Published on July 7th, 2015 | by Nigel Cartner0
Left Lane Cruiser Interview
Led by founding member Freddie J IV (aka Joe Evans) on vocals and slide guitar, and Pete Dio on drums, Left Lane Cruiser are now joined by Joe Bent on bass and skateboard slide guitar (which will be explained below), to bolster their unique take on whisky soaked North Mississippi blues for their latest album.
The sixth album, ‘Dirty Spliff Blues’, released in mid June, continues to thrash out some of the best frenzied blues of the modern era. From hip shaking grooves onto trashy cut throat punk, throwing some old school rock n roll in for good measure, Left Lane Cruiser pretty much cover all aspects of the raw, blues phenomenon, continuing to revitalise a genre of music that’s spine tingling from the first thunderous chord.
Sonic Bandwagon managed to catch up with Freddie J IV during their hectic tour schedule, which will see them in the UK in late October. We found out how being signed to Alive Naturalsound has helped them, what they make of the current Blues scene, and how their music helped the show Breaking Bad achieve global success. J
‘Dirty Spliff Blues’ is now you’re sixth album. How does this differ from past work?
This album differs in many ways from previous albums. It’s the first album with the new lineup. First album since Brenn “Sausage Paw” Beck retired from the band. This album therefore has a different flow to it. Brenn was an amazing blues drummer while Pete is a rippin rock n roll drummer. Also, now that I have a rhythm section the grooves get heavier. Pete and Joe bring a lot of new influences to the mix. We all write songs together by dropping riffs or beats then jamming around it to fill in the parts. Songs are more built around the groove than the riff now.
You’ve expanded into a trio for the new album. What was the thinking behind that and how does that affect the sound?
Me and Brenn rocked it as a two-piece for 10 years. We eventually wanted to expand the sound. With the new lineup I got more sounds to feed off and more ingredients to cook up the slammin’ jam. I dig the way bass and drums work together. The three of us can drop a riff or a beat, tear into a jam, and within minutes we gotta new song.
I’ve read that Joe uses his skateboard as an instrument. How did he discover that he could do that?
Joe and Brenn, and our friend Ando started a band called ‘White Trash Blues Revival’ to enter a “Battle of the Worst Bands”. Joe developed the Skateboard guitar for that band. After that it became a legendary instrument. Joe’s a hell of a player to make that thing sound like that.
Elephant Stomp is one of my favourites. It has the most blues on the record. I used a Leslie road amp for my guitar solo. That was cool.
What’s your inspiration when writing music these days? How has that changed from when you first started?
My family. My wife and two kids never leave my mind. Most of the lyrics I write now reflect that sense of being alone on the road and wanting to get back to them. After touring the world for almost 10 years, our song content reflects the struggles of the road. In the early years of Left Lane Cruiser I was finishing my degree in Anthropology. The songs back then often reflected what I was studying at the time.
How has being signed to Alive influenced your success?
Alive has done a lot for us. Having them ready to book us in the studio and put out a record whenever we want has been amazing. They have provided us with many awesome opportunities. We got connected with our European booking agent, Buzz at U-Turn Touring, because we were on Alive Records. Going to Europe multiple times a year has been a big part of what we do since we joined Alive. Patrick and Suzy and the whole Alive crew have always been there for us. They are the foundation of our success.
How is the tour going at the moment?
Good. Being on the road is what you make of it. Gotta stay positve. Gotta find a way to overcome the obstacles. You have to always try to live to fight another day. The party will take you many places, but you best make dam sure your headed in the right direction the next day. For a band on the road, that party never stops. You gotta stay one step ahead of it. One foot in the party, one foot out of the party. If you fuck up, and you got both feet in the party, well now you’re in the trenches, and you gonna stay there for awhile.
Are you mostly playing songs off the new album on the tour?
We do a lot off the new album and a lot of the old stuff. We do some stuff from Pete and Joe’s two man band, ‘White Trash Blues Revival’ too. And we jam a lot which is how we write nowadays. If you come to a Left Lane Cruiser show you’re gonna see us jam a song never played or written before that moment, and that tune will likely be on the next album. So get yo asses to the show!
Tour dates currently run to 1st August but are there more to be added?
Yes more dates have been added and there will be more to come. Already have dates in LA 8/7 and 8/8. We’ll be working our way back home through the southwest into Austin, Texas. Tour ends 8/15. Keep an eye on the Alive website for our tour updates.
Very excited to play Montana for the first time. I also love the northwest coast. NW Deep Blues is gonna be awesome. Every show is an opportunity to make something happen. Whether you’re playing to 5 people or 5,000 people, the goal is the same, turn the people on to the sound. When you’re out there on the road you’re planting seeds for the next tour. And as you tour for years, going back to those clubs again and again you watch those seeds grow, and eventually you have solid routes for touring. This west coast tour is all about that. We ain’t been out there for awhile so it’s time to plant some seeds.
Any plans to tour the UK or Europe?
Always. We’re in Europe close to three times a year. We will be in the UK October 20-25. Europe from October 26 to November 20.
What do you make of the blues music scene at the moment?
I love the blues so I love the scene. It’s always changing. I prefer the raw dirty blues but I support all forms of it. I love the blues scene because it’s full of revival. It’s a constant attempt at keeping the past alive. Making sure that the history and the legends of the blues continue to be passed on to future generations.
I’ve been hearing a lot more bluesy bands/artists this past 12 months, is that a trend that’s been happening recently in America or has it always been there?
I think it’s always been there. America is the melting pot of all musical genres. I think as musical trends recycle, certain genres are more popular at times, but the blues is always there. The blues is in all music.
I believe your music featured on Breaking Bad. How did that help the band?
I think you mean how did Left Lane Cruiser help Breaking Bad. Well, I know for a fact we gave them a major boost in ratings. Yeah that was awesome. It turned some folks onto our music who hadn’t heard it before. That seems to be where everything is happening in the music industry nowadays. Getting a song in a movie or a TV show or commercial. We had a bit of our song, ‘Crackalacka’ played on Monday Night Football a couple of years back. We also had a song in the Cinemax series ‘Banshee’. It’s an honour when someone wants to use your music to represent an idea they have in film.
How did having your music featured in the show come about?
The folks at Breaking Bad hollered at Alive Records to use our song. Patrick then called us and told us. At that time, Breaking Bad hadn’t blown up yet. They were still airing the first season I believe. Me and Brenn had seen a couple episodes on the road in hotel rooms but that was it. We had actually just watched the episode when Jesse and Walt get locked out of the R.V. when their cooking out in the desert. The next day we checked out of the hotel room, started driving to the next show, I think we were leaving Texas heading into Oklahoma, and Patrick called and told us we got a song in Breaking Bad. That was awesome.
Are there any other plans for your music to be featured on TV/Film in the future?
I hope so. Sony hollered at us to use a track for the Joe Dirt sequel. Hopefully that happens.
What are Left Lane Cruiser’s plans for the next 12 months?
West coast tour July and August. Muddy Roots fest in September. Deep Blues Fest in Clarksdale, Mississippi October 15. October 20 to November 20 we’re in Europe. After that we will be recording the next record and booking more tours. If anybody wants to book us you can contact me at email@example.com. Also, if you look at our tour schedule and see we have a day off near your town, holler at us. We’re always looking to book a show.
To read more about the album and the tour click here
Photos by Joel Faurote