QUARANTINED: Michael Lashomb
Guitarist, Michael Lashomb of Annie in the Water took the time to talk with us about what he’s been doing to keep the positive vibes flowing while social distancing. The Annie Boys recently came off a successful Hayley in the Water tour with Hayley Jane covering Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors album while selling out venues including Higher Ground in Burlington, VT. Lashomb himself has also been taking the time to create new music as well! Read below:
How are things going since the impact of the COVID-19?
Well I think globally and especially as a nation, we have a crisis. Everyone on some level has been impacted and I think people are concerned and scared. This is a huge transition. But in a way we can use this time to transform or evolve so I have been able to learn a lot not only about myself but also how I want to carry myself moving forward everyday and throughout my career. Though we aren’t playing shows, I can be at home and off the road, recharging, strengthening and creating. I’ve spent the vast majority of my adult life in hotels, other people’s houses and in my car so sleeping in the same bed every night with food and amenities, I’m very fortunate and grateful. So I’m well, just got to put some good intentions out there for our Mother Earth and our people.
What things have you been doing to keep yourself busy?
Well I have been in a huge creative flow. It started day one of quarantine by writing a new song and the musical process has only gained momentum and direction since then. I’m currently working on a music project that is a collection of songs, ideas, philosophies and experiences that I haven’t been able to really compositionally embrace or produce because of my commitment to touring with Annie in the Water over the years. And this time has allowed all of us in the band to come up with new ideas and plans for the future… It’s almost like the off season for musicians so I’m just trying to eat healthy, exercise, practice, write, record, meditate, and read. Pretty much all the things that are difficult to do on the road, I am fully indulging in now. It’s grounding and engaging which has helped a lot during a confusing time.
How was the Hayley in the Water Tour?
The Hayley in the Water Tour was fun, intense, engaging, mystical and a great accomplishment for everyone. The schedule was demanding and Each show was large crowds and lots of energy but everyone balanced it well. So it was a great maturation process for everyone. It was the first time Hayley had been on the road since her time with the Primates and she totally accomplished all the goals she set out for the tour along with all the guys in the band. It was a great learning process and a good production. The thing I love most about it when I reflect on it objectively is the joy and energy that people emitted every night and how it came from teenagers all the way to people that would qualify as “Senior citizens. Such a huge spread of demographics and people. I think it was a beautiful way for us to have finished out before this unanticipated live music industry hiatus.
(Photo: Shado Congalton)
How has COVID-19’s impact on the live music/entertainment industry effected you?
I have been forced to be off the road from touring but also my band mates all live in separate parts of the state so I have not been able to see any of my musical brothers for over a month. Shows aren’t happening and scheduling at this point, is completely unknown. It’s a very interesting time to be alive. But in a way, there are so many of my artistic friends, actors, and musicians that have been forced into house arrest of sorts. So you see so much interesting, raw and authentic content coming out. Unpolished, uncensored and real time. People you would watch on stage surrounded by lights, in their dope outfits in front of thousands of people are now putting out a little video of themselves fucking around in their pajamas, or playing music, or reading poetry and books or just sharing their daily routine/boredom. There is such a huge dose of humanity in the scene right now. But they are with their wives, or husbands or parents or Girlfriends or maybe alone. Everyone is in this place of unknown, separate, but oddly, together on a level of relatability. I have been able to even just connect with old friends or musicians friends like Cal Kehoe from Pink Talking Fish or Jesse Hensley from big something, just to say hello and check and see how they are doing. Sometimes that is difficult when we are all touring or have such conflicting schedules. So many of us were so busy and now there is this interesting pause on the busy. It’s heavy man, but it’s beautiful in its own way. Humbling.
Annie in the Water just released a new live album Live WeeWoo, Vol. 1, was the album from a specific show or compiled over time?
So that live volume is from one show recorded in a Methodist church in Potsdam, NY. We were supposed to play this huge outdoor Public show for tons of folks but rain came in heavy for the whole day so we were moved to the church. Even tho the main event was a wash, we still had a bunch of people and fans come into the church and sit in the aisles just for the show. It was also a Mid day show in this small, humble little church. And it sounded so warm and immaculate. We usually run with our own in ear and stage monitor set up on the road but when we set up, the natural stage sound in the church was right on and we could hear each other so well. But it also felt really right. And when it sounds right and feels right, good things just pour right out… The sound guy dialed us right in, tuned the room terrifically. We never intended to release the show, honestly I just remember playing to this crowd that was so receptive and attentive. It was this experience that felt incredibly right but not forced or pressured. We took songs in directions we hadn’t at that point. It was also a few shows in with Matthew Richards on keys with us and it was almost that magical show when you are playing with someone and you realiZe that you aren’t just musical counterparts but brothers who will be in the mix with each other. And we all felt that for each other because you were meant to. There was such a beautiful appreciation we all had as a unit that day. I don’t have a girlfriend or a wife or even a prospect but from what I’ve been told, when you meet the right person there is a moment where you realize “this is the one.” That’s what I felt with my guys that wonderful rainy afternoon. It was subtle but powerful. Months later brad hester was like “so you guys should listen to this show recording” and we all liked it. Then this Covid 19 happened and we all thought we should release it ASAP on Spotify and as a free download on our website. Our small contribution as a band to try and make people feel better and feel that love that permeates it. As for the Title “WeeWoo,” I don’t know how to explain the phrase with human words. “WeeWoo” just is. Come to a show and find/feel your own “WeeWoo”
(Photo: Frankie Cavone)
Do you have any advice for musicians struggling?
Create. Write. Practice. Self care. Recharge. Reinvent. Rediscover. Each of us was given a wonderful and powerful gift to perform. Express it all. Even if it’s frustration, put it to a song, write a song about it, live stream it. You never know how much your song, sound, style, expression can positively impact another person. Even if it’s just one person. And if you are a road warrior like myself and others, get the body and mind right while you are off the road. This is a great time for us all to reflect on why we play music. And just love yourself. It fuckin’ sucks we can get gigs right now, but one thing I have learned in my life is that the better I discipline myself to reach for the best version of body, mind, spirit, that will pour out on stage when we get back at it. Your vibe on stage is like a collective of your life experiences, your story, your past lives, your energy, your struggles, your achievements and how all of that balances in that moment and each moment of our lives. A lot of people think that the work that should be done is by practicing licks, scripting the perfect setlist or composing the most complicated segment of a jam. But honestly, another big part of you being the best musician possible is looking in the mirror and saying “I love you, you are fuckin’ awesome and I’m going to share that awesomeness with as many people as possible until my heart stops clickin’.” Then again, I’m a lunar Aquarian so I’ve always approach stuff with a different/far-out perspective. Just get in tune with whatever makes you a better person and use this time to make improvements on your processes. Or just get some rest. Kick the bad habits and groove homies. We will all be back on the circuit and the stoke will be so high.
What was the inspiration behind your new song “Slow Down”?
The emotional impact the COVID-19 situation had on me was heavy. I felt terrible for people going thru the struggle and overwhelming depth of this global situation. But mostly I couldn’t stand all the fearful bullshit mainstream media was pushing out. I do believe information in real time is important so I’m not bashing people who follow the news and media. But we have been raised in such a fear based dichotomy, focusing on fear rather than the spirit of our being, love, self empowerment, compassion, integrity and just being stoked. I wanted to put something out that offered a perspective, contrast to the dark and morbid information being served up 24/7. I wanted to feature sounds of Mother Nature as well, because I think this whole situation is a reflection of the whole. Everything is connected. “Slow down” is just how it is. Slow down, take a breathe, tap into yourself and This earth that cries out for us to wake up. Ask yourself if you really are living to your best potential and how is your impact improving life as we know it… I wrote the lyrics over a day and a half then just got to recording music. I then took a day to hike and track nature sounds, bang sticks and stones and play outdoors. It’s a song about reflection, hope for humanity and new reality based on conscious human effort and balance. Not trying to be a hippie, but if you think about it, if we just slowed down for just 5 seconds as a world community, took a deep breathe, that moment we would all be standing in world peace. Even for an instant. World peace can be achieved in an instant. That’s my hope and the message of the song. Maybe I’m heady and a dreamer but at least I’m hopeful.
What was coming up for you in the coming months prior to the impact of COVID-19 Virus?
We were actually about to perform a spring tour called the “Spring Shred” to follow up the “Spread Rumours” Tour. We were going to play at ski mountains and really great venues and festivals all over the Northeast. I’m a huge snowboarder so I had all my gear packed ready to go. We had an artist create this super dope artwork with snowboarder and stuff for the tour poster, the whole thing. Then we had to cancel the night before it kicked off. but everything happens for a reason. I still have my skateboard… aside from the tour were also suppose to be in studio right now, but we have to isolate. it’s tough because we all miss each other and we were def riding a great wave after the success of our last tour. But In due time we will get together and we will be able to jump right into the mix and continue the growth of Annie in the Water.
What things do you miss the most with having to social distance?
I miss meeting people in coffee shops and talking about random heady stuff. I miss engaging with people without them being nervous to talk to me out of fear of infection. I don’t like the subconscious detached nature of this situation… I miss my bandmates and making music with them and other musicians in social environments. I miss seeing people in the crowd dance their worries away. That’s a really special thing to witness and I know it is a powerful therapy for people and miss that for fans as well. I missed the end of snowboard season which is one of my favorite times of the year. Socializing and community congregation is so important. We are hard wired to be connected, cooperative and united. I miss the power of people being together to celebrate life. But this is a storm we will weather together. That first show back is going to be very special. I know this experience will shape music and art forever.
What music has been getting you through these stressful times?
Tonsssss of Radiohead and a heavy dose of the Dubliners… The Clash, Sigur Ros, NOFX, Less Than Jake, Corey Henry, Wood Brothers, Greensky Bluegrass webcasts, Tauk, various acapella arrangements, miles Davis, Hans Zimmer, Rising Appalachia, screaming headless torso, and… Avicii when I workout.
(Photos: Frankie Cavone)
It looks like the Annie boys know how to have fun. How would you describe the relationship everyone has between each other?
Copacetic and comfortable. I’ve played with a lot of musicians but my bandmates have challenged me and helped form me into the musician I am, and I know I do the same for them. Everyone brings their best selves on and off stage. And when we chill and hang, we do that authentically. We like to build an environment of non judgement and fun. But these guys are also mature, level headed, practical and loving. It’s the yin and yang, feminine and masculine kinda thing. It’s a good soup. I’ve had fun traveling the country and playing music with them and I’m excited for what we will come up with and how we will grow together and age into greezy groovy old folks.
When going out and about, what precautions are you taking with social distancing?
Whenever I’m off the road, I totally go off into my own little world, so I really haven’t changed too much of my lifestyle to cope with this situation. I have honestly been totally cooped up in the studio everyday in my little nook. When I do go out, I skateboard alone like I always do. Or I take my dog for a walk at night on a golf course when no ones around. I do still like to go to my local health food store but that’s become a little odd. I still can’t help acknowledging people. I’ll just give them a smile and a “Heyyo” and try to talk to them from a safe distance. It’s tough, I’m def all about human touch and deep engaged interaction so it’s difficult to tell myself to be distant. but I guess solitude will be the most socially responsible thing.
How can fans support Annie in the Water in these hard times?
Well in financial terms, you can always buy music on iTunes and if you feel so inclined, you can donate to us at our website. But honestly, the best way to support is to just spread awareness about the band. Tell your friends about when you went to a show, listen to our stuff on Spotify, anything that spread the music and vibe to people. And feel free to reach out to members of the band on social media. We’ve had multiple people sending us positive messages which is refreshing and appreciated. Jump on the funky Annie in the Water bus and take the ride. I have no idea exactly where its going to go but I know it’s going to be a blast. Get yourselves in a good space so when you go to our shows in the future, we can all bring it. Much love.