Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

A Flash of Lightning Love

Written by Lauren Stern

If you haven’t heard of Lightning Love yet this year, that will change soon. The indie pop trio from Detriot, Michigan, has been around for a long time, but has been receiving tons of attention lately due to their new release, The Blonde Album. Grabbing praise in the past from publications like Paste Magazine, MTV Hive, and, these guys are slowly moving up from Detriot’s best kept secret to a big name act. While they aren’t as big as some of their indie pop counterparts just yet, their newfound successes prove that this is a band to definitely watch out for this year.

The Blonde Album matures the band’s sound from sad indie pop to angsty indie pop. Singer Leah Diehl writes as if she’s spilling her heart and brain out, covering themes that most misguided twentysomething females can relate to.

Diehl has been pretty busy preparing for their recent album release and stream of tour dates, but she put all of that aside to speak to me more about the new album, the band’s increase in recognition, and what it was like to perform alongside Mayer Hawthorne.

Lauren: Many are saying that 2012 is the breakout year for Lightning Love, do you agree with that statement?

Leah: I don't know, I hope so, that would be cool. It's definitely the year of the most exposure we've ever had. So, I guess. It would be amazing if it was.

Lauren: I've seen tons of reviews of The Blonde Album, which by the way, is a really great album. Many are calling it "angsty indie pop." Was this something you were going for when writing the record?

Leah: No. I don't particularly go for anything. Honestly, I really like pop music, so I write pop songs. Musically, I just try to be honest. So I think I'm just kind of a mid-twenties angsty person. That's kind of common.

Lauren: It definitely is. Is this generally something we can expect in the future or do you think you may go a different route next time around?

Leah: Our first album was a little more sad, I thought, and then this one was a little more angsty. I feel like the stuff that I'm writing for the next album is once again a little more sad but it's still going to be a three piece. We might expand to some different instruments, but I don't know, I think it will always have the same sound.

Lauren: What do you think was the biggest challenge in writing or producing this record?

Leah: It took a longer time to get this album out. So I ended up taking songs from kind of a longer period of time where, if it was up to me, I would write an album in a short amount of time so it all has one feeling and one idea. So when I was trying to pull these songs together, I wanted the best songs but I was trying to also make them all sound like they were from a certain place and a certain time and they all had some sort of common idea, just because that's my preference, and that was kind of difficult.

Lauren: Yeah, I can see that. Do you think that not having a strong male presence has been a problem for you breaking out in the music industry?

Leah: No, I don't think so. I think when a girl is writing her own music and singing it and playing an instrument, people are interested. I find that getting the respect from people when I talk to them, that's a different story. You know, sound guys, I'm going to try and not be too specific but just people in the business that you work with, I feel like they don't . . . that's kind of hard if they don't take me seriously sometimes. They definitely go to my male bandmates first.

Lauren: Yeah, you're definitely not alone in that. For a lot of women, especially those who are breaking out into the industry, being a female is a problem in certain situations.

Leah: Yeah I feel frustrated a lot, I guess. I don't think that people take me all that seriously sometimes. They kind of doubt my abilities and intelligence and my bandmates joke about it all time, just how like people always go up to Aaron and Ben first, always, and always just assume. They are always like, "Who writes the music who writes the lyrics?" and it's like "I do! That's what it says! It says that I did!" I don't know, I get it a lot. "Did you really write that one too?" "Yes! I wrote all of them!" You know, it's frustrating.

Lauren: Yeah I can see how that would be frustrating.

Leah: Yeah, you know, "That one's good so you had help with that one, right?"

Lauren: I want to also talk about "Bobby Thompson" because that song features a male point of view. Is that something you want to incorporate more in the future?

Leah: I did it just because, this is so lame, but the lines overlap. So, I just needed someone else to sing with me and it's my friend Paulie who is singing with me on the album. But when I wrote it, I had Ben sing it. Yeah it's not even so much the male/female thing, it's that two voices singing can be better than one voice singing and my band mates are guys, so . . .

Lauren: That was one of the songs that stood out to me because it was very different from the rest of the songs on the album. I thought it sounded like The Hush Sound, where you have a male and female singing back and forth. I really like that kind of indie pop.

Leah: Yeah I wrote that song and I was actually being kind of serious and very, very casually dating somebody. I think I was feeling kind of vulnerable. He really liked me and it kind of felt good even though I didn't really like him that much. In my car, I was just kind of humming that, and with the lyrics I was like, "That kind of sums that up." So I just played the line for Ben and he was like "You should turn that into a song." So we just threw it together really quick to play for house parties as an encore but then people really liked it so it's on the album.

Lauren: I read in an interview where you said that your songs are very personal, they describe some of the experiences that you went through; it's really relatable. But I was wondering, are any songs on the album from another person's point of view, or are any songs about someone else's experiences that you felt inspired by?

Leah: Yeah they are all from my perspective. It's just a personal thing, I have nothing against people who sing from another person's perspective, that's just kind of awkward for me to do. I'm not much of an actress, or at least I don't think. So I tend to just like to keep it personal.

Lauren: I also want to talk about some of the other tracks off the record, especially my favorite "I Know." I really love the instrumental part of that and the lyrics too but that song really stood out to me on the album. How did that song come about?

Leah: That was one of the earlier ones I wrote for this album. We had an album before this and I was trying to think about with this second one doing something a little bit different and so I like that slower pace that can still kind of sound like a last song. So I was trying to do something a little bit different and I was really into the idea of not doing the obvious chorus at that time. There are a few songs off the album that don't have a straightforward chorus. There are parts that repeat but the chorus comes down and it's a lot quieter and I really enjoyed messing around with that. The lyrics, I was just really feeling at that time how time was getting away from me and I really didn't know what I was doing with my life.

Lauren: I think that's why I like that one the most.

Leah: Yeah. I played that for Ben and Aaron after I had written it and they were like "Yeah, yeah that was so good," especially my brother, he was just all about it. It gave me some confidence to try new things.

Lauren: That song really stood out to me and after I listened to the album, I read reviews where you were talking about other songs and I was like, "That song is the most prominent on the album" because it was so different from everything else that I heard before and after it. But speaking about the other songs, I read about "Together" and how it was about rumors that got started around Minnesota once you guys got bigger and bigger. Based on that experience, are you a little nervous about getting really famous?

Leah: I guess I never really considered the possibility of getting really famous. But, I try to keep my lyrics ambiguous enough that no one can quite pinpoint, you know, "Oh she's definitely saying something about me here."

Lauren: Does it make you nervous though? Are you nervous about the future of the band? I know it's pretty exciting because things are happening left and right for you right now.

Leah: Yeah, oh yeah. I've really been trying to prepare myself with the idea that people are literally not going to like this. There are many people who like it, but in every situation with every artist ever there are people who don't like them and you're just going to have to not take it personally, not take it so hard because that's just life. So, I feel a little less nervous now that I'm trying to be cool with that idea and not take it really hard if someone says they don't like it because that's just what happens and it's OK if they don't like it, didn't fail. So yeah, I'm not feeling as nervous anymore.

Lauren: That's good. Speaking of getting well known, I saw that you guys recently opened up for Mayer Hawthorne. How was that for you to perform alongside him? He's kind of a big act, and he's been well known for a while.

Leah: He is! As a side note, his manager contacted us to play that show because he really liked the song "I Know." He heard it online and wrote to our label. So, you guys have similar tastes.

Lauren: Yeah I guess we do, that's awesome.

Leah: He wanted to see more of us so that's how we played that show. It was awesome. It was probably the biggest show we've ever played, if not, one of the biggest. It was surreal, definitely. I had to spend the week before mentally preparing myself for that and had to drink no caffeine. I was trying to stay calm for the whole thing.

Lauren: Anything coming up that you're excited about?

Leah: We're playing the Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati! Our fall is still kind of open [so now that the tour is over] I think we're going to take a moment and breathe. For now our plan is to do some new recording for our next project.

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