Allah-Las | Melancholy and grittiness

Interview with lead guitarist-vocalist Pedrum Siadatian
Sands, the seas, the streets and cities of the golden state: Allah-Las
Sands, the seas, the streets and cities of the golden state: Allah-Las

Allah-Las is a Californian rock group formed in 2008 by former employees of the renowned music shop Amoeba Music. They are deserving successors to the Beach Boys, Byrds and Seeds. This quintet led by Miles Michaud exudes cool. They have a talent for taking inspiration from the sounds of the past and using them to produce hot new music, somewhere between rapid psychedelia and charming melody. And they all have great taste. After their eponymous first album released in 2012, the product of their escapades in the clubs of Los Angeles, they released the superb Worship The Sun in 2014, a selection of more experimental compositions. Allah-Las’s luminous, thoughtful surf-rock will take us on a musical journey to the ‘60s, bathed in sun with a sound that will have us dreaming of West Coast adventures. On June 29, they’ll be performing in Hungary for the first time at the A38 Ship, so we sat down for a chat with lead guitarist-vocalist Pedrum Siadatian.

Three of Allah-Las’ members grew up in Los Angeles and the city strongly influenced your music. How would you describe the city to somebody that’s never been there?

It’s a city that’s mostly ugly with very interesting pockets of nature and scattered enclaves that have different appeals. Most bigger cities have this latter aspect, but LA is unique in how far these enclaves can be to each other. It’s a city where people love their cars and the public transportation is mediocre; the traffic is bad most of the day and it takes motivation and effort to see friends or go places. The elements of southern California that most people think of (i.e. sun, surfing, and celebrity) definitely exist, but people who really know this city know that there is a melancholy and grittiness to it that really makes it special and inspiring.

You’ve also added that a lot of the things that make Los Angeles very cool are hidden and that there aren’t many books or films that really expose all of it. Could you name some exceptions?

LA Plays Itself, Chinatown, Kenneth Anger’s movies, Hollywood Babylon, Raymond Chandler, Charles Bukowski, and John Fante.

One thing that most of the critics keep mentioning that three of you were working at Amoeba Music. How integral was it in the band’s sound and your musical development?

It was very integral cause we got turned on to lots of great music. it also was where we met became friends and decided to play music together.

 

You’ve said about your song Catamaran, that it was a landmark for you. If you had to point out two more turning points in the band’s history, which that would be and why those?

Nick Waterhouse’s help in getting the sound we wanted was very important, so was signing with a record label and getting a booking agent. Without those things we wouldn’t have been able to reach our fans and travel.

What does the word psychedelia mean to you?

Nowadays calling something psychedelic is almost equivalent to calling something “indie” or “alternative”. It’s become an umbrella term. But I think the classic definition would be rock and roll that caters to altered states.

Do you use special vintage gears that your favorite bands played with? In the interviews, you seem to be a bit cautious about going into that topic.

We like the aesthetic of old guitars and the sound of fender twins, we’re not really gearheads or collectors.

How did your songwriting methods change between Allah-Las and Worship The Sun?

The songwriting shifted from more collaborative to more individual.

What do you find fundamentally different about the two records?

There’s more diverse styles of songwriting and topics, more experimentation with different instruments.

I’ve read that you had plans to record somewhere outside of the US. Any concrete destinations? Do you think that being in a different atmosphere, another town, would change your sound?

I think we’ve mentioned recording in Brazil or Mexico in the past but it was mostly a pipe dream. Yes I think being in a different city would affect the music we would make.

Speaking of recording, did you start working on your third album?

Yes, we have finished it and it’ll be coming out later this year.

This will be your first Hungarian concert. Are you familiar with anything about the country? Music, films, cities, etc.

Yeah, we love Gábor Szabó (famous Hungarian jazz guitarist and composer) and Sarolta Zalatnay (famous Hungarian pop singer) is interesting too. We’ve hear Budapest is amazing and we can’t wait to see it.

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