This is a huge week in the life of funk-titans Lettuce. The band, who are currently in the middle of their “Sounds Like A Party” fall tour, will hit the PlayStation Theater in New York City for two huge homecoming shows on Friday and Saturday (more info here), and they will be celebrating the release of their brand-new EP Mt. Crushmore, the follow-up to their successful 2015 record Crush. Mt. Crushmore is filled with funky bangers from the Crush studio sessions that didn’t make the cut for the album for one reason or another, but are now getting the attention they deserve as an official release. Many of the tracks have been staples of Lettuce’s live show for the past few years, and match up with the band’s new psychedelic style that they’ve been experimenting with since this summer’s triumphant late-night performance at this summer’s Lockn’ Festival.
With such a big weekend ahead, I spoke with Lettuce’s master of all things groove, Adam Deitch, to talk Mt. Crushmore, Lettuce’s new musical direction, and what playing for the vibrant funk community of New York City means to him.
Live For Live Music: After the success of Crush, did you and the band feel an urgency to release more music as soon as possible?
Adam Deitch: Well, we recorded 20 songs for Crush, and unfortunately only a few of those could go on the record, and it was really hard to find which songs would go on the record and which songs would come after. Some of the songs that didn’t make the album were some of our favorite songs, but they just didn’t fit in the sequence the right way. So, Mt. Crushmore, a lot of the tracks are definitely some of my favorite songs we’ve ever recorded. It’s always good to keep music coming out.
L4LM: Some of the tracks are already staples of your live set, so the band clearly loves them. With that in mind, what’re you most excited about with Mt. Crushmore?
AD: We can’t wait to drop this on everybody, and we’re really excited about it. The title track, we used to call it “Wu Tang” or “Lettuce Wu” or something along those lines, so it kind of has that hip hop feel, that psychedelic-hip-hop feel that we’re moving closer and closer to, so we’re really excited to drop that song and the rest of the record too, of course.
L4LM: With so many band members contributing to the songwriting process, are there any politics with picking and choosing which songs make the cut of a new record or EP?
AD:The best thing about this band is that it’s a true democracy, everyone has an equal say. We all got together–we have a voting system–and we voted these songs to be on a further release, on this release, so it’s good that it worked out and it’s easy if we keep things democratic.
L4LM: You’ve said that this tour with Lettuce has seen the band turn a corner into more psychedelic, exploratory playing. What led you guys in that direction musically, and can we expect to see this new style at the PlayStation Theater this weekend?
AD: Absolutely. We were really obsessed with being tight and funky since the beginning, and we’ll always stay that way. The more we play together as a group, and the more we play in front of amazing festival crowds and great club crowds, it’s time to evolve. We respect the fact that people know our music pretty well at this point, so it’s time to change them and add to them and to expand them into other things. I think having a different take on each song every night is important, and lets the fans, specifically the people that like to go to a few shows in a row, that we’re not going to play the same set. Even if we repeat a song, it’s not going to be the same arrangement of that song, it’s going to be different, and have a different middle, a different ending…so we felt that was the right thing to do. Some of our favorite groups do that as well. We feel like that’s comfortable for us and it makes the songs new again.
L4LM: Most of Lettuce recently re-located to Denver, leaving a gaping hole in the funk scene in Brooklyn. Coming back now as a “visitor”, what’s your favorite part about playing in New York?
AD: New York is where we made ourselves. New York and Boston, but especially New York because of The Wetlands in the early days, ’93, ’94, ’95, ’96, around then. Pete Shapiro let us play there and do a monthly [residency] with different guests–we had Scofield one night, and the next week was Fred Wesley–that really put us on the map. In our own minds we were like “this is a legit club, this is a legit crowd and we had a great show with great guests,” and we’ll always be in debt to Shappy for having us do that, and for all of his support through the years. It’s part of our family, the New York funky-jam community. We saw so many great bands come through there and we’ve seen so many shows there and it’s woven into the fabric of who we are as people and as a band, and it’ll be great to come back. We’re gonna unleash everything we got on New York.
L4LM: In a few weeks, Break Science Live Band hits Brooklyn Bowl, do you have anything special in store for those homecoming shows at the Bowl?
AD: The Lettuce guys are fully involved with the Break Science Live Band. They love the electronic side of things that me and Borahm [Lee] are producing, and they add so much to it, and we have a bunch of unannounced guests that are going to come through…It’s going to be an epic, epic electro-funky-hip-hop adventure.
You can pre-order Mt. Crushmore by heading here. Check out the first two singles from the EP–“Mt. Crushmore” and “The Love You Left Behind” featuring Alecia Chakour–below. Also, don’t miss Lettuce at NYC’s PlayStation Theater on November 11th and 12th with The Floozies and Red Baraat. Tickets and more information about those shows can be found here.
“The Love You Left Behind”