Indietracks interview #1: The Luxembourg Signal

Luxembourg Signal

Today’s the start of our 2015 Indietracks band interviews. Between now and the end of July we’ll be chatting with as many of this year’s line-up as possible, with thanks to our team of special guest interviewers!

For our first interview, Ste Tudor has been chatting to The Luxembourg Signal.

You may or may not have heard of the Luxembourg Signal but you’ll almost certainly be aware of the US band’s earlier incarnation of Aberdeen who signed for Sarah Records in the mid-nineties and later released the rather brilliant Homesick And Happy To Be Here. Fast forward to the present and Johnny Joynor, Beth Arzy, and Brian Espinosa have forged a collective with Ginny Pitchford and Betsy Moyer to produce an eponymous album of muscular, spacy splendour that took a decade to craft. Like the perfect pint of Guinness or season five of Game of Thrones, it is well worth the wait.

You may or may not have heard of The Luxembourg Signal but that’s all due to change this July as your favourite new band awaits you at the station. All aboard.

Are you looking forward to Indietracks?
Johnny: One hundred per cent. This will be the first time we’ve played live as a full band.
Brian: Well it might be the fourth time because we’re going to do a few shows before the festival. We’re doing Brighton and we’re looking for a London and Manchester show to act as warm ups.

What are you anticipating the festival to be like?
Steam engines.
Ginny: Owls. If there are no owls I’ll be very disappointed.
Brian: Back-packs. A lot of Fred Perry shirts and really white legs.

Are you hoping to catch other bands on the bill?
Oh yeah, definitely. We know the Fireworks already because we share a record label and I’m really looking forward to seeing them. I’ve never seen Pains of Being Pure at Heart even though they’ve passed through town many times. So that will be good. The Darling Buds…Jesus, I mean, really?! Cinerama if we can make it that day will be fun too.

Are you staying for the whole weekend?
Brian: We’re going to try. We’re going to be travelling as a group of nine people because there’s seven playing and then we’ve got a two person posse (laughs) so we need to figure out our travel and how we’re getting around. Maybe rent a house for a couple of days.

What can we expect from the set-list?
Primarily it’s going to be most of the songs off the first record. We’re going to throw in a couple of new ones that we’re pretty happy with. Maybe a surprise at the end…
Brian: Maybe a cover that wouldn’t work anywhere else other than Indietracks.

Your eponymous album was released last October. How difficult was the recording process with Beth living in London?
We’ve been recording it over a ten year period. We’d get some recording time here and there and Beth would come over for a visit and it wasn’t as difficult as you’d think.
Brian: It took a long time but I actually think this is the easiest record we’ve ever recorded because we didn’t have a clock. But that’s a good thing and a bad thing because it’s hard to finish a record when you’re not looking at a clock. We scheduled around Beth coming out to visit which wasn’t difficult because as you get older you have other responsibilities – work and bills – and unfortunately this doesn’t pay our bills so this doesn’t take the front seat. So it was a very organic process.

We’ve been in bands where there’s been a little bit of turmoil and arguing and there was none of that this time. So it made it an escape from our daily chores we had to do. It was really nice and I think that comes across in the music too.

It does. Additionally how much of LA is in the music and to what extent does external forces influence the sound of the album?
External forces definitely influences the sound and I don’t think anyone who writes or performs music could say it doesn’t. LA…that’s an interesting question. I actually don’t live in LA myself, I’m from San Diego. Johnny and Ginny live in LA along with Betsy and Daniel and of course Beth lives in London. So I don’t think we really attach ourselves to the city to the extent that it influences us.
Ginny: We don’t really identify ourselves as an LA band even though everything was written here because we’re so scattered.
Brian: At this point I don’t even identify with the word band. We’re more of a recording project and I don’t think we saw ourselves as a band until we got invited to play Indietracks.
Ginny: In a way it’s almost a by-product of our friendship because everyone just likes to hang out and it’s helpful that everyone likes to play music. It just works.
Brian: We recorded the songs without thinking of putting them out as an album. We didn’t have a record deal or anything and it was only when Shelflife were interested that we thought ‘Oh man, we have to put these in order! We have to do album artwork!’

I find that surprising because the album is very cohesive…
We wanted it to flow like vinyl with a side a and side b that really works well together and we’re happy with what we ended up with.

I recently interviewed Jimmy Hartridge from Swervedriver and he said they’ve finally learned to embrace the shoegazing tag. Does it ever irk you to always be associated with C86 and shoegazing? Do you think bands are too often put in ‘boxes’?
I think that’s funny because we’re probably the same age as Swervedriver and we’ve played with them in the early nineties as part of that scene and I personally hated that term. I think I’m right there with him where now it’s not that I accept it – I just don’t care. If you listen to it once that’s about it and if you listen again then that’s great. And if you don’t just don’t hate us.

Your album was a long time in the making. In that decade were there any surprising influences that made it onto the record?
For me it was probably having the Melvins play on the record. He’s someone we’ve known for a long time but I was never really a big Melvins fan growing up. But about six years ago I saw them for the first time and it was so refreshing to see these brilliant dudes play this solid music. It was so good to have them come in and his heaviness was a surprise.

Lastly a silly one. With Indietracks’ proud association with steam trains what’s your favourite fictional train?
Brian: I’m going to go with Thomas the Tank Engine because I’m a big fan of Ringo and I’m expecting Indietracks to be like that. Hopefully Ringo will be there or at least people who sound like Ringo!