Erick “Jesus” Coomes never wants to stop the show but when his bandmates in Lettuce learned that President Donald Trump had issued an executive order on March 13 ban because of the spread of a novel coronavirus, he knew it was time to jam on back to Long Beach, California.
“I never want to stop the show ever and I’m like, ‘Why are we stopping?’” Coomes tells Billboard. “And I just heard, ‘Get all your stuff we’re getting a cab right now — they’re banning travel from Europe to America.”
And just like that, Coomes and the men of the masterful music powerhouse “krewe” that is Lettuce — drummer Adam Deitch, Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff on guitar, sax and synth man Ryan Zoidis, trumpet player Eric “Benny” Bloom and Nigel Hall on vocals and keys — began working their way out of Christiania, Denmark to the United States to begin a new journey in quarantine.
Undeterred by the national stay at home order, Lettuce forged ahead with the release of their seventh studio album, Resonate via Round Hill Records. The new 11-track collection is a followup to their Grammy-nominated album Elevate, which earned the band their first collective nomination in the category of best contemporary instrumental album and hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Jazz Albums chart.
Resonate includes unreleased songs from the Elevate recording session, taking listeners on a sub-genre journey of funk, jazz and jam with songs like “House of Lett,” an homage to the slower, moodier and more sensual electronic scene.
“We paid respect to the whole house culture, all the DJs and all the dancers and the glow sticks at the nighttime dance raves from the nineties,” he tells Billboard, adding the record’s producer and engineer Russ Elevado worked with house music legend Frankie Knuckles and mixed the band’s analog take of the club scene style
“A lot of these genres of music get underestimated for musicality,” Coomes said. “We want to make sure that, as Lettuce, we show that you can study the beauty of all of these different styles and play them live on any instrument. And it’s about where these notes go and where the rhythms fall, and like to overlook the whole house scene and the whole club scene and to say it’s not music is just not factually correct.”
Lettuce also pays homage to go-go music on the funkified track “Checker-Wrecker” which includes guest appearances by go-go legends Big Tony Fisher of Trouble Funk and Tyrone “Jungle Boogie” Williams of Rare Essence. Originating in Washington D.C, go-go music has a more free-flowing style with a singular drum beat and a dance hall call-and-response signature that has been adopted by activists pushing back on gentrification in DC.
“When you play with musicians from Virginia or D.C., you find that their pocket for the funk is just so dope and deep and crazy,” Coomes tells Billboard. “It’s a feeling you get when you hear it and that they get when they play it. It’s such a real culture.”
Resonate is available now on streaming services and will ship on vinyl next month. Learn more at lettucefunk.com.