Three men, covering two ends of the sound spectrum, share one common vision. For the expansive alternative trio Lights Resolve, it’s all about maximizing their assets: engaging and arresting listeners with just three instruments and a microphone. Now armed with their debut full-length, the band is about to bring their sonically galactic, yet incredibly minimalist, message to the masses.
On Feel You’re Different, the band's first full-length and debut partnership with Rock Ridge Music, the Long Island, NY-based outfit is ready to take its place among the heavyweights, remarkably doing it on its own terms. Although the place they call home has been a hotbed of talent in recent years, producing mega-bands like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday, the members of Lights Resolve want the world to know they’re carving their own path, creating musical landscapes unlike any other. “As a three-piece, we’re trying to create the most broad sound possible with just three guys on stage,” says singer/guitarist Matthew Reich. “For this record, we wanted to create a more raw and ballsy atmosphere that bore a closer resemblance to our live show. We're super proud of what we created, and it's by far our greatest work to date.”
Lights Resolve—which also includes drummer Neal Saini and bassist Luke Daniels—formed in Long Island, NY in 2006 after the trio’s former lead vocalist departed from their prior four-piece outfit. The band has since issued three self-produced EPs and has toured extensively, playing with multi-platinum recording artists such as the Used, Panic at the Disco, Shiny Toy Guns, Dashboard Confessional, Phantom Planet and Straylight Run, and has appeared at festivals like the Bamboozle, SXSW, CMJ and Warped Tour, all on a DIY basis. In 2009 Rolling Stone dubbed Lights Resolve one of the year’s “Breakout Bands,” and the group was recently named “Unsigned Band of the Month” by Alternative Press magazine. Their song “Dreaming of Love” was also recently ranked the sixth-most downloaded song for the Rock Band videogame, logging 500,000+ downloads.
For Feel You’re Different, Lights Resolve sequestered itself in Bethpage, NY with legendary Long Island producer Mike Sapone (Brand New, Taking Back Sunday), who, per his credentials, drove the band to log their most impressive studio performance to date. Thematically, the album developed into both a commentary on embracing individuality and coming to grips with one’s own personal development; both are topics the members of Lights Resolve know all too well from recent years.
“To me, Feel You’re Different was originally about embracing your unique qualities and finding comfort in your own skin,” explains Reich. “New meaning was found by realizing that as time passes, you change and formulate new opinions to experience your world in different ways. It's all about the struggle of change and obstacles.”
When writing Feel You’re Different, the band spent time in several different locations, including Florida, Pennsylvania and northern New York, in order to stimulate different moods and vibes for the songs. As one might imagine, the creations emanating from the “Sunshine State” are lighter, more up-tempo affairs, while the northeast-born compositions are darker and edgier than their Floridian counterparts. Reich says the band borrowed a cabin in an isolated portion of upstate NY for the sessions, where the band’s late nights spent watching horror DVDs began to subconsciously take root.
“The cabin is located in a desolate little town covered by woods, with no cell phone reception and one block of shops that close at 3 p.m.,” recalls Reich. “One night in the dark, creepy house in the woods, Duke [Luke Daniels] suggested we screen the David Lynch flick Eraserhead at 3 a.m. The next morning I woke at 8 a.m. and immediately began replaying the 'lady in the radiator' scene in my head a million times. I tried to emulate the mood on a keyboard with a creepy organ sound.”
Other songs hit closer to home. An admitted insomniac and textbook Gemini who states “the two faces I wear scare the shit out of me,” Reich utilizes the songs to tackle his inner demons with dramatic results, like on “With The Pieces.” “It's one of my favorite songs about denial and delay, putting off the inevitable,” Reich shares. “When you try to push aside what's blatantly staring you in the face, it consumes you and eventually controls your life. When someone is unable to come to terms with their demons, they remain un-whole as long as they avoid confronting the pieces of their past.”
Reich continues: “When we were making this record, all three of us were working through really difficult times, and as trite as it is to say, we were able to create the songs because of this. We each had separate personal issues that forced us into situations that we didn't choose. To our testament, however, each time we've hit rock bottom we have managed to dig our way out and shine the brightest; it was the genesis of, and still remains the root of, the driving force behind the band.”
Musically, the band pushed itself to create a vast soundscape with just three instruments, rearranging parts originally written on piano or synth. Not only has the band captured its frenetic live energy on Feel You’re Different, but the album was also written with future performances in mind; devoid of fancy overdubs and production gloss, no trickery is needed to recreate the songs on stage.
“One of our biggest goals from the outset was learning the spectrum of sound,” explains Reich. “We figured out that in order to fill the space, we had to exaggerate the high frequency on the guitar and the low frequency on the bass while having the vocals sit somewhere in the middle. The best compliment we get is, ‘We can't believe that was just three people onstage.’ This is where we've thrived from day one.”
With an October release slated for Feel You’re Different and extensive touring to follow in 2011 and 2012 in support, the music world is about to get to know Lights Resolve a whole lot better. Although the band isn’t easily categorized, the trio’s commitment to innovation and creativity may be just the thing for listeners tired of genre conventions. Admirably, the band is blazing a trail, rather than riding anyone’s coattails.
“The blessing and the curse of this band is that we've never really been part of a scene; we just do the Lights Resolve thing,” says Reich. “The downside is that we can't piggyback on an existing movement; the upside is that we can create our own.”