- Courtesy Lonnie Walker
- Brian Corum, thinking a tune in the studio
Feels Like Right leads Hear Here: The Triangle, a fantastic, proof-of-energy affair that gathers new tracks from 17 of the areas best bands. You couldnt ask for a better opener: Youthful and spry, concise but imaginative, this sounds like a Lonnie Walker less out to prove its wealth of ideas and more agreeable to simply bound within them. Using builds, collapses, restraint and release like turnkeys, every part of Feels Like Rightits hook, its romance, its scissoring guitar line, its perfectly timed percussionsticks after, what?, one spin.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: How long has this song been floating around for Lonnie Walker?
BRIAN CORUM: Weve played it for a little while live, and we stopped. We play it every once in a while live. It was written by Justin [Flythe, keyboardist] at first. Im the primary writer, but this was a different song in that it was written at first by Justin. Then I came on top and reorganized it. It was co-written between me and Justin, and most songs arent that way. Its usually me, and the band does the arrangements. It was written through that core melody [Hums it.] over and over again, and I took it and rearranged it a little bit to get the builds. Its basically a song thats all about builds.
Indeed, the song keeps building and releasing and building some more. How does that work structurally, and at what point did you decide thats what it needed?
It rests on a C note, and it holds that. The lyrics start out lower and get more and more intense until its like a scream at the end. Before that, it didnt have that one C chord held. It just kept going over and over again. I couldnt find a lyric and melody to put over that, so that was my contributionand the lyrics, of course. I wrote the chorus and lyrics. Through practicing it, it kind of came together like that. We decided we wanted to keep the drums sparse until the chorus came, and then the rhythm kicked in.
You mentioned that you have written most of the Lonnie Walker songs so far, but are there others in the works that are more collaborative?
Songs that Ive written alone, theyre still written by me, but everybody else has definitely stepped up in playing a larger role than was played in the beginning when the band started and even some on the first album, These Times Old Times. It is a change. There is at least one other song that I can think of that were working out that wasnt conceived by a melody that I had. Its called Come Down Off Sleeping. When we record practices, well go off on weird tangents. If I can pick out something Justin had another keyboard line he was working on, and I just started out with that. It started out with all of us playing through and recording practice and writing on top of it.
Thats less practice and more writing, though, it seems. Is that a general strategy for Lonnie Walkerto get in a room and just play until you find something to write from?
We will sometimes if we have enough time to practice. A lot of members are slowly trickling here, to Raleigh. Raymond [Finn], the drummer, just now moved in, so it makes it a little easier to write and record our practices and play together than just getting together before shows and playing, which is what we have to do a lot. Its kind of hard if you just want to focus on the set. Its hard to write new material. Ive got a lot in my headat least songs that are mostly written. When Im with the band, they may come out different, just through us jamming on them. Theres another song called Earth Canals that, just through recording it, we got the very end, which is something that wasnt planned. Its this long drawn-out thing that goes through different segments. That was conceived all during practice.
How many members of Lonnie Walker dont live in Raleigh full time?
Just two members now. Justin floats now. He lives at his parents house, but he floats back in between. Justin, who plays keyboards, and Josh [Bridgers], who plays bass. Eric [Hill, guitarist] lives in Raleigh now, and so does Raymond. Three out of five are here now.
You started Lonnie Walker, so it seems like it might have been a struggle to cede some of the control. You know, its no longer only your baby.
Sometimes, it has been a struggle, but I try not to be like a control freak. If its a song that I wrote originally and its something I totally disagree with, I wont let it happen. But you have to let other people put personalities in the songs, and ultimately it helps things out when that happens. A lot of times Ill ask my friends, like musician friends, Oh, what do you think about it? Ill get my friends to help me to determine if a part is sounding good. Well usually work on a song a little while before recording it anywayat least we do now. To answer your question, yes and no. If its something I feel strongly enough about, yes. But also you gotta keep everybody involved.
This sounds like a love song. You seem to be hoping something lasts.
I dont usually write very many love songs, and I feel like this ones a change because its about love and infatuation. That part was a challenge to me that I wanted to address. I thought of different ways, lyrically, to approach that sound. A lot of songs, I think the topic of love can be too cliché. But thats not cliché, I realized. It was a challenge at first, but thats how it started.
Was it more of an exercise and challenge as a writer than an ode to someone?
Yeah. Its not really about a specific person, for me. I just wanted to write a love song in a different way.
Since recording Feels Like Right, has this song changed live? And did it change between the stage and the studio?
We have changed it live a little bit now that we have recorded it. We do that sometimes. When youre in a studio, there are so many ideas that arise that are good, and some that are bad. That intro that we recorded to the song was never an idea until me and Justin were zoning out making what sounds like Eastern-sounding music. I like to record everything in the studiogood or badand filter it out. The good you keep. There are happy mistakes. So we have changed it, the way that we play it now from the way it first began. The chorus is different, and the melody of it for me. Before, when I sang it, there were a lot more words in the chorus, and it was jumbled. It didnt feel good lyrically. I rewrote the chorus in the studio.
You recorded Feels Like Right for Hear Here with BJ Burton in Raleigh at Flying Tiger Sound. Thats a nice room and a nice space to work. Did having that luxury and that freedom help you develop things like that intro?
Definitely. Working with BJ Burton is really great. Youll find that most people on the compilation will say that. I havent heard anyone complain. Hes definitely doing bigger things. He helped mix some of the first album. It was produced by Chester [Gwazda], who produced Dan Deacons latest album and Future Islands and a bunch of Baltimore bands. He lived in New Jersey then, and it was hard to get him back down. It was all through e-mail communication. I met BJ, and he came and helped mix. Thats when our relationship started.
Lonnie Walker plays Local 506 Tuesday, Aug. 11, at Local 506, at 10 p.m. Motor Skills open, Future Islands headline and Steph Russ DJs. Admission is $5. Lonnie Walker plays Berkeley Café Friday, Aug. 14, at 10 p.m. Javelin opens and Future Islands headline. Tickets are $6.