The Lighthouse and the Whaler chat everything “Mont Royal”!
My interest in writing about music and interviewing the people that play it first got piqued when I was going to university in Montreal, a city that exists on a mountain. So when I was doing some research going into this next interview with Cleveland’s The Lighthouse and the Whaler and finding that their latest record was titled “Mont Royal”, I wanted to dive right into the recording process and why they chose to name it after such an historic mountain. Besides talking Montreal things, I asked Michael LoPresti all about the making of the record and their plans for the future!
Obviously since the record came out you’ve been steadily touring and making the effort to be on the road. Maybe the three things you must have with you while on tour?
Oh three things I must have with me. A brick, like iPhone charger like one of those ones that extend your battery life like four times over. That’s the first thing. The second thing is probably a book of some sort. Sometimes I bring two and usually buy one while we’re on tour so some sort of reading material. I like physical books not like a Kindle or something. Then, probably my phone I would say just because it has like all my music and my connection to my kids and everything.
Leaving them behind, do you have a few?
I have two.
It’s hard at least you can stay in touch.
Totally! FaceTime makes it easier.
Then you’ve been pretty steadily on the road with the album “Mont Royal” coming out last August. Maybe how do you think these dates have been going? Are you playing a lot of the new record?
On these dates with Run River North? Yeah we’re playing about ninety percent of the new record’s songs. I think there’s only like two on the record that we don’t play live during this set but it’s been really great. All the shows have been fantastic and I think that the bill of us and Run River North together is really, really cool. We’ve just had a blast being with them as well. It’s really easy to tour when you’re friends and you’re able to hang out and everything. So we’ve had a lot of fun so far.
Then I know from reading a bit about I you started recording this album in Montreal, at least the bulk of it about a year ago. I went to school in Montreal so I love that you called it Mont Royal but maybe was it something where you were writing those songs for that record in January or are they songs that you’ve had for a while?
I think some of them we had for a little while but most of them came actually when I was in Maine on a family trip. I just had a bunch of time on my hands in the mornings and at night in the evenings. I would just go outside with my acoustic guitar and just kind of mess around and record them on my iPhone. Then I brought them back to the guys and we kind of fleshed out the full extent of the record. Demo’ed everything but that’s where I spent most of the time writing but it was probably like a six month process to do the whole record.
And was there a particular reason beind choosing Mont Royal for the title? I’m sure for a lot of people they’re like what is this but I like the whole city is on that mountain.
Yeah well we basically had been recording there for I think it was about four weeks at the time. We went to get breakfast at this place in the fourth week. We’re sitting there and Mark was sitting to my left and he looks up and the sign Mont Royal is right there. We had talked with our producer and some of the guys in the studio about the mountain and just what it means to the city and this city is based around it and everything. Mark was like why don’t we call it Mont Royal and in that moment, everybody unanimously was like that’s what we’re calling the record. Just because Montreal had such a profound impact on us and on the record itself. I just think this record is a hugely important record for us personally. It’s just a huge change as people and as a band. We had gone through so much ahead of making this record. I think it was the combination of all those things, all of that stuff. So it was very emotional but it was very cool.
And was there a particular reason behind going there, like a producer?
Yeah, Marcus Paquin was our producer and he’s based in Montreal. I talked to him on the phone and we clicked right away and I was like we want to come there and record just because I feel always being away from home is really good. It keeps you focused and allows you to really get into what you’re doing and fully engross yourself.
And with the album being so well-received, and you’re a busy guy. You’re a dad as well as a musician. Is it something where you think a new EP or LP is still a little while off?
I don’t know if it’s a little while off. I’m already working on some new material and I know we’ve already started to flesh out some songs. So I think the goal is to just continue to see where Mont Royal takes us and continue to work that as long as we can. We’ve learned from the previous record and the process it took to make those that it’s better to just continue to write. It’s been great and I’ve been feeling really inspired and this tour has reignited that inspiration as well. The Run River North guys are really awesome. Just watching them live and gleaming some cool stuff from them has been really cool. I’m excited to just kind of get back home after this is done and refine some stuff that I’ve been working on.
For the writing, is is something like we kind of talked about before where you pick the songs and bring it to the band or is it something where some of the songs are collaborative?
Usually I write the bones of it and then bring it to the band. Sometimes I write a lot, sometimes I write a little and we flesh it out together. It’s a very collaborative process and a lot of opinions are thrown around through out the process. Which is great because we all have different influences and different ways of thinking. I think that makes The Lighthouse and the Whaler what it is but I do think I sample a little more of myself on those songs then anything else but it is a collaborative effort at the end of the day.
And maybe a soft one for you! The first CD or first cassette you ever can remember getting as a kid and the first concert you can remember going to?
Let me think of the first concert I can remember. My dad was a big Elvis fan so I got like a Greatest Hits Elvis cassette when I was younger. That’s like the first cassette that I can remember getting when cassettes were a thing. You’d open it up and there was the little insert that you could pull out and all that stuff. I just remember having to like manually rewind it and everything. I wanted to put Mont Royal on a cassette. I thought we were going to but I guess that never materialized but it’s definitely a nostalgic thing.
Then like you said, this album is still very new, it only came out in August of last year. It’s still a very new record but kind of what’s coming up for The Lighthouse and the Whaler?
When we’re done here with the Run River North tour, I know we’re going to be touring some more through out the end of the summer and the fall. We’ll be going into a pretty good writing mode in the summer. Start fleshing out some new material and moving forward with that but there will be a bunch more touring. We’re hoping to go abroad as well so we’ll see how that works out.
Is that something you haven’t done before?
Only Canada so we’ve never been to like England or Europe but that’s the goal for I think in the fall. So we’ll see if that works out!