Fancy a full immersion into the recent history of funk? Then Lettuce has what it takes to guide you through the last two decades of the genre. The band, which sprouted back in 1992 from a music programme at Berklee, is a Cliff’s Notes of the rhythmic and groovy funk experience. Resonate, their latest album, the seventh of their studio career, is there to prove it.
A few days ago, we reached the band members for a collective Q&A interview looking to delve into Lettuce’s past, present and future, their latest album Resonate and these mad Covid days…
28 years and counting… Can you briefly tell us how Lettuce came to life and about that (in)famous music program at Berklee back in 1992?
Adam Deitch: I met Shmeans and Jesus separately. Shmeans was in the practice room next to me and I invited him to bring his amp into my lil’ practice room. We had one heck of a 1st jam. Jesus and I connected while watching Janet Jackson’s longtime drummer John Roberts in a room at Berklee. Zoidis, I believe, knew Krasno and we started playing funk immediately.
Outta Here, your first album, was released in 2002… I know these are quite delicate times to think about parties, but how are you planning to celebrate a landmark like the 20th anniversary of your debut?
Adam Deitch:Wow. 20 years since Outta Here. Time flies when you’re havin’ FUNK! We will hopefully release some outtakes and tracks that got cut from the original.
You released Resonate, your latest LP, only a few months ago, in the middle of a global pandemic. How much has this situation affected the album and its promotion, and how are you coping with these mad Covid-19 days?
Adam Deitch: Not being able to tour for Resonate has been tough, but we are glad people dig it regardless of the situation we are in. I’m coping with COVID life by practicing, recording and staying as creative as possible
Talking about mad days, your country is experiencing one of its most absurd periods. Not only the Covid-19 emergency, but also some pretty divisive election days. Luckily, their outcome is promising… So, what are your hopes for the United States?
Adam Deitch: My hopes are that we can unite against racism, bigotry, ignorance. The 45th president needs to step aside and let 46 do his thing. Time will tell.
Going back to your music, when listening to Resonate, your sound is invariably cohesive and well-blended. How does a band play and work together for almost 30 years without going “out of tune”, but keeping the quality bar so high?
Shmeeans:I think friendship is the bond that keeps us together; and these guys believe in me when I don’t believe in myself. They make me a better musician, and I love to be inspired by all of the guys in Lettuce. I look up to all of them. I feel like we are helping each other accomplish our dreams, and actually seeing and feeling the momentum, hearing stories about how our music helps people, keeps us hungry for wanting more.
I’ve recently watched your video for “Silence Is Golden”, which is possibly the most artistic videoclip you’ve ever released. It also suggests a pretty strong bond with nature. What can music possibly do to make people more aware of the environment and push them to act before it’s too late?
Shmeeans: Perhaps our connection to music reveals something deeper inside all of us? Sometimes when we find something that moves our souls so deeply, we choose to explore other aspects of our humanity as well. Our connection to nature is one of those aspects that we can all explore as humans.
How much has your music changed since your first album? Do you feel you have followed a fil rouge or simply “improvised” album after album?
Shmeeans: I feel like we have all changed so much as musicians, and as people. Our music reflects where we are on our journey together. I feel like we are all better, and more mature in our approach to writing and arranging. The one thing that has stayed consistent is our love of the Funk.
At the same time, the music world has deeply changed since your band’s inception. Do you spot any major transition or breakthrough that has also influenced the way you make, produce and share your music?
Ryan Zoidis: Obviously, the internet has massively changed the way people listen to music. Touring has played a huge role by exposing the band to people all over the world. I think with the way things are now, artists have the freedom to creatively market themselves and release music any way they want, independently.
Have you noticed a change in your fans/listeners as well? Has the relationship you have with them transformed?
Ryan Zoidis: I think our relationship with our fans has evolved and deepened over the years. I feel like our music is universal, being primarily instrumental and groove focused. We can cross over from jazz to EDM to the jam scene and people are generally open to our music.
Is there one (or more) musician/band who has particularly influenced your sound during these 30 years? And what are you listening to these days?
Ryan Zoidis: JamesBrown, HerbieHancock, P funk, Bootsy, MaceoParker, MarvinGaye, SlyStone etc… We are forever indebted to our musical heroes who created funk music and the concepts that led to it. 90s hip-hop is a huge influence on what we do and we all have slightly different tastes, which creates an eclectic atmosphere and brings a wide range of influences.
What should we expect from the next 30 years of Lettuce?
Ryan Zoidis: I would expect a ton of recorded music to be released and we will continue to tour until we physically can’t anymore. – Ryan Zoidis
How would you introduce your music to the few who still haven’t listened to it?
Ryan Zoidis: I would find out what they are into and find something that they can connect with, then maybe play them a live video from a festival or something.
Lettuce‘slatest albums Resonate was released in May on Round Hill Music. You can buy and find out more about the band’s seventh LP HERE
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