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“It’s music to move to”: getting ship-shape with Life Aquatic Band

Following the release of some fresh tracks and with a sunkissed second LP in the works, Henry Tufton and Ben Allen of genre-fusing partystarters Life Aquatic Band caught up with Exposed’s Iago Castro.

It’s been a while since our last chat, and you’ve recently been teasing us with a few new tunes. What can we expect from your next release?
HT: The last album had a very strange, unusual theme: us being in a police chase against Paul McCartney. The next album is gonna have a much simpler one, and it’s gonna be ‘summer’.

BA: Me and my partner were living in Japan for a couple of years, and then we came back this summer, around August, and we all went to stay in Devon. The band lived together for a week; we wrote and recorded ten songs in two days while there. They were an intense few days, and we were working on probably longer than twelve-hour sessions, but it was a really good experience as a band, and I think we managed to capture that kind of positive feeling we were looking for. It’s definitely a summer album, so we’re not gonna put it out there until summer, but we’re preparing some teasers and singles beforehand.

What is the secret to making super danceable tunes?
BA: The secret? Well, the drum beat has to be the most important part of the song. Obviously, you need a catchy melody and a catchy bassline, but you can’t make it danceable without a killer drumline, so I think it’s always something we bear in mind when we’re writing in any style. We want to make music that makes people move, so rhythm is the real anchor of our music.

HT: We’re incredibly lucky to have an incredible rhythm section, with Will Shaw and Ben Evans, who play drums and bass for us. They also play for a Jazz trio, Assembly Trio, that’s just incredible – they’re so tight and they have such creative ideas.

BA: We’re getting into Latin music at the moment, which is something totally new for us, something we never explored before. It’s been a bit of a breakthrough for us, because it meant we can do songs that are a little bit slower and chilled out, but, because Latin is also dancy, we can still have dancy music but done a bit slower. Before this, when I tried to write a dancy song, I was always getting very fast-paced, cranking up the BPM, when you don’t necessarily need to have it fast. As long as you make sure it grooves, it still makes people dance.

HT: A few songs are in Spanish on this upcoming album. We’ve always been into Afro-Cuban rhythms, and I spent some time in Cuba over the summer and came back full of percussion, which I wanted to spread over the album.

BA: Also Jaz, our female singer, grew up in Spain, so we’re very lucky to have a fluent Spanish speaker in the band.

What other influences combine to help define the Life Aquatic Band sound?
BT: I can’t deny how much of an influence King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard had on us. It’s not necessarily to do with the music, but just having a go at creating constantly, changing styles all the time. Seeing a band as successful as they are, who are constantly changing it up, doing loads of different styles and just having fun – that’s a big, big positive shift for the music industry.

HA: Yeah, they’re a big influence. We wanted the energy we have live on this album, and I think the way King Gizzard does things inspires us a lot. I’d say Paul Simon is an influence as well.

BT: When we first formed LAB, we were a bit more focused on dancy bands, like Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem – and they are still my major influences – but I’m trying to go back to earlier influences: single songwriters like Paul Simon, Jenny Mitchel, Lorna Marden who have great melodies.

We want to make music that makes people move, so rhythm is the real anchor of our music.

Why, in a nutshell, should someone come and see a Life Aquatic Band gig?
BT: Well, I know every band will say this, but I think we really put on a good show, we don’t take ourselves seriously, we just try to have fun and we want everybody to have fun; and, I think because we mix a lot of styles, we have a song for everybody. We want to do it this way because everybody in the band likes different types of music, and I think that’s great. So, even if you’re unsure, please come and have a look, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something for you

HA: We have a great time at our gigs! It’s reyt fun, so if you come along you’ll feel it!

On that note, where can people catch you next?
HA: So, the Nottingham gig is on the 18th January at The Chameleon, and the Manchester one, on the 23rd, is at The Peer Hat. Then we’ll be in Sheffield on 28th January at Shakespeares, which has now sold out.

Keep your eyes peeled on the band’s socials for a new video this Friday… 

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