La Luz on Seattle and Surf Rock

Doing your first national tour can be tough. Just ask Shana Cleveland, leader of the retro-surf rock band La Luz. While driving from the band's hometown of Seattle to San Diego, the AC in the tour van stopped working. No problem, claims Cleveland. After getting the AC fixed, the band headed out to Marfa to catch some holiday fireworks.

From a tour stop in San Diego, Cleveland was kind enough to talk to DC9 about her band's debut national tour, recording an album in a trailer park and how she's looking forward to eating some authentic Texas barbecue.

How long has the band been going?

We started practicing about a year ago. That was July of last year and we played our first show in October.

What are your expectations coming to Texas for the first time?

Well, I've been to Texas before. Me and [drummer] Marian [Li Pino] played in Austin before when we were in our old band. We are excited about being in Marfa for the 4th of July.

The band's sound is very interesting and hard to pin down. Was it intentional to go for the retro surf sound?

It was the sound that I had in mind. I had been listening to a lot of old rock and roll records. I wanted to do something different. Other band members all decided to create something around the surf genre.

Did you listen to a lot of surf music when you were young?

Not when I was young, no. I think I started listening to it when I was in college.

There doesn't seem to be a Seattle sound anymore.

Country rock with a lot of vocal harmonies seems to be the Seattle sound right now. There is a lot of good music in a lot of genres in Seattle now. The weather makes you want to spend a lot of time at home. I think that helps us create a darker take on the happy vibes of surf rock, stuff like the Ventures.

Are you a vegetarian?

I am not a vegetarian, but some of my band mates are. I am super excited to try the barbeque in Dallas. I want ribs.

Do you think rock and roll still has a male bias?

I think that's a reason why we wanted to keep this band all female. When there is one guy in a band, a lot of times, people will just want to talk to him or ask him questions. The sound guy will hone in on him. We didn't want to deal with that. People ask each of us if we are singers, like all of us are the singer. It's like we are an a capella band.

Why name the band in Spanish?

I don't know. Marianne our drummer speaks Spanish. We tried out a lot of different names and we decided to try something in Spanish.

Did you record in a trailer park?

Yes, we recorded it with my friend Johnny who happened to live in a trailer park. Actually, he just moved, so we won't be recording at a trailer park anytime soon. But that's where we did our full-length album that will be coming out in October.

Being from Seattle, you have to have an opinion on who is better, Nirvana or Pearl Jam?

Nirvana, of course, Nirvana. That's no contest.

La Luz perform on Saturday, July 6, at The Where House in Fort Worth.

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