Rocking Denver, one stage at a time
NEW YORK LYRICS MEET ALT ROCK INSTRUMENTALS
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 02:09
Even before hearing their music, L.A.M.A. Live has an intrigue about them. As lead rapper Anonymous NAMM put it, “L.A.M.A. Live is two black dudes and four white dudes; it draws your attention.”
To expand on that a little more, L.A.M.A. Live is composed of two New York rappers, and four former alternative rock band members.
Nearly two years ago, NAMM was playing at a diabetes benefit at the Oriental Theatre and his band didn’t show up to play the instrumental half of the set. As fate would have it, his future band members, The Free Electric Band, were playing the same show and warming up.
Bassist TJ Wethington, drummer Animal Jackson, guitarist Aaron Willoughby, and guitarist and vocalist Matthew Shaw make up The Free Electric Band. NAMM watched their work and was immediately gravitated to their music. “When I heard them, nothing had ever grabbed me and had me stuck like that before,” he said. “They didn’t do any singing. All I heard was their instrumentals so it was like an invitation.”
He then asked The Free Electric band to fill in for his original band, and they accepted the offer.
“We rehearsed for about 10 minutes and the chemistry was great,” NAMM said. “I am a fan of them before this L.A.M.A. Live thing, they were Free Electric Band first.”
After the show that night, NAMM gave The Free Electric Band a CD and asked if they wanted to cover any of their instrumentals. Shaw and Wethington invited the two rappers to the practice space in their basement and had their first jam session.
“That’s when it really hit. We were playing their music and they just fell in to it,” Shaw said.
The members of L.A.M.A. Live are well aware of the initial shock of their racial dynamic. “Honestly, we’re four white dudes and all of NAMM and his friends are all black guys, initially it was weird,” Shaw said.
However, Shaw recalls a time L.A.M.A played a show at a venue in Aurora where he and the rest of the Free Electric Band were the only white people there. “Usually we would feel way out of our element. But knowing that we have NAMM and Ha and everyone that they know, it’s not as intimidating going into that situation.”
Even NAMM and Shaw have a difficult time defining the band’s sound. “It’s like a mixture between The Strokes and The Roots,” NAMM said. “That’s the best I can describe it. It feels good. It feels right. Come see us and you’ll understand. We’re moving the right direction.”
Shaw echoed NAMM’s description of the band’s sound. “I like to tell people that we’re a funky band…NAMM’s got some hard lyrics, but he’s a thoughtful dude. He’s got some stuff to say, it’s not just bitches, cars, and money,” he said.
L.A.M.A. Live is taking their unique sound all over Denver, playing the local festival circuit. The band was featured in this summer’s Underground Music Showcase.
“We were excited,” NAMM said. “There were three bands ahead of us and the audience was talking and drinking and having a good time, but when we got up, everyone flooded the stage. It was our time and we had a ball.”
L.A.M.A. Live prides itself on high energy and audience engagement. NAMM wants to achieve his vision of becoming a mainstream sensation by captivating the audience with every single performance. “Whoever comes after L.A.M.A. Live, I feel for them,” he said. “Because the energy is on that level. We bring you into our world and you don’t go anywhere.”
Shaw spoke in more detail about the development of L.A.M.A.’s sound. He said that The Free Electric Band was trying to make their music too complex and NAMM showed them the effectiveness of simpler composition. “It showed us that it’s good to first write a song, and then let it evolve on its own instead of trying that initially,” Shaw said.
Likewise, NAMM said he learned a great deal from collaborating with The Free Electric Band. For example, he mentioned the importance of rehearsal and studio time. “I think about music differently now after having the band. It’s not just about give me a sample or give me a beat anymore,” he said.
“Now it’s about rehearsing three times a week. Now I’m learning about instruments. They’ve got me wanting to play instruments now.”
Recently L.A.M.A. Live played a show at the 3 Kings Tavern and did a live recording. The band was so enthralled by the energy of the live recording that they’ve released it as opposed to recording a studio album.
“The sound came out dope,” NAMM said. “After we mixed and mastered it down, it came out better than anything we’ve done in the studio. The studio takes away from the energy. It was almost perfect.”
L.A.M.A. Live’s live album is available as a free download at reverbnation.com/lamalive.
To take a step back, L.A.M.A. is not only a band, but a part of a larger creative collective called L.A.M.A. Squad, created by NAMM and his cousin, also a musician, Poor Man’s Son. “He’s the general of L.A.M.A. squad. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. I dedicate a lot to him,” NAMM said.
L.A.M.A. stands for “Little Ambition Makes A lot.” Their organization houses other upcoming artists and helps them hone their skills.
“It’s really cool. It’s like a family that we were just inducted into,” said Shaw. “L.A.M.A. Squad is national. There are sects in a bunch of different cities.”
L.A.M.A. Live has a busy season a head of them. Band manager, Bukz, has booked the band for upcoming shows in Denver over the next few weeks including a show at the Larimer Lounge Sept. 19. Show tickets available for half off via the band’s Facebook page.