We are quite excited about this month's interview. Fresh off the release of their new album, Mont Royal, The Lighthouse and the Whaler took the time to answer a few of our questions. If you haven't had the privilege of hearing their music yet, do yourself a favor and check them out!
What are some of the ways you’ve grown as a band from when you first formed, to the release of Mont Royal?
Michael: I think for me it’s been about growing as a songwriter, really trying to understand how I can be better and trying to write as much as possible. For this record I think we really achieved a new level of unity together as a band too. Just knowing one another, our individual processes and how to maximize those strengths really helped the record come together.
Mark: I think the biggest difference is that we are older and have a lot more experience to go off of. We understand who we are more and the questions of what we are doing are a lot more defined and taken more seriously because they have to be. Most importantly I do things in life for myself and I play music because I still really love it. It's not all roses ever. I wish it was, but at the end of the day I still want to play music even if no one else cares.
Tell us a little about the songwriting/creative process for Mont Royal. Were there any specific challenges you had to overcome? And did the creative process for this album differ from previous releases?
Michael: I wrote more songs and ideas for this record than any we had done previously. Like I said above I really focused on trying to take the songwriting itself, the bare bones of the song, to another level. I also personally wrote a lot more of the individual parts that we layered together on this record which is something I hadn’t done before either. I demoed out fuller songs before bringing it to the band too which I think helped. Before every person in the band had complete control of their part but on this record I wrote a lot of individual parts ahead of time. Don’t get me wrong though the process is still very collaborative and we bounce ideas off each other a lot to come up with the final song.
Mark: Usually the format for writing in this group consists of Michael bringing an idea to the band, and then the band working out the details. It sometimes is just a chorus. Sometimes it will be a little more developed, but then we all work out parts and the song structure together; trying different ideas along the way until we are happy.
I'd say our biggest challenge was simply finding time over the year to do all we were doing and still write music together. You don't look back on it that way necessarily, but we all live busy lives and everything you want to do takes longer than you expect. Eventually though we got a full list of songs together that we figured could be the album.
I wouldn't say this album was created in too much of a different way than the last, but Michael was more focused; we all were more focused and that really helped the process.
Overall, what would you like people to take away from this new album?
Michael: I hope people see themselves in the songs, that they can relate to them. I love when music genuinely moves me and my hope is that this album can do that for those who listen to it.
Mark: Honestly, I just hope people enjoy the album in some way in general, But if someone really listens to this record I'd want them to feel like they were on a path of self discovery and self confidence with us. I think that everyone has the right to be confident in themselves and only this can help to bring true happiness.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you have to give to young musicians, who are just starting to learn what their style is? And what has helped you develop your style as a band?
Michael: Don’t worry about sounding like someone else. Obviously don’t just go copying someone else’s work but you’ll be compared to other bands regardless of how original you are. Just do your thing, do what you think sounds good, what makes the song good and don’t worry about trying to be anything but who you are. It took us some time to figure that out but I think that was one of the most important discoveries I had to make as a songwriter.
Mark: I'd say: let it be you. Focus on setting yourself apart but more importantly just be you. People are always gonna compare you to someone, but if you craft your song in a way that is truly you it will be different than your influences enough to really mean something.
Which bands/artists have influenced you the most creatively? Who are you currently listening to?
Michael: I’ve really been influenced by José González, I really love his work. I’m currently listening to Drake's new album.
Mark: Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Rós, Copeland. I can't stop listening to Ásgier. I've had a resurge recently listening to Tears for Fears as well.
As far as touring goes, what venue would you love to play, but haven't yet?
Michael: The Greek Theater in LA.
Mark: Red Rocks!
Of the bands you've toured with, which one was the most fun?
Michael: Run River North. We really became fast friends with them and they are amazingly talented and underrated.
Mark: Ha, we might all have different answers on this. We've been blessed to have toured with some really cool people. It would be wrong for me to not say our Matt Pond friends. We've toured with Matt and his band the most in our history. I also got to play in his band on one tour and I really enjoyed that.
People always seem to have preconceived notions about who artists and bands are as people based on their art. Is there anything you’d like people to know about you guys that they might not be able to gather from your music?
Michael: That we’re regular people.
Mark: We are just ordinary people. We like having fun. That's all people really need to know. Hopefully no one looks at us and thinks we take ourselves too seriously. Along with that we all do have things we work on and are passionate about outside of the band.
Mike is a graphic designer and has done all the band’s graphic design. He likes to work out and was a theology major in college. He is a father of two. He also has a good beard.
Matt is a father of two as well and is a talented soccer player. He has done quite a bit of wood work, making really cool tables and furniture; though I'm not sure how much he does of that anymore. But his work was really awesome. In my opinion he is also one of the funniest people I know even though he would never admit to that. He also has a good beard.
Ryan is also a funny man himself and can be found in comedy clubs and open mics telling jokes when not playing music. He occasionally comes across shy but somehow has more friends and connections than just about anyone I know. He's a very likable guy as well as a talented writer. He also has a good beard.
Myself--I really enjoy running. I ran very competitively in high school and college and have done two marathons at this point. Hopefully I will do several more in the future. I also am working on a side project that I hope to release in 2016. Other than that I am currently working on helping others release records as I have recently finished producing and mixing a project for a new amazing Cleveland band called Polars. Unfortunately, I do not have a beard.
We all really enjoy playing sports, but I would say only Mike and Matt really enjoy following sports. Though Ryan did have a fantasy team once. That's probably more than you needed to know, so I'll stop there.
Now that Mont Royal is out, what’s next for The Lighthouse and the Whaler?
Michael: Touring and probably more touring.
Mark: Lots of touring and promoting the record for now.