Indie rockers Allah-Las reinvent that retro California sound

Allah-Las play “Better Than Mine” from their new album “Worship the Sun” in the KEXP studio. Video by Jim Beckmann, Scott Hoplainen and Justin Wilmore; edited by Scott Hoplainen, KEXP

On a side street in the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles, there’s a dive bar called Ye Rustic Inn, equipped with an old school jukebox and chandeliers. One night, Miles Michaud, the vocalist and guitarist for indie-rock band Allah-Las, found himself there, sitting next to an older man.

“This guy was talking my ear off and proselytizing at the bar. I thought it was interesting that he was giving me all this advice, but at the same time lamenting all the bad decisions he had made in his life,” Michaud said.

So the musician put it into a song. “Better Than Mine” is now the last track on the Allah-Las’ most recent album, “Worship the Sun,” which came out in September.

Photo by Aaron Giesel

Allah-Las band members play on vintage instruments, including a 1965 drum set and a discontinued mahogany Gibson. Photo by Aaron Giesel

The band, who were announced in the 2015 Coachella line-up last week, formed in LA in 2008. Michaud, along with bass player Spencer Dunham and Matthew Correia on percussion grew up in the hilly California city. The final member of the band, Pedrum Siadatian, who plays the lead guitar, met the others while working at Amoeba Music, an independent California music store. Now, they all consider Los Angeles home and the Allah-Las are happy to admit they sound like a Los Angeles band.

“There’s elements that people outside of LA associate as being characteristic of Los Angeles, but I think we’re just doing what comes naturally to us,” said Michaud.

Allah-Las listen to and take inspiration from a wide range of music, much of which is showcased on their weekly music blog Reverberation Radio. When the group sat down to write the melody for “Better Than Mine,” they were listening to West Coast country, bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers, International Submarine Band and the Byrds. They wanted a more upbeat song to close the new album and thought “why not?”

“It’s sound that we’ve all been into for a long time. It’s indicative of California in a lot of ways — it comes from a big city, a more liberal country perspective,” said Michaud. “It’s not traditionally Midwestern or Southern Country. It’s got a little bit of a West Coast twang to it and that’s something we can associate with.”

Local Beat is a weekly series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

SHARE VIA TEXT