If you have never heard of Album Leaf, well, that just means that you’ve never had a deep dream while being awake and listening to music. You kind of forget where you are while the music is playing. It takes you away to a great memory that you might already have, or it creates a new one while you’re listening to the band. It’s no wonder why Sigur Rós chose Album Leaf to open up for them a few years ago.
Jimmy LaValle IS the Album Leaf. He writes every single song, and for that alone, he is a genius. The Scenestar was lucky enough to share a couple of minutes with Jimmy while he was at home in San Diego, resting for a couple of days before hitting the road again.
SS: For the latest album, Into the Blue, was there a different process or feeling in writing and recording it than your previous ones?
Jimmy: Umm, not necessarily. Especially since it has been a while now you know? The only deep thought I had in making this album was to not think about what I have done in the past. Just really trying to say, “Fuck it. I’m just making a record.” Just more like that. I didn’t want to concentrate on anything from the past in general.
SS: What was your inspiration for writing this record?
Jimmy: Pretty much everything in my life. Like where I am. It’s really the main thing. I never really know where everything comes from. I just get inspired by everything, and it comes from there. Everything just kind of happens. It’s also not necessarily a look into my life either.
SS: You know it’s funny you say that because sometimes when I listen to Album Leaf, I feel like it could be a soundtrack to a film or more like a film about my life. A song will take me to a moment then the next song will remind me of another moment in my life.
Jimmy: That’s great and that is kind of what it is for me, only I’m writing it as it comes.
SS: What record do you feel most proud of? Not success wise, but creative wise.
Jimmy: In a way I’m just proud of all of them. Seal Beach is one of my favorites just because of the length of time that I actually took to do this one. I kind of just dropped it out real quick. It was also kind of the direction that I was going at that time. But I mean, I’m just pretty proud of all the records. I’m proud of all of them for different reasons. For instance, this new one, we have more lyrics. They’re all just different.
SS: The new record is out, and like you mentioned, there are more lyrics. Are you still happy with the outcome of choosing to use more lyrics in this album?
Jimmy: Yeah, totally. And I’m having a lot of fun singing on this tour. I actually also feel like my voice is getting better. I feel more vocal in a way you know?
SS: As long as you are having fun, then that’s all that really matters. You do sound great singing.
Jimmy: Great, thanks!
SS: So this whole thing about you being in hardcore bands before, you’ve said that you always did your electronica/solo recordings on your own while being with these bands. What drove you to being in a hardcore band in the first place?
Jimmy: Well, in the first place, we were all just friends and this was an opportunity for me to get in there and rock, make connections, and I started booking all of our tours. That long ago, it wasn’t really hard to book tours, but now they’re just so expensive. I got to make those connections, and now I can’t imagine what it would be like for a new band to book a tour.
SS: So it was just kind of like an opportunity to get in there.
SS: When you were in Locust, were the crazy costumes part of the shows already?
Jimmy: No, that was way before.
SS: When you look at them now, are you glad you’re not part of the band anymore?
Jimmy: Umm … no, because there’s a little part of me that will always like all that crazy stuff, like just getting a guitar and just rock you know?
SS: [Laughs] We can definitely understand that! Now, in regards to the YouTube channel, we were glad to see that you gave us, the fans, an inside look (especially since Album Leaf hasn’t updated its blog in more than a year). Was the YouTube channel your idea? Was there anything that happened that you wish would’ve been on there?
Jimmy: Well there’s more to come. A guy that plays with our band always tours with his camera and records, so it was just something cool to put out there for everyone to see. We’re really just not a hard to access band, so it was no big deal putting it out there. I have a hard time with this whole ‘rock star’ thing. The only difference between us and them is that we’re on the stage playing, and they’re in the audience watching and listening. I could understand what it would be like to meet someone like Tom Cruise, but you know, I’m not Tom Cruise! I’m just a normal person.
SS: Well, I’m glad you won’t be trying to convert us to Scientology.
Jimmy: [Laughs] Yeah, that kind of thing.
SS: We’re pretty sure that you’ve written a lot of material that hasn’t been released. Any plans in the near future of releasing them? If not, is it something that you would like to put out there?
Jimmy: There actually isn’t that much that I haven’t put out. As far as that goes, it’ll probably eventually see the light of day. Maybe it’ll be on the next record … nobody knows. There’s a song that we’ve been playing that I just wrote before the tour, but nobody knows. There’s even stuff that I’ve written that I kind of don’t ever want to hear again.
SS: If someone was going to make a compilation album of Album Leaf songs, what bands/artists would you feel honored to have covering your music?
Jimmy: I’ve never even thought about that! Wow … I think I need more time to think about that one.
SS: What music have you been listening to while on this tour?
Jimmy: I actually don’t really listen to music while I’m touring. But whenever I do, I always listen to the usual.
SS: What’s this whole thing about having an Album Leaf tattoo and getting into a show for free? How did that come about?
Jimmy: Well, there was this girl in Austin; she ran our Web site. I got the tattoo first, then my manager got one. Then this girl, basically she got the tattoo, and I said, “Wow, that’s great. You can get in for free at the shows all the time now.” So it just grew from there. You know, it’s very flattering and it’s a great way of saying thanks I think. It’s also a conversation starter, having the tattoo. People will have it and someone can walk by and just say, “Hey, what’s that?” And it can just go from there.
SS: We think it’s a great way for you to say thanks to your fans as well! I have a band tattoo, but unfortunately, Slowdive will never get back together, so I won’t be able to get in one of their shows for free.
Jimmy: Oh yeah! Yeah, a lot of people have band tattoos, and I think bands don’t really acknowledge it. I actually wanted my first tattoo to be a Joy Division tattoo. It just blows my mind every time I see people with Album Leaf tattoos.
SS: We saw the picture that you have of your tattoo on your MySpace and think it’s really cool how people post their tattoos as comments to your picture. I think we even saw a guy on there from Costa Rica!
Jimmy: Yeah! Exactly, exactly. There’s also a section on our Web site where you can see a bunch of kids that have the Album Leaf tattoos.
SS: Well, we’re sure that all those kids with tattoos really appreciate you taking notice of them and saying thanks by letting them get into shows for free. So, being that you’re resting now at home comfortably, is there any place that you might be found on a Friday or Saturday night in the San Diego area?
Jimmy: Yeah, home! I don’t go out that much anymore. I used to. If I go anywhere, it’s always usually the Tuft Club or the Whistle Stop, but I haven’t been there in awhile actually. I go to the Casbah for shows.
SS: Have you checked out the Beauty Bar?
Jimmy: Yeah, I really hate that place. I really can’t stand it. [Laughs] It’s just, you know, there’s a lot of people there that just walk around with a chick on their shoulder and shit. That was me a couple of years ago, but at the same time, it’s just like, they think they’re the shit. They’re just popular in San Diego and then they leave the 10-mile radius and they’re nobodies. They hang out with all the girls and all the guys want to get with that girl. I feel like now I’m 30 years old and too old to be dealing with or seeing that. But at the same time, I understand since that was me before, thinking I was the shit. Those people will grow up and do something better with their time. For now, I guess they can just go with it.
SS: [Laughs] Well, Jimmy, very well said! We want to thank you very much for your time! We really appreciate it. We can’t wait to see you again soon as well.
Jimmy: Yup! El Rey Theatre! And most likely San Diego as well, but I’m not sure. We’re having a San Diego show in the near future.
SS: We’ll be at the El Rey for sure!
Album Leaf will continue life on the road on June 28, when they play at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Check out the dates below to find out if they’re playing in your area!
June 28 El Rey Theatre (Los Angeles, Calif.)
June 29 The Glasshouse (Pomona, Calif.)
June 30 Slims (San Francisco, Calif.)
July 2 NightLight Lounge (Bellingham, Wash.)
July 3 Neumo’s (Seattle, Wash.)
July 4 The Plaza (Vancouver, British Columbia)
July 6 Doug Fir Lounge (Portland, Ore.)
July 7 Neurolux (Boise, Idaho)
July 8 Holland Reno (Reno, Nev.)