The Lassie Foundation is a lot like that old flame you never quite give up on: You hear the name and you smile; a chance encounter on the street quickens your pulse; lasting romance seems only another full-length album away.
In my mind — excuse me for being less dispassionate than usual here, because my fandom over the years has become friendship — the Lassies are one of the most overlooked southern California bands of the past decade. Maybe their niche was too small, or their labels lacked clout, or their output too erratic. But their music found a sweet spot — the perfect marriage of West Coast pop and distortion-coated, bass-thick Britpop. If Ride covered the Beach Boys, or vice versa.
Now the Lassie Foundation has re-emerged with three songs, its first new material since 2006. Available as an EP, the band will self-released the disc starting today on its website (digital release is forthcoming). “We wanted it to be three separate singles,” singer Wayne Everett says. “Calling it an EP is almost too much. …. It’s less planned out than that.”
- ||| Exclusive download: “Three Wheels.”
Like many on-again, off-again projects, the Lassies worked around geography, day jobs, families and other band commitments to write the new songs. The trio of Jeff Schroeder (now the guitarist in the Smashing Pumpkins), guitarist Eric Campuzano and Everett laid the groundwork, and bassist Jason71 (who fronts Eskimohunter and tours as Jason Falkner’s bassist) and drummer Joel Patterson (Sky Parade) flushed out the songs.
Says Schroeder: “The songwriting process has remained surprisingly consistent over the last 12 years or so. A lot of the songs start as basic riffs or chord progressions most often by Eric or myself that are then elaborated upon by the ensemble, and then Wayne will write his melodies and lyrics at the end.”
It’s the band’s sturdiest material to date — a sonic comparison might be this summer’s second album by Darker My Love. There’s the simmering psychedelia of “Jetstreams,” the slow-mo colorburst of “Three Wheels” and urgent guitar assault of “Under the Moon,” all 7:20 of it, and maybe the exclamation point in their catalog. In fact, Schroeder came up with the outline for “Jetstreams” in the Smashing Pumpkins dressing room while on tour.
“To be quite honest, the reason we continue to make music is because we love each other as friends and collaborators,” Schroeder says. “We’re proud of what we’ve done and we feel there’s no reason to not make new music together.”
After three albums, several EPs, a split CD and a retrospective, Everett says the band will be happy to merely release what they can, when they can. “I wish all our lives were as simple as when we started, and we had time to do this on a more serious commitment level,” he says. “But for now, putting out small batches of songs is the most freeing part of it.”
||| Everett will be scheduling shows as a acoustic material, performing solo material as well as Lassie Foundation songs.
Photo from the Lassie Foundation’s last live show two years ago.