“Like a wave crashing down on main street…Yeah, we’re a-ok” sings Jay Rutherford, lead singer and guitarist of Los Colognes on “A-Ok”. In their most recent album The Wave, the Nashville-via-Chicago rock band has accomplished what every band hopes to, which is create something they’re proud of and ride the earned wave of that hard work. But it took time, patience and nearly 20 years to get the precise sound they have today.
After a couple spins of their third album, Los Colognes proves they are the missing link between 1960’s psychedelia such as The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd and your current Indie Rock/Americans bands in the vein of War On Drugs. With expert musicianship, Los Colognes crafts a sound that is both loose and jammy, yet specific and intentional in their instrumentation.
On Saturday, August 19 Los Colognes will share a triple bill with other Nashville rock veterans Moon Taxi and The Weeks at Louisville’s Iroquois Amphitheater. In anticipation of the show, I spoke with Los Colognes’ Aaron “Mort” Mortenson (drums) and Jay Rutherford (vocals, guitar) about the making of The Wave.
For a rock band you have a relatively softer sound, how does that happen in a place like Nashville where the sound is traditionally loud and rowdy?
Mort: We all had rock bands before, always trying to turn it up to 11. [Our sound] comes from a lot of time spent working at something, not achieving it, then reworking it until it’s right. But over time our tastes and sensibilities changed. We’re very intentional of our musicality and are always trying to develop our abilities. We hammer out a musical idea until it’s perfect to us.”
How does your live show compare to the studio albums? Do you try to stay true to the album or does a live version take on a life of it’s own?
Mort: A little bit of both, the album is the template for the show. The live version depends on the time, day, what we had for breakfast, anything really. The live shows always take on a life of their own.
Which is to be expected with a band that is heavily jam-influenced. I’ve been listening to The Wave all Summer and I hear so many influences like The Greatful Dead, The War on Drugs, and now I’m hearing a lot of Pink Floyd, especially on tracks like “Man over Bored.”
Mort: They’re all big influences! We love our Pink Floyd and grew up listening to it. As you can tell we’re huge Grateful Deadheads. We love the way these bands approached the blues. We’re huge Radiohead fans as well. We caught them in New Orleans on this tour are impressed by how and they keep pushing their sound.
There’s so much imagery within the lyrics to this album. Of course, there’s a lot of references to water and the unknown, is that due to your connection to Chicago and Nashville that have bodies of water running through them?
Jay: Oh no, not at all, The Wave is a psychological metaphor for so many things. When the songs were coming out the narrative just emerged. Themes from a young Joseph Campbell, self- actualization, overcoming demons. And water, from evolutionary stand point, is very important to the progress of man. The album’s theme was a natural progression for us while working through a lot of personal things.”
Looking at your upcoming tour schedule I see you’re playing Lock’n Festival later this month, how does it feel to be on the same lineup as some of the greats you look up to like Bob Weir and Phil Lesh?
Mort: Being on the same lineup as Phil and Bob crazy for us, we’re pinching ourselves everyday. There are so many greats on that lineup [such as] John Fogerty and Widespread Panic. We’re really going to enjoy ourselves at this one. Sometimes you have to load-in, play your set and load right out, but we’re camping that whole weekend to take it all in.
Do you have a message you’d like to leave our readers with?
Mort: Love everybody. love your brothers love your sisters. It’s all we got. Music the best force we have to unite everyone.
We at Dead Audio agree wholeheartedly.
Los Colognes will play at the Iroquois Amphitheater on Saturday, August 19 opening up for The Weeks and Moon Taxi, it’s going to be a great bill of some of Nashville’s best in The Bluegrass. Follow Dead Audio’s social channels for all the action or even better, get a ticket and ride The Wave with us!