KEXP at MFNW, Day 2: Love As Laughter

photos by Kyle Johnson
review by Chris Estey

In the glory days of the Velvet Elvis, I saw a Love As Laughter show that damn near changed my life. Charged with bitterly cantankerous energy, Jayne and a couple of misfit musicians of the time (late 90s) bashed and snarled out a set that seemed like a violently dysfunctional marriage between Pussy Galore and what we now know as Jay Reatard. I don’t know, maybe it was the cough medicine I was on (I was pretty sick that Sunday afternoon, thank God for matinee shows, I was passed out in a couple hours), but it was like seeing the New York Dolls reborn, literally shoved back through a very tight birth canal. The band had formed in 1994 but I just hadn’t encountered them yet, so when I drooled all over Jayne at Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen later that week where he long-time worked as a waiter, his response was seemed an insouciant, “So fucking what? Where have YOU been? I’ve been kicking ass for awhile.” Sadly, I was not impressed with the album I picked up in spite of Jayne’s ego; The Greks Bring Gifts (K Records, 1996) seemed a shitty cut-and-paste of Sonic Youth basement experiments, but later on, with more pop-oriented albums like 2001’s “Sea to Shining Sea” and “Laughter’s Fifth” (both on Sub Pop) I could feel that incredible live energy that made that weird daytime set one of my very favorite of the 90s. Definitely check Sam Jayne (with Ivan Berko on bass, Zeke Howard on drums, and Andy Macleod on guitar, I believe, but who knows who’s with him now, considering his temperament and reputation for terrorizing collaborators) out live as Love As Laughter, and let me know how the new album Holy (made with a cameo from pal and fellow unreliable narrator Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse) sounds (on the Glacial Pace label) as I am dying to hear it.

Interview with Sam Jayne
by Jim Beckmann

Jim: You’re touring with Oxford Collapse, right?

Sam: That’s the tour right now. Some of the shows are with just us alone and some of the shows are with local bands as well.

Jim: So they were talking about you guys yesterday. Do you have any trash to talk about them?

Sam: Not really. They’re really nice. So far it’s been really smooth. No problems. Not that those should be expected, but they happen.

Jim: You’ve toured with some bigger bands, like Modest Mouse.

Sam: Yeah, and with some dramatic characters in all of those groups.

Jim: How long have you been playing with Love As Laughter? Something like fourteen years, right?

Sam: I’ve been playing in touring also with bands other than Love As Laughter and Lync since like 1991, when I was in high school.

Jim: And you’re from the Northwest.

Sam: Bellevue, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. And now I’m in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood called Williamsburg.

Jim: How has that been treating you?

Sam: It’s good. It’s constantly changing. You know, New York is New York and it’s a big intimidating city, but within that there’s a big community of people doing music and art that’s probably still considered underground and cool.

Jim: Is that why you went out there?

Sam: Yes. I’ve been up and down the West Coast so much, touring when I was younger, and I knew enough people on the West Coast, that this seemed like a bigger jump. And I’ve been living there for almost seven years.

Jim: So you’re practically a New Yorker!

Sam: No, I’m practically a tourist. But I’m not one who adheres to much to one city because I tour so much and I have favorite places everywhere.

Jim: The new album has been get a lot of good publicity, and you’re in the current issue of Rolling Stone, right? With the Jonas Brothers on the cover?

Sam: We have a lot in common. You know, they probably like Honey Bunches of Oats. So do we.

Jim: And the album came out in June, right?

Sam: Yes, on June 22, which is a strange time to put out an album, right in the middle of summer, because there are lots of people vacationing and not really paying attention to new releases in the music world. So, for the rest of the year, we’re just kicking it and going out and seeing who’s heard the record and pretty much playing it for whomever wants to hear it. Then, starting in 2009, we’ll probably put a lot more effort into major touring.

Jim: But you do have a lot of dates coming up.

Sam: A lot on this Oxford Collapse tour. And then maybe in the fall, we’re not too sure what we’re doing, but something is going to happen.

Jim: And you just played here, at Musicfest NW.

Sam: It’s good to be in the Northwest again. Tonight, we’re heading up to Seattle to play the Sunset. We’re packing up all of our gear right now and hoping some people turn out. Last night was great, though, over at Berbati’s Pan.

Jim: That was with Port O’Brien and Pseudosix and Nada Surf.

Sam: I’m really only familiar with Port O’Brien on that bill. I’m not even that familiar with Nada Surf. I hear they’ve got some hits on the radio.

Jim: Yeah, they’ve got a few.

Sam: I think they’re huge, actually, but I don’t know.

Jim: Actually, they’re from Brooklyn also.

Sam: Oh yeah, we hang out daily. We sit down for coffee and all that.

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