Avan Lava in Flex

By
Photography Marc McAndrews

Published July 31, 2013

ABOVE: AVAN LAVA

Back in early 2009, musicians Ian Pai, Le Chev, and Tom “TC” Hennes channeled their love for electronic and pop music into AVAN LAVA following a conversation Pai and Chev had after playing a show with Fischerspooner. Since then, the band has released two EPs—Vapors in 2010 and Flex Fantasy [below] at the end of last year—and played shows with Lemonade, CSS, and Cold Cave. Throughout their career, AVAN LAVA’s had one goal: to get their audiences out on the dance floor. Fans can expect more from the band before the end of the year; they’ve been hard at work on making more music.

We spoke with Ian Pai, Le Chev, and TC Hennes on learning from Fischerspooner, their crazy performance in Bali, and getting serious with “Sisters.”

 

ILANA KAPLAN: I have heard through the grapevine that you guys put on quite a show. It’s pretty badass. It’s a giant party. How is your band representative of your shows?

IAN PAI: Well, it’s kind of funny because the way the whole thing came together wasn’t exactly planned. We just knew that we wanted to have a certain kind of energy, and one of celebration and fun. We had all been to a lot of shows where a lot of people were standing around watching. Le Chev and I came from Fischerspooner, where the shows are a lot crazier and fun. People are all over the place. We wanted to bring that kind of energy. We thought about that while we were making the second EP. Now they feed off of each other. We thought a lot about the live experience while we were recording. We also think about the show, what our set could use in terms of taking the audience on a journey. They’re definitely intertwined. It’s about the music and how we’re going to do the show.

LE CHEV: Now we’re kind of in a cycle. We started going hyper with the set, and now everyone is ready for it.

KAPLAN: You have to bring it!

CHEV: We have to bring it.

KAPLAN: You obviously put on crazy shows. What’s the craziest show experience you’ve had?

TC HENNES: I think it was in Bali when everyone was so high on different drugs. Everyone was like sleeping. We were giving everything we had, but it was a bunch of Australian stoners in Bali smoking hashish. It was the exact opposite of any other show experience we ever had.

PAI: Well, the thing that was crazy about that is that they would lay down on these mats in front of the stage. What would be the first four or five rows of people, were just a bunch of mats. People were lying down listening to us and watching us play. We’re going crazy. People were trying to dance, and the guys lying down on the mats were getting upset because the people who were dancing were in their way. They were forcing them to go in the back. It was a totally weird scene, but a lot of fun.

KAPLAN: That’s nuts. How has Fischerspooner fed into AVAN LAVA?

CHEV: Both me and Ian have toured with and had a writing experience with Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer of Fischerspooner. Obviously their aesthetic choices are so strong and so conscious, that those types of decisions really made an impact on me, personally, and I think the group too. We were very much musicians when we started out, but to see and realize the effects of how most things are so transcendent and cross so many borders and affect everyone as far as aesthetic choices, the kind of colors, glamour and non-glamour that you can bring to life…

KAPLAN: Very cool. What can we expect from you guys before the end of the year, since your last EP was out at the end of 2012?

PAI: We’re working on our full-length right now. I think we’re definitely going to be releasing singles, videos ,and all of the above over the course of the next few months. I think in September we’re going to drop some things. In October, for Halloween, we have a big show at Music Hall of Williamsburg where we are going to create the biggest, craziest event that we’ve had so far. It’s going to be nutty!

KAPLAN: Can you give me any more details about the show or is everything on the DL?

PAI: It’s pretty much on the “DL” right now. We’re talking to some friends about special guest appearances, so you can expect some surprise guests.

KAPLAN: You’re not going to have a surprise appearance by Daft Punk, are you?

PAI: [laughs] You never know. It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you. They’re definitely on the top of our list, so I’ll just say that. I think they owe us something for being such great fans.

KAPLAN: Just a small token. Which artists have driven your music collectively?

PAI: Daft Punk is definitely a huge one. It’s probably one of the reasons why we got together.

CHEV: I’m going to go with R. Kelly.

PAI: D’Angelo.

HENNES: Singers like Whitney Houston, Prince, Michael Jackson, and all of the greats.

KAPLAN: Good choices. I love the video for “Sisters.” I know it was a popular single off of your EP. How did that concept for the video come about? Was it representative of the EP?

CHEV: I think conceptually, we wanted to do something that fit the song really well. The song was kind of like “cleaning out the closet.” There were a lot of emotions behind the lyrics. We wanted to make sure the video was going to match that. It showed a lot of the hardships that a love triangle can provide. Our friends, Dan Gutt and Wes Auburn—Dan directed it and Wes produced it—came to us with the concept. We fell in love with it and were excited to do a video with a serious, meaningful narrative, especially after we had done the “It’s Never Over” video. I think the video did the song a lot of good. Our actual fans really liked the song, but the song wasn’t getting a lot of plays. People weren’t going crazy over the song. When the video came out, people started to understand the song more. I think it translated well.

PAI: I think that this was definitely the first time I noticed how powerful a video can be in terms of how it helps the audience perceive it. Like Le Chev was saying, it wasn’t our biggest song, but then everyone was singing along with the song at our shows. It’s just a completely different reaction now.

AVAN LAVA WILL PLAY THE BOWERY BALLROOM TOMORROW. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT ITS WEBSITE.