Funk royalty Lettuce released their new album Elevate today June 14, and it will certainly elevate you to your feet with some high-energy, danceable tunes. Between blistering guitar and soulful vocals, Lettuce does not disappoint in bringing the funk with those tell-tale powerful horns that hit you in the sweet spot every time. We had the pleasure of reviewing their new album and speaking to sax player Ryan Zoidis about this inspired collection of songs!
How long did it take to record Elevate?
We tracked the album in 10 days, but we ended up tracking 27 songs. Elevate is only 11 of those songs. It took us 12-15 days total to mix it with Russ Elevado at Sonic Ranch. The reason why it took us so long to mix was because we mixed analog. When you mix in the analog format, you can’t recall the mixes unless you chart every piece of gear and every patch that you made which sometimes can be somewhere upwards of 50 to 100 patches. The patch bay looks like a big bowl of rainbow spaghetti, all different colored cables. In the old days, when analog recording was all there was, there would be another engineer that would chart every piece of gear. We just did the mixes and would print them later. We would mix until the wee hours of the morning and then would go to sleep, drink coffee and go back to listen to what we did.
What inspired you to get back into the studio after 3 years?
We’ve been writing. We had a lot of music to record. In that three year span, we went through some personnel changes, adding Nigel as the full time keyboard player and having Shmeeans play rhythm and lead guitar. We wrote a bunch of music together. Deitch really wrote it with us and the current line up in mind. We are lucky enough to be able to flush it all out while on tour. We scheduled recording right at the end of tour. We came in hot and we’re ready to track. Now that we’re settled in this new line up, we are going to put out more music than we ever have as a band in the next 18 months.
Is there a theme in this album? How did you choose the name Elevate?
Elevate was inspired by our engineer that we were lucky enough to work with on this record, Russ Elevado. We like using the play on words with Lettuce and something, Lettuce Outta Here, Fly, etc. This is a nod to his name Elevado / Elevate. We’ve gone through a bunch of changes this year too where we have elevated our management team and gone through a lot of changes. We feel this. Everybody in every aspect from our crew to our management and everyone in the band is elevated in what they do. I feel like it’s a time for growth for all of us and I think the music has been elevated because of that. And we all thought it sounded cool, so we went with it.
Why did you choose “Krewe” as the single?
Good question. It’s a really good summer tune. It’s got a summer vibe. It’s melodic and represents Lettuce for first time listeners. It was one of the first songs we mixed and sets the tone for the whole record alongside Trap. We wanted this song out first from the get go!
Written by Elise Olmstead
Album Review by Michael Stegner:
Elevate is the seventh studio album by Lettuce, and upon first listen, it has perfectly captured the collective sound of everything Lettuce has done thus far. It is the culmination of nearly every type of genre they’ve been categorized into, and seems to pack every type of musical endeavor Lettuce has undergone into one single album.
The first single, “Krewe” sounds like a flight through the night time on a magic carpet, breaking away from the smooth sax sounds to unleash the signature Adam Dietch drum beats that make Lettuce so funky. The album is as packed with just as much improvisation as any of their previous records. The band is clearly not afraid to strayquite far from the music’s form at times, only to guide listeners right back to a tight structure where they start the songs. Track five on Elevate is a cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which was the second song released from the album. It provides a nice sentimental break from the majority of instrumental songs on the album, giving the classic a unique Lettuce twist that translates quite well to their style.
Their free-form style of funky jams gives the album jazzy undertones, and the hip-hop sounding beats make it something else entirely. This style of playing with elements of different genres and opening up the jams really presents itself in the album’s longest track, “Gang Ten,” which clocks in at over 13 dreamy minutes. “Ready to Live” will likely become a fan favorite from this album, due to it’s high energy lyrics which are catchy and sure to get stuck in your head. Besides that, the colorful keys and powerful brass instrumentation make it very easy to lose yourself in the dance-able groove.
By the end of the album, I’m reminded why Lettuce stands out among so many other funk bands in the festival circuit. Simply put, nobody does it as well as they do. The horn section reels you in and spits you back out deeper into funky ocean waters than when you began. The bass-lines walk you up and down the jams with comfort and ease, and the combined sum of all the members skills far exceeds their individual parts (which are amazing to begin with). By adding Elevate to their already amazing catalog, Lettuce has secured their relevance in the funk and jam scene for many more years to come.