Before the album release party for fly we had the chance to chat with bassist Erick Coomes (a.k.a: E.D., Jesus, Eduardo Scissorhands, Erick Dangerously) and drummer extraordinaire Adam Deitch of Lettuce.

L4LM: Lettuce is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Thinking back to its beginnings, how has the band and the funk evolved through the years?

E.D.: In some ways, some of the best ways, it hasn’t changed at all. What we have always kept paramount is the extreme importance of the groove in the pocket. The way the bass and the drums and all the rhythm instruments really hold down the parts and work together to be one thing. As far as how we’ve evolved, we’ve just gotten…I don’t want to say mature, we just know what to play. It has just become more apparent as to what to play and what not to play and how to be most effective at throwing down the funk as hard as possible. Anyone that hangs out together for that long is just going to become more “one”. We’re much more unified than we ever have been. One thing we have never stopped doing is playing directly from our hearts, and we really mean what we play.

L4LM: Tell us about the new album and how this one compares to its predecessors.

E.D.: We really thought that Rage! was a nice album, we like the way it sounds. So in going to the studio to try and come up with something that was better than that, we didn’t stress it out to much, but we knew that we had to. This is the first time we had played a lot of the stuff live in front of a bunch of different audiences. We got to mold these songs, arrange them and kind of change them up live as we played them; before we went into the studio. With all of our other records, we never got to do that. By the time we actually went in to cut it, it came out really naturally and quick. We did the whole thing really fast. I mean, we always kind of cut our records really fast because we have such good chemistry, but this album is nice. I think it’s a little more psychedelic than anything we’ve ever done which is cool. That still didn’t take away from any of the extreme groove. It’s super pocket all the way through, with a psychedelic coolness to it. The album flows all the way through really nicely. I like it in this weird way, where I don’t really like one song the most. I really like the whole thing as one piece ya know.

Deitch: I just think you hear the maturity from a young band that was once considered a jam band. Once, we would play funk grooves but then we would expand on them because we had these amazing soloists, like Sam Kininger and Eric Krasno…so it got called a “jam band”. That’s how we got our start.  Since, we’ve evolved into this tight knit funk band which can no longer be classified as a jam band. I’m just hearing everybody’s maturity and willingness to just play simple and be really strong with the rhythm, ya know?

L4LM: Adam, aside from Lettuce you play with Break Science, Dr. Klaw and are constantly producing, sitting in, and collaborating with amazing talents like Medeski Martin and Wood, Skerick, Scofield and even 50 Cent. With such a wide scope of genre, tell me how Lettuce fits into your musical range.

Deitch: I really like Lettuce because of the rush it gives me. When the horns are tight with the snare and the bass is right with the kick and the guitar is right with the hi-hat, there’s a feeling that’s created there when you are playing with all of those things that is pretty unmatched. It’s a pocket thing and there’s different levels of degrees you can get with the pocket and then expanding on the pocket until you are just carving out this feeling that you have been reaching for your whole life and getting closer and closer to it. Eventually it will feel so good that it will instantly affect people and make them feel good, that’s the whole purpose of it ya know? It’s for human beings, for people to really feel that in their cellular structure [laughs].

L4LM: What is it about Lettuce that seems to instantly capture the ear of a person who has never had the pleasure of hearing it?

Deitch: We’re playing original funk music with a rock n‘ roll type energy. A sort of reckless abandon but super tight strong party funk. We don’t concentrate on having a singer because we let the music do the talking. It’s not like an improvisational exploration as much as it is a very strong based party music sound. It’s definitely where the party is at and people should check it out.

L4LM: With so many talented musicians, all of whom have multiple projects; is it hard to find that chemistry needed to produce such a tight sound consistently over 20 years?

Deitch: That’s what separates us from other bands; we are actually each other’s super homies. So it’s not like we just kinda play together and then go hang out with our other friends. These are my best friends ya know? When we are in the studio we have our arguments but you’re arguing with your best friends, your brothers… so it always ends in a good way. Being in the studio, on stage, backstage, or just straight partying…we’re having fun and making music and it’s never stressed out.

L4LM: The first track and title of the new album is “Fly”. What is the story behind the title?

E.D.: The title is kind of like ya know…having been together this long and having the amazing chemistry and amazing energy and luck that we have, being so blessed…. I feel like lettuce is like a really sick car that has the capability to fly, but we just haven’t done it yet… and now we are cruising at our top land speed and now it’s time to use those wings and take off as a band and see how far we can really take it and how big we can go. The song FLY has a really cool story. We were on the bus traveling around together writing the song. Everyone did their part…Shmeeans had his computer out writing the song and he had a little groove going, and then we each wrote our own little section. We wrote it super together as a band on the bus just raging and having a good time doing it.

L4LM: You have some really cool nicknames E.D., tell us how you came to earn them.

E.D.: I have so many nicknames bro, I just get named other stuff. I think it comes from being named Erick. Like if you’re named Erick there’s thousands and millions of Erick’s. People already know 2 or 3 Erick’s once you get introduced so they are like “well I gotta call you something…” The name “Jesus”…I was working with DJ Quick and Dr. Dre for years and years. I had a really long beard and I was really devout in everything I did…I don’t really smoke or drink or anything like that and I just got a reputation for being a really good guy…then I started looking more and more like Jesus as I grew my beard extremely long and my hair really long. One day I was on stage with DJ quick at a sold out show at the House of Blues Hollywood and Quick asked the audience “ Doesn’t he look like Jesus?” and that’s when it really stuck… now Dr. Dre keeps calling me Jesus every time he sees me…that’s been a really good vibe. Plus, my whole family is Christian. My father has done some really amazing work for the Christian church so it’s kind of like a double bonus. It’s funny and awesome and I don’t know what to make of it, but I’ve definitely passed 33 so I’m not scared of getting crucified or anything [laughs]. Eduardo Scissorhands, I don’t even know…that just comes from Erick Dangerously (E.D.) which is a name my older brother copped from an EPMD lyric because he (Erick Sermon) spells his name Erick also and he calls himself E.D…. Erick Dangerous.  People just don’t want to call me Erick bro!

L4LM: This past season, Lettuce was the “house band” for the New York Knicks. That’s got to be a really cool gig. Was the track “Madison Square” written specifically for the team and the venue?

E.D.: Madison Square was something we were working on anyway but we also realized as soon as we started playing it that if we wanted to do a song for them this had to be it. Hence we did name it after that when we started realizing we could get that spot and what a cool spot it would be. We are all NBA fanatics. I’m a Laker for life but I am really proud of Lin (Jeremy) and the Knicks would have have to be my second team, my east coast team. We’re all big Spike Lee fans as well!

Deitch: Smirnoff is the #1 Knicks fan in the family. He got me hooked on the Knicks. I used to have the old Patrick Ewing high tops back when I was like 14 or 15…

L4LM: E.D., do you have anything going on aside from Lettuce that you can tell us about?

E.D.: I have a thing called Baby Jesus Present party which is a new band of mine and also a thing called Face Melter which is more of an electro hip-hop, beats production type of thing. They are both just barely budding right now, but they are both dope as shit. I stay really busy writing and producing in LA. I am always freelance producing and doing big things. I just got out of a session with The Doors and Tech N9ne doing a record for Tech N9ne. Anyone who wants to hire me can always hire me for that shit. Every kind of music…hip hop, R&B, pop… I’ve worked with everyone from Brittney Spears to the most gangsta rapper in the world. I’m thankful that I have this gift being able to produce anything and anybody. Being able to work with an artist and bring their real talents to the forefront while not making them become someone else to do it. I just really know how to bring out the best in people. That’s what it really means to be a producer.

L4LM: Favorite venue to play these days?

E.D.: Brooklyn Bowl is great, one of the coolest venues in the country for sure. It’s the best place to play because of the love. I’m all about the love dude. My favorite place to play is where the love is. It could be anywhere though. When the crowd is really feeling it, out of control, and they are looking at me like they know I can do it and wanting me to go crazy on them… that’s what I love. I look in their eyes and I go “I’m gonna fucking blow your face off right now!”

L4LM: Thanks guys! Congrats on the album and have a kick ass summer!

If you haven’t already started listening to FLY just reading this, go out and get yourself a copy if you know what’s good for your ears. Lettuce will be dropping the funk all summer, kicking it off with two shows with the Dave Matthews Band. The band also has many festival stops lined up so be sure to catch them and get your groove on.

Interviewed by Andre Reddy

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