Funk-N-Flow fest serves up Lettuce
Lettuce got more than one salad from its last recording session.
The band released “Elevate,” its sixth studio album, last month, but drummer and songwriter Adam Deitch said they recorded 30 songs — enough for two more albums — during the sessions with engineer Russ Elevado, who’s worked with The Roots, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo.
“We’ve never felt this comfortable in the studio before,” Deitch said during a telephone interview. “We usually get about 12 done and narrow it down to 10. For this, we just had a writing flow, a vibe, a focus. Colorado is a great place to record. It was very relaxing, very special.”
The remaining tracks aren’t B-sides. Deitch said the band sorted the songs to get the mix fans have come to expect.
“We handpicked each one to make sure they go together,” he said. “Enough funk for old school fans but also the new psychedelic, trippy, hip-hop vibes we’ve been getting into recently. Two or three vocal tunes with Nigel (Hall) and possibly a guest. That’s pretty much the format for each album.
“I’m excited for parts two and three, and we have about 15 new songs we want to try, depending on the guys’ patience. If I had my way, we’d learn three songs a day.”
“Elevate” follows that formula as the band — Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, guitar; Erik “Jesus” Coomes, bass; Ryan Zoidis, saxophone; Eric “Benny” Bloom, trumpet; Hall, keyboards and vocals; and Deitch — mixes funk and hip-hop sounds with more jazzy influences. Its instrumentals can be relatively compact or more expansive jam-band odysseys like the 13-minute “Gang Ten.”
“There is a four-, five-minute version (of ‘Gang Ten’),” Deitch said. “Even at shows it’s only six, seven minutes. That particular day we were feeling a vibe in the studio. Russ Elevado put us in a great mental space and we were able to feel it out. Our sax player was very adamant about keeping all 13 minutes.”
One of the vocal tracks on “Elevate” is a radical reworking of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Deitch described the arrangement as a mix of Washington, D.C., go-go and hip-hop.
“To do a cover like that of such an iconic song, it’s important to us to change the groove,” he said. “Nigel’s brilliant vocal interpretation made it his own.”
The guest on “Elevate” is blues-rock singer Marcus King, who handles lead vocals on “Love Is Too Strong.”
“We met him a few years back and have been watching his career,” Deitch said. “I invited him to my house to talk, make some music and the song burst out of that. It was super organic.”