A Bite With The Band: Talking Mythology And Twitter Over Spumoni With Ava Luna

Categories: Interviews

A lot has happened since SOTC met Ava Luna two and a half years ago. Drummer Alex Smith has been replaced by the returning Julian Fader, who played with an earlier iteration of the band (in the interim, he was a member of bands like Quilty and a couple others). The backup vocal trio is down to a duet (Felicia Douglass and Becca Kauffman remain; Anna Sian recently left the group). They released their first full-length, Ice Level, earlier this year. And they just returned home from their first headlining tour, a 30-date jaunt throughout the U.S. and Canada that followed a handful of short support stints opening for acts like Twin Sister and Toro y Moi. (They celebrated their homecoming earlier this month with a Mercury Lounge gig.)

Next up?

Well, first, it's to Gravesend; Ava Luna pack leader Carlos Hernandez, a Park Slope native who still gets misty-eyed when he talks about the few unchanged parts of the borough that remain, suggests I meet his bandmates at L & B Spumoni Gardens, located down the street from the Korean church where the sextet recorded their early material. (They returned to the space while recording Ice Level to lay down Hernandez's vocals—and drink heavily.) Somewhere between the pizza and the spumoni, the band got into a debate about the myth of Sisyphus, and whether it can be reinterpreted as a positive metaphor for their situation right now.

Either way, its symbolism is pretty apt: after riding high with a record and a month on the road, now they're back to the slog of job interviews and sublets. The transition wasn't smooth, either; the band's practice space (also Hernandez's Crown Heights apartment) was abruptly discontinued by the landlord just before they left for tour, so they've even been forced to relocate to a "big, old, weird schoolhouse in Bushwick." In Fader's words, "All our eggs were in one basket, and now that basket is broken."

What was the experience of your first headlining tour like?

Carlos Hernandez: To be honest, I was nervous before we left. We got a fair amount of press for the album—all positive—but like, if your album blows up, you know it. So I was a little nervous. I'm happy with what we've done, confident about playing it, but is anyone even going to come? That's totally out of our control. But incredibly, we went on tour, we invited our friends, and I had the lowest of expectations—but people came! There was actually a fair number of people at every single show, a couple were even packed. That was a big surprise. The only touring experience that we had that [wasn't] touring with a bigger band is, like, DIY shows, which is its own thing. That's like, absolute, insane party, or complete, horrible shit. But this was very consistent.

What cities were the most successful for you?

Julian Fader and Ethan Bassford, simultaneously: D.C.!
JF, EB, Becca Kauffman, Felicia Douglass: [list other cities]
CH: The only places that were not awesome were, like, Toronto and Montreal. And that's just because—well, I can't say why. That was the beginning of the tour.
EB: They have their own thing up there.
CH: We played 30 shows or so. And there were only, like, 3 shows that were not awesome. That's a good statistic.

Not a bad track record, in all.

EB: In D.C. someone brought a record for us to sign. He said he'd seen us a bunch of times.
JF: I signed someone's arm in D.C. I think it was her first show ever. Of any kind.
BK: She was 14!
JF: I saw her tweeting about the show, saying, "I wish I was 18!" so I got her name and put her and her brother on the list and hoped that they wouldn't fuck with them. They got in though, and she was so psyched. She must've tweeted about it 150 times. She was going insane.

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