This month local indie rock duo the Generationals are the LMB NOLA Artist of the Month. With their new album Actor Caster out now on Park The Van Records (for starters, check “Yours Forever” and “You Say It Too”), a lengthy tour getting kicked off this week and a stop in New Orleans for the final day at Jazz Fest, the buzz is growing louder for these guys. The Generationals are New Orleans’ response to internationally-renowned electro-infused indie pop bands like Peter Bjorn & John and MGMT. The indie rockers are in rare company around these parts as purveyors of radio-ready sunny afternoon pop tunes more catered towards the college radio dial and tastemaking outlets like Pitchfork, Stereogum and Paste than just about any other local act.
The band is currently out on two-month tour in support of the new record alongside Ra Ra Riot, Oh No Oh My and Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr at varying legs of the tour. Also, the Generationals are making an appearance at Jazz Fest on the festival’s final day (May 8) on the Lagniappe Stage from 3:10-4:10. To download two of the band’s new tracks, enter your e-mail address below. Check out the interview with Grant and Ted below where they discuss the genesis of the band name, their label Park the Van, influences and a memorable childhood trip to Jazz Fest.
Live Music Blog: NOLA – Generationals is a pretty stellar name, it carries a certain majesty and importance to it – how did you guys come up with the band name and please also answer the following: The Generationals are the _________ [Fill in the blank] of our generation.
Grant: Most epic appreciators of BBQ.
Ted: We were recording our first record Con Law in Washington D.C. over the Summer of 2008. It was the Summer before the presidential election and you would hear the word “generational” a lot in the news coverage of the election, in the context of issues being split down generational lines. Grant just had the idea to pluralize it and I was like O.K. sure, lets be Generationals.
Tell me about the genesis of the band, I understand you guys were in a different band together before deciding to form the Generationals. How has your sound evolved from the days in Eames Era?
Ted: Yeah we went to school in Baton Rouge and started a band up there. I’d say our sound evolved pretty steadily and maybe logically. We never consciously moved in any new direction, we’ve always just tried to write short good pop songs.
Excuse the personal anecdote — After spending 6 years in Nashville myself, New Orleans, if it has one musical depravity, is a lack of platforms for bands in the nebulous “indie rock” milieu compared to other markets of a similar size. Seems to be changing with things like Foburg Fest and places like Republic, but New Orleans to me still gravitates largely towards the more traditional jam and roots bands. Do you guys see this as an advantage being in such rare company as opposed to being one of 1000 indie bands in another city (as opposed to if you were out of Austin or Brooklyn)?
Grant: I definitely do not see it as an advantage. You want to be surrounded by other people and bands who are working in a similar genre because it forces you to try harder. We’ve been in situations like that before with a few other bands where we really felt like we needed to step it up to be the better band. I think that kind of competitiveness really pushes everyone to be better, that’s how music scenes start I think. I think being kind of an anomaly in New Orleans helped us get some attention in New Orleans, but in the long run, I think it’s better to have to compete to distinguish yourself from a really crowded field. But I love New Orleans, we’re from New Orleans so it’s not something we ever thought about strategically anyway. It’s our hometown.
Three bands and/or albums you’ve been listening to recently.
Telekinesis- 12 Desperate Straight Lines, Nick Lowe- Labor of Lust, Floating Action- Desert Etiquette
Your tour passes through New Orleans for an appearance at the final day of Jazz Fest so the big question is:
Neville Brothers or Radiators?
Grant: Neville Brothers 1000%. Their impact on New Orleans is so huge. Those guys are the Mount Rushmore of New Orleans music, especially Art.
What’s your favorite Jazz Fest memory as a fan? As a performer?
Grant: This is an easy one for me. I was about 9 or 10, my dad took me to Jazz Fest to see Van Morrison and we were both pretty excited, we are both bigtime fans. We’re standing in one of those gigantic crowds of like 10,000 people in front of the Ray Ban stage, at the time that was the big stage that the headliners played. We were waiting for what seemed like a couple of hours and the crowd started to get a little restless. There was a group of about 5 college-age guys right in front of us, they were not trying to wait anymore. And they were staggeringly drunk, they could barely stand up. They started yelling at the stage “Come onnn! Van Mingo Mungo! Lingo Van Mungo! Lingo Van Mungo!!” They just kept doing it incessantly for like 30 minutes and my dad and I are directly behind them in this giant crowd, nowhere to move. It went from being really funny to being annoying and then finally just unbearable. Finally Van came out but these dudes were still hollering at full volume. We couldn’t take it so we ended up leaving after only one or two songs. To this day my dad and I yell “Lingo Van Mungo” at each other at random times.
How did you guys end up getting on Park the Van?
Grant: We made our first record and had no idea what we were going to do with it. We had just gotten it back from mastering and literally later that same day, I went with my friend to a bar called Mid City Yacht Club which is a dive in Mid City not far from where Chris Watson, the president of PTV, lives. I knew what he looked like because I had seen his picture in a magazine article or something. I just introduced myself to him, we had some mutual friends, like The Spinto Band. We talked for a minute and I went out to the car and got the CD of Con Law and gave it to him. They immediately signed us to a $1 billion* record deal.
Two Parts — What are some of your biggest influences — a. modern and b. older acts (bands still together and older bands)?
For Actor-Caster, I would cite The Zombies, The The, ELO, Tom Petty.
Current bands we like include Hacienda, Dr. Dog, The Walkmen, The Spinto Band, Ghostfinger, Phoenix, Passion Pit, MGMT, Floating Action, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Telekinesis.
Tell us about the recording process for Actor-Caster.
Grant: It was cool. We went back to DC which is where we recorded Con Law. We worked with Dan Black who has a cool studio there that we like. We recorded the entire month of July last summer. It was excruciatingly hot, we rarely left the house. We just hacked away at it, a little bit a day almost every day for that month and that was it. For that reason I think the lyrical ideas are a little more consistent from song to song.
Bonus Question – Your label mates Dr. Dog are god’s gift to modern rock music, any stories to tell about playing/hanging out with those guys?
Grant: Those dudes are cool. Their original drummer, Juston Stens, has been playing with us a lot this year and he is a really interesting guy and a terrific drummer. He is an idea machine. The other guys we don’t know really well. We opened for them once in New Orleans and they seemed like nice guys. I’m a fan too, I’ve probably seen them 5 times. I remember meeting them, we were always really impressed with their vocals. We are way behind in that respect, we are still kind of learning how to sing correctly, so we had all these ideas and theories about what we should be doing to get our voices ready for a show. Tea with lemon, honey, gargle water, whatever. I remember we asked them “What do you guys do, what’s your routine to get your voice ready to sing?” They looked at us like idiots, they were like “We don’t do anything we just sing.” Then they proceeded to chainsmoke like 50 cigarettes. We were like “Oh.”
Finally, check out the Generationals’ Spring Tour Dates below
April 11 Holland, MI @ Hope College with Ra Ra Riot
April 13 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall with Ra Ra Riot
April 14 Madison, WI @ Majestic Theater with Ra Ra Riot
April 27 Little Rock, AR @ Stickyz Fingerz Chicken Shack
April 28 Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theatre
April 29 Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s Oasis
April 30 Madison, WI @ Der Rathskeller
May 1 Hamtramck, MI @ Small’s Bar with Oh No Oh My
May 2 Newport, KY @ Southgate House with Oh No Oh My
May 3 Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
May 4 St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway with Oh No Oh My
May 5 Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall with Oh No Oh My
May 6 Norman, OK @ Opolis with Oh No Oh My
May 7 Austin, TX @ Emo’s with Oh No Oh My
May 8 New Orleans, LA @ New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
May 11 New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 12 Brooklyn, NY @ The Rock Shop with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 13 Washington, DC @ The Red Palace with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 14 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 17 Arlington, VA @ IOTA with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 18 Richmond, VA @ The Camel with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 19 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 20 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 21 Nashville, TN @ The Basement with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 24 Birmingham, AL @ The Bottletree with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 25 Oxford, MS @ Proud Larry’s with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 26 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 27 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
May 28 Austin, TX @ Emo’s Alternative Lounge with Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
The Generationals – Ten Twenty Ten