Sun-dried roots: Get to know Levitation Room
From the sun-soaked palm tree lined streets of LA there's a sound that's an infusion of 60s psychedelia and rock and roll and it's coming from the strings of Levitation Room. In May 2018 they brought that nostalgic sound to our home of Bristol which is where we met over a bottle or two of tequila. Since then Levitation Room have finished their extensive European tour and their new record. We caught up with singer Julian Porte to hear about the new record and what's on the breakfast table.
Tell us a bit about the formation of Levitation Room.
Levitation Room started between me (Julian) and our lead guitarist Gabriel. We've been friends since we were teenagers and we had a band called the Hitz, modelled after the '77 punk sound of New York Dolls and Iggy Pop back in the early 2000's. At the time I was just a singer, but I left the band in pursuit of learning guitar and playing more 60's style music. Eventually when I felt I was good enough to start a band I made a post on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in jamming and writing songs with me. Gabriel immediately responded, saying that he was ready to leave our former band and join me for a new musical project. It took a while to form the band, but eventually we met our drummer John Martin and our original bassist, Jonathan Thiemens. We found a quaint little private lockout studio in east LA, where half of us began living, so we jammed and rehearsed nearly every single day. The rest is history.
You recently finished an EU tour, and did a show with us in Bristol. How was that experience?
Yeah, that was our second tour of Europe and it was a blast! Coming back to the EU we saw the numbers grow in audience, and the love we got from every country was quite endearing. Granted, there are always bumps in the road, and unfortunately Bristol was one of them. Not that we didn't have a good time, but we had some technical issues on stage. It was a great turn out, and people were excited to see us, so we were excited to play, but as soon as we got up to play my pedal board started giving me issues. And with a full of room of people waiting for us to begin our set I became frustrated and broke out in a nervous sweat, haha! That kind of set the tone for the way we performed once we figured everything out. It makes me sad when I think about it, because we weren't able to deliver our normal sound or display our exuberant stage presence since we had all the technical issues getting to our heads. So on behalf of the band, I apologise to anyone who came to see us in Bristol, but we promise to come back and make up for it next time we go to the UK.
You’re back home now - you’ve finished your new record?
Yes! We just finished a new record and we're extremely pleased and proud of it. I feel like we're finally making music we've always wanted to make and record.
Tell us a little something about it.
Well, it's 11 new songs, with the exception of an old song we felt we needed to re-record and give justice. It was recorded in our practice studio in Highland Park on an old Tascam 38 reel to reel by our keyboardist, Glenn Brigman (also singer of Triptides). The album has a bit of everything; jazz, soul and funk all rolled up into psychedelic rock n roll.
How’s LA? Would you consider there to be a certain sound coming from the area?
LA is great! There's no other city we'd rather dwell in. I wouldn't say there's a specific sound coming from here though. The music scene here is much like it's culture; a melting pot. All types and forms of music thrive in this city, and that's why we love it.
You guys have noted yourself as “sun-dried roots”, explain what that means.
Haha, we wrote that so long ago, but I think we were just trying to describe ourselves poetically, and perhaps elusively. It's open for interpretation, but if I had to tell you what "sun-dried roots" means to me then I would say that it's a new sound, but aged by the love and rays of the sun. There's a lot of sunshine here in Los Angeles.
You guys seem to be surrounded by a vibe of free spirit and love. It comes across in your almost 60s style of psychedelia. Notably, there’s mentions of the Summer of Love around you guys’ influence. Do you reckon there could be another event quite as prolific as the Summer of Love again in these some what troubling times?
I think it's happening right now, whether people realise it or not. There's a feeling permeating through this new generation of music that's being fomented by the times in which we are living. The 60's were so profound and prolific because of what they were enduring socially, politically and economically. It's the common struggle that incites artists to express themselves at their full potential, and right now, there are a lot of people struggling and facing the same problems that the 60's were faced by. The only way to oppose hatred, bigotry and wartime is to promote peace, love and understanding, which is what bands like ours are doing.
Despite the dreamy aura of your sound, some lyrics touch on heavy topics. Notably the song Reasons Why. Is there a conscious decision to make the music sonically sound so calm, yet lyrics touching on themes of war and homelessness?
I don't think there was a conscious effort to sound that way... It just kinda came out that way, naturally. I suppose I have a very non threatening voice, but I have a message. Without sounding too preachy in our music we'd like to convey and arouse the consciousness of our listeners. Life is not all sunshine and happiness. There are problems in the world that need to be addressed, and as artists, we feel it is incumbent upon us to use our platform to speak our minds on the issues that concern us.
Tell us what the future has to hold for Levitation Room? Will we see you back in our part of the world soon?
There are a lot of new endeavours we hold for the future. First order of business is getting this new record out and as soon as we do, we'll be right back to the EU! But who knows, maybe we'll come back sooner than you think...
And finally, whats on the table for breakfast this morning?
This morning was a lovely breakfast; coffee and joint of fine California grass.
Listen to Levitation Room's Warmth of the Sun below.