ABOVE: LEISURE CRUISE’S DAVE HODGE AND LEAH SIEGEL
Dave Hodge and Leah Siegel are really just trying to have a good time—in fact, a time that is out of this world. The duo came together during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to create a positive apocalyptic synth-pop band separate from their individual musical projects, Broken Social Scene and Firehorse. If you’ve been wondering what songs created inside of a spaceship might sound like, you’re in luck: Leisure Cruise has been trying to piece it all together with singles like “Sailing” and “Double Digit Love.”
Leisure Cruise releases its self-titled debut record today on Last Gang Records. The band played their first live show back in January at Highline Ballroom and took the stage last month with Conveyor and Milagres. We spoke with Dave Hodge and Leah Siegel about Hurricane Sandy, considering the positive in an apocalypse, and re-inventing pop music. We’re also excited to premiere the spacey video for “Double Digit Love,” below, which features an “intergalactic battle” between day and night and the colors gold and silver.
ILANA KAPLAN: How did this project start?
LEAH SIEGEL: By accident.
DAVE HODGE: Yeah, by accident. I started working on some tracks for a film called Two Hands To Mouth. it’s not out yet. I thought it was time to make a record. I was going to have a bunch of different singers on all of the tracks, including Bran Van 3000 and Catlow. I bumped into Leah on the street, and I said, “I’m starting this record, why don’t you come in and write with me.” We had done a couple of things before for TV, years ago. She came over, and we wrote something really fast. It was awesome. We were really excited. Then I realized we didn’t need anyone else. I was like, let’s be a band and make a record together and not worry about all of these guests. It was kind of an accident: a good one.
KAPLAN: You guys started doing this during Hurricane Sandy; is there a water theme that resonates throughout your record?
SIEGEL: No. It was just that Dave and I had bumped into each other in the street in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Our neighborhood was completely untouched. There was one telephone pole down. We were just across the East River watching the devastation and darkness. It ended up being put in that context for some reason, but no, there’s no water theme. In the news, one day I got a news alert that they found three planets that could support human life. So, at that point, I was coming over to Dave’s studio. Basically we were in the studio all the time. The idea is that leaving this planet for another one made me a lot less depressed. It was about being happy, and Dave felt the same way. Writing, we maintained that feeling. We just kept being inspired by this idea that we could leave, and it just made us feel better. It wasn’t this dark, apocalyptic emotion. The apocalypse is just positive change: change that comes out of nowhere, but change that is positive. As we continued to write, we kept going back to that main idea. It always put us in a place of, let’s just make something that sounds good, makes us feel good, makes us want to dance, and makes us laugh. If we’re all going to die or there’s going to be this big monumental change, then we should have fun doing it.
KAPLAN: How have your respective projects, Broken Social Scene and Firehorse, played into this project?
HODGE: This project sounds absolutely nothing like Broken Social Scene. In Broken Social Scene, I was playing trombone, and there’s not a note of trombone on this record. I was playing bass and keys. So, this project is totally different. There are people in Broken Social Scene that played on the record. We had Drake’s guitar player and Blondie’s guitar player. We had a lot of great musicians play with us. Yeah, the record is nothing like [Broken Social Scene]. This is just me and Leah, and we’re a band. It’s the first record where I’m not just playing on somebody else’s record.
SIEGEL: Our artistry seems to really complement each other. I don’t know if that’s the right word.
KAPLAN: How would you describe Leisure Cruise to people?
HODGE: There are a couple of quotes on our website that I really like, which are: “It’s like curling up in a sleeping bag full of kittens,” and “It makes me feel like I’m in a hovercraft in a Philip K. Dick movie.” That one, I would say, is definitely accurate.
KAPLAN: How would you describe the band in your own words?
SIEGEL: I would tell people that it’s super fun, you can’t not love it.
HODGE: It’s synth-pop, cinematic and really groovy at times.
SIEGEL: I think between the two of us, we really hit a really great balance between pop and really good songwriting. It’s embarrassing to talk about yourself at all, but that was our challenge in the studio, I think. We really wanted to keep things light, because that’s what we wanted out of our lives. We wanted the songs to be really cool. I really wanted to inspire movement, and Dave was really happy to jump on that boat. I couldn’t have found that balance without Dave and without the co-writing aspect. You know from Firehorse, that’s not the kind of writing I’m doing. I do think the last record I did as Firehorse did pave the way for me to be able to co-write with someone as cool as Dave.
SIEGEL: Yeah, aw! I think the way our energy works together in the studio when we’re creating, it seems like a really great blend of terrific musical ideas that just pump out. We’re really finding the balance between pop and that: both musically and lyrically. That’s not a log-line I guess. Otherwise I say it’s synth-driven, uber dance music that’s fun.