Aly Spaltro, better known under her stage name of Lady Lamb, takes some time to talk to Maddie Harris about her new record, Tender Warriors Club, as well as her Living Room Tour that comes to The Sinclair (Cambridge, MA) on February 10th.
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to talk with me, I know you’re probably very busy preparing for your tour. I was actually going to start off with talking about the tour, since it is a little unconventional being that most of the shows are in living rooms. Can you tell me a little bit about how that came to be or what you’re most excited for about that?
Yeah, I got the idea after playing a couple house shows around New York throughout the years and had really memorable experiences doing that where—you know— I was playing to just 50 to 70 people completely unplugged and I just love the intimacy of it. I went on tour with some friends and I was asking them if they’ve played any living room shows and they recommended to focus exclusively on living room shows. They said they’ve done a couple of tours that was and really loved the experience. And I just knew that the new record I made would be really conducive for small rooms and luckily the company wanted to work with me on booking the tour and we got a bunch of fan submissions, so essentially I’m playing in fan’s homes, or art galleries, or places that they run after hours—that sort of thing.
Very cool, that must mean that a lot of the booking and logistics for this tour would directly involve fans and those who admire your work. How has that been different or interesting interacting with them so much, as opposed to a venue or company? Did you enjoy this more?
Yeah, it’s definitely really exciting to learn who the hosts are and see them inviting their friends on the Facebook event pages. You know, I’ve never really done anything like this before and I’m really glad to involve people who have the room to host the show in their house, as opposed to a traditional venue—which I also love—but obviously this is just a very different type of tour.
Right of course, you mentioned that you think the new EP is conducive to having a more intimate set, so I kind of wanted to talk about your lyrics. You have a pretty expressive and poetic way of telling stories and such and I’ve always wondered, personally, about your song writing process. What do you find is running through your mind when you write?
Well, it’s tough to pin down exactly how it works, but I always write lyrics first, and usually, an idea will come to me in a phrase and I’ll write it down and collect phrases overtime. Sometimes, I’ll write a whole poem and a verse and I’ll set it right to music right then and there, or shortly after. I wrote the songs for this [album] in May and June , and I was recording by the first day of August. So for me, as a process, it was a little but speedier than usual. But in a way, I really appreciated it because it felt more urgent. The songs all came to me in a pretty short amount of time in a burst and I was able to record them all in 10 days. And you know, for me the lyrics are the most important thing, so the music has always been a vehicle for the message.
Yeah, because I’ve noticed on this EP the lyrics kind of take center stage, whereas before on previous albums the production was a bit more intensive. Was that intentional because of the lyrics or did you have an idea behind this album that you wanted to express through that?
Yeah it was definitely intentional. What was not intentional was that I was sitting down to write for my next full length, full band record, but I was noticing that the songs I was writing—they just weren’t fitting their way into the structure that I was trying to make them fit into. For example, I was trying to write drums and full arrangements for a couple of the songs and noticing that it just wasn’t quite what the song wanted, so it was intentional to decide to strip the songs back and try to let them breathe and speak for themselves with very little accompaniment or arrangement. And then like I said, I recorded them live too, so mostly what you’re hearing is just my voice with my guitar or a banjo with maybe just a couple of things here and there for dynamics. But all in all, pretty sparse.
So obviously, you’re starting off tour now. I actually saw you a few years back supporting The Decemberists in Portland, Maine. I was wondering what you’re looking forward to most about headlining your own tour or what you may have in store for us?
I’m most excited to just be playing the way I’m playing. I haven’t toured with just acoustic instruments ever, so this is the most stripped down I’ll ever be touring. You know, a lot of the tours I’ve done on electric guitar, but now a lot of these shows don’t even have amplification. So I’m really excited for the intimacy of that: for the connections, for the lack of a boundary between myself and the audience who will most likely just be sitting on the floor—you know—right there in front of me. So yeah I’m just really looking forward to not having that barrier for most of these shows. There’s a show in the Boston area at the Sinclair so that will be a little bit different, but that’s also the biggest one I’m doing, which I’m also really looking forward to.
So to wrap things up, I just have a question or two left. I was wondering about the title of the album, Tender Warriors Club. What does it mean, or is there a certain type of audience you think you were trying to encapsulate there?
Well, I have noticed over time that the people who connect to my music are emotional people and aren’t afraid of their emotions—and they’re sensitive. And I love that. I love that because I’m the same type of person. So I think that the music draws in like-minded, sensitive people and I find that my closest friends are similar, too. So, the title came to me when I was on the telephone with one of my best friends walking through Manhattan, and she was going through a really rough time. So she told me that she had just bought an impulse ticket to go to Paris by herself and I was so proud of her because, to me, it felt like she was showing courage even though she was really terrified. And so I called her a tender warrior just out of the blue. And then on my walk, I started wondering about what that meant to me and I realized that a lot of my friends are that type of person that, even through difficulty, they care enough about taking care of themselves that they’re courageous, and sensitive, and emotional. It just made perfect sense. It all came together. So while I was writing the songs, right off the bat that was the title. And I would use that title to create this kind of club that fans of mine would collect under—and even merch for it—so we could all be able to spot each other out. Creating like a little tiny community. So yeah, that’s what the records about and what the tour’s all about.
Thank you so much to Aly for taking the time to interview with Maddie Harris of WRBB, and thank you to Morgan at Mom + Pop Music for coordinating.
Listen to Tender Warriors Club here:
Catch Lady Lamb on tour:
Jan 14th | Living Room Tour | Brevard, NC
Jan 15th | Living Room Tour | Atlanta, GA
Jan 17th | Living Room Tour | Jacksonville, FL
Jan 18th | Living Room Tour | Gainesville, FL
Jan 20th | Living Room Tour | Nashville, TN
Jan 21st | Living Room Tour | Louisville, KY
Jan 22nd | Living Room Tour |Champaign, IL
Jan 25th | The Hideout | Chicago, IL
Jan 26th | Living Room Tour | Milwaukee, WI
Jan 27th | Living Room Tour | Cleveland, OH
Jan 28th | Living Room Tour | Detroit, MI
Jan 29th | Living Room Tour | Toronto, Canada
Jan 31st | Living Room Tour | Manchester, VT
Feb 1st | ArtsRiot | Burlington, VT
Feb 2nd | Living Room Tour | Harpswell, ME
Feb 3rd | SPACE Gallery | Portland, ME
Feb 4th | 3S Artspace | Portsmouth, NH
Feb 6th | Living Room Tour | Providence, RI
Feb 7th | The Parlor Room at Signature | Northampton, MA
Feb 9th | The Ballroom at The Outer Space | Hamden, CT
Feb 10th | The Sinclair | Cambridge, MA *sold out*
Feb 11th | The Knitting Factory | Brooklyn, NY
Feb 12th | DC9 | Washington, DC
Feb 13th | Living Room Tour | Philadelphia, PA
Feb 23rd | Living Room Tour | Brooklyn, NY
Mar 1st | Living Room Tour | New Orleans, LA
Mar 2nd | Living Room Tour |Houston, TX
Mar 3rd | Stubbs BBQ | Austin, TX
Mar 4th | Living Room Tour | Denton, TX
Mar 6th | Meow Wolf | Santa Fe, NM
Mar 8th | Living Room Tour | Phoenix, AZ
Mar 9th | Soda Bar | San Diego, CA
Mar 10th | Bootleg Theatre | Los Angeles, CA
Mar 11th | The Chapel | San Francisco, CA
Mar 12th | Living Room Tour | Petaluma, CA
Mar 14th | Living Room Tour | Portland, OR
Mar 15th | Living Room Tour | Vancouver, Canada
Mar 16th | Living Room Tour | Seattle, WA
Mar 18th | The Bartlett | Spokane, WA
Mar 19th | Living Room Tour | Missoula, MT
Mar 21st | Living Room Tour | Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 23rd | Living Room Tour | Denver, CO
Mar 25th | Living Room Tour | Russellville, AR
Mar 26th | Living Room Tour | Dallas, TX