Music

20 Questions: The Lighthouse and the Whaler

A love of M83 drove the Lighthouse and the Whaler to their latest bold LP, but so did a love of stealing pirate ships and quitting jobs in order to see Sigur Ros concerts.


The Lighthouse and the Whaler

Mont Royal

Label: Roll Call
US Release Date: 2015-08-28
Amazon
iTunes

When Cleveland, Ohio's own The Lighthouse and the Whaler released their first album in 2009, they arrived with a sound that was very much derived from what "modern indie" had become: buoyant melodies, lots of acoustic work, pointed lyricism, etc. The band, formed by Michael LoPresti and featuring his brother Matthew (as well as current members Mark Porostosky and Ryan Walker), had a live energy which was immediately relatable, but their debut album did what most debut albums did: established the group and their sound, but not much happened in terms of waves.

When it came to 2012's aptly-titled This is an Adventure, however, their sound grew stronger, more muscular, and more altogether more confident. The group started netting more high-profile gigs, but in a 2013 interview with our own Jonathan Sanders, LoPresti noted how, when it came to discussing current jams, that he loved M83's last album, noting how he loved "the danger of it, it's really cool and I'd love to emulate a little of that on our next album; I love how impressively big the album feels. I'm the kind of person who really gets into an album one at a time."

Well guess what?

Mont Royal, The Lighthouse and the Whaler's third full-length effort, arrives with a bigger, sleeker sound, ditching string sections for synthesizers, making not a dance album but a more forceful, dramatic record than anything they've done previously, a sign of the group's growing ambition. To help celebrate the release, Ryan Walker answered PopMatters 20 Questions, revealing an affinity for all things Lego, a step-by-step guide for how to steal a pirate ship, and why quitting his job to see Sigur Ros live was the best move he ever made with his life.

* * *

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

The latest movie that made me cry is a tie (because I can't remember the order I saw them in/they both feel significant) between Inside Out and Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl. But to be honest, I could see a very unemotional movie and be moved to cry in some way. In the words of Jewel, "I'm sensitive and I'd like to stay that way."

2. The fictional character most like you?

The fictional character that I think is most like me is Paulie Bleeker from Juno. In general I feel like I relate to most characters Michael Cera plays, but this one sticks with me, not because I have every gotten anyone pregnant, or because I run cross country, but he is kind of soft spoken and sensitive and is attracted to a more extroverted, outspoken woman. And I think that also describes me.

3. The greatest album, ever?

The greatest album ever is OK Computer by Radiohead. I remember the first time hearing the album. The beginning for me starts out very mysterious and it draws you into the rest of the album. The album is almost 20 years old now and I really feel like you can feel their influence in a lot of modern rock and indie music. One other album that I really like is Aja by Steely Dan. There are so many albums out there that it's hard to pick one, and that's why I didn't.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars. I liked Star Wars so much when I was younger that I got mad at my little cousin for also liking it a lot too, because I liked it first. This was without realizing that Star Wars is a huge craze and beloved by many. I like Star Wars, but I'm sure there are many more people out there that really, really are in love with it. This year for my birthday, my friend bought me Star Wars Legos and that was a pretty nostalgic moment on account of both Star Wars and Legos. Anyway, I would just like to take this time to apologize to my cousin for my irrational anger directed at him.

5. Your ideal brain food?

I really like podcasts. One of my favorites right now is You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes. He mostly talks to comedians, but he also talks to spiritually inclined people as well as scientists about their craft. They also cover sex (or love), and God (or the meaning of life) with each guest. It's very mind opening and is able to get me to think about many different areas of life. Pete Holmes's ability to sit down and and ask someone a few questions, which then prompts his guest to say his/her deepest thoughts on life is amazing to me. It's also funny, too.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I'm proud of this album because, as with any accomplishment, when you put it out there you can say. I put this out into the world. It marks your progress as an artist. I am proud of where we have landed creatively, because I think it is a very mature place, but also a place where we have opened the door for many more creative endeavors.

7. You want to be remembered for ...?

One thing I would like to be remembered for is starting a venue that is holistic in nature. It would have really great hospitality for artists, but also be a positive contribution to the community it lives in. And definitely a killer sound system. I think I am really attracted to the idea of harmony, so I would like to see it as a place where people who are different could come together and be unified by something, whether it's music, art or comedy.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Speaking of Legos, I would say whoever invented Legos. Legos are really inspiring in general, because you have a few different building blocks that are able to create anything you can imagine. Like the same blocks can be used to make a spaceship, or a city. I think it's kind of the same for music. Everyone is given the same basic elements, but creativity really makes anything possible.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Legos.

10. Your hidden talents . . .?

I like to do stand up comedy, when we aren't on the road or busy writing music. It's a cool outlet for me that gives me the opportunity to think about life and just be silly. When you are going to open mics a few times a week, you really start feeling part of a community. It's really awesome to see someone work out their jokes and progress over time. So I guess my hidden talent is watching other people get better at comedy.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.