Lake Street Dive (Photo by Danny Clinch)
The four-piece, jazz-influenced act made up of (shown above, from left) Mike "McDuck" Olson (trumpet, guitar), Rachael Price (lead vocals), Bridget Kearney (upright bass) and Mike Calabrese (drums) plays The National on March 19 as part of a tour to promote the new album “Side Pony,” released in February. We caught up with Price to ask about the album (why a side pony?), talk about her performance at Lockn’ this past year with Jefferson Airplane and how one should eat pizza in Richmond.
Richmond magazine: Where are you right now?
Price: We are in Seattle. We are playing the Neptunes, a place we have played before.
RM: Ya’ll met at the New England Conservatory of Music. How did that happen? Same classes, mutual friends?
Price: New England Conservatory is a very small school, only 800 students, and we were in the jazz program, which is just 100 students. We started at the same time in 2003, and everyone knows who everyone is pretty early on, because it is such a small program. Just the boys became friends with each other early on, and I wasn’t really (I mean, I knew them) friends with them. Then McDuck (that’s Mike Olson, we call him McDuck) saw us play individually at a first year concert thing and came up and asked us if we wanted to be in a band.
RM: Where did the name come from?
Price: It comes from a street in Minneapolis where McDuck is from that used to have a bunch of dive bars (it doesn’t anymore) on it. It is where a lot of local musicians cut their teeth and played. I think his uncle played there and started there.
RM: When did you all stop playing in your other bands — Bridget was in another band, you were a solo act, etc. — and decide to go full-time with Lake Street Dive?
Price: We all decided to go full on, quit everything else we were doing, with Lake Street three years ago. We have been a band for 12 years. I was doing sort of a solo jazz thing, McDuck was a preschool teacher (he is really wonderful with kids), Calabrese was in a country band. There was a year that things were a little hairy, and we had to decide we had to quit everything and go solo. We had to tell each other, “This is special, let’s go for it.”
RM: You have played multiple spots in Richmond. Some of our more intimate venues, actually. How do you guys feel about now playing one of our largest venues?
Price: Yes! We played two times at Balliceaux and then we got to play The Camel. That was our big step up. (Laughs). Actually, the last time we played there, that is a show that sticks out in my head, as one of my favorite shows for the last four years. I just like the room and the crowd is amazing. I remember thinking that the crowd was really excited.
RM: Do you rock the side pony?
Price: There are some functional aspects as to why it is hard for me. I have a lot of hair, tough to get right on the top of my head without it falling immediately. The second thing was in the process of recording the song, Bridget figures out that she just looks really splendid with a side pony. As soon as she put it on her head, we were all like “Oh! you should always have the hair style — it looks so natural on you.” It is kinda Bridget’s thing now. That song (“Side Pony”) has been interpreted multiple different ways. A side piece, a second lover, etc.
RM: Tell me about Lockn’. You got to sing and play with Jefferson Airplane. That had to be amazing. How was it?
Price: Being on stage was remarkably relaxed and easy, which I wasn’t expecting, and a bit surprising but also, rehearsing (those couple of long days) and getting to hang out with Jorma and Jack was a pretty inspiring experience for me. They are so warm and so giving and really invited me into their world. By the time we got to the performance, it felt so natural and welcome. I thought it felt like we were a band.
RM: Who are the songwriters in the band – on this album?
Price: I wrote just one, the song called “The Stakes.” The rest are almost evenly distributed between the other three.
RM: The performance in Richmond is sold out (which is indicative of how much we love you). Do you see the city when you are not on stage here?
Price: I have one hilarious memory of Richmond. One time, we were driving through — we weren’t playing. But we were starving and we needed food. McDuck and I really like to eat gluten-free pizza because we are gluten-free. And we really like the Mellow Mushroom and we Yelp search. This is a long driving day — like 12 hours of driving. We all looked disastrous, like in our pajamas. Our sound guy (who was also our driver at the time) had this funny habit of just dropping us off and going to get gas — and disappearing forever. So we go pick up pizza (he drops us off in the parking lot behind an alley) and walk back. But we are starving, so we just sit down in the parking lot eating the pizza, looking pretty bad. A car drives by (really slowly) and just yells “LAKE STREET DIVE!” And there we all are just sprawled out in a parking lot, eating pizza, in the middle of the day.
Here they are, not in pajamas and doing "Side Pony":