The Album Leaf
Driving force James LaValle isn’t afraid to switch things up
Classically trained multi-instrumentalist James LaValle is on the road with his massive electronic-orchestral endeavor, The Album Leaf. We found LaValle making his way toward Albuquerque in support of his new album, Into the Blue Again, when we spoke with him in an exclusive phone interview.
You play almost every instrument on Into the Blue Again. What was that like in the studio?
It’s fun. That’s kind of been the point of this project—just being able to do all of that [instrumentation]. It’s a gratifying thing. Eight hours later, you get the finished product and it’s really awesome when you listen to it and it sounds like a band, rather than just one person doing things over and over again.
What’s the difference between this album and the last one, In a Safe Place?
After In a Safe Place did better than any of my other records, I felt a little more stable. I was able to live by myself for the first time. I moved into my own little two bedroom apartment by myself and didn’t really know anybody. It was kind of a lonely time. Although it was nice to be alone in that situation, it makes you go a little crazy—it makes your brain think a little too much. I had to adjust to that after feeling that I’d done so much better on the last record. [I'd think,] “Yeah. Things are going good.” But I had no way to celebrate it. That was a big transition. I tried to strip all those thoughts away from me and just focus on doing what I do and just make a record I feel good about.
What inspires you to create so many different types of music?
When you’ve been playing in bands for 12 years, you get bored of one thing or another and you keep moving on and shooting for something different. I started playing guitar with my roommate, in Tristeza, and other bands I’ve played with have asked me to play with them, so I’d just sit in and play. It’s nice to keep it fresh and sit in with some other band for a year or so and move on.
How has being on the road all the time influenced you?
You get a lot of evaluation time, time for self-realization. That kind of process, that kind of schedule, takes a toll on your body and your brain. I always feel a little stronger—every single time.
Room Temperature Lounge presents The Album Leaf with Lowlights and The Riptorn. Snugfit DJs spin segues. Wednesday, Jan. 24, at OPM (211 Gold SW). Doors open at 8 p.m. $8 and $10 advance tickets (plus service fee) available at Natural Sound and virtuous.com.