Chicago's Lucille Furs transmit a psychedelic susurrus through a prism emitting 60s baroque pop, Bossa Nova, and early sunshiny garage from the warm analog tape recordings of their self-titled debut record.
If Chicago has a "sound," I'm not sure I'd identify what's heard on the self-titled debut as fitting that characteristic. How did you arrive at the "dreamy baroque pop" sounds during your time in Chicago?
We arrived at our sound the same way that some English groups in the 60s likened themselves to Muddy Waters and Blind Willie McTell, music that was really from another land and generation. After the first several live shows, we honed in on our own "sound" once we became more familiar with each other but overall we shoot from the hip and learn as we go. The worst thing we could do is become static so we are always open to exploring new sounds.
The debut album was recorded to tape. Did anyone in the band have experience recording or splicing tape? Was the recording process something you took upon yourselves or did you outsource that work? How did recording to tape help you achieve the desired aesthetic for the record?
Almost all of our favorite bands of present and past recorded to tape whether they had the choice or not. Nowadays, it's especially a big luxury to have the capability and resources available to record to tape as it takes longer, is more expensive, and involves the know-how to run very old equipment. But, we loved almost every step of the process because sometimes it can be good to put yourself in a box with using only four tracks, for example. Also, we did not do any tape splicing on this record, and the only edits occurred at the tail ends of the songs when we eventually bounced the 1/4" Ampex tape to digital. Some of the songs were recorded at our rehearsal space, 7 Levels, directly to 1/2" tape while some tracks were recorded at Treehouse Recording Co to their 24-track Studer machine where we really finished the record.
How long did you work on the record? Are these songs fresh or an accumulation of the most notable tracks over the band's several years of existence? Was the vision for the record developed slowly during recording or a work long in the making?
We worked on this record for about eight or nine months, splitting time between two studios. We were also playing live constantly during the recording process, so that slowed things down a tad. The band is always recording and writing new material, so we recorded new ideas as they came to us sometimes just minutes before. We like to work fast and recorded songs quickly to maintain and capture our excitement.
John Zabawa supplied some beautiful, fruit-bearing artwork for the album cover. Is Zabawa a friend or just an artistic collaborator? Was the artwork a joint venture embodying the record after he heard the music or did you guys choose one of his previous works to represent your first album?
We commissioned John to do the art and art direction for the record. This included the fruit sticker on the front, center label art, orange translucent vinyl, and of course the amazing front and back paintings and surrounding typography. John is a friend and sometimes music collaborator, as well! Dig that on our second album we are currently making. JZ has toured with us internationally and we are all always brainstorming on the the direction of the next Lucille Furs release.
Are there any Chicago musicians or artists that have been exceptionally helpful or inspiring to you all? Is there a brotherhood of artists in the city or is it a less collaborative place than some cities?
Lucky for us, we are surrounded by so many great friends and bands in Chicago. Specifically, the complex and music social hub, "Treehouse Records," helps spearhead collaboration in the Chicago music scene by having an amazing staff and recording rooms filled with friends. Often, you can find members of numerous Chicago bands playing on each others’ records there, if not there to just hang out.
Clearly, a respect for 60s pop and psychedelia exists within the band. Were there any unusual inspirations or influences that may not be as blatant as the dreamy, rose-colored 60’s stuff?
Each of us harnesses our inspirations from many different musical and non- musical places. On any given night of the week, you can find some of us DJing our old soul and R&B, reggae, Bossa Nova and Brazilian records. Some of us specialize in freak beat and early punk records, as well.