Sam Jayne, the architect behind Brooklyn's Love as Laughter, has been toiling away at this rock 'n' roll thing for a long time. The story begins in early-'90s Olympia, Washington, where his noisy and highly influential band, Lync, counted a young Isaac Brock amongst its fans. More than a decade later, Brock's Modest Mouse has converted the mainstream's embrace of indie rock into Top 40 success, while Jayne and his Love as Laughter cohorts remain in a state of semi-obscurity. The two musicians remain friends and their bands often tour together. But for some reason, Jayne's labor of love and levity keeps churning out quality records that don't receive the attention they deserve. However, with the release of Love as Laughter's Holy in June, things may be about to change.
"It's like in Back to the Future, where Marty McFly gets rejuvenated once they correct the past," Jayne laughs on the phone from New York. "I got an extra boost of confidence from my friends and people around me to go and make this record." The main source of inspiration he's referring to is, in fact, Brock, a longtime champion of Love as Laughter. With Brock's recent major-label success came the perk of creating his own imprint, Glacial Pace. Besides Modest Mouse, Love as Laughter is currently the only other band signed to the label.
Holy is certainly Jayne's most polished and produced effort to date, but it continues the gritty, classic-rock–infused feel that has marked Love as Laughter's music over its past few albums for Sub Pop. "Paul Revere" is perhaps the best example of that combination, as Jayne sneers his way over a wall of distorted guitars. "Young Guns," on the other hand, rides over a lightly syncopated '70s drumbeat before an easy-listening keyboard line surfaces. The strangest tune has to be "All Parts of Me," which, despite its calypso-tinged sound, doesn't feel out of place. "There's stuff for moms on [the record]," Jayne says, before pausing for a second. "Hopefully, there's stuff for snotty kids too."
Though Brock isn't credited as such on the record, Jayne says he played an executive producer role, helping shape the sound and giving the band a much-needed kick in the ass. "The whole point for him was to give us a budget to make a really nice record like the ones he's been making lately," Jayne says. "He wanted to make sure we did a proper, meticulous studio album. It was entirely differently from how I usually work."
The changes didn't stop there. Jayne also faced a fair amount of red tape, which comes from being part of a corporate conglomerate. "It's not like I can just call Isaac and go, 'Hey, man, we can't figure out what to do with our T-shirt budget,'" he sighs. "We have to fill out forms and wait [in] line, or the equivalent."
Obviously, Jayne's new situation requires some adjustments. In the end, does this mean Love as Laughter will leave behind the indie-rock minor leagues for rock stardom? It's hard to say, as the variables — timing, trends, promotion, dumb luck — are endless. It also doesn't seem to be the goal here; Jayne is the first to admit that Love as Laughter has never had much stability. At the very least, Holy may bring the band's music to a wider audience, something that has been a long time coming.