The Lighthouse and the Whaler were in a different place when they made their new album — literally and sonically. Last winter, the indie-pop group spent five weeks recording in Montreal’s Mont Royal borough, which inspired the album’s title and is also the name of a small mountain and a nearby avenue. The region’s frigid weather, which often resulted in the band members’ facial hair icing over and the van getting stuck on snow-filled streets, spurred them to spend a lot of time holing up in studio with producer Marcus Paquin (Arcade Fire, Local Natives). “There was no possibility or desire to do anything else because it was so cold,” says lead singer and guitarist Michael LoPresti. “We were so dedicated and devoted to spending 10 to 12 hours a day in the studio, putting everything we had into it.” That focus led to a crisper, fuller sound that finds the band experimenting with electronic tones, while still incorporating beautiful moments of strings. The album also marks the first that the band put out after signing with Roll Call Records. As the band prepares for a monthlong national tour, starting with an album release show at the Beachland Ballroom Aug. 28, we catch up with LoPresti.
Q: This album takes a step back and examines the world and your role in it. How has your songwriting process evolved?
A: We changed a lot in the years since we made This is an Adventure. We spent a lot of time trying to get the next step of our career right as opposed to just taking the first thing that happened or just coming out with another album for the sake of it. My brother and I both had children. That puts a little bit of weight on you — thinking a little bit existentially in life now that you have someone who you’re in charge of. Mark and Ryan both went through various relationships through the process. That sort of just opened up our understanding of what it meant to grow up. We have to create something that both challenges and moves people without being preachy or having an agenda.
Q: Teen Wolf actress Holland Roden stars in your new video “I Want To Feel Alive,” filmed in Los Angeles. The video is a montage of vibrant slices of life but ends on a quiet moment at home. Why make that decision?
A: We wanted to evoke a sense of there being something intangible about life that you can’t really say. … When we got toward the end of the video and the violins are pulling this raging torrent of sound falls through you and then it cuts away, you sort of realize that being alive doesn’t have a limit on it. Everyone finds moments in their lives where you just stand back and you’re like, This is what it means to be alive right now. I find it in nature a lot. I was in North Carolina about a year ago and my wife and I hiked up a mountain and it opens up on a vast mountain range. At those moments you just stop, This is it. This is what its about right here. I think it’s like the idea of capturing those emotions in the moments we least expect it as opposed to trying really hard to do these things that we think make us feel like we are alive.
Q: What can we expect from the Beachland show?
A: At the Beachland show, we are going to be using an in-ear [monitoring] system that we’ve been putting together for the last few months. That will help us to translate these songs in the best and purest way possible. That’s taking us to a focused and concise performance that we’re trying to convey. … There’s something special in Cleveland that you don't find in other cities. When I was in LA when we were shooting the video, I was talking to them about what Cleveland is. 'Cleveland is for Cleveland, man. You guys are all here against each other. When you’re in Cleveland sure there is competition, but we are all rooting for to succeed.' I’m really excited to be able to share the emotion of putting this album out in Cleveland first.