(All photos are courtesy and do not belong to spiralbound in any sense)
by Amanda Beland
Landlady is a music collective based in Brooklyn, New York. The group is currently on tour promoting their recently released EP titled “Heat” which features both originals and covers, including the below Sly Stone cover “If This Room Could Talk.”
Frontman Adam Schatz founded the group in 2010. Schatz, of Boston, was at New York University studying jazz performance. He was playing and booking shows around the city in various projects at Landlady’s birth.
“I just felt like I was getting better and so I wanted to put together a band that could match that,” said Schatz. “I was used to limitations. I was used to there always being someone involved who couldn’t do a certain thing or wouldn’t like doing a certain thing and I really wanted the freedom of possibility so that any arrangement idea, any dream of what any of us could or wanted to do, there would be a group of people who could do it and make it happen and sort of set the standard of quality.”
When the band began, it was relatively normal-sized – their first release in 2011 “Keeping To Yourself” had six people on the record, including Schatz, according to the band’s bandcamp page. Their second release in 2014, “Upright Behavior” is more reminiscent of what the band looks like today.
“Right now there’s sort of an 11 piece rotating cast,” said Schatz. “There’s definitely a core five, but I also know for every person in the band who can’t make a show – and I feel like it’s an important show for us to play – there’s someone that I know that can come and fill in and really be able to engage with the music. They’re all friends with me so there’s a connection that allows them to really get the bigger idea of what we’re trying to do.”
The result of this big band vibe is a big live performance – often times the stage is peppered with multiple horn, guitar and bass players, Schatz on piano or organ – nestled in front of a set of drums – sometimes, the band even hosts more than one drummer.
“How the audience perceives a live show is very important to me because I want it to feel unique and I want you to feel like you’re apart of it,” said Schatz.
The music and the energy draw you in immediately and make you want to stay for the long haul. In 2014, a New York Times article described the band’s genre as “art rock” – comparing them to other performance-centered groups like Talking Heads and TV on the Radio.
For Schatz, the description of art rock is “flattering” – but he describes the project differently.
“I say it’s surprising – I say it’s personal rock music, I say it’s weird … it gets very small and then it gets very big,” said Schatz. “It just happens to be very good. Everyone’s so good. So if you look at any of us individually, you’re like ‘wow’ and then you see what we’re all doing together, you’re like ‘wooooow’. It just hits you in the right way.”
Schatz says he grew up around music.
“My parents both play music,” said Schatz. “They formed an electric country band together once all the kids left the house. They played in a western swing band when they were kids, like when they had just met in Boston. There was always a piano around and it was always important for us to learn – but it was never an oppressive family band vibe which I am very grateful for.”
While piano and saxophone are his main instruments – Schatz is always looking to add more musical knowledge into his songwriting.
“I joined Man Man two years ago and they sort of asked me to play a bunch of instruments that I couldn’t really play very well,” said Schatz. “That forced me to just get better at it – so like guitar, and bass. I played marimba and drum stuff too. It’s good. I’m okay at those things. Eventually I might perform on guitar on some things, but right now, Man Man was the only project I did that in. But – it’s fun for songwriting too just to get a different instrument in your hand and see what it feels like.”
Landlady plans to release their third full-length – featuring songs from Heat – in the near future (date unknown).Currently the band – in smaller form – is on tour in California with plans to play shows across the country throughout July – including Boston on July 22. To find out more information about the tour and to hear “Heat” – visit their Bandcamp, Facebook or follow their tour adventures on Instagram.