top of page

Allah-Las talk "Zuma 85" on tour

Checking in with the band mid-tour ahead of their back to back Los Angeles shows.

allah las interview, allah las, allah las tour.
Photograph by Alexandra Cabral

Words by Luis (@HeaviestOfArt):

On October 13, LA's Allah-Las saw the release of new album Zuma 85 through their own respective label, Calico Discos, and Innovative Leisure, the likes of which expanded upon an already wondrous discography in richly layered ways best felt in solace. From the upbeat bliss of opener The Stuff to the solemnity of The Fall, Zuma 85 moves the spirit through instrumentation that strays from contemporary conventions. It's forward thinking and vibrant throughout, beginning with the John Divola cover photograph from which the album title came about.

As Allah-Las near the closing stretch of an ongoing Zuma 85 tour, we had a chance to check in with drummer, vocalist, and regular album art designer Matt Correia to learn of the audiovisual investment placed within the culminating album, beginning with the state of mind in which this album cycle found the band in. "I supposed 'Zuma 85' finds us further down our individual paths," mentions Correia. "Individual ideas usually take on new shapes once passed through everyone’s current filters ending up completely different than the initial plan. That’s part of the fun of the studio work."

When ideas and influences materialize into the tracks, there's definite fun to be had and Zuma 85 stands as reflective of their wide ranging influence and wealth of experience, as well as the heart that goes invested into the Allah-Las craft. Organic, free-flowing creative development yields ideal results that stray from a rigid structure, and Zuma 85 was just that. With the album being their most “off the cuff” yet, one has to wonder whether there was perhaps a sense of realization that they got from releasing the solo material in a way where no extensive preparation was required. It’s a sure sign of growth, sonic maturity, and strong camaraderie between the band. "We’ve done records where we’ve had time and space to spread out and others with less, and I think both situations informed the recordings in different but always positive ways. All one can do is what feels right at the moment with what you got. If anyone else is gonna understand or enjoy, that outcome is secondary." Correia adds, "We all have our roles and everyone adds their individual touch to the music."

allah las interview, allah las, allah las tour.
Photograph by Alexandra Cabral

The intentionality of every element that went invested into this release extends to the photography of John Divola, which captures the album’s lush instrumentation and great use of melody through its depiction of duality. What appears to be a beautiful Zuma Beach sunset in Malibu contrasts with a wreck of a bedroom, garnering intrigue and commonality between Allah-Las and Divola's perspective. "I’ve been a fan and follower of John’s work for some time and I had saved that photo for years. Like the photo we used for the first record (2012) artwork, this image just kept coming back to me. These photos are some of my favorite photographs and I'm honored to have them apart of our story."

allah las interview, allah las self titled, allah las.
Cover Photograph by David Hamilton

The commission process is the norm for bands looking for a particular illustration that comes together with the album’s theme(s). For Zuma 85, the photo already existed and played a role in the album's title and overall visual identity. It wasn’t created as a result of the band's lyrics and built off of what Divola was already doing to create one cohesive composition. "I suggested the idea of using the Divola photo during the demo stages of the record, the guys agreed and I think the photo influenced some of the themes and tones of the music," mentions Correia. "Since the photo had an impact on the music it made sense to name the album 'Zuma 85.' Makes me happy to highlight John Divola’s work. He’s incredible." We couldn't agree more.

Allah-Las have an abstract yet vibrant visual identity that is immediately apparent upon scrolling through the band's discography, as well as their Instagram feed, tour posters, and videos. It's evident that the arts play a significant role in the Allah-Las listening experience, helping complete it entirely and finding power in doing so. Correia is responsible for such a feat. "I’ve done the art direction for us from the beginning. I’ve collected imagery over the past 20 years studying design, photography, art history, urban planning, Los Angeles history, etc. None of us expected to be in a touring band. We were all living other lives before that started to take shape. I always admired bands like Spacemen 3 and Galaxy 500 for their simple and unified art direction. I figured I could put some of my interests into what we needed visually." Artists among a band's fold are few and far in between, but when this occurrence is present, the synchronicity is strongly felt.

Beyond the visual element, Allah-Las caters a distinct live experience with dreamlike layers that allow a lot of room for improvisation. It's a grounding sight that Correia and the band have no expectations of, other than pure enjoyment. "We’ve been playing some of the new songs over the past few months of touring and really have no expectations for how they’ll be received. We hope people enjoy the shows of course but can’t really worry about things you can’t control. We’re not performers but we play our songs and our sets evolve out of whether or not we’re enjoying ourselves or not. Feels natural that way and I think people respond to that." Allah-Las live is more than a one way street, but an infectious exchange between a band and their audience. It's a conversation happening through dance and musicianship, one that is as special as the album that spearheads it.

Few dates remain on the Allah-Las tour and LA's Lodge Room will be host to two consecutive nights late next week. Head below for dates, tickets, and the John Divola cover that fronts Zuma 85.

Allah-Las Tour Dates (Tickets)

11/07 - Phoenix Theater - Petaluma, CA

11/08 - SLO Brew - San Luis Obispo, CA

11/15 - Lodge Room - Los Angeles, CA

11/16 - Lodge Room - Los Angeles, CA

11/18 - August Hall - San Francisco, CA

Zuma 85 is available now via Calico Discos and Innovative Leisure (Listen).

allah-las interview, allah-las tour, john divola.
"Zuma 85" Cover Photograph by John Divola


bottom of page