Monday, February 28th 2011 - what shall be looked back on as one of the most important shows of this decade.
Saturday, June 11th 2011 - one of the most explosive festival debuts in memory.
2011 - Unpredictability, spontaneity and the arrival of something new, unique and dangerous.
This year has seen the breakthrough of Californian quintet letlive. upon the modern day musical landscape and what a special year it's been. From their debut trip to our shores in February supporting Your Demise, their debut UK headline performance in their landmark show at London's Old Blue Last (a real 'I was there' moment), to their unforgettable inaugural festival performance at Download and their recent conquering of the Reading and Leeds festivals. Now doing their own first proper headline run of the UK, we were lucky enough to interview the band ahead of their show at the Tunbridge Wells Forum to find out the band's thoughts on their incredible year and gain an insight into the exciting things to come including their plans for the next album, the Enter Shikari tour they're to embark upon after their own tour and how they could be adding all sorts of interesting new ideas to their live show including dangerous animals. *Warning interview may contain sarcasm at points!*.
R13: How did the definitive line-up of letlive. come to be? I understand you were all playing within the LA scene?
Anthony Rivera (drums): That's correct yeah. I think for the most part Jason (Aalon Butler, vocals) began letlive.
JAB: Yeah I was about sixteen at the time.
AR: And I think at that time we were all in different bands doing our own thing around the LA scene, I don't think we want to name any names (laughs) but yeah I think slowly but surely we came together. I think the first person Jason got was RJ (Johnson, bass) from his band and then Jean (Nascimento, guitar) and I fell in soon after that, Jason would lose members...
Jeff Sahyoun (guitar): Jason's a thief (laughs).
JAB: Some would call it a poacher, I would chalk it up to divination (laughs), I'm a mantic, I knew what the future was to hold with this and I just got a jumpstart on it early and got all the best people from the bands surrounding and created a band that would hopefully one day take over the world and that's what we're working on now, one Tunbridge Wells show at a time.
R13:With your unique and very unrelenting live show and your music being honest to the highest degree, would you agree that letlive. is a form of collective catharsis in bringing band and audience together?
JAB: Yeah, with the least amount of arrogance we can take, absolutely yeah, we would hope that's how it seems.
AR: That's the ultimate goal, to bring that connection to those right in front of us with our music.
R13: There's obviously a wide range of influence within the very eclectic letlive. sound, are there different influences that everyone brings to the letlive. puzzle or is there any collective influence?
JAB: I think the collective influence again without seeming too self-involved is the band itself, like us as a unit, just among ourselves and that's given by way of everyone's particular influence. We all come from very different backgrounds, like very different backgrounds, and somehow we've found the commonality which is simply just honesty in music and sincerity and all those cliche things you hear and read about music, we've found a way to actually believe in them without all the bullshit.
AR: I think we all like Project X too (laughs).
RJJ: Their music videos and message is pretty strong.
JAB: Or Straight Edge Revenge.
JS: Oh my God I heard it for the first time yesterday.
JAB: He heard it the way it needs to be heard.
RJJ: When he was in the womb (laughs).
R13: 2011 has obviously been a very important year for the band, particularly in making your mark on the UK, to kick that off you had the Your Demise tour back in February, how was that?
JS: It still feels like it was yesterday let alone February.
RJJ: It feels like a long time for me, it feels like we've gone through years, we owe a lot to that band definitely because they went out on a limb and brought us over here, we weren't expecting that for the foreseeable future at all so when that came about it was incredibly exciting for one and thankfully it kind of sparked a huge movement that we didn't expect.
AR: It was a great inspiration too as our first impression of Europe and of the UK and the other way round, their first impression of us, so yeah it's crazy that that was only six months ago.
JS: The first couple of shows we played there were maybe five kids singing along if that, it was close to nothing, and by the end of that month, it was nothing extreme, but seeing like thirty kids singing along in the front row made us go 'what the hell is going on?'.
JAB: It's just funny to watch progress unfold in front of you, like you get a very literal or blatant representation of what's going on with your band and for us, a group of gentleman who don't assume much of anything, we don't expect much, we don't feel any sort of entitlement to any of this, it's very flattering.
R13:Then of course there was the Old Blue Last show in London, do you see it as a real turning point in the band's history?
JS: Ah man, one of my favourite shows I've ever played.
RJJ: Definitely, that was a very strange experience, I was around the venue for a while and then I remember coming upstairs and the room was entirely full! And I mean it was thanks to Rock Sound entirely for that, it was a huge push for us from them, they definitely went and took us out on a limb, similarly to how Your Demise did, when no-one else would and it helped us tremendously. It was very nice to have that kind of support.
R13:In the same vein you've done festival appearances this year, namely Download and Reading and Leeds, do you feel that these were also pivotal in making your band's mark upon the UK and the musical landscape?
JAB: I think it's a standardised sort of thing you know, like there's requisites and there's points along a band's timeline that define them or define their place in these regions and I think that's what those festivals serve as, not to mention they hold such an inestimable history that we've always wanted to experience something like and it was incredible to experience it almost to the tee. Like Reading in itself is something that I watched all my favourite rock bands play on Youtube as soon as I knew how to use it so to be a part of these things is again simply an honour and it's still hard for me to personally comprehend. I still see us as a young band that just wants to play music and we're just lucky to have people who want to listen to the music we play.
R13: Especially with that Reading performance, perhaps with given time, you've had more curious eyes fall upon you with the festival having a broader range of genres, how did you feel about that? Was it quite nerve-wracking or did you just take it as it came?
JAB: Just take it as it came, I think everything and anything we do is simply the way we're going to do it at any given time. Again we never go in with a presumed position or thinking we have to do this or that, the only thing we think we have to do is enjoy ourselves and make sure we engage those that want to be a part of it. To remain accessible as a group of artists, musicians is a very specific word, but you know I think this is just an ode to the greater arts so.
JS: Whether it be to one person or to seven or eight thousand, we just get up on stage and do what we do, let go and have the opportunity to go someplace else for a little bit.
RJJ: There was definitely a little bit of thought of how it would translate into a set like that initially because we weren't used playing to that many people and Download proved to us that it didn't really make a difference. We played and it literally felt exactly the same as it would playing to ten people back at home and in a good way, I thought I was going to feel an incredible detachment from the crowd but it seriously felt just as attached and intimate.
R13: And this tour has been going well?
AR: Really well.
JAB: It's been out of control.
RJJ: We still can't believe it.
JS: We just show up and are given the ticket numbers and then just look at each other and again we're like 'how is this happening?' We're very fortunate to be here and we definitely appreciate everything and the opportunity that we have to come all this way to play to all these people, people who are showing up at these small clubs that are just so much fun.
JAB: People who want to do interviews (laughs), that actually want to enquire on the Letlive. mind and the dark recesses that are, it's cool man, humbling is what it is, I mean you can take it in so many different ways and I think the only way that we've taken it is just like we're humbled by this. This is just so incredible, because the people that make this so for us, those people are much more important to us than us even getting over here in the first place. It's a really strange formula which we haven't figured out and I don't know if we ever will because again we're just going to continue on as we always have and that's honest enough for everyone else.
R13: Is that how you're going to be approaching the upcoming tour with Enter Shikari and Your Demise?
JAB: No actually we've got like full stage production and costumes.
RJJ: Lasers I think, are those coming in tomorrow?
JAB: Well the ones that come out of my eyes are coming next week but the ones from off stage are.
AR: And the Siberian tiger of course although he escaped.
JS: Oh no it's alright he made it over.
JAB: So no there'll be a completely different approach for that.
RJJ: On an entirely separate note, have you heard about those screens that Your Demise have on stage? I've heard a bit about them, they sound very interesting, they'll be great.
AR: Not as cool as our tiger.
JAB: Watch out Enter Shikari! (laughs)
R13:Can't wait! (laughs) And I understand you've just filmed a video for 'Muther' over in LA? When will we be seeing that?
JAB: Yeah over in East LA. We're not sure yet, there are still a lot of artistic revisions to be made and this and that, we did a lot of filming, it was a long process.
AR: We got a lot of stock footage.
JAB: Yeah there's a lot of stock footage so we'd like to get it out as soon as possible but at the same time we want to make sure it's the best representation visually as we can make it or we can aid in making it as we didn't actually film it (laughs).
R13:And of course plans are in motion for the next album?
JS: Yeah that's all we've been discussing all day today actually.
R13 : And 2012 is going to be the year?
JAB: Yeah definitely.
RJJ: (with a knowing smile) We're trying to really put together a plan. It's a bit difficult when you're touring so much but we'll get it out as soon as possible, sooner rather than later.
R13: Excellent. And to finish off, if letlive. could say one thing to the world right now what would it be?
RJJ: Oh no don't say it.
JAB: Stand up. (laughs)
A huge thank you from Room Thirteen to all five members in letlive. for taking the time out to have a brilliant chat with us and being a genuine joy to interview, winning extra points for massively cracking us up on a number of occasions! The band's performance later that night was as incredible as usual with the venue's tiny capacity turning the letlive. show into a giant mass of sweat and excitement with continuous deafening sing-a-longs, countless stage dives and the brutal finale of 'Casino Columbus' seeing the audience jumping onto the stage to join the band, gear and bodies flying everywhere. Another trailblazing performance from the band that amazingly still managed to feel different from all the other times we've caught them, never seeing the same letlive. show twice.
letlive. have not only owned 2011 but have refreshingly stepped forward as something new and deadly that no-one saw coming. The world is theirs for the taking.
Monday, February 28th 2011 - what shall be looked back on as one of the most important shows of this decade.