eat,” and I sat down with the boys at Joe’s house to talk about the album, and what’s coming up for them in the next few months.

When I asked what inspired the album’s name, Brenn and Joe said, simultaneously, “we like to eat!” Joe has a particular affinity for Golden Corral, firmly believes that “food is a drug,” and said “we always try to hit the buffet on a day off and stock up.” This, not surprisingly, can have setbacks, though. “We learned that the hard way,” Joe explained, “never eat at a buffet the night of a gig.” I’ll leave out the details on that one, as I’m sure you can probably figure it out for yourself.

Anyway, on to how they actually made the album. They recorded at Ghetto Recorders, in Detroit, with Jim Diamond. Diamond, aside from being the bass player for The Dirtbombs (one of my personal favorites), also recorded The White Stripes’ first two albums. Needless to say, the fact that Diamond produced All You Can Eat is a bit of a big deal. They both agreed that working with Diamond was one of the best recording experiences they have had so far, and cited that he actually seemed to care about the end result, rather than just getting everything down on tape. “Normally people just want to get you in and out,” Joe said. Brenn added “he knew what we wanted before we even walked in,” and then went on to describe all of the vintage microphones and amps Diamond had ready for them, as well as the way he wanted to place them to get the sound they were aiming for. “There were at least seven mics on Joe’s amp, from old Victrolas ten feet away to right behind the amp to pick up the muffled bass.” In regards to amps, Diamond provided such equipment as old Traynors and Kalamazoos. Joe told me “I literally had 3 stacks by the time it was done...just a wall of power,” none of it newer than the 1960’s.

In regards to what Brenn used, he stuck strictly to his 1965 Slingerland, with much the same mic setup as was used to record Joe. “He mic’ed all the drums individually,” Brenn said, “then had an old Victrola room mic that he used between me and Joe.” They described the studio itself as “a big concrete warehouse a block from the new Tigers’ stadium,” and it’s also in the same building as the famed Fox Theater. Joe described the actual space they recorded as “just a big, dirty room. It was like recording in your basement.” Sticking with that feel, everything was recorded live to tape, instead of tracking each of the instruments and vocals separately, which is how Joe and Brenn have always preferred to record.
In regards to the new material, Brenn said “we were somewhat purposefully unprepared for this and kind of decided to let some of it write itself.” To prove that point, he added “my favorite song on the album (“Old Fashioned”) wasn’t even written before we got into the studio.” They recorded everything in five days, and they initially thought that was all the time in the world. “This is the most time we’ve had to record, ever,” Joe said, “but we were under the gun the whole time.” They actually got to do some layering of vocals and guitar solos this time, which is a first for them on any record they’ve done, and both of the guys said they really enjoyed being able to do that. “It’s a lot more thick of an album [because of that],” according to Brenn.

Having been lucky enough to get an early copy of the album, I can say that All You Can Eat shows a band that has definitely grown since Bring Yo’ Ass To The Table, their last record. Long time fans will still hear the LLC they know on the first half of the album, but later songs (I can’t name any specifically because I got a burned copy with no song titles on it) seem to move from rock influenced blues to the opposite — blues influenced rock. I guess the best way to describe it is to say that I would highly recommend any Clutch fans out there to go pick up a copy of All You Can Eat, because it has that same basic feel. Brenn himself describes a lot of the songs as “stoner rock,” rather than blues.

The band will be having an official release party at the Brass Rail on Oct. 3rd, but there will also be a special all ages release party a month earlier than that at the N. Anthony Wooden Nickel on Aug. 29th. This event was first the idea of Patrick from Alive Records (the band’s label) in order to help support our local scene (thanks, Patrick). I got a few words from Bob Roets, owner of Wooden Nickel (and my other boss) on the subject. According to Roets “Left Lane was by far our biggest selling local artist last year, and we’re very excited to help support them with the new record. It’s reciprocal, really.” He also said “we have a long history of working with LLC, and this is actually the 5th time we’ll be having them play at one of our locations.” He also said, by working to help promote Left Lane Cruiser, it also helps remind people that independent record stores are still here and relevant. The reason for this is All You Can Eat will be available to buy exclusively at any Wooden Nickel for an entire month before it’s official release date at the end of September.

After the release parties, the band is planning a lengthy tour of the U.S. and Europe, and will be hitting everywhere from England and France to the Balkans and Eastern Europe (watch out Borats of the world). Whether or not you choose to go see the band at one of the release shows, make sure you pick up a copy of All You Can Eat, and treat yourself to some good rockin’.

Left Lane Cruiser’s CD release party happens at the Wooden Nickel on N Anthony on Saturday, August 29 at 4 pm.

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