One of the most anticipated shows of the Noise Pop festival lineup, February 25 to March 2, Lord Huron’s show at the Fillmore was the first to sell out.
The group’s organically smooth approach to melodic country-rock, heard prominently on their 2012 debut album Lonesome Dreams, features wistful vocals laced with romanticism and heavy doses of lavish harmonies.
Lord Huron’s earlier EPs were recorded only by founder Ben Schneider as a solo artist, but eventually he invited childhood friends to join the band for live shows. We asked Ben about his move from Michigan to Los Angeles, his favorite places in San Francisco and the great outdoors.
Lord Huron performs February 25 at the Fillmore.
Are you approaching concerts at larger venues, such as the Fillmore, differently than your previous gigs?
It’s been great because we’ve been able to play in San Francisco quite a bit. We’ve found everything from small clubs shows there to festival shows. We’ve kind of seen all kinds of crowds and it’s been great every time we’ve come back. We always had a lot of love from the fans and for the place.
Do you have favorite places to visit in San Francisco?
I love Golden Gate Park. We also got to shoot a video at Sutro Baths, which is a really neat place. In terms of venues we’ve had a great time every place we’ve played. Last time we played at the Independent, which is a great venue, and I’ve never been to the Fillmore so this should be a pretty fun experience.
What was it like growing up in your hometown in Okemos, Michigan, and why did you decide to move to Los Angeles in 2005?
It was a pretty standard kind of small town. What was cool about it was the university was pretty close by, Michigan State. So there was a music scene there, believe it or not—a pretty vibrant punk, post-punk scene. That was kind of the first music scene I got into since I started in middle school.
I started my first band and we were able to book shows at coffee shops and whatnot. In high school we started to play in clubs. It was a cool little community. A little group of bands that all swapped tapes and CDs and put on shows together, sometimes at venues and sometimes in people’s houses. It was a lot of fun.
I went to school at the University of Michigan, which is in Ann Arbor, not too far from where I grew up. Once I finished that, I kind of wanted to get out into the world. I moved to southern France for a little while after college just kind of bummed around.
I came back and moved to New York to work as an artist assistant and basically followed a girl to Los Angeles, which is how I ended up out there. I’ve been there for about 10 years now.
Are you still with the same girl?
No, unfortunately not. That didn’t work out but I did end up liking the place so I stuck around.
Other than film or church music, what artists or bands have influenced your style?
That’s a good question. I think a lot of that was stuff that I was listening to early on. I found over time I’ve been able to recognize the things that first impressed themselves on me left the deepest impression—things that I would hear around the house, my parents would play a lot of Bruce Springsteen. I’ve also been influenced by ambient music as well.
You’re a big fan of exploring the outdoors. When did you last spend a lot of time in the wilderness?
Over Christmas I was up in Michigan, not exactly in the wilderness. It was too cold for camping, but I was up in a cottage. Before that, last time I was camping was at the Grand Canyon over Thanksgiving.
It’s kind of hard when you’re on the road to find time. Whenever I get back home, I try to get out for at least a night or two for camping. The good thing about living in southern California is there’s a lot of places to get to pretty quickly. The San Gabriel (mountains) are just a short drive from my house so I try to get up there whenever I can.
If you could put your life on pause and take a one-week trip, where would you go?
Maybe because I’m in the polar vortex right now and I’m thinking warm thoughts, I wouldn’t mind taking a trip to Bali right now.
You majored in visual arts. How have you incorporated this knowledge into your live show setup?
You know, it’s expensive to do stuff in a big scale when you’re touring. It’s something that we’ve tried to figure out ever since we started. Visual arts are such a big part of the project. Not only the album artwork and the artwork that goes along with the music, but just the way we think about it in general.
The way we think about music is often pretty visual. I’d like to start working with projections some more when we get a little further along, but like I said, it’s cost-prohibitive. We’re trying to do the best we can with our limited resources.
Do you have any plans to collaborate with other musicians?
Nothing solid, I’ve talked to people here and there about that. We’re pretty far along with our next record. We’ll start recording it more seriously when we get done with this tour.
Lord Huron performs February 25 at the Fillmore. More info.