The ever-whispering and quiet Ray LaMontagne stepped away from his private life to share some insight with Up On the Sun about his new album. How quiet is he? He currently is not listening to any music other than his own to focus on the tour and his own sound.
"I went into sonic overload, so I'm allowing my brain to just shut everything off," LaMontagne says.
One artist it sounds like he has had on heavy rotation is The Black Keys. If you recently gave a listen to Ray LaMontagne's latest album Supernova and thought to yourself, "This sounds like a Black Keys ripoff," it might be because Dan Auerbach assisted in the production of the record.
"I have loved [Auerbach]'s records, and we've been wanting to do something for years," LaMontagne explains. "Having his ears and perspective on the album helped me."
It had been four years since the last we had heard from LaMontagne. He had collaborated with his Pariah Dogs to produce and record God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise, which sparked the hit "Beg Steal or Borrow." Before releasing Supernova, LaMontagne was known for his soulful folk twang and moaning blues-filled tunes such as "Trouble" and New Orleans-inspired "The Best Thing." So, after reaching such commercial success, it would do no good for LaMontagne to stop now.
"I would start songs and not finish them," LaMontagne states. "I had a big batch of songs, but nothing excited me. It didn't feel like the right record. It wasn't until I wrote 'Supernova' that I got excited. I thought, 'This is fun; this is interesting to me.'"
LaMontagne says that once he had finished writing the song, he had decided to tap into his influences, which ranged from everything starting at early-'50s British rock 'n' roll to new modern blues rock.
Constructing Supernova wasn't easy. LaMontagne not only turned to friends to put their point of view on the album, but also for some sound advice. Elvis Costello said it best when he advised, "You're the only Ray LaMontagne there is, so just trust that voice."
"Basically I had to stop getting in my own way," LaMontagne interprets from Costello's wisdom. "I didn't have to be so hard on myself. I didn't have to push myself as hard as I have in the past. It wasn't working anymore. It worked when I was younger, and that's something I learn over time."
He goes on to explain that when you're starting a career, you have to push yourself to be better and never accept yourself where you're at. But, at a certain point, it becomes unhealthy and he had reached that point.
Enter Auerbach, who put a new set of ears into the album. LaMontagne trusted that Auerbach would bring other gears and perspectives in the room.
"I produce my own records all the time, but I think it's healthier to work with other people to make the record better than you could. Hiring a producer, sometimes you just have to get out of your own head and see things differently."
Bottom line, the secret to a standout album, as stated by LaMontagne, is hitting the studio. "Once you get into the studio, the songs blossom."
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