Rootsy jazz-soul band Lake Street Dive released its full-length debut, “Bad Self Portraits,” on Feb. 18. It bows at No. 18 on the Billboard 200, selling 15,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Here’s how they did it.
2 Years Ago: The catalyst for the album’s arrival was the 2012 video for the band’s cover of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” from its “Fun Machine” EP. By the time the group emerged from recording “Bad Self Portraits” in Maine, it had passed 1 million views. “Where we were recording there was no cell service or Internet,” recalls trumpeter/guitarist Mike “McDuck” Olson. “We came back to civilization and the response was insane.” Signature Sounds president Jim Olsen says the video was especially useful because the LP was delayed for nearly a year due to legal complications from singer Rachel Price’s previous recording contract with Claire Vision Productions.
5 Months Ago: T Bone Burnett asked Lake Street Dive to be part of the all-star Another Day, Another Time concert on Sept. 29 at New York’s Carnegie Hall promoting the Coen Brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The show, and its subsequent airing since mid-December on Showtime, “made the whole thing explode,” says Olsen. “Everybody was taken by the band’s performance, and it proved to be a perfect setup vehicle for the album.” The gig helped the group land a key performance on “The Colbert Report” (Feb. 5) — Steven Colbert is said to be a huge fan — and Price makes an appearance in the new season of Netflix’s House of Cards.
Release Week: Buoyed by the “Colbert” spot and strong preorder numbers, according to the label, the record’s street week was filled with such high-profile reviews as NPR’s Fresh Air. The album received featured placements from iTunes and Amazon, was part of Barnes & Noble’s New Artists program and tied in with a number of promotions at independent music retailers around the country. On Feb. 21 the group appeared on CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” and launched its North American tour in Boston. In the week following the album’s release, “Bad Self Portraits” was iTunes’ Free Single of the Week.
Next Up: Lake Street Dive is touring North America through April 12, with a European run following in May and a spot at Bonnaroo in June. “All but a handful of the shows are already sold out,” says Olson. “We’ve never played rooms this big or sold this many tickets.” More festivals are being booked for the summer, while additional TV appearances are being finalized (a March 18 slot on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” was just confirmed). “If we’ve learned anything from the past six months, it’s that things just kind of come out of the woodwork, so you have to be ready,” says Olson. “We’re just riding the wave.”