Some people — douchey people — would argue that chicks cannot really rock. Little Foot Long Foot do a solid job of knocking down that particular stereotype. Joan Smith, Issac Klein and Caitlin Dacey are about set to release their newest album, Oh, Hell, which was recorded with none other than Sir Ian Blurton. Pretty badass, yeah? You can join them at the Silver Dollar in Toronto on Saturday June 4 to help them celebrate their album release — TWM will be there to check it out too. In the meantime, our own Liam talked to Joan about the new album, what they really think about Neko Case, and working with Blurton.
Your debut album, Harsh Words, got some great reviews for its bolshy attitude and gritty hooks. What can we expect with Oh, Hell?
More bolshiness! What an awesome word. Seriously…Oh, Hell, in our humble opinion, is riffier, bigger, darker and more aggressive. It’s a Big Fat Rock Record. The song writing is definitely more ambitious, and there’s a bit less of a tongue-in-cheek attitude with the lyrics – more of a focus on genuine emotions rather than, ‘Hey! Har De Har! What’s up with that?’ Well, except for the song about going out and partying right after your mom dies…that one is pretty har-de-har.
How has the addition of [organist and vocalist] Caitlin Dacey added to your sound?
Bass! And solos! When we added Caitlin we were hooked on the thought of a big distorted organ noise that could fill out the bottom end — it has definitely helped in expanding our sound. To top that off, Caitlin’s a great musician, and whereas before when a song might have leant itself to a guitar solo type thing, and I was not able to fill it in with something psychedelic…that can happen now. The additional female energy is a boon, too.
You worked with the venerable Ian Blurton on this record…
That was definitely a new experience. We had never worked with a producer before who would say, ‘This should change here, this should be added here.” It was both terrifying and amazing to let go of the reins a bit and let him have at it. It was funny to sometimes say, “Actually, Ian, it’s better this way.” and then you think of the decades of experience he has, and his great bushy beard and his steely gaze…but then [drummer] Isaac [Klein] would say something ridiculous, and Ian would say “Really?” and there were more steely gazes…followed by bemused laughter. We ended up with a massive sound and things we absolutely never would have come up with ourselves. Ian also brought us to a studio where the resident dog ate her favourite guitar strap. Good thing I love dogs a lot.
Good quality female-vocal-driven rock is still disappointingly rare. Do you see yourselves as part of a change in the tides?
We most certainly hope so. It’s pretty evident how narrow the playing field is in terms of female “rockers” when you get comparisons made about you, and people can only come up with two or three current female names in the same genre. A couple of years ago The Gossip was one of the only popular female rockish bands, so it was always “Joan sounds like Beth Ditto.” Now The Dead Weather are big, so it’s “Joan sounds like Alison Mossheart.” While those ladies are definitely super cool and it’s great to be compared to them, it’s evident that there’s a really small pool to compare each other to. It would be nice if that pool expands real soon.
On a related note, your songs often come from a female standpoint. I assume [vocalist] Joan is responsible for lyrics — how does the songwriting work in LFLF?
Yup, I write all of the lyrics. I (Joan) sit in my room and I write either an entire song, or part of a song, and that song usually has to do with how angry or cheeky I am feeling that day. I rarely come up with how the song will fit together as a whole. The song is brought to rehearsal and there’s the awkward, “Here’s how the song goes…” and then sometimes Isaac says “this needs to be better”…so then I try not to rolls my eyes and then rewrite some stuff, or we try and work it out and fit the parts together the best we can. Me and Isaac used to date, so there’s also sometimes the awkward “Is this song about me?” question, and then I either say, “No comment,” “No” or “Maybe.”
Your bio describes the band’s performances as a “toe tapping, feet stamping, dance party” – how did you sustain this energy while touring the country?
I could give the sarcastic “lots of drugs” response, but it would just be a huge lie. We are generally pretty lame when it comes to the substance abuse. It’s hard to get wasted and be all rock n’ roll and irresponsible when you are your own tour manager/merch person/driver. So I guess the answer to where we get our energy from is “clean living!” Except sometimes that isn’t true, and we’re exhausted, and in those cases our bio should perhaps read “sarcastic, bitter, angry stomp-fest which is inspired by the shitty sleep we had last night in that tent in a hurricane in Cape Breton.”
OK, I have to ask – what the devil does the track “Neko Case Hate Fucks Kurt Cobain” refer to?
It was initially joke-named this because that is what we thought the song sounded like, and I have been known to be irritated when a band introduces a song by saying, “Hey, what if the Allman Brothers wrote a Primus song? Well I think it would go a little something like…THIS!.” The title ended up sticking though since any time we announced it jokingly, people would laugh, or at least go “huh?” The lyrics have little to nothing to do with the title. It’s just that there’s a country-ish side to the verse and the vocals, while the chorus is pure grungy anger angst. We can’t wait until Neko Case sues us! I love her.
Finally, sum up Oh, Hell in five words.
Please don’t expect pussy music.
You can download a track from Little Foot Long Foot’s new album, Oh, Hell, below!
Photo by Sam Hudecki