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Lake Street Dive find themselves on the cusp of stardom, though they insist they will always be the same people whose stage outfits once consisted of matching sweater vests. “We realize this could all go away tomorrow,” says Rachael Price. “But that won’t change what we do. We want to continue to do this for a long, long time. This is what we love. We just want to make sure we keep enjoying ourselves.”
The new album, Bad Self Portraits, which is being released by the Northampton, Massachusetts indie label Signature Sounds Recording as the follow-up to a self-titled debut and subsequent EP, is a microcosm of Lake Street Dive’s evolution of the band from “a weird alt-country jazz group to a pop-soul juggernaut, that turns ‘60s influences like Brill Building girl groups (“Stop Your Crying”), British Invasion rock (“Bobby Tanqueray”), horn-driven Stax R&B (“You Go Down Smooth”), Motown soul (“Use Me Up”) and even The Band-like gospel blues (“What About Me”).
All four members of the band take part in the writing. The Bridget-penned title track is a wry commentary on how those selfie iPhone photos are just a cover for loneliness, but it could also refer to the rest of the album, each song a polaroid glimpse of a band that is constantly evolving.
“Nothing we do is set in stone,” says Olson about the band’s recording process in the studio, and that they are, first and foremost, a live outfit. “Songs change when we start to play them for people. That determines the stylistic direction more than anything else. When we record a song, that’s just a snapshot of where it was at that moment. And it continues to grow as we perform it.”
And as things are rapidly growing for Lake Street Dive, the nine years that they spent focusing on their musical development has left them with one constant to strive for. “We are named in homage to dive bar bands,” says Calabrese, “we were, are and always will be a dive bar band. Whether we’re playing for 10 people or 10,000 we want them to have that feeling.”