Leisure Cruise (Dave Hodge and Leah Siegel) are kind of a musical dream team, so I was SUPER excited to be able to catch up with them briefly over the phone last week. When we spoke, Dave was in the midst of getting a tattoo, but that didn’t stop us from discussing the band’s origins, their debut record (due out May 6th), and about super important things, like whether or not they believe in ghosts.
So you’re in the middle of getting a tattoo, Dave? That’s crazy!
Leah: Dave, are you conscious? [Laughs] Wait, Megan, have we spoken before?
Yes! We were talking primarily about Firehorse last time!
Leah: It’s nice hearing from you again! I’m loving all of these repeat gals that I get to talk to again.
Yeah, it’s great! Now, last time I talked to you, you were more in the beginning stages with this project (Leisure Cruise)…
Leah: Right, I was so excited and couldn’t stop talking about it!
And you guys have got the record coming out next month; what was the recording process like for that? Where’d most of the magic happen?
Dave: In Brooklyn at my studio, and we also did a little bit at Giant (Metric’s studio) in Toronto.
Cool. And did you do it fairly consecutively, or were there breaks in between?
Dave: It was pretty full-on. Writing, recording, producing, mixing…it was all pretty much one shot.
Yeah, it seems it all happened pretty fast.
Leah: Yeah, and I think part of that was because when we started writing together, we didn’t really have any particular mission; we didn’t have any deadlines, and the idea of starting a band together and making an entire record and marketing it and selling it, it just wasn’t there, just wasn’t on our minds. So we kept working because it was fun, and we loved what we were making. I think that kept us studio-bound all the time. It was fun.
And so how exactly did you figure out what you wanted Leisure Cruise to sound like? What was the writing process like?
Dave: Well, I was working on a film and doing the score, and they needed to license tracks; I’d been thinking about making a record, so I told them that I would write a couple of songs, and if they liked them they could license them from me. They liked them, and two of those songs are on the record (“Livin It Up” and “Wake Up the Ghosts”). Then I bumped into Leah on the street, and we’d written some stuff years ago, just quickly, so I said, “Do you want to come in and do some writing on this record?” and the first day we got together went really well; we wrote something together fast, and we just kept writing. And so we said, “This is going so well, maybe we should be a band.”
That’s great! So what’s been the most surprising thing you’ve found about working together? (Whether it’s the way you work together, or any personal strengths that have been brought out in the process of the collaboration that you weren’t necessarily aware of beforehand?)
Leah: I would say that part of what made it so easy to work with each other was that we…I don’t know, we kind of have similar tastes. I mean, it’s not all the time, and towards the end of writing the record we definitely locked horns over a few ideas, but I think after having written most of the record, we never came to any real creative crossroads. By the time we actually reached a real obstacle as far as creative differences, we both knew what it took to make it sound right. And I think that’s why we work so well together.
Right. Well, and how does all this sort of translate live? I’ve not yet seen you live; is it just the two of you on stage, or have you got backing members?
Dave: We’ve got a drummer and a guitar player, and both are amazing. (Lately it’s been Moby’s drummer Aaron Brooks and Jay Shepard on guitar.) We’re really lucky.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze6Zrihq9Sg
Okay cool. And if you guys could play a show ANYWHERE in the universe, either in a traditional venue or non-traditional venue, but either way with zero logistical constraints, where do you think the ideal Leisure Cruise gig would take place?
Leah: Is this like when Lady Gaga said she wanted to play on the moon?
Leah: Gosh, I don’t know…
Dave: Anywhere in the UNIVERSE?! Wow. That’s a vast space.
Leah: The new planet we’d colonize. We’d be the opening band for a new life on a new planet.
Dave: Yeah, that’d be great.
That’s a keeper. Now, has Leisure Cruise taken a front seat for both of you project-wise? How’s that been working out in terms of balancing other things, assuming you’re still doing that?
Leah: Yes. 100%.
Dave: Yeah, it has, definitely.
Excellent! Okay, now bear with me because I’ve got a few weird questions based on your song titles. The first one is for “The Getaway”, so what was the last time either of you had a vacation and where did you go?
Dave: I kind of don’t really know what vacations are anymore, just because I travel so much for writing or doing whatever, but we are going to Thailand in a couple of weeks, sailing through the islands. Leah and her boyfriend are coming. It’s going to be a great trip. So that’s not the last vacation, but the NEXT vacation. I guess the last one was Belize; I went sailing with a few of the members of Metric, and that was really nice.
Leah: My last vacation was actually my family vacation where I’ve gone almost every year since I was eight years old. And that’s actually where we last spoke, Megan.
Yes! I remember you were walking around outside someplace. #MEMORIES! Now, the next kind of weird song-based question I’ve got for you is a mashup between “Believer” and “Wake Up the Ghosts”; do either of you believe in ghosts?
Leah: Dave’s dropped out…he’s definitely lying in a pool of his own blood. [Laughs] But yeah, I definitely believe in ghosts. (Although FYI, I didn’t write that song.) I was forced to sleep in a haunted studio four or five years ago and it was miserable. But you know what? They’re like people. They’re not all bad.
True, true. Hopefully no more haunted studios for you in the future. And SPEAKING of the future, what’s on the horizon for you guys that you can share with us?
The record comes out May 6th. We’ve got a pledge campaign to get some pre-sales going, which is really helpful for potential radio campaigns. It’s just as important (maybe more important) than actual sales. So don’t put it off if you’re planning to get the record! We’re also going up to Canada for Canadian Music Week, and we’re just going to start writing again. I’m really excited.