Known for their eclectic fund sound and incredibly passionate fan base, Lettuce has set off for their Beyond the Clouds tour and are headed for The Paramount in Huntington on March 22. Their latest album, Witches Stew, is a fresh take on contemporary jazz and experimental music, and offers a tribute to Miles Davis, one of their greatest influences. We spoke to guitarist, Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, about his love for the music, his bands biggest influences, and what the future has in store for Lettuce.
Long Island Press: You guys have been playing together for 26 years, right? Can you name some consistencies that have contributed to your success? In other words, what hasn’t changed throughout the years?
AS: Our love to play with each other, our love to make music, our love to improvise, our love to explore, try and reach new places. We love the funk.
LIP: So how do you see your fan base evolving as you grow as a band? Do you have any trouble appealing to a younger audience?
AS: I think it’s been quite the opposite. We’ve started to appeal more to a younger audience. Some of the connections in our band have been Pretty Lights, and us doing the show with the Floozies, and us just starting to maybe get into a little bit more improvisation with our own tunes, I think we started to attract a really broad audience. I think our music really is for everyone, no ones excluded.
LIP: What do you love most about your fans?
AS: That they enable us to do what we love to do. Without them we couldn’t be doing this. Our fans are everything. If they didn’t love what we were passionate about, then that means that we really couldn’t exist.
LIP: You guys formed in Boston, but where are you guys based out of now?
AS: We’re all in different places. Some of us are in Colorado, there’s a lot of people in New Orleans, then we have Los Angeles and Portland, Maine.
LIP: What are your bands influences?
AS: Oh we have a lot of influences. James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, A Tribe Called Quest, the list can go on and on, Bootsy Collins. I believe we thank a lot of our influences on the inside of our “Rage” record.
LIP: Is there a specific location that stands out as exceptionally memorable, where the crowd really surprised you guys?
AS: There’s some cities that were like, really strong and always give us so much love, like New York, Chicago, and Denver. But sometimes when we’re touring and we haven’t hit places as often, and we end up in like, Huston, Texas, and I’m not sure how the crowds going to be. Then we come out, and, I just remember on this last tour that it was so poppin’ and the crowd was so lively and into it. I was like, wow, Texas is really rowdy.
LIP: Who came up with the name Lettuce?
AS: It was a couple people joking about it. We’d say things like, “Hey, Lettuce borrow your bass amp?” or “Would you Lettuce sit in for a song during your set?” or “Would you Lettuce borrow your drum set?”
LIP: What advice would you give a young musician who hopes to follow in your footsteps?
AS: Don’t follow in our footsteps. Make your own! Our path isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else, that’s why you got to find your own. And be passionate about what you do, because everything is based off of your passion.
LIP: What do your future plans look like?
AS: In two weeks we go back out for the second half of our Beyond The Clouds tour. And we are continuing to work on a new record. We went into the studio this past year and recorded 29 tracks, I think. So we’re making our way through them!