After an extremely productive eighteen month break in which their lead singer released a solo album, their bassist recorded his second album with The Elected and their drummer recorded with Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley reconvened to release their fourth album, Under the Black Light, to both fan and critical acclaim.
The time apart proved to enrich the band’s collective creativity and the album displayed a maturing band that wasn’t afraid to experiment. The creative chutzpah paid off as Rilo Kiley began garnering comparisons to California music legend Fleetwood Mac.
Bassist Pierre de Reeder is both modest and humble about the comparison. “That’s a flattering comparison. Fleetwood Mac is an incredible band and we take it as a compliment. I don’t know if there’s similarities in terms of social structure, there’s nowhere near that much sex happening in our band (laughs), but musically it’s more accurate,” says de Reeder, on the phone from California during a “weird in-between” where the band has recently made some festival appearances and the first few dates of their headlining North American tour, which has kept them in Los Angeles.
One of the highlights of the last few weeks, has been the band’s opportunity to pleat the famous Greek theater. Of that experience de Reeder says, “It’s always been a goal. We’re like, wow, this band played there, and that band played there.”
When asked how Under the Black Light compared to their earlier albums, he admits “It’s dancier, that’s the major difference. It’s a littler more groovy.”
“More groovy” is a bit of an understatement, when one considers the horn kissed choruses of “15” and the retro 80s pop feel of “Breakin’ Up.”
The groovier approach paid off as the underground darlings began getting attention outside of their hipster fan base and home made “Listen to Rilo Kiley” t-shirts began popping up all over the place.
In addition to the fresher sound, Rilo Kiley also chose to work with Jason Lader and Mike Elizondo who have worked with Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, and Fiona Apple, respectively. The outside producers represent the cream of the current music crop.
“As always, we’re in one of the worst musical periods in history. I love that,” de Reeder muses about the current musical landscape.
Given the on going state of flux in the industry, and the unlikelihood that things should settle down anytime soon, the question begs to be asked of any band, “What does the future hold for you?” The band is choosing to take a more fatalist approach to things. “Who knows? We never know?” de Reeder cackles with just a hint of gravity to his laughter. But perhaps leaving it all up to chance is the best way for the band to ensure its continued success.
de Reeder’s band-mates, co-front persons Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett, both began their show business careers worlds away from just under the radar music sensations, as child actors. Lewis appeared in 1989’s Troop Beverly Hills, while Sennett had reccurring roles on both the Nickelodeon sit- coms Salute Your Shorts and Boy Meets World.
While neither continue to act on either the big or small screen, television continues to contribute to their careers as a number of their songs have been featured on hit shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Weeds, and Nip/Tuck.
When the band is not providing the soundtrack to must-see TV or its fan’s lives, the band is often using its name and talent for good.
Rilo Kiley took part in recording a compilation for the Elliot Smith memorial fund, in part to honor their fallen friend. In addition to keeping the memory of the troubled musician alive, the Elliot Smith Fund has raised money for a variety of art-centric causes including Free Arts for Abused Children.
Rilo Kiley has also contributed to the Yellow Bird Project to raise money for the Elliot Smith memorial fund. The Yellow Bird Project is a venture which works with musicians to design special edition t-shirts to be sold exclusively on the Yellow Bird website to raise awareness of both the designing band and a charity. All bands which participate in the project decide which charity receives the donations from the sales of their shirts.
After seven years in the business, one has to wonder if there’s anything the band would like to let their fan base know. de Reeder laughs and replies “Is there anything they don’t know?” After a momentary pause, he adds “We have total admiration for the people we play for.”
Rilo Kiley will be playing at Terminal 5 in NYC on June 2 and 3. For more visit rilokiley.com