Ray LaMontagne Talks Supernova: "I Can Trust My Gut at This Point"
Photo by Samantha Casolari
Hushed, earthy, soul-soaked.
Those are the ways in which observers and critics have often spoken of Ray LaMontagne's songwriting -- ever since his recorded debut, Trouble, introduced him to the world's music fans as a bearded Northeastern mountain man with an acoustic guitar.
Not many would've described LaMontagne or his songs as trippy. But now, with his fifth studio record, Supernova, produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, the singer-songwriter has proven that he's also got a flair for psych-tinged pop 'n' roll.
"I thought people might not like it," he recently admitted to Crossfade. But after "writing songs now for fifteen years," LaMontagne says, "I think I can trust my gut at this point."
Let's start by talking about your latest album, Supernova. Is it a correct assessment to say it's a change of course, with the hint of psychedelic suggestion that's in there, as well as the influence of the producer, Dan Auerbach, and his signature sound?
Ray LaMontagne: I think there were hints of that kind of stuff on other records. I always liked that psychedelic sound. I was always a fan of early Pink Floyd. I like the Kinks, the Troggs, Captain Beefheart. I loved all that stuff. So I think this album is maybe tipped a little more in that direction in terms of influences. But Elvis Costello also played a big part in this record. He's always been a sort of mentor to me.
Overall, I was just going through this weird stage. Nothing was sounding interesting to me. I'd think, I don't want to do that. Or, I've done that already. It was like the well had run dry. So I put my heart on my sleeve, and I told Elvis Costello, "God, I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall." And he was really thoughtful, and it really helped me.
He said, "There's only one way. You just have to keep going forward. You just have to trust that inner voice." It was much deeper than that, but that's the essence. It really helped.