Months ago, the members of Little Red Lung made the long drive from L.A. to the woods of Felton, north of Santa Cruz. They met with photographer Sarah Sitkin in the middle of the night in a little cabin hidden deep in the woods, using their cellphones as makeshift flashlights, to shoot photos for what would become the cover for their self-titled EP.
The cover (pictured above) shows the band members wearing costumes created by Sitkin. It's an excellent visual description of the group's sound: Slightly gothic, slightly Victorian and reminiscent of cabaret. Think of Tori Amos jamming with The Dresden Dolls and Florence & The Machine and you're on the right track.
Little Red Lung began in 2009 when singer Zoe-Ruth Erwin left L.A. for eastern Tennessee to work on her photography. She wrote, recorded and released her debut album, Get on the Boat, in the fall of 2010 while still in Knoxville. The album was a collection of haunting, beautiful melodies filled with piano, strings and many layers of Erwin's voice.
She returned to L.A. the following April and added guitarist Ali Nikou, bassist Rob Hume and drummer Nathan Kondor to her roster shortly thereafter. "The timing worked out," recalls Hume. "The stuff she brought back with her was really inspiring, and it brought us all together."
The songs on their self-titled EP, released in March, were already written and recorded upon Erwin's return, but the group decided to restructure them after Little Red Lung evolved from Erwin's personal project to a full band.
"Things started changing a lot," she recalls, "and we wanted to retool that record to what we are now." The restructuring expands into the band's live set as they've retooled many of Erwin's earlier songs to include bass, guitar and live drums.
Little Red Lung just wrapped up a brief tour of the West coast with stops in Idaho, Utah and Arizona and are rehearsing for a concert where they'll debut their first music video, "50 Fingers." They again enlisted the aid of Sitkin, who created the concept, built all the props and directed the video. The theatrical-style concert will recreate images from the video live on the stage and will feature additional musicians, including a string section and additional vocalists.
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The costumes on the album cover, unfortunately, won't be making their live debut. They're far too cumbersome and skin-tight to perform in. Plus, there's no way Hume can play bass with an alligator head attached to his shoulder.
"Rob would actually die if he had to wear that outfit [onstage]," says Erwin.
Little Red Lung performs at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock today, June 22nd at 9 pm with opening act Pisces (The Happy Hollows' Sarah Negahdari).