When Philly’s Lantern first began to release music in 2010, singer and guitarist Zachary Devereux Fairbrother used the moniker to expunge a cache of lo-fi, home-recorded bluesy solo recordings. This was music he made in the wake of his previous band’s split (he fronted Montreal psych collective Omon Ra II), before he moved to Philly with partner Emily Robb to launch Lantern as a functioning band. Two and a half years and a handful of tours later, and it is releasing its debut long-player Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach – its first collection of music recorded collaboratively – next Tuesday on Sophomore Lounge Records. The release party happens tonight at Johnny Brenda’s, we’ve featured the album all week on The Key’s Unlocked series, and this afternoon, we check in with Robb and Fairbrother to chat about the growth, changes and adventures Lantern has seen in its lifespan so far.
The Key: A lot of what you’ve done up to this point has been either spit-cassette or 7”’s or EP’s – this is the longest thing you’ve released. What’s it like plotting out something of that scope versus something that’s only two or three songs?
Zachary Devereux Fairbrother: Before, it always sort of felt like we releasing sketches, almost. They were very rough recordings, and someone would be like “wanna put it on tape?” and we’d be like “yeah sure.” So we’re piecing things together, and there’s definitely more of a transparency – which is kind of interesting with tape culture, and lo-fi kind of stuff – transparency between where it’s created and when the people hear it. It’s very natural, like you’re getting the raw footage of something. For this, we wanted to branch out in a new direction, going into a studio, and challenging ourselves. The studio was a great eye-opener. We learned a lot about what we could do with sound. It was fun conceiving this record. A lot more was on the line, a lot more was at stake. We were paying to do it, and we wanted it to sound really good, and there was this added pressure.
Emily Robb: Also, because we had never recorded in a real studio before, we didn’t really know what to expect. I remember recording our first song and then going in and listening to it in the mixing room, and being like “whoa, this is what we sound like when we’re recorded well?” [laughs] It was like re-meeting ourselves. Also, with the LP, it was definitely a longer, more played out journey than the EPs are. Especially because with the EP previous to the album, Zach pretty much wrote all the music and did all the track-listing, whereas with the album, I wrote songs, we worked on some together, some separately. It was just a major collaboration. Deciding how to mix them and how to order them and all that was much more of collaboration, which I think probably takes longer than if one person just does it. I think it was just a bigger thing.
TK: Emily, your involvement is notable on “Evil Eye”, a song where you take lead. How did you come to take lead on more of these songs?
ER: I just wanted to. I wanted to write more, I wanted to play guitar more. Previously, on all our EP’s, I pretty much solely play bass. So I just wanted to do my thing more. Zach actually wrote “Evil Eye” and did a demo of it with himself singing.
ZDF: It was just sort of in the studio we we’re like “well, why don’t you try singing it?” and it was like “ok, that sounds cool.”