I conducted this interview for the November issue of Subbacultcha! but it never got published. Though I was not acquainted with the band before the interview took place, I enjoyed talking to them so much I thought I’d post it here.
Sam Kklovenhoof: Sorry I was a little late. I was actually just shovelling manure into the garden and lost track of time. A whole truckload. It was crazy.
Owen Hutchinson: I ate the first cantaloupe I grew this summer for breakfast.
How domestic. Onto a more topical question then: have you guys ever felt naked on stage? (as in, when something went wrong / you were nervous)
Shawn O’Sullivan: (laughs) Owen has a good answer,
OH: Hah yes, for a couple shows early on I’d perform naked or as the set would progress remove items of clothes until the final song I was completely nude. Shawn and Sam accuse me of having done this more times than I actually did but often I’d wear nude leggings, which appeared as though I was naked but not actually.
SO: In Naples we got drinks thrown at us because Owen was naked.
Was that something spontaneous during a show or something you’d come up with before playing?
OH: It was based on feeling of audience, venue or level of drunkenness and as a thank you or a fuck you depending on mood.
Basically Owen, you just like getting naked?
OH: Errr… birthday suit
SO: Owen used to get naked way more though, even at non-LEE events but we’ve all gotten a little tamer.
OH: I wear 3 piece suits now. The other extreme. And I cover my face a lot.
SO: To answer an earlier question: in addition to Owen’s literal stage nudity, we’ve definitely dealt with a lot of on-stage panic moments that have made us feel figuratively nude.
Is there a situation in particular you recall?
SO: The tuning on my sh09 going bonkers in Milan in the middle of the set, the humidity of the venue made it go haywire.
OH: That one time in Berlin when my synth just stopped working and I had to use one of Xeno and Oaklanders.
SO: Yeah that was a rough moment. The last show, that Sam and I played, we didn’t get to soundcheck and I had to play without my reverb unit – that definitely made me feel naked.
OH: Not having soundcheck is bad for us it happens all the time because we play a lot of small spaces that aren’t real concert venues e.g. an Ethiopian restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. So we often run into serious problems mid set.
I was gonna ask you the first question in reverse: have you ever thought of the audience as naked to make yourself more comfortable/because you were nervous?
SO: we’re all usually drunk enough that we’re not nervous.
OH: Yes but not to make myself less nervous, just to imagine. And not everyone Like those goggles that let you see thru peoples’ clothes.
Being in a band mostly involves some serious intimacy. Recording an album I reckon things get pretty personal. Did you guys ever come to a point where you felt too much was exposed?
SO: I think we’re all pretty comfortable with each other at this point. We’ve been through a lot, as a band and as friends. Owen and I have known each other for like 10 years and Sam and I were buddies for a while before the band but I guess our friendship really grew out of working together. We get along well. Sometimes we drive each other a little nuts but none of us are huge drama queens or drug addicts or anything.
OH: We’ve seen each other in so many different phases, with so much context around our friendships it is easier to understand and work things out. I feel blessed to have collaborators whom I like so much that hanging out feels as productive and enjoyable as working on music with.
SO: Awww I almost teared up a bit there Owen. Now I feel a little naked (laughs).
(small silence) Are you collectively crying right now?
OH: No, but mirror neurons (the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting, ed.) are cool.
SO: Whoa I indexed a book on social cognition last week! There was a bunch of stuff on mirror neurons in that.
If you were sent to a desert island naked and you’d be able to bring only 5 items, what’d you bring? Clothes can’t be one of them.
SO: I guess I’d just bring my modular synth and a laptop for internet access because they always have internet on desert islands.
SK: Champagne yeast, a Swiss army knife, neosporin, a flint stone, and a sewing kit.
OH: Solar satellite tv, a masseuse, a nice couch and lifetime supply of chips.
Do you have a favourite part of the human body? One you could write an infinite amount of songs about?
SK: I think for like kids songs or something I could do some body parts but for LEE I don’t really know. I did some instrumentals for a children’s book I wanted to make about the body. I never finished it but I did make a good track for hair follicles. Only the future holds those answers!