Baltimore indie-rock band Little Lungs dropped their brand new EP, “BETTER IN BLUE” July 2, 2021 after a longer than usual hiatus which included the COVID-19 global pandemic. Nevertheless, the indie band consisting of Leena Rhodes (Vocals + Guitar), Ethan Salem (Guitar), Erik Schwarzenberg (Drums+Production) and Jordan Mercer (Bass) released their highly anticipated 5 track album recorded at Transcendent Sound Studios in Baltimore, MD to solid reviews that validated the hard work that went into composing this record. In terms of sound, you can expect a balance between smooth verse and soaring chorus with thumping bass, pumping drums and loud guitars that express a sense of movement and vibrancy.
Lyrically the album explores the idea of what it means to find happiness by focusing and acknowledging cyclical bad habits, by breaking patterns so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. I connected with Little Lungs for an interview on the new EP, current developments and more which you can checkout below…
Watch Little Lungs – Chicago (Live)
How did the band Little Lungs come together and how did you decide on the name?
I (Leena) started making music under the name Little Lungs when I was 19. The name It started off as a joke – I was born prematurely and was very small when I was born. I literally had “little lungs”. But it had a ring to it, and it stuck with me ever since.
The band formed five years ago. The whole thing happened organically. I knew Erik through a mutual friend, and Ethan and I went to high school together. Jordan played in several bands with Ethan. We didn’t know each other very well, and initially, we just played songs I had previously written. But as we played together, we realized we had a real musical chemistry and friendship. The creative process became more collaborative from then on.
Can you please give us a little background as to what inspired the new EP and the meaning behind the album title?
Conceptually, the album focuses on moving past negative mental habits and challenging the preconception that you need to be damaged to make something substantial. There is a lot of romanticism to sadness – especially in art. I see “Better in Blue” as challenging that – challenging the fact that you are creatively “better” when you’re sad.
Based on genre was this always the vision of the band or were there thoughts of experimenting with a different sound?
The vision for Little Lungs is always changing – our genre isn’t set in stone. The four of us have a variety of musical influences and ideas of what we can do with our sound. While Better in Blue is more of an “indie rock” record, that doesn’t mean all our records will be. We always talk about what elements we can add to or change about our sound.
Looking back at your last EP Get Your Kicks and Go in comparison to Better in Blue, how much of a directional change took place in terms of sound and message on your new EP?
I think there was less of a directional change between the two EPs and more of a clarification of our sound. We focused on dynamics and tempo/style changes in different parts of the songs. Overgrown is my favorite example of that. The verse and chorus of that song are very different, both in terms of style and tempo. Initially, they were parts of two completely different songs that I put together. But as we worked through it as a band, the song developed and came together as a cohesive piece.
Little Lungs – Featherweight | Hear Right Now (Acoustic Version)
Can you please tell us about your music making process and how you conjure up the inspiration regarding lyrics for your songs?
Better in Blue is the most collaborative collection of music we have written so far. We all contributed to the creation and development of the songs. Some of the songs were new ideas we came up with, and others were older songs we revamped and worked through together. Erik (our drummer) recorded and produced the whole record.
I tend to write lyrics as a stream of consciousness. I try not to put any real expectation or structure around them and just flow with whatever comes up. I refine them after the fact. It becomes almost a therapeutic process for me.
What was your favourite live performance and why?
We played at a Baltimore venue called the Ottobar in July of this year. It was our first show since the pandemic. We played with two amazing bands – Leisure Sport (another great Baltimore band), and Grocer from Philly. It was the biggest show we have ever played in terms of the crowd size. The energy of the crowd, bands, and venue was so positive and exhilarating. It was the best way to come back from a year without shows.
What’s the underground music scene like in Baltimore?
Baltimore has a unique artistic style as a city, and I think the music scene reflects that. There is such variety in terms of genres and styles of music. Some standouts to me are Dosser, Modern Nomad, and Leisure Sport. But we continue to meet and play at great venues with wonderful musicians.
What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened on tour or while performing a live?
A few years ago, we played 3 shows in a 24-hour period. It was exhausting, but fun. A dog ran on-stage during the last show – and as an obsessive dog lover, that made my day.
How did the pandemic affect the band and how did you adapt to the new norm?
We talked every week during the pandemic. Because we could not practice, we chatted and talked about Little Lungs. It really helped me maintain my sanity during the pandemic. Luckily, we had finished recording everything but vocals for Better in Blue prior to the pandemic. Releasing the EP and playing it live was something we looked forward to throughout the pandemic.
So to not stall any further, if you asked me what my best tracks were on the EP, I would say 4 of the 5 tracks, however standouts were Overgrown, Featherweight and Keep Me Occupied.
Listen to Little Lungs Better In Blue EP