Rock n’ Recipes: Lightheaded
One of the more pleasant musical surprises, for me anyways, has been New Jersey’s Lightheaded. They just released the Good Good Great EP, a teaser of sorts for their forthcoming album in 2024. It’s a collection that’s blending all eras of pop songwriting, as I’m sure you’ll hear if you spend a little time with the EP, courtesy of Slumberland Records. We talk a little about their history with the label, then get a sweet recipe for a Puerto Rican influence Chicken Stew with Corn.
ATH: You’ve just dropped your newest EP, Good Good Great, via Slumberland Records. How did that come about? What was it like when Mike first reached out to the team? Instant yes?
Instant yes! It came about through the great Slumberland Records band, The Umbrellas. We were listening to a ton of their debut EP, Maritime, and we let Morgan know about it. She was really sweet and asked about our project, so we sent her the album we had recorded. Then, let us know if we were everin California, to come play a gig with her, so we immediately booked our flight lol.Everything from there is a magical Morgan mystery about how the deal came about.
ATH: There’s a huge history on the label, what’s your dream bill with Lightheaded as the headliner? No more than 3 bands!
Cynthia – The Aislers Set, The Aislers Set, The Aislers Set! lol jk
Uhm, The Aislers Set, Jeanines, The Umbrellas…. awwww best friends night
Stephen – Rocketship, Black Tambourine, the Pains of Being Pure At Heart!! HARD QUESTION dang, wish I could get Pants Yell! on there!
ATH: If we were to go back and listen to your first release, Cowboys and Constellations, there’s a marked difference in the vibe, though obviously linked. How did you all arrive at the bolder, polished pop of Good Good Great? Was it better options for recording or just a focused intent on making a bolder sound?
We went and recorded the EP at a home studio called Historic New Jersey with Kevin Basko, as opposed to home recording on a Tascam 8 track cassette for C&C. He helped us achieve the sounds we were aiming for with records by people like Francoise Hardy and The Aislers Set. He was able to fill in a lot of gaps in the songs with his production. I don’t think we are really a big studio band, we like the home recording, but Kevin just really knew what he was doing and had gear with a more grand scale of quality.
ATH: Along those same lines, it seems you’ve traded out some keys for the strings…will there be a world when the two meet, or are we to assume that keys will be limited going forward?
Definitely more of a strings band. From the start, that was really the vision in our head. We see keys as more of a fun melody thing, than as an integral piece to our vision. There’s definitely going to be a keyboard on the LP coming out and especially on a single we are planning to go in the studio and record at the end of November. We LOVE the way organ sounds on tracks by Felt and the Aislers Set. We actually have a keyboard player now, Jo Roman, for the first time in our existence as a band. She adds so much, so especially live, the keyboard will be super integral. We were huge fans of her band Starcleaner Reunion, so to have her sprinkle some of what we love, really means a lot to us.
ATH: My favorite track on the EP is “Orange Creamsicle Head.” Seems like a political song, and if I’m wrong, so be it. But, if so, how does one make a political song feel like a sweeping pop opus?
Oh man, that’s actually really cool! That song is about a girl who dyed her hair orange who broke my heart last summer lol 🙂
ATH: One of the things I wonder about is the timelessness of your sound. It feels like you’re straddling all sorts of pop eras. Does that make it difficult when thinking of booking tours or putting shows together, in terms of finding like-minded peers or venues that fit the sound?
We had a period of time where we just played shows with anyone. We were like heavyweight boxing champions. Anytime, anywhere. Now though, we are way more selective. Cynthia is getting deeper into finishing her degree. Stephen is old and tired of traveling after work. Sara is busy. So for us to take a gig, we try to make sure we are a fan of the bands that are playing.
We actually don’t book gigs. We are super bad at that. People just ask us and it’s usually like minded individuals, it’s worked out really good lately, especially. Tony Molina asked us to go on a tour and one of our favorite bands, Jeanines, was going, too. Also, another one of our favorite new bands, the Smashing Times, just asked us to play with them on November 18th. Jeanines will be at that one, too. We feel lucky!
ATH: A debut LP is scheduled for 2024… does the band have that mostly written, and if so, are we getting fresh songs or new arrangements from the EP? Is there anything new we can expect?
The debut LP is completely finished, done, and dusted. It’s off to the presses, quite literally. The songs are actually mostly updated versions of songs that appeared on the Cowboys and Constellations demo tape. We updated the songs with better recordings and feeling. There are two new songs off that album that didn’t appear on C&C, being Hugging Horizons, a song about a long distance relationship during the pandemic, and Still Sitting Sunday, which is a really lovely tune that came out as one of the best on the album, thanks to some great production from Jarvis Taverniere.
ATH: Now that the EP is out, and a LP is on the way, then what’s next on the Lightheaded agenda? Either on a band level or personal level. Where does one go after accomplishing goals so few ever do?
Aw, man. Kind of you! Uh, we want a few things out of this year and we are going to get ’em. We are going to go into the studio soon and cut a 7 inch, a-side and B-side. Two of the best songs we’ve ever done so far. On top of that, we have big plans for where we end up and where we play in 2024.
We are going goingback back to Cali, in the early summer. We are talking to Europe at the moment… our people are calling their people. We might be able to make an international deal go down to send Lightheaded over in July. Then for August, we’d love to figure out a little tour around ourarea. That’s as far as we have planned, but who knows!
ATH: What’s your recipe? Is there a story to it?
My mom is Puerto Rican and really a pretty good cook. One of my favorite things that she makes is a chicken stew with corn. She used to do it up big when I was younger, but she makes it in an instant pot now and it comes out really really great. Probably one of my all time favorite dishes, gotta be honest…!
8 skinless chicken drumsticks, 28 oz
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, plus 1 tbsp for garnish
8oz can of tomato sauce
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of Chicken Better Than Bouillon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 corn on the cob, husked and halved
You throw it in a big pot and let it simmer on low for maybe 35 minutes until it’s tender. To start, you gotta season the chicken with salt and garlic powder. Next up, is to saute the onions, scallions, tomato, and garlic in olive oil until it’s soft, for about 2 or 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of cilantro and stir it up for a minute. Add tomato sauce, Bouillon, cumin, and stir it in water.
At this point you’re gonna put the chicken in the sauce and top it with a cob of corn, until you cover it and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Natural release and top it with any remaining cilantro. If you’re going to do it on the stove, it’s the same thing, just double the time to 40 minutes :-)))).