Listening Local LEspecial

The band Lespecial will play two sets tonight at the Falmouth Drive-In. The first will accompany a screening of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.”

New York-based rock trio Lespecial are bringing their “heavy future groove” to the Falmouth Drive-In this Friday. The band decided to utilize the drive-in concept and the spooky time of year and will be live-scoring the vintage horror movie “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” for their first set, followed by a set of their original music.

I caught up with vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Luke Bemand and chatted about the band, music life in the time of COVID-19 and film scoring.

How did the band get started? Your sound is pretty diverse. What are some different influences you guys each brought to the table?

The three of us have been playing together since high school, 15 years now. Rory, the drummer, and myself even longer, since we were 13 years old or so. I actually bought a guitar after hearing his band in grade school and convinced them to let me join before I could really play. We grew up hanging out at each other’s houses and playing music, a lot of Primus and things like that. When we linked up with Johnny in high school we were really into bands like The Mars Volta, Medeski Martin and Wood, Radiohead. We would play a lot of weird, experimental music in Jon’s basement. Lot’s of effect pedals, dangling a microphone into a car muffler for example — things like that. People in our school weren’t as into it as we were at first. But the band gave us an outlet to express ourselves, and that’s never changed for us. When you grow up playing music together things are naturally going to change, new influences and styles emerge, but I think at our core music has always been a way for us to express ourselves both individually and as a group. If it comes out sounding diverse and weird, well, that’s a direct reflection of the three of us. People that think our live sets and albums are weird should hear us at rehearsal.

What are some plans you guys had that changed this year due to the pandemic?

Safe to say every plan! We had a busy summer of music festivals around the country lined up, we were especially looking forward to our debut at Electric Forest in Michigan. So of course that was a bummer, but we were able to make use of time off the road after our busiest year of touring yet. We used the newly found time as an opportunity to work in our home studio, The Music Cellar in Millerton, New York. We worked on some film score projects, contributing to a VICE documentary series, scoring a short film for a project called CINEMA-19, and were able to finish our third full length album which will be out in December.

While we miss touring and playing for our fans, we may not have had the opportunity for these projects on the road so that was a silver lining.

Tell me a little about the concept of this show playing a live film score in the first set?

This was another project that we had been talking about doing for years, but it was really this shift in the music industry and the emergence of drive-in shows that made it possible. I am a self-proclaimed horror movie fanatic, a spooky boi if you will, and horror movie scores have always been a bit of an inspiration to our sound.

After we had worked on some film scoring projects over the past few months we had honed our skills at it a bit, but it’s a world we’ve always wanted to delve further into. The fact that it’s a silent film from 1920 gave us free reign with how we wanted to approach it. The creepy atmosphere and demented carnival vibe were things that made us feel at home while we’ve been working on it. We’re using instruments we’ve never used during live sets before: mandolin, melodica, various synths and percussive sounds. It’s going to be a very different sound for us, but still retain the Lespecial character. And our visual artist and lighting designer, Vin Pugliese, has some very cool things planned. I think it’s the most exciting project we’ve taken on. I’m excited and a bit spooked for people to hear and experience it.

How do you plan to keep pushing the band forward during these strange times?

After the live film score set and our Le Getaway outdoor event in Kent, Connecticut, we’ll be focusing on the release of our new album. We put a lot of work into it over the past year, particularly throughout the pandemic. We feel that it’s our best album yet and we’re really excited to share it with our fans, because as much as we miss touring and playing music for our fans, we know they miss experiencing it. So we’re happy to be able to offer people something new during this time. It really is something.

Lespecial will perform at the Falmouth Drive-In on Friday, October 9. Doors open at 6 PM, and the show starts at 7:15 PM. For tickets visit www.falmouthdrivein.com.

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