Good funk and food seem to go hand-in-hand. You’ve got Disco Biscuits and now Lettuce? Of course, you wouldn’t generally think of these two on a plate together; yet, the bands have formed a great bond over the years after falling into the same music genre: funk. And if you thought the tie to food stopped at their names, sorry! The members of Lettuce have a love for smoothies made by their bandmates, Ryan Zoidis (sax) and Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet). So, instead of the old days when bands were all for drugs and booze, the musicians in Lettuce prefer to keep their bodies clean—after all, take a look at the band name!
But that doesn’t mean they lack in the “fun” department. While speaking with Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, Adam Deitch, and Eric Krasno, I was practically drooling over their New Year’s Eve plans. And it didn’t stop there—the three musicians and I shared plenty of laughs and witty comments. But between the fun, we were able to get some info on their winter tour, their spring plans, and what it really means to be Lettuce.
You have a few shows coming up in the city; how’ve you been prepping for them?
Adam Smirnoff: We’ve been preparing extensively.
AS: We’ve been emailing back and forth with different ideas and also talking on the phone about what we wanna do. We’re pretty in sync with what we have planned. So we can plan it out of the phone and over email, but when we get together, we can have a nice run through in Chicago.
Adam Deitch: Our main concern is Chicago ‘cause it’s a really, really big one, so New Year’s Eve will be huge. And New York will be just like a homecoming for us because we’re from around there. So we’ll see our hometown fans and we wanna give them something special. You know, we love New York and it’s our home, so we really wanna prove and show Chicago something special because we don’t play there that often. And then New York will be just a nice, relaxing homecoming.
I’ve never heard someone use the term “relaxing” when talking about New York City.
AS: (Laughs) I also think that with us doing four sets over the course of two days at the Brooklyn Bowl will give us a sort of freedom at our hometown that will really allow us to jam and get to places where we feel comfortable here. So, I think in that aspect, it’s a lot more relaxed for us versus a huge New Year’s Eve show where we haven’t played in a while, so we’re gonna fly in early and try to go over stuff tomorrow night and get back on the horse.
AD: And to add to relaxing in New York, I felt really relaxed just like I did when in Vegas. We’ve just played there so many times.
Well, why play Chicago for New Year’s, then?
AS: Well, we have some good friends there that do amazing promotions and throw festivals and we decided to throw a party with them. They’re good friends of ours and they’re good people. So people out there need funk.
Eric Krasno: Yeah, and our booking agent is there and so he gets to celebrate with us and party. It’s like a great big funk jam.
That’s a good way to celebrate! When on tour, what’s a typical day like for you guys?
AS: Well… A good day on tour is when we wake up to a smoothie made by our saxophonist or our trumpet player.
EK: A really, really good smoothie.
AS: And it has anything that could possibly be healthy. And then we have some good tea, enjoy the town a little bit if it’s a nice day. And then our crew is getting ready while we’re lucky enough to do this, and then we come in and do our soundcheck and then we will find the time to run over new tunes, or older tunes that we haven’t played in a while, then after that we’ll get some dinner and check out some of the bands that will be with us while we’re on the tour and then we play. And then do it all the next day.
AD: And then after the shows, we listen to the show, because we record every night, and we listen to it and hang out and take notes on what we liked and what we didn’t like and try to make each day better by studying what we did. So every day, we’re just carving, or building a road to being better.
AS: We’re all passionate about creativity and we have to spark that creativity and work on it some more each night.
EK: Absolutely, and I think that comes from the feeling that you get… It’s totally indescribable. It’s just the best feeling you can get with a band being at the highest level it can be. So everything we do, we want to be better individually and as a band. So we want to give the audience the best performance we can.
AD: And like we said, we really look forward to getting together with each other when on tour and being able to play with each other. So it keeps us interested, too.
EK: I feel like when I’m not around the guys, I’m not as good! I respect them and I want them to respect me, so everything I do around them is a little bit higher and I think it really builds on our friendship.
Wait, since you guys are only together when on tour, how does an album even get written?
AD: We do a lot of sending ideas around through email so people can hear what everyone else is thinking individually. By sending music around and getting feedback, we get a lot of help from each other. And then we get together on tour and really work things out.
EK: And just to clarify that, we all have home studios so we’ll create a demo and that’s what we’ll be sending around.
AS: Or we’ll send something by voicemail. Like, that could be the next big Lettuce song. It could be something with complete tracks, or just something sung into the phone.
EK: Yeah, you never know when inspiration is gonna hit you, or when a song idea will come to you. When inspiration strikes, you’ve gotta document it. So once we see each other on tour, we’re all dying to share what we have together. Sometimes we’ll even play it that night if we feel it’s ready.
Seriously? So if that happens this tour, you may be playing something really new and then songs from your 2015 album?
AD: Oh yeah. We’ve been playing a lot of that material for a while and then there’s stuff that we haven’t been and hopefully that stuff will come into the rotation probably.
Makes sense. I saw that you guys played at Camp Bisco hosted by the Disco Biscuits a few years ago. How’d that happen?
AD: I’ve become really good friends with Mark Brownstein [bass] and he has been a huge supporter of us for years. So he just wants Lettuce to be known as much as possible. And a lot of bands in the scene have been Lettuce fans and they just want us to grow. So he’s always been a supporter of us and he’s a great guy. And through him, we met the rest of the guys.
Aw. I can imagine. Is there a particular venue—other than New York and Chicago—that you’re excited for?
AD: I’d say we’re all going to be eventually looking forward to the next time that we play Red Rock.
EK: Yeah, and Burlington, Vermont. That show is always really fun. Looking forward to them. It’ll be a great crowd for sure!
Vermont is pretty cool! So, once spring rolls in, what do you guys think you’ll be doing?
AS: We have a tour, don’t we? I’m really bad at this. I think we have a tour in March and April?
AD: We tour January, February… Adam’s band tours in March… April, we start doing festival dates. Then Jazz Fest in New Orleans and then I believe we’re doing dates surrounding those events and then we get into the summer festival season.
EK: And we have some video content coming out, too. We’ve been working on some video content, so that’ll be pretty cool.
AS: So look forward to that!
Don’t miss Lettuce as they pull into the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY on Jan. 23. Their new album, Crush, is available now. For more on these guys, visit their site: lettucefunk.com.