Michelle, The Lapelles balance youth, talent and success

Local six-piece quickly becoming scene favorites

ThereâÄôs one impressive aspect about MinneapolisâÄô Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles and one downright scary one. Firstly, itâÄôs exceptionally impressive that the band was able to pen, record and self-release their debut record âÄúOrange Peels and RattlesnakesâÄù in under half a year after their formation. Second, and this is the scary part, the band admits theyâÄôve vastly outgrown the representation of themselves on said record. O.K., perhaps thatâÄôs not âÄúThe Evil DeadâÄù scary, but it is certainly commendable and rare, especially considering that Lucy and her Lapelles sound extraordinary on âÄúOrange Peels.âÄù The Lapelles are currently riding the wave of adoration and attention that is the result of being picked as the Twin Cities best new band by City Pages. Armed with ukuleles, accordions, cellos, guitars, basses and drums, theyâÄôve cultivated a lush, energetic sound. LetâÄôs call it âÄúpost-folk Appalachian string rock.âÄù While all six members of the band are accomplished musicians in their own rights, the real weapon is MichelleâÄôs voice. A high-register but driving rifle of a voice, it summons Regina Spektor but boasts a more soulful swagger. Together, she and the Lapelles meld seamlessly to form a sound thatâÄôs almost too promising to be true. A&E had the opportunity to chat with the band prior to their Nov. 21 show at The Cedar Cultural Center. There was tea, a wandering infant-child that belonged to the drummer and much discussion on the most pressing of topics âÄî vomit. How has being voted the best new band in City PageâÄôs âÄúPicked to ClickâÄù competition changed things for the band? Michelle: WeâÄôve gotten more people at our shows. Schuster: It helped us get more radio play. Michelle: More so than before, but they were just playing us on âÄúThe Local ShowâÄù before. Now theyâÄôve played us on regular air time. Lucy, I read you have some pretty notable stage fright. HowâÄôs that been since the shows are getting bigger? Michelle: ItâÄôs gotten a lot better. Is the stream of vomit on the illustration inside your CD indicative of it? Michelle: Am I puking on the CD illustration? ThereâÄôs a stream of something coming from your mouth. Mclain: It might just be melody. Or vomit. Or both. Melodious vomit. Michelle: When we recorded the Radio K thing, I held back vomit. That was pretty bad. But yeah, itâÄôs not too bad anymore. Now that itâÄôs been out for a while, in retrospect, how do you guys feel about the record [âÄúOrange Peels and RattlesnakesâÄù]? Graham: WeâÄôd only been playing three or four months when we recorded it. We just really needed to put something down. WeâÄôve varied on every single song. WeâÄôve sped every one up; weâÄôve slowed every one down. WeâÄôre moving beyond the album. Schuster: It sounds like a band that needs to grow into itself more. And thatâÄôs exactly what we were at the time. I still love listening to it from time to time because it reminds me of that moment. Michelle: WeâÄôve come so far since then. ItâÄôs a nice moment, but weâÄôve gotten so much better. And when people buy the record, and come see us play, theyâÄôre like, âÄúItâÄôs so much better to see them live!âÄù Not that the recordâÄôs bad; whatâÄôs great is you can listen to the album and say, âÄúI like these guys.âÄù But then come see us live and be like âÄúI REALLY like these guys.âÄù Being a bigger band, do you guys mesh well when you collaborate on songs? Or do certain members tend to pull the sound in certain directions? Boman: I think weâÄôre all open enough to listen to the ideas other people want to bring up. I think weâÄôll try âÄôem all and, depending on what everyone is satisfied with, weâÄôll go with that. But thereâÄôs never an extreme butting of heads. If you had my job, how would you guys describe your sounds? Michelle: One guy called us something like âÄúfolk-gypsy-jazz mountain-pop.âÄù Boman: I always liked âÄúVictrola punk.âÄù Honing very rooted, traditional music, how do you guys manage to make it so relevant? Michelle: ItâÄôs not a conscious thing. I think [itâÄôs] the fact weâÄôre all in our 20s but listened to all this older music. WeâÄôre taking where we are now and melding them with our influences from past music. Freeman: We might play something that sounds like gypsy or Latin, but we always try and keep a more contemporary feel that you can dance to. We all love to dance. You can kick something up a notch by putting a beat to it. Mclain: Basically, we drop it like itâÄôs hot. [Laughs] Your first record was self-released; do you guys have any desire to sign with a local label? Graham: WeâÄôre gonna try and take the music as far as we can, and weâÄôre gonna do it as best we can without signing anything. If it gets to the point where we need it, then weâÄôll do it. I donâÄôt think we need it now. WeâÄôre doing great. What do you guys want for the future of the band? Michelle: We just need to continue doing what weâÄôre doing. Writing new tunes and going to cool places. Make people feel good. Playing more shows in front of more people. In keeping with A&E interview tradition, what is the bandâÄôs favorite beer? [Spawns much conversation] Graham: Surly Bender, Two Hearted Ale and anything home-brewed.