Los Angeles psych rockers LANTVRN return north
Camerin Kelly certainly isn’t the first musician to grow weary of the Los Angeles rock scene. After more than a decade in L.A., Kelly, vocalist and guitarist for psychedelic grunge band LANTVRN, found himself ready to make a move. But rather than Portland, Brooklyn or any of the other usual suspects, Kelly decided to pack his bags for the somewhat less-than-bustling metropolis of Fort Bragg.
“Fort Bragg, yeah it’s very isolated up here, but it actually gives me a lot more time to focus and make much more potent decisions when it comes to recording or shows or anything,” Kelly said.
The move spread the band members throughout California. Bassist Tom Davies remained in L.A., while drummer Alex Quinn—like Kelly, a Paradise native living down south—also recently returned to Northern California. But according to Kelly, the newly inconvenient geography has helped refine the band members’ collective vision. “I guess the thing I’m happiest about is the fact that we’re still playing but we have a different set of goals. It’s no longer a goal to be an L.A. band trying to do this or that. We’re just musicians.”
The group’s latest effort, the two-song Hidden Door EP released on Tuesday (May 5), was recorded just as Kelly was preparing to make the move back north. The result is what Kelly calls the band’s darkest release to date, channeling disparate influences like 1980s no wave, 1990s shoegaze, and more contemporary drone, doom and noise bands into a cohesive, if somewhat disquieting, sound. This darker side of LANTVRN’s music is not necessarily intentional.
“We’re being a little more honest than trying to write just pop songs,” Kelly said of the band’s songwriting process. “I see myself as a positive person, but there’s a lot of stuff that I think everybody suppresses in life and it’s a nice thing when we can tap into that writing songs. The emotionality of the songs might come off as dark at the time, but it’s more just opening up ourselves as human beings and as musicians.”
The EP is being released for digital download and on CD, as well as on cassette tape, a medium that, according to Kelly, has played an integral part in the band’s history, mostly by necessity. While other L.A. bands were pressing vinyl or passing out professionally duplicated CDs, budget constraints forced LANTVRN to be a little more creative, individually dubbing mixtapes to give to promoters, or anyone else who would listen. This process also allowed the band to explore the aesthetic side of its creativity.
“There’s definitely an arts-and-crafts side to the whole thing for me,” said Kelly. “I really enjoy tangibility. I like holding a cassette in my hand. It’s nice to have that thing and see what the artist or the band has created.” To that end, the band partnered with a number of artists for the visual component of the latest release, including Kelly’s brother, Chico-based photographer Kyle Forrest Burns, and local visual and sound artist Erik Elliot, who directed and edited a VHS video to accompany the release of the EP.
The band members’ disconnection from Los Angeles coupled with their collective past and present Northern California connections made Chico an obvious choice for the Hidden Door release show—Friday, May 15, at the Maltese Bar & Tap Room. “I’m super stoked to be doing it in Chico,” Kelly said. “I don’t want to do a record release in L.A. I want to do a record release where my friends are. Chico is my community; I don’t live there now, but I owe the city of Chico a lot of the inspiration I got growing up. It was an alternative place. I’m glad that Chico still has booking agents out there representing stuff that’s off-center.”