La Dispute are band that are in no need of an introduction. Just about to release their third album, ‘Rooms of the House,’ for many, it’s been their most anticipated release for this year already. We recently got the chance to chat to drummer Brad Vander Lugt about the album and the group’s upcoming trip to Australia with Balance and Composure.
Hey Brad, how are you doing today?
Yeah, I’m doing really good.
You guys are currently preparing to release your third studio album, ‘Rooms of the House.’ Talk us through how all of that’s going?
We started working on it last year around this time in a cabin in Northern Michigan, which was pretty secluded. We stayed there for four weeks and wrote most of the rough ideas for the songs there, then three months later we re-grouped in Grand Rapids and did another three weeks of rehearsals. Then three weeks after that, we got together again in Philly and recorded the album over about five weeks. It was a pretty lengthy process all together. We spent a good chunk of the year working on this.
This is your first record since parting ways with No Sleep Records – how has the experience differed releasing the album on your own label, ‘Better Living’?
You know, the things that are different are really just little things. We’re still good friends with Chris [Hansen, No Sleep Records] and we really appreciate everything that he ever did for us, but we wanted to do this for a while now. There’s just a few little thing that are different. Like, we have to work out who’s going to distribute it in which territories, and we have to finance it ourselves and all of that. Transactions are all done now. Chris gave us quite a lot of creative control, so being on our label has just really taken things that little step further.
It’s been said that ‘Better Living’ will be an outlet for more than just music, but rather art in general – do you want to elaborate on how you guys are going about that goal?
Yeah, sure. We’re still working on that quite a bit, since we’ve put so much time and effort into this record. We’re hoping to do things like, a quarterly magazine, and we want to release other bands music, and we want to encourage collaborations between different types of artists. A lot of it’s pretty abstract right now, but when these tours we’ve got coming up are finished we’re going to be working pretty hard on it.
You’ve already released a couple of tracks from the album – How have people responded so far?
I think the response has been really good. The first track we picked something that would be a bit more familiar. For people that have followed us for a while, this record will probably seem a little unfamiliar. There’s so many different elements going on and no two songs are the same. There’s so much on there, and I think a lot of people will be really surprised by it.
La Dispute’s lyrical content has always been a cut above the rest of the bands around you – what can people expect from you guys lyrically on ‘Rooms of the House’?
I’m probably not going to answer that question very well, because I play drums, but the basic themes are different. The last record talked about really extreme situations and occurrences. This record is more about sadness and emotion in just everyday things. In a nutshell, that’s what it’s about.
You guys wrote most of the album in almost complete isolation in a cabin in Michigan. How did that affect the record?
I think that you’ll probably be able to hear it a little bit on some songs. We went to a cabin in what was supposed to be Spring time, but Winter was dragging on, and it created a different mood. There was still some energy in there, but I think it all affected the songs in a way.
We had no pre-conceived ideas or anything worked out before we got there. We figured out the concept and starting writing from scratch when we got there, and it gave the record a really cool feeling.
What are the tracks on the record that stand out to you?
My favourite tracks to play on drums would have to be the ‘Woman (In Mirror)’ and ‘Woman (Reading)’ songs. The drum parts for those had some prettty cool production and recording techniques.
I think there’s something really cool about all of the songs, especially on the bass and drum tracks, especially in comparison to our past stuff. There’s definitely much more of a groove on this record.
You guys are auctioning off some test pressings of the record to raise money for a few charities. What was it that inspired that move?
Well, we’ve been teaming up with charities when we tour for like, three years now, and one of the ideas we had with this record was that we wanted to team up with a charity in each territory, and give people options so that they can choose a charity when they buy the record.
We started thinking of other ways we could raise money, and then our manager was like ‘hey, we’ve got these test copies, why don’t you auction them off?’ One thing led to another, and it just seemed like a really good idea to do that.
In a few months after the record is released, you’re coming down to Australia for a headline tour. You’re no strangers to our country – What is it that keeps you coming back so often?
Well, the people are great. The shows are always really good. We kind of found our feet there as well, because Australia was our first ever international tour. To The North took us over years ago for the first time years ago and we just made so many friends over there.
On top of that, I actually live in Australia now. I’m in the states for rehearsals, but I live on the Sunshine Coast with my wife.
The first time you were here, you played small rooms in small venues – now you headline some of our larger theatres. How do those shows compare for you?
It depends on the venue, really. Sometimes we play huge venues, sometimes we play tiny venues. There’s something really special about small shows, but there’s also something really cool about big shows. I think it just depends on whether you have a positive energy both on and off stage. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can always make it into a really fun show. It’s all about the community of people coming together. Big or small, it doesn’t really matter
Coming down with you guys are the guys in Balance & Composure – who have also recently released an incredible album of their own. How did your relationship with them come about?
Well, originally, we were on the same label as them, although I think [Adam] Vass has actually known them for a long time now. We’ve done a few tours with them in the States, so when we were throwing ideas around for who to bring down, we found out that they were going to do a tour in February last month, and we just said ‘hey, why don’t you wait a couple of months and come down with us!’ One thing led to another, and that’s what happened.
You guys released the third installment in the ‘Here, Hear’ project in 2009. Do you think there’s any chance that you’ll ever revisit that?
Absolutely, yes. There will be another one. I don’t know when, but there will be one. Probably this year or next year. It’s going to happen.
Any words that you’d like to finish on for your Australian fanbase?
Thank you. We love your country, we love you guys, and you’re always very good to us. We can’t wait!
La Dispute tour with Balance and Composure this June.