Down and Out, Up and Coming: An Interview With Laguardia

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By Shawn Despres

Every up and coming band hits a point in their career when they ask themselves “Why the fuck are we doing this?” There is nothing unusual about this; in fact, if this question were never asked I for one would begin to question the sanity of each member. Traveling around for weeks on end, malnourished, in a beat-up van, with no money, just to play to empty rooms would surely test anyone’s patience and/ or dedication to his/her craft.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Laguardia found themselves in this situation while doing a tour of the Southern United States. Realizing they were so close to reaching the point for which they were striving they decided to keep going in hopes of eventually turning their love of playing music into a career. Frontman Joshua Ostrander recalls the moment where he felt the band had reached the middle of their journey. The spot where they were so close to what they wanted, but just couldn’t quite reach it yet.

“We were on a really bad tour of the south before we had a record deal. I was driving our crappy van and Greg (Lyons) was riding shotgun and we were both bitching about how things sucked and we had no money. Our per diem some days was like $7.00, which after a pack of smokes basically leaves you with nothing. We were right at that point were we couldn’t go back to working day jobs as we were so close to making this a career. So I said to Greg ‘welcome to the middle.’”

Luckily their hard work paid off and a short while later the boys inked a deal with Universal Records. When it came time to name their completed debut album, Ostrander looked back on this instance and suggested it to the group. The title was agreed upon by all and Welcome to the Middle was unleashed on the music buying public this past September.

Universal originally fronted the money for the group to record an EP in Los Angeles with producer Brad Wood. However, upon hearing the results from the first day of mixing, the label quickly made the decision to turn the album into a full-length recording. Ostrander and bassist Michael Morpurgo have nothing but praise for Wood and his ability to help flesh out their musical creations. Being fans of his past work, the band was quick to choose Wood after hearing his enthusiasm for the project on the phone. If possible, both state that they want Wood behind the board the next time they head into the studio.

“Both us and Universal came up with a list of potential producers. We had about 15 to choose from and just did conference calls, which was hell,” states Ostrander. “We’d sit around with our manager and talk with each guy. In the end it was hands down Brad.”

“There were a couple of guys that we all thought were really good, but Brad really stole it,” adds Morpurgo. “It was obvious he wanted the gig. Him and Josh hit it off right away. Josh went out to California and picked out a studio with Brad. This made it really good for the rest of us when we got out there because the two of them had already established a relationship.”

The feeling of comfort that came from Ostrander and Wood spending time together helped the group to quickly settle into their surrounding and make a strong first album. With powerful songwriting and tight compositions Welcome to the Middle‘s ten tracks shine through the enormously huge pile of boring, generic rock music often turned out by the majors. Extremely melodic, and cinematic, but with the ability to turn it up a notch to create a harder edged song, Laguardia show remarkable musicianship and loads of potential.

Realizing that he has the chance to take his band far, Ostrander is setting his sights on the future. Completely proud of what has been accomplished thus far, he wants to do whatever it will take to ensure that the band gets a chance to make another record. Being in the middle is good, but his dream is to build upon what has been established and continue putting out albums and making quality music.

“The goal for me is just to get to the second record. We have things we have to do to get to the second record so we’re working really hard to get there. We’re super proud of this record and wear it on our sleeves everyday, but to be honest, I’m really looking forward to making our third and fourth record.”

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/laguardia-040207/