Lake Street Dive is a decade into their career, yet they seem more youthfully passionate and irrepressibly enthusiastic about their current state than any other point of their career. The Jazz-and-Soul-inspired Boston-born, Brooklyn-based indie pop quartet recently made high-profile appearances on both Colbert and Letterman and their fourth full-length, Bad Self Portraits, drops this coming Tuesday, February 18th, on Signature Sounds Recordings. They’re also currently on a behemoth of a US tour, which kicked off last week and will take them through mid-April, including an April 2nd stop at Union Transfer. I recently got a chance to chat with trumpet-and-guitar-player Mike Olson, whose excitement about his band is just as charming and endearing as any of their catchily and quirkily nostalgic anti-love songs.
Izzy Cihak: So Lake Street Dive has been at it for nearly a decade now, so to start off with a really large question: What have been the highlights, whether things you’re most proud of or just things you had the most fun doing?
Mike Olson: Well really, making Bad Self Portraits has been a major high point for this band. It was super fun to make, our producer Sam Kassirer was incredible to work with, and we have so many amazing opportunities to promote it, like going on Colbert and Letterman, and all of our CD release shows are going to be packed and wicked fun. This record has really made a lot of things possible for us.
Izzy: And how do you feel the album compares to your previous work?
Mike: It’s a leap from the last record, but it’s right in line with our development and evolution as a band whose bread and butter is playing live shows most nights of the week. The writing and playing is stronger, I’d say, but also it has a more refined rock and soul sound to it, much in the same way that our shows have been growing. Records are really just a snapshot of a band’s development at that moment in their touring and performing life, and I think BSP is exactly that.
Izzy: What were the album’s most significant influences?
Mike: We always say the Beatles, 60’s girl groups, Motown, and classic soul are our primary influences, but really, I’d say we are major influences for each other. We are all super influential in each other’s lives, not only because we’re great friends and extremely close allies in this crazy life on the road, but we also have a healthy, friendly competition with one another, always challenging each other to write better and more awesome songs to perform. That and terrible breakups! Those are very influential…
Izzy: For that matter, do you have any significant influences that your fans may never guess?
Mike: The soundtrack from Dirty Dancing? We love that movie!
Izzy: Do you have a particular favorite album track of the moment? I think “Use Me Up” may actually be my favorite Lake Street Dive song, both for sonic and lyrical content.
Mike: We worked really hard on the demos for this album, and whittled down the total songs we had to our favorites of the batch; so really, I don’t think there’s a single dud on the whole record. Recording each song was a blast, and we think they all turned out rad!
Izzy: You just kicked off a pretty extensive tour. What have been the high points of the first string of dates?
Mike: Colbert! We were so nervous, but he was such a sweetheart. That he made us feel really relaxed and at ease as possible.
Izzy: And what can be expected of the live show? You’re going to be playing Philly in early April.
Mike: Well, during that leg of the tour, our producer and great friend Sam Kassirer is going to be making some guest appearances on keyboard! We’re really psyched that he agreed to come along and play along with us for a few shows.
Izzy: Your upcoming local date is one of a number that you’re playing with Ages and Ages. What are your thoughts on the Portland outfit? Aren’t they totally great?
Mike: Totally great. And nice folks, too!
Izzy: And what are you most excited for in 2014? You have a handful of dates in Europe after your US tour. And what’s on the books after that?
Mike: Well, we have a sweet new van with bunks in it! That’s pretty exciting! But seriously, we’re playing bigger, more awesome venues, and selling out a ton of them; we are already looking ahead to when we can record our next record (We already have a ton of new songs for it!); we’re always pumped about summer festival season; and in the end, we have the great fortune to be playing music we love with our favorite people and best friends in the world. It doesn’t really get more awesome than that, right?