Exclusive Interview with Lettuce

by Taco Olmstead

Before Jam Cruise, we had only dabbled in funk music and Royal Family Records.  After a week-long funk-a-thon, and a life-changing set on the boat deck from Lettuce, we were fans for life.  We now dedicate ourselves to their set at every festival they are playing, and managed to schedule an interview just in time for Taco’s birthday weekend.  The band shows no signs of slowing down, and the band members keep busy with side projects and producing.  We are excited to hop on their coattails and enjoy the funky ride…


With all of the side projects that go on, how do you manage to get everything done?

Shmeeans I think that, honestly, the side projects are a way for all of us to keep our creative expression individual, and be able to do what you want to do on the side and be able to come back together a stronger unit.  I think it makes us stronger.

Nigel: To add on to that, I feel like a lot of our side projects inspire us to come out and come back together.  We get some new ideas and bring it into other things that we do.

Shmeeans: And not to mention a lot of our side projects are with each other.

Yeah, that’s true!  Any new developments for the band on the horizon?

Shmeeans: Oh yes!  I think that in 2014 it’s going to be the year of the Lettuce and we’ll come into a lot more towns that you haven’t been able to see us come out to.  We’re going to be playing a lot more, hopefully that means being in a bus together with each other for that long period of time will enable growth, and us to spread our wings a little bit more.

Each of you seem to have an influence of hip-hop, how did that translate in the early years of the band into the jam scene?

Nigel: That’s a great question.  I actually think Adam Deitch would be a better person to ask for this question.  I think would give you the proper answer, he’s standing right here.

(Nigel pries Adam from the Scofield set to come answer one question, he comes in, Taco repeats the question for him.)

Adam: We started out wanting to be a hip hop band. Before we knew about The Roots or any of these bands, we wanted to be doing live hip-hop, like that was our dream.  Krasno was very involved with the Phish thing and the whole Dead scene, hippie thing, and we were in a hip-hop band and this guy cross-pollinated these two scenes.  He told us about the Phish and Dead scene and learned about it from that.

With a heavy influence of EDM on the jam scene, where do you think it’s going to take the scene?

Adam: Well we’ve seen a lot of EDM fans at Lettuce shows and we are so thankful for that.  I see young people at our shows with their Pretty Lights hats or Break Science shirts and they’re coming out for the funk, for Lettuce and the shows that we play.  We are just pro-creativity.

I just want vinyl back, man!

Nigel: It is back, in fact we are selling vinyls of our records downstairs.

Adam: Check it out, and you can quote me on this, I actually think more vinyl has sold this past year than in the last 20 years.  Pretty Lights was number one in vinyl at one point this year, I think he was on top of Daft Punk for a minute.


There’s a rumor of an album in the works?

Shmeeans: We are going back to the studio really soon.

Kraz is playing with Tedeschi Trucks, how’s that going?

Shmeeans: I think that was just this summer.

Adam: He still works with them and writes with them, I don’t know if he’s touring with them indefinitely.

What’s the future of funk music?

Shmeeans: For it to morph and change and become something else, and for that to get popular and get called something else, but it’s all funk.

I’ve seen funk blowing up in the past few years.

Shmeeans: It’s never gone anywhere, man!

Adam: Actually, it went to the bathroom for a minute. (laughter)

Shmeeans: All the best hip hop songs in the 90’s have funk to it, that’s a funk drum beat.  I just feel like it’s morphed, like disco when that came out was just morphed funk, and now you have techno which is just morphed disco.  And now you have electronic music that’s just electronic funk!  Either way, it’s all funk.


So, Jam Cruise!

Shmeeans: This year we are pulling all the stops, we’re going to pull out some crazy shit, we’re going to give you an experience.

Better than last year?

Shmeeans: Better than last year, we’re going way beyond.

Last year you all completely flipped the script on me. 

Shmeeans: I don’t know if we even know what’s going to happen on Jam Cruise.  That place creates such an environment to go places we normally wouldn’t go.

What’s your favorite festival?

Shmeeans: Catskill Chill right now.  Just because I went to camp there when I was a kid, so it’s like visiting my young self.

Nigel: All of them.

Shmeeans:  You can’t pick all of them.  Well, actually I guess someone could get mad, like, “You didn’t like my festival!”  On second thought, cut that shit out of there.  (grabs recorder and speaks into microphone) Cut that shit out of there!

James: My favorite’s Fuji Rocks.

Festivals that you do like, what are they doing right, and what are they doing wrong?

Nigel: I think for us, the performers and whatnot, it’s almost a blur.  For every action there’s a reaction.  As far as most festivals, don’t change a thing.  As far as the other ones, just try to take care of your performers a bit more.

You mean you all ain’t cattle?

Nigel: We’re not fucking cattle, man!  (laughter)

If you were to do a small festival or a large festival, what would you rather do?

Nigel: Both. They’re both different. The big ones are cool and the little ones are cool.  They’re both great.  It’s time to get with your friends and your people.

Shmeeans: I prefer the little ones.  I prefer them because I just get nervous around a ton of people.

Well I’ve seen you at both big and small ones this summer and I can’t wait to see you more this fall leading up to Jam Cruise!  Thanks a lot, guys, I’ll see you down there.