Lateduster interview

Dan Haugen

Under the glow of Christmas lights in the Turf Club Clown Lounge, Lateduster’s mellow blend of measured percussion, tranquil turntablism, echoing guitar and sedate piano slowly builds above conversation level. It’s not until a few minutes into their accent, when the bartender brings the lighting down another notch, that the whole crowd notices their start.

Sharing drum kit duties is the shaggy-haired duo of Martin Dosh and Andrew Broder (both also of local band the Fog). In matching black shirts, the two stealthily switch instruments all evening. To their left, guitarist James Everest dangles a cigarette from his mouth as he presses down on effects pedals. Everest’s opposite guitarist, Bryan Olson, sits just on the other side of the drum kit with too many toys and machines to operated while standing up.

The four talented multi-instrumentalists that make up Lateduster appear to be so completely wrapped-up in their work that they hardly seem to notice the eye-level audience just a few feet away.

“For me, I’m trying to remember everything I have to do, switching back and forth from drums to keys,” says Dosh, sitting in a restaurant booth a few days later with this writer and two of his bandmates. “I have to not think about anything other than the song I’m playing or else I’d screw-up.”

Besides memorizing chords and rhythms, the quartet also must master the chains of effects pedals that snake out of just about every instrument.

“There are so many pedals to hit. We’re playing our gear as much as we’re playing our instruments,” Everest explains. “It’s a very different way of playing.”

“It’s manipulation of sound through technology as much as it is melody,” Olson comments. “Hopefully it’s musical, too.”

In a live setting, Lateduster has the ability to simultaneously serve as a backdrop to conversation and the room’s focal point. With only the occasional rock crescendo, the band’s volume rarely demands full attention. But for those facing forward, the music becomes an intricate sonic puzzle.

“A lot of times there’ll be some strange sound and people will have to look around to find out who’s making it,” Dosh describes.

“I think not having a frontperson draws the audience in more,” Everest speculates. “To me, it brings focus more to the music than people’s personalities.”

“It’s up to the audience to choose which person they want to watch,” Dosh adds.

“We mostly have our roles. Like in jazz, everybody steps up are is featured in different parts,” Olson says.

Although Dosh is quick to clarify that “we’re not a jazz group.”

“We’re as much comparable to a string quartet as we are to a jazz quartet. There really aren’t any solos,” Everest says.

“It’s so arranged and orchestrated,” Olson adds.

Lateduster’s songwriting process ends up being very democratic, probably in part because they have no frontperson.

“It’s different for every tune,” Dosh says, but “generally it starts with one person having one idea and then everybody else adds to it. It’s a very egalitarian process. There’s not one person who does more. Nobody gets offended by suggestions. Nobody thinks their egos are being stepped on.”

“It’s very organic,” Everest adds.

“It’s fluid, too. Songs are always evolving.” Olson says.

On Friday, Lateduster headlines the 7th St. Entry, and then it’s off to London, where the band has scheduled two shows over the course of a two-week stay.

“This couldn’t have happened without the Internet. The Internet is making it so much easier for independent bands,” Everest says. “In the past, most bands would have to sign with a big record company before they could think about touring overseas. To be an independent band and still be playing London is incredible.”

“We just really wanted to do it,” Olson says.

Number one on the band’s priority list while in Europe seems to be finding new ears for their music.

“[Other instrumental bands like] Tortoise and Godspeed get a good reception over there,” Dosh says. “New York and Chicago are normally noticed as vanguards of this music. We want to make sure Minneapolis gets props, too.”

“I’m psyched to represent Minneapolis,” Everest says. “I’ve always been so proud of this town. I remember going into [London record store] Rough Trade a long time ago and after the clerks found out I was from Minneapolis, they were just like ‘Oh my god. You live in the best music town in the U.S., with Babes in Toyland and Husker Du and The Replacements. It’s really exciting to be part of such a quote-unquote small-market that’s consistently turning out such great acts–Low, Atmosphere, Happy Apple. It’s fun.”

Lateduster plays Friday at the 7th St. Entry (701 First Ave. N., Mpls. 612-338-8388). Victoria, The Jane Lady and The Hated Few open. 8 p.m. 21+.