At their latest gig, rock four-piece Lateral Lines kept their distance. Gary Fischer set up his drum kit in the dining room, bassist David Lehew was in the living room, guitarist Chris Lesesne took the kitchen and Kat Moore sat down at a piano in the backyard. Their audience was 147 miles away, in Cordova.
The Anchorage-based band was recording a performance for Cordova’s Salmon Jam festival, to air on Twitch 7-8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 18. Initially, the band had planned to record one member at a time, but found that Fischer’s Anchorage residence was spacious enough for them to play together while keeping their distance.
“COVID has really thrown a wrench in the spokes of everything, especially the music industry,” Lesesne said. “But human beings have the capacity to make it work and, honestly, what do they say? Necessity is the mother of invention. That’s what we’re seeing right now.”
The band coordinated using in-ear monitors, one new experience among several. A team of engineers helped keep the performance sounding crisp in spite of the unusual recording circumstances.
“Kat did a great job of interacting with a crowd that wasn’t there,” Lehew said.
Though Lateral Lines has not performed for a Cordova audience before, some of its members have: Lesesne with Big Fat Buddha and Moore with the Super Saturated Sugar Strings. With a catalog of influences ranging from country and honky-tonk to metal, Lateral Lines aimed to serve up a variety of musical favors for Salmon Jam attendees. The band plan to attend the July 18 online broadcast of their performance, making this the first concert for which they’ve been both onstage and in the audience.
“It’s going to be a smorgasbord of different styles,” Moore said. “We oscillate between big, sweeping, cinematic music and bouncy stuff that people can have fun and dance with… There’s something for everybody. There’s something to watch and get thoughtful to, and there’s other numbers where you’re not going to be able to stay sitting on the couch — you’re going to have to get up and boogie.”
The band’s music, little of which has previously been available online, has been inspired by their experiences traveling among Alaska communities and across the state’s natural landscape. While Lateral Lines’ material may also appeal to audiences in the Lower 48, it should resonate particularly with Alaskans, Moore said.
“Kat’s writing feels like she’s pulled you off to the side at a show, and she’s whispering secrets into your ear,” Lesesne said. “She’s confiding in you like she’s your best friend. I hope that all comes across. We’re trying to… express compassion, and, God knows, in this particular climate in world politics right now, we need to really put that compassion up on a pedestal and talk about how important it is to serve the community.”
Lesesne hopes that Cordova audiences will enjoy the band’s musical offerings and that the audience’s energy will be palpable in spite of the distance, he said. The band plans to convene in the fall to record an album to be released in 2021.
“I hope that viewers recognize that a lot of the songs that they hear have been inspired by places all over Alaska,” Moore said. “This art is made by Alaskans, for Alaskans. We like to share it with people from outside as well, but there’s also such an intimate connection to this place in the music that we share.”