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“How are you?” Steve Lamos’ voice delivers pleasantries from down the line. He sounds far off. ‘How are you?’ Well, currently in a state of euphoria after listening to American Football’s latest self-titled offering LP3—now it’s a cruel pull back to planet earth to talk with the infamous American rock band’s drummer all about the latest addition to their turbulent family.
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When American Football’s debut album came out in 1999, they were quickly marked as a pivotal sound in the emo wave of America’s Midwest. A fast career, a long break-up, American Football emerged in 2016 with a second, more pensive offering. In LP3, American Football have a steady footing again, and it marks not only an evolution in the band’s sound—still emo in essence but wearing caps of wisdom that come with being middle-aged–but also showcases their commitment to their craft. And Lamos is all appreciation.
That lengthy hiatus was a medicine for the band, bringing them to produce this intricate album. “I think the hiatus, totally unplanned and we did everything backwards and wrong, but I do think it’s given us a perspective on what a gift it is to do this and to make music,” says Lamos.
“We’re all middle-aged to say the least, and to be able to do this and to hear nice things from people and have everybody care about it is pretty awesome. I think it puts it in a perspective that I can certainly appreciate it.”
Though American Football started out heavy on the emo themes, those down and out angsty emotions, LP3, with its heartfelt lyrics, gentle rhythms and soulful guitars, is the maturity of the band coming to the surface in many ways. “We set out to make a record we would be proud of,” says Lamos, “And I guess, I don’t know, it’s a little more adult and mature in that way, a deliberate kind of vibe.
It’s strange to us that there’s still this interest in the band! There never was that interest the first time around so it’s still a bit novel there’s that interest in us, and I hope the novelty doesn’t wear off.
[ Steve Lamos ]
“I think it’s a wintery record in a way, a middle-aged record in a way, but in good ways. This is where we are as people and these are the things we think about, the moods or feelings we sit with, and I hope they come through.”
It’s reassuring to hear that other people have been recognising the emotion and sentiment laced throughout the album, though American Football didn’t find it at all difficult to produce this album with those elements considered. “We worked immensely to get a particular kind of sound,” begins Lamos, “And boy, our producer kept polishing and polishing and I think that was hard work–but mostly I think this is a cool relief for us.
“We’re fathers, we’ve got families, so when we do this we put stress on our families, so there’s a kind of pressure to make this worthwhile.
“The actual music-making is really pretty joyful! Even if the music a little but moody at times, it’s really fun!”
Lamos says he can’t wait to see what the reception to the album is, and can’t wait to showcase the new songs on the live stage. The joy he gets from his music is as vibrant and as fresh as in his younger years–some things just don’t age.
That idea of novelty and keeping a fresh face is prevalent in the feature artists American Football invited to come on board LP3. Land Of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell, Paramore’s Hayley Williams, and singer-songwriter Rachel Goswell all lend their talents to bolster the ambient nature of American Football’s vision. “Mike [vocalist Mike Kinsella] invited everybody,” says Lamos. “Boy, I’m tickled by how those collaborations turned out.
“I think each of them brings this different flavour to what’s going on. I think we’re pretty lucky to have them lending their skills to whatever it is we’re trying to do, it’s pretty great.”
Troll American Football’s social media and you’ll see that vibrancy is among their fans, too, with many dates on their current tour having sold out. Laughing incredulously, Lamos says, “It’s strange to us that there’s still this interest in the band! There never was that interest the first time around so it’s still a bit novel there’s that interest in us, and I hope the novelty doesn’t wear off.”