Interview: Matt Pryor (Lasorda)

Interviews / December 14, 2012

Matt Pryor, considered one of the godfathers of emo, began his musical climb as one of the founding members and principle songwriters of the seminal indie-rock band, The Get Up Kids. A man of many talents and diverse musical taste, Pryor would then form The New Amsterdams — an alt-country, alt-folk rock band — as a side-project around the turn of the millennium. After the announcement of The Get Up Kids’ breakup in 2005 , The New Amsterdams became his full time group.

Now, after playing in various bands for the majority of his life, Pryor has begun to feel the life of the touring musician as more like work. It was for that reason that he formed Lasorda — an indie-rock, electronic-pop super group — with a handful of his friends, to restore the exciting bombastic pleasure of writing, creating and performing new music.

Pryor was kind enough to take time out of his morning to discuss the new musical project, which currently has its debut full length album on sale at Clifton Motel. Lasorda is comprised of Pryor, Suzannah Johannes, Nate Harold (fun., Koufax, The Honorary Title, Waking Ashland), Dustin Kinsey (The New Amsterdams, White Whale, Higher Burning Fire), Mike Strandberg (Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band, Brian Bonz and the Major Crimes), and Josh Adams (Ghosty).

There are a lot of talented musicians involved with Lasorda. How did the group come together?

Well, it started with my friend Dustin (of The New Amsterdams) and I. We were on tour and had played together since about 2005. Around this time, I had gotten really burned out with touring and even playing music. So, I had wanted to make a record with people that I knew, people that were really talented and fun to be around. My friends, you know.

There comes a time when you’re a touring musician where it becomes your job and performing loses some of its enjoyment. I wanted to do something fun; something that wasn’t work and with friends.

So, I had written this stuff and we had this idea, what about if we brought Suzzie in. A lot of the other guys in the group had either worked with her on one of her albums or been in her band. So, after we brought her in, what she was doing was so interesting that I got drowned out.

Was there anything that you were particularly listening to or inspired by that fueled the creative process of the album?

I didn’t really have a vision for it. I was feeding off the other guys in the band. Dustin and Josh [of Ghosty] were going for a minimalist, synth-pop 80’s sound and I tried to fill it out and give it a punch so it was not so slow.

Now, are you the main song writer for the group, was it more collaborative, or was it just someone else?

Dustin and I wrote the majority of the music. All the songs started with his nugget of a song idea. Then I and the “band” would flesh out the rest of the track. After that, I would write all the melodies.

Is being in Lasorda, for you, more about having fun since you don’t have to be in the forefront like with your other projects?

Only in the sense that we don’t really perform. It’s just a project, not a band. If we were touring nine months out of the year, I would be ecstatic that I didn’t have to sing every night.

What was the chemistry like in the recording process?

It was just super laid back. I mean the whole band was never actually in the studio at the same time except for Mike [of Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band, Brian Bonz and the Major Crimes]. He was only in town for four or five days. And that was when we had just done the instrumental stuff, before Suzzie came in.

The chemistry was great – within reason of time constraints and financial restraints. When we were recording, it was like “Let’s try it, let’s see how it goes.” Josh the drummer, couldn’t come in the first couple of days and we just had a drum loop. When Josh was able to make it into the studio though, he didn’t play exactly what he had down with the drum loop. He added things, changed things, made them his own.

How’d the group decide on going with Clifton Motel? Why not your label, Nightshoes Syndicate?

Well I didn’t want to put it out on my label because I know I have X amount of people that are already interested in my stuff and I already know how to reach them. Because, you know, with whatever I do it will always somehow be attached to The Get Up Kids, whether I want to portray it that way or not. But since this was something different, I wanted someone different advertising, promoting, doing all the leg work for the album. I’ve known some of the guys at Clifton Motel for a while and a couple of the guys in the band had worked with them. It seemed like it would be a good fit.

Why did the band decide to also release the album on vinyl? Are vinyl records something that are important to you?

I am not the vinyl collector that I was in my twenties. I mean, I have three kids now. All The Get Up Kids records have come out on, I think every variation of record there is. When I was putting out my records in the early 2000s, before the vinyl resurgence, and I was putting out my solo material, I came up against resistance. Vinyl wasn’t “big” anymore and you can see that with The New Amsterdams albums, there’s a gap between several of the records, where they were not released on vinyl.

But if I can, I always try to release the album on vinyl. If I could, if I had the funds, I would want to have a vinyl only label or find a vinyl only label to repress my records.

What is it about vinyl that you love?

Well, I am not an audiophile in the sense that I will tell you it sounds warmer or more pure. But I like things – I prefer to read a book to a tablet; I prefer an oven to a microwave; a physical record to something digital. With a record, it’s like you have to make two short records. You have to consider each side’s opening and closing track. When you release music on vinyl, everything is infinitely more important.

Any plans to tour after the album is released?

No, I don’t know. I mean I don’t know how we really would. Nate plays bass in fun and they’re blowing the fuck up right now. So it kinda would be a real challenge, but if we could I would love to do a couple shows.

Lasorda is an interesting name for a band. How’d you come up with it? Is it a reference to Tommy Lasorda, the longtime manager of the Dodgers?

Well sort of. Josh the drummer carried around a hand held tape recorder and he always was recording weird things. There are a couple tracks on the record where there is this weird, distorted sound and we got that from Josh’s recorder. And there are two tracks where we sample some of the old Tommy Lasorda program that Josh had recorded.

Then, in old Spanish, Lasorda means “the deaf girl” and we thought that it was kinda funny since we had a girl singing and she obviously wasn’t deaf.

Since Lasorda is a project rather than a band, what does the future hold for you guys? 

Honestly haven’t thought that far ahead.

Do you envision the band to be similar to Broken Social Scene, where it’s always a rotating collection of musicians?

No, I like this lineup. It does make it harder to schedule stuff though.

The sound, the feel of Lasorda has a distinct indie-pop, electric feel to it. Why then did you not ask James Dewees to participate in the band? Was it because you wanted to work with individuals that you had not had the chance to? Or was it because you were concerned that his influence would change the music and direct it towards a more familiar territory?

I never considered working with James on this.  He and I do other projects together.  I don’t even know if Dewees would be interested in a project like this.

A big thanks to Matt for participating! And again, you can pick up the self titled record from Lasorda over at Clifton Motel. It has been pressed on blue vinyl (limited to 110); on purple vinyl (limited to 110); and on blue/purple swirl vinyl (limited to 80).

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Ethan Merrick

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