Jon LaDeau: Brooklyn Driving Rock

You play live regularly around the New York City area but have been releasing a steady stream of recordings the past few years.  How do you approach these two settings differently?  Or are they different?  Your self-titled album, Jon LaDeau, has a really nice live feel to it.  Was that an intentional choice on your part to keep the live feel?

To me, playing live or making a recording aren’t a whole lot different.  You have to focus on different things in the studio than you do on the bandstand, but the desired outcome is the same…to put the song across. To make it feel good and to connect with the audience or the listener.  All three of the records I’ve done have just been people in a room playing music together. I don’t like the idea of someone buying an album and then being disappointed in the live show, so I try and come up with something that can translate to the stage.  Most of my favorite records have the feel and energy of people singing and playing together so that’s what I try and capture on a recording as well.

Your most recent album, Noodlehead, is described as starting in the “wild years and mellows slightly over the course of ten songs, ending on the beach in Coney Island with the sound of steel drums and acoustic guitars”.  What influenced you to bring in steel drums and acoustic guitars to what is, predominantly, an electric album?

My last record, Noodlehead is just a snapshot of what I wrote at the time and what the band was playing live.  We did 9 of the 10 songs live, vocals and all in one day and recorded the last song, Jimi’s Melody shortly after.  The album does have a very electric feel but acoustic guitar has always been a part of the sonic fabric I hear so playing that on a few songs felt totally normal.  Steel drums were a treat for me to record.  It was just something I was hearing so I called Peter Barr, who did a great job.  It always goes back to how I can best serve the song and in that case I was hearing steel pans and steel guitar.


What is your songwriting practice like?  Do you catch inspiration in a variety of ways?  Do they come fast? Do you struggle a bit or edit and re-write many of the songs?  Are they written in isolation and brought to a band or fleshed out a bit over a series of rehearsals?  Does the the environment change your process or the time of day, etc?

Songwriting is less of a practice for me and more of a condition.  It’s just something that I have to do.  Sometimes it just stops me in my tracks and makes me sit down.  I’ve written music since I was a little kid, it’s probably one of the only things I know how to do.  Some of em come quick. Some I’ve been working on for 10 years!  It seems like the ones that make it into the set just feel good on the dance floor and make good sense to the band…stuff everyone can relate to.  We don’t rehearse a whole lot, but we do play live a lot so things are always evolving.  Sometimes an idea I think is complete when I bring it to the band just flowers and evolves over the months or years of playing it.  Depending on the room we’re playing and how everyone feels on a given day, the music will always take a little different shape.


You have been writing and performing for a while now in your young music career.  Let’s take a step back.  What got you into music and how has it all evolved from your perspective?  Jon LaDeau Trio sounds like a man in a different place then Noodlehead.  Love them all, just thinking, hmm, this guys been some places, been evolving and wondering what he’s thinking..

You mentioned that my first record sounds different than what I’m working on now.  I think that’s fair to say! The Trio album was recorded in 2 nights at Mark Ronson’s studio. I think I had lived in NYC for about 5 days when we did that! I had just moved to Brooklyn from Colorado and had last minute access to an amazing studio that a friend of mine worked at.  I called up my buddy David Butler who was playing with Lee Scratch Perry at the time and one of my favorite bass players, Mark Karwan.  We just went in for 2 nights and played some of the stuff we had been doing live at the time.  My friend Brian Toll and I engineered, mixed, and mastered the whole session ourselves.  We had no idea what we were doing so we made some classic mistakes but we also came up with some sonic epic-ness that probably wouldn’t have happened if we had known what we were supposed to do! That was almost 10 years ago and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all come a long way since then.  There are a couple of songs from that recording that we still play in the live set.

Tell me about a few of your tours.  Any good road stories? Noodlehead tour took you all up and down the eastern seaboard to North Carolina, Colorado, Tennessee, Virginia, and beyond.Over the past year particularly I’ve been spending a ton of time in the studio and a bit less time on the road.  I have my own space now to work in and sometimes work with my friend Justin Kimmel over at his studio, Dusty Beat.  I plan to release a couple songs that him and I have been working on this fall.  Having regular access to a space where I can experiment and make mistakes is key.  I don’t have to watch the clock and I have the luxury of being able to work until I get the sound I’m going for.  It’s always good to have other ears on what I’m working on, but it’s also good to figure things out on my own.  Usually it’s a back and forth process.  It’s a work in progress, but I’ve recorded a lot of material on my own this year and I’m really excited about some of it.

What next for you?  What’s interesting?  How’s it going this summer?

Anytime Summertime is the first song I’m releasing that I’ve seen through from start to finish.  It came quick and I’d say was written in about the time it takes to play it.  It brought me back to my roots of playing bass, which was my first instrument in elementary school.  I set up the mics, recorded it, and mixed it. Chris Parker played drums on it and James Preston sang harmony with me. James and Chris are two of my favorite musicians.  James toured Switzerland with me to promote my self titled 2nd record which we sold out of!  James is a constant partner in crime in the studio and a damn fine bass player. Chris toured with my trio last fall on the Noodlehead tour, playing drums and singing.  Highlights included 2 nights at the Rhythm and Roots Reunion in Bristol, TN.  Probably my favorite festival I’ve played at.  Great music and great people.  We also had great shows in Memphis, Asheville, Knoxville, Nashville and spent some time at Muscle Shoals Sound down in Alabama.  I can’t wait to go back.  Chris plays guitar with me every Sunday night at Moto in Brooklyn as well.  He’s just one of those guys that seems to be good at everything.  We’ve been writing some material together under the name The Mopers, so keep an ear out for that stuff too!

Aside from my own projects, I’ve been playing a bit with the National Reserve and Dubl Handi. These are bands I would listen to anyway so I feel lucky to make noise with them.  You can catch National Reserve every Friday night at Skinny Dennis in Brooklyn and Dubl Handi has a new record out that I’m proud to be a part of.

Over the next few months I plan to continue my Sunday night residency at Moto in Brooklyn.  We play two sets starting at 8:30 every Sunday.  I will also be releasing a new song each month that will culminate with a new record and probably some touring early in the new year.

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