When I first listened to The Luna Laval I was quite intrigued. This was a sound I haven’t heard a lot of lately. A mixture of rock, indie, progressive, alternative 90s, but modern at the same time. Once I picked up their most recent EP, A Good Fear, released this past January, I was immediately hooked. The New Brunswick based band has a sound that stands out among the vast amount of mediocrity you hear everyday. Intricate guitars, driving beat, soaring musical space and introspective lyrics.
The Old Bridge natives have been playing together since 2007 as a quartet and that cohesiveness shows in their work. The Luna Laval are Jakub Szczepaniak on vocals and guitar, Tom Risi on bass, Jeff Haberman on guitar and Andy Katz on drums. We caught the band at the inaugural Jersey Shore Music Fest in Lakewood a few weeks ago and despite the almost 100 degree heat they put on a tight, exciting set.
Recording A Good Fear was their first studio experience and it really shows. Producer Mike Watts helps the band truly shine here. The EP starts with the track “The Silent Song” with a great, escalating guitar riff before the tempo slows and Jakub’s smooth voice croons in before the song kicks back into gear in the catchy chorus. This song has single written all over it. The next track “Ataraxia” is darker and more raw. It opens with an angry noise that reminds me of some openers on grunge songs I’ve heard many years ago. The song finds it’s rhythm soon enough and finishes nicely. The EP closes with “Bittersweet” and the music and lyrics relay this feeling. “All I need is a chance, don’t you know I’m falling, I’m falling” Jakub sings with other images of shifting seasons, leaves falling away and clouds splitting. Sounds gloomy but the delivery and intricate guitar work propel the song forward with hope rising above any melancholy.
We can’t wait to hear more music from The Luna Laval.
The band took some time to answer a few questions for us.
How did you come up with the name?
In the past, we cycled through a few names before settling on The Luna Laval. Luna is the Latin word for moon. Laval is a city in Quebec, and also a palindrome. Together, the words created a sense of astral and ethereal imagery – representative of our music.
How did you guys get together?
The first incarnation of the band started with Jeff (guitar) and Andy (drums) jamming on classic rock songs. Jakub (vocals/guitar) jumped on board soon after, and the group performed as a cover band for a few months. Tom (bass) joined in April 2007, with the band transitioning to writing and performing original music exclusively. This has been our line-up throughout high school, college, and into the present.
Keeping a band going is tough sometimes. What keeps you inspired?
Each other. Our individual tastes and influences vary a great degree from member to member. This diversity in musical background allows us to consistently discover and sample new music – keeping motivated to further evolve. Despite that, we’re philosophically and ethically very intertwined. Never taking this band or our music for granted, we sacrifice a great deal of time and energy to practicing, writing, and gigging. This investment of resources inspires us to continue forward.
You released your EP A Good Fear this year which Mike Watts produced. How was the studio experience?
INCREDIBLE. Up to this point, we recorded and mixed everything ourselves in our makeshift home studio. While we learned an invaluable amount about writing and recording, we realized the audio quality suffered. In July 2012, we reached out to producer Mike Watts (The Dear Hunter, As Tall As Lions, The Juinor Varsity) at Vudu Studios about recording and producing A Good Fear EP. Working with a professional producer in a state-of-the-art studio aided us tremendously in revising and tracking the songs. We couldn’t have achieved this product without the expertise of the staff at Vudu.
You say with the EP you succeeded in “further defining our sound.” How would you describe it?
Our focus is to achieve a sense of space, emotion, and authenticity through our music. With this EP, we were able to delve a bit deeper into our musical influences and goals. On the surface, there are some similarities to Circa Survive, Minus the Bear, and Incubus. More than that though, we place a great emphasis on each individual part – no instrumental or vocal is more important than the other. This provides “balance” across each song.
How has the response been to A Good Fear?
Overall it’s been amazingly positive. Praise has generally focused on the songs’ uniqueness and the instrumentation. So far, our biggest opportunities to share the EP have been through gigging. After recording, we adapted each song for optimum performance onstage. Coupled with our strong emphasis on short jams and song transitions, our response to both the EP and it’s live show have been incredibly encouraging.
Do you like living in New Jersey? How was playing at the inaugural Jersey Shore Music Festival?
We love Jersey – we’ve lived here almost all our lives. We grew up here, went to school here (3 at Rutgers, 1 at FDU), and all work in the surrounding area. Our band is a natural continuation of this. New Brunswick has a historic underground music scene, giving us countless opportunities to share our music with open ears. The Jersey Shore Music Fest is one of our many festivals this summer, and we can’t wait to play in front of new audiences.
Five words to describe The Luna Laval?
Motivated. Innovative. Eclectic. Ethereal. Authentic.
You can check out The Luna Laval website here.
The band’s Facebook page is here.
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