2000 Flourishes

Love As Laughter updates its rock for all ages with Destination 2000

The recognition he accrued from the high-profile cameo came in handy when Jayne decided to do a solo tour behind the first Love As Laughter album as well as book the shows. "There were some real stinkers . . . when I booked the tours they were awful," he says, laughing. "Sometimes they'd be at decent places. Sometimes there wouldn't even be a show because I was so bad at confirming with people. I would be like, 'Okay, somebody told us there's a show.' One time I was on tour with a band called the Seductives, it was a LAL solo show. We were having a terrible time. We showed up in North Carolina, called the club, and they're like, 'There's no show.' And there wasn't. My mistake. We never had any money. We wound up spare-changing it just to get out of North Carolina. Somebody recognized my face from the Beck CD at this coffee place, and we wound up being able to play in front of the coffee place for money."

If his booking proved problematic, so was his need to make the whole room rock and reverberate. "Yeah, it was loud for some people, I guess. And abrasive, which was the point of it. It wasn't acoustic. It was tapes, loop pedals, a Moog, a guitar and a huge amp. I've heard from people who were like, 'Yeah, I saw you a long time ago. It was interesting, but I couldn't handle it.'"

Not having much fun playing out alone, Jayne put together an actual backing band for the second record, the pro-American #1 USA. The record was a critical favorite at a time when people were seriously hung up on whether records with stadium-size hooks could maintain indie cred even if fueled by the same beers 'n' fears.

Love As Laughter: They do it all for you  --  by order of diminishing height (and, yes, this is the best picture they had).
Love As Laughter: They do it all for you -- by order of diminishing height (and, yes, this is the best picture they had).

"#1 USA was kind of a confusing record for K Records," Jayne admits. "LAL hasn't been that consistent of a band because I just play what I wanna play with whoever I want to play with, and that can be confusing to people buying records. It's a rock record. It just rocks. I just get sick of that being the only explanation for it, but I guess that's 'cause #1 USA was pretty straight up."

Oddly enough, for a record that rocks as hard as Destination 2000, Jayne started out making it without a band. Some tracks began with just an acoustic guitar and built up accordingly. "Love As Laughter started out with me doing all the recordings, and I kinda felt it should go back to that and be self-contained," he remarks. "I think #1 USA sounds great, but I just wanted to have more control. Just to actually have the time to mess around with sounds and just learn more about recording."

Take the title track, which has a cheesy alternate-synth groove running underneath it for the duration and is only revealed when the basic tracks are faded out. Or the phased block vocals on "Stakes Avenue," which on the first listen sounded like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion torturing the Moody Blues -- but may actually be rock's first intelligent use of the vocoder. Jayne begs to differ on that last score. "Have you heard that Kid Rock song on the radio -- the country one ["Only God Knows Why"] that has the vocoder on it?" he beams. "I think that song's great, considering all his other stuff sucks. He could've done it as straight country and it still would've been a decent song."

While much was made of LAL's last album's Rolling Stones appropriations, Jayne seems to have moved only slightly forward in the R section of his record collection. "The only things that I listen to lately that I'm pretty much guaranteed to enjoy are Roxy Music and Royal Trux. I really like that Radio Video EP. It's got some cheesy beats on it, and there's one song where they keep saying 'you're so rank you probably try to lick your own skank' over and over," he says, laughing. (At this point, Jayne excuses himself on our phone interview to take a bong hit, which inadvertently makes me lose my train of thought. Either I'm getting more tele-empathic or fiber optics are expanding into all sorts of new frontiers AT&T ain't even telling us about. Call Mom and see if you can smell her rhubarb pie cooking -- right now!)

In going the completion-backward route of assembling a band as you record, you sometimes wind up with spare parts, which is why keyboardist Summer Mastous won't be doing LAL live dates anymore. "We're pretty much a guitar band," Jayne says. "It's kind of unfortunate, but I figured out later that having keyboards live made things confusing. It's just guitar sounds, which was a lot easier for us to do live. I don't think anyone likes it to get kicked out of a band. It's not cool. And I wasn't happy to do it -- no one in the band was. LAL is just going to remain guitar-type music, regardless of whether we were going to use keyboards on the recordings. And Summer has her own projects she wanted to work on, so that made it a little bit difficult, too. Right now we're working on her project before we leave on tour."

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