Musicians are always changing their sound, evolving and reinventing their music from album to album, lest they become stagnant. Local rockers LP and the Federales are no different, except they may actually be ahead of the curve—they’ve changed their sound even before their debut album hits the streets.
Although their full-length In the Hole—a joke about the monetary status of the band—drops at a CD-release party at the Badlander Saturday, Nov. 3, LP and the Federales recorded the tracks in February. Since then, the band has tweaked their sound and already feels the album isn’t completely representative of what they do.
“We’ve been trying to put out this album for over a year, getting together the finances, recording, mixing, mastering,” says bassist Chad Ekegren. “So now it’s finally coming out and it’s been so long since we wrote these songs that they aren’t necessarily the songs we want to be known for, and we’ve written new material that is a lot different. But hey, we’re just glad to have finally gotten the damn thing out.”
Ekegren describes In the Hole as “reggae roasted rock pilsner with a funky aftertaste.” The album has an easygoing jam band feel, laden with acoustic guitar and Luke Purinton’s rather grungy and at times raspy vocals. The songs’ melodies sound similar to a sped up Jack Johnson or a slowed down Authority Zero. Much of the album was written before the current lineup—Ekegren, Purinton, guitarist Bill Birkenbuel and drummer Abe Jindrich—was even established.
“I actually wrote ‘In My Mind’ when I was in junior high, that’s how old some of the songs on the album are,” says Purinton, who says the band’s recently exchanged its reggae roots for a heavier, pure rock approach. “Overall we are pretty proud of the CD, but we are ready to say goodbye to a lot of the songs on there as far as our live show goes.”
The band got its start in typical college town fashion—in the UM dorms. Ekegren, from Minneapolis, and Purinton, from Billings, met their freshman year in 2002 in Jesse Hall and bonded over reggae. The two began to jam together and a vision of a touring party band began to develop; they just needed a drummer.
More than two years later the duo met Jindrich at a Sean Kelly’s open mic night, where he’d just finished pounding out beats on an overturned bucket.
“There was an empty slot for the open mic night and after a few beers [my friend] convinced me to sign up,” says Jindrich, a Missoula native. “I didn’t have any drums to play on, so he found me a bucket and I scrounged up some pieces of wood from the back alley and I got on stage and just went at it.”
As a trio LP and the Federales played scores of house shows around Missoula, garnering a loyal local following, and then began to tour. They met Birkenbuel last year when he opened for them as a solo act at the Railyard Ale House in Billings.
“The only reason we let Billy join the band is because he made us laugh,” jokes Ekegren. “And then he got good at guitar after that.”
Birkenbuel’s addition prompted the band to try a new approach. Since the current lineup was cemented, LP and the Federales have written and performed new music at a torrid pace—they boast more than 50 new songs since recording In the Hole. The band’s hope is that they can make enough profit from sales of the new album plus a full slate of winter shows to record another album.
Part of that equation may prove difficult, however, since LP and the Federales make it a priority to barely charge for live shows. Their usual $3 cover—and never more, unless multiple bands are on the bill—is part of a formula that’s made them a popular party band willing to cater to the crowd.
“Having cheap shows has helped us out a lot,” says Purinton. “We’ve had a lot of shows where there are more people and the reason is because it’s cheap as shit. We won’t make that much, but we don’t care—we’d rather play in front of more people.”
“If the crowd is really digging the tunes, we might turn a four minute song into a 12-minute one,” adds Birkenbuel. “And if they aren’t digging the reggae, we might switch it up to a faster pace to get them moving.”
And with their newfound rock sound, LP and the Federales are even more apt to flip that switch quickly.
LP & the Federales play a CD-release show at the Badlander Saturday, Nov. 3, at 10 PM. $3.