Catch an interview with lead guitarist and vocalist of Late Cambrian, John Wlaysewski, and make sure to get your copy of Golden Time, out now.
What brought the band together?
John Wlaysewski: Well, initially, it started as a solo project for me. The first album that we have called The Last Concert - kind of a weird name for the first album - but we didn't even have a bass player yet and it was really just me and the drummer putting together some stuff that I really liked that I'd never gotten to record in any other projects so on that album I play the bass, the guitar, and the keyboards and sing. Our drummer, who's not in the band 'cause he moved to Nashville, played the drums and the girl, O, she joined the band around the time I was recording so she was able to sing on three of those songs before it got finalized but she wasn't in the band yet and then, after the album came out, we kind of put the band together and found a bass player on Craigslist and did all that so, I guess, it started as a little solo thing and then turned into a band really quick.
How does the sound on those earlier releases compare to Golden Time.
The first release sounds a lot more like the second Weezer album. At the time I was making it, I was kind of obsessed with the album a bit, I listened to it too much and I was like, you know, I want to make an album with no metronome so that the live feel of the band can be there and I want the guitars to feedback when we stop playing so it's definitely more gritty but, yeah, it's definitely different. It's not as rhythm oriented, more about a wall of sound and power and then really, really melodic melodies. That's actually the album that got us our Japanese album deal because I think they really like messy kind of unkempt punk rock over there and they found that album online somehow and then contacted me and asked me if it would be okay to set up a deal together so now we're on the third album, they're put out three so far in Japan, I think they sell better there than they do here. So we're trying to get over there; that's our goal for the end of the year is to tour Japan this year.
Which artists have influenced your sound?
I'm very voracious when it comes to music. Besides going to iTunes and just kind of sampling the top fifty albums, which I do that like once every couple of days. I also walk around, I have Shazam on my phone so whenever I hear something I think is really cool I look it up and then later I listen to it and try to analyze it but, main influences, I really like The Strokes, early Elvis Costello, and Phoenix.
Any current releases you're hooked on?
It's more like I get really interesting rhythm and melody ideas from pop music so like, you know, hip hop and stuff I listen to that and, as a guitar player and songwriter, it would never occur to me to loop this sample over and over again and then add this atonal chromatic keyboard to it. I do like Sia's new release a lot and her voice, I don't know, she's super talented and it's really weird because I remember one of her songs closed Six Feet Under series finale so I remember her from that and then this is like thirteen years later and she sounds younger which is really weird. As far as alternative and indie releases, I liked the newer Arctic Monkeys that came out last year, I thought that was a very controlled, rhythmically rich effort by them.
How does the creative process work in the band?
I try to bring in stuff every practice, just like riff ideas or chord changes, and see what the band can do with it but, a lot of times, I'm at home with my acoustic and I'm able to write at least the layout of the song, not the lyrics yet, unless the music's very, very emotional, then it like pulls the lyrics out of me, otherwise I've got to play over and over and then the lyrics eventually show up in my brain. But, I guess I write it and bring it in and then the rhythm section kicks it up to high gear and we try to figure out the rhythm and how it's going to feel in the song after I put in the basic chords and stuff, so I guess it starts with me and ends with everyone else because the lyrics show up later when they feel like showing up, when the muse decides to tell me something I should tell to people and be like, okay, here we go. When I try to write lyrics it's a major fail and when I just let them show up in their own time, then they end up being good.
How would you describe your sound?
Uh, what do you call it? [Laughs] I call it indie guitar pop. I'm not really sure what else to call it.
Could you sum Golden Time up in one sentence?
That's hard. I guess, it's indie pop about yearning for love in a hipster wasteland [laughs]. Yeah, it kind of, it's like trying to make connections with people but, yeah. It's indie pop about yearning for love in a hipster wasteland.
How did you come up with your band name?
I was emailing band names back and forth with O, who is the co-lead vocalist, and she really liked that one. I came up with it because it's a time period from like 390 million years ago when there were just trilobites and a few plants and the air was still poison, but it's when life really, really started; before that it was just kind of a few things here and there and then it took off. So, the Cambrian explosion is when this planet went from being ninety percent water and nothing else to a bunch of stuff so I guess it was a name about just organic creation and making things out of nothing. Then it stuck and more than one person said 'I really like your band, change the name' [laughs] and I was like, yeah, I guess, but in the end I really like it because it's original and it's not trying too hard to be exciting or anything; it's not too hipster where I have to lose all the vowels or something to be cute and it means something to me about organic creation and making things happen from nothing.
Do you have plans to tour the US soon?
I really want to, we might have to do that. There are a couple of venues in Ohio that really want us to come out and play and we've been getting requests from people in the Midwest and South to come down there and play, so thinking about putting together maybe an eight to ten day tour in the US, but that would probably be later in the year. If it happens it would be late July or August but, at the moment, we just came out with our album, the vinyl comes out March 6 which I'm super proud of because I've never had my music on vinyl ever, so that's kind of awesome. Yeah, I hope to bring it to the US.
What do you want to do with your music?
I want to be able to live as a musician, like that's been my dream forever, to be a musician and for people to relate to what I'm singing about and to feel good when they listen to the music and to be able to tour. We had a really, really good tour in the UK; last November in 2014 we played like twenty-six shows in thirty-two days - it was crazytown. It really did well, we sold out of our merch twice and made a lot of new fans and it really pointed some things out to me about the differences between the United States and other countries when it comes to music. For one thing, there's a lot of stuff where it's like, there is no way American radio would play this song, this is like a B-side from their first album - I said that a lot. They want something else from their music. I think Americans are pushing themselves so hard, it's such a super capitalist country, everyone is just pushing themselves so hard to survive or be rich and then, at the end of the day, they need music to kind of be the background, to be the rhythm to the things they're doing and to distract them a little bit by making them feel a little bit cooler or a little bit more like a diva but, in the UK, I don't think they're pushing themselves necessarily as hard; they just want a good life, hang out with their friends, you know, chill out and make a living, and so the music has got a little bit of a melancholy side, there's less autotune on the dance music, it's less shrill about being happy. It's not desperately happy so I kind of identify with it more and I'm hoping to go over there again, I'm contacting all the pubs we played and trying to put together a shorter tour for this year to see everyone again. I went on kind of a tangent [laughs] but that's what I want to do, I want to bring my music to the people who love it and I felt a real connection to the UK. We played in Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Amsterdam in Germany; it was pretty ridiculous to do that.