With their major-label debut ‘We Switched Bodies’ just dropped, we caught up with New Yorkers LAUNDRY DAY for a debrief on an album that hits every mark.
Words: Stephen Ackroyd. Photos: Camilla Ffrench.
Before the pandemic, LAUNDRY DAY were a band on a roll. Before even graduating high school in the summer of 2020, they’d sold out The Bowery Ballroom and The Roxy stateside, toured the US and Europe and hit the road with the likes of The 1975 and Clairo. The right moves with the right people, everything was coming up golden.
While the last couple of years may have put a pause on some activity, it hasn’t held the NYC gang back when it comes to laying down something concrete to get excited about. ‘We Switched Bodies’ – their new album, and major-label debut – drops today (11th February). Co-produced by BROCKHAMPTON’s Kevin Abstract and Romil Hemnani, alongside veteran rock producer Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine), it’s a 10-track collection that hits the mark perfectly – proof that there are depths to LAUNDRY DAY.
To find out more, we caught up with Jude, Etai, Sawyer, HP and Henry for a quick release day debrief.
Hello LAUNDRY DAY! What have you been up to today?
Jude: What’s up! I’m eating avocado toast with lox right now. So yummy!
Etai: absolutely chilling. Dealing with raw chicken at the moment. Lunch alert.
Sawyer: Sorting through old clothes. Gotta give some away, but I can’t get rid of a couple classic pieces, ya know?
HP: Heyo! Trying to wrestle my dog, Louie, off me; he’s a fetch fiend.
Henry: Hi. Coming to you live from the seats at Radio City Music Hall! I came here today to take a tour of the building for an upcoming project, but to my dismay, the woman I was meeting forgot about the appointment altogether! The security guard let me in because I was still on the list, but now I’m aimlessly sitting here waiting for someone to kick me out. I think I’m going to wander around until someone gets suspicious.
New York is basically supposed to be the global capital of cool for bands. It feels like the city has a major impact on your identity. How does coming out of a place like that shape who you are as a group musically?
Jude: We are New York. We have the electricity, the noise, the cool. This will be home forever. And someday, we’ll be as associated with New York as the Yankees.
Sawyer: I go to other cities, and I just feel like nothing compares to the metropolis that is NYC. You really have to experience it to understand why anyone from here reps it. It’s a huge driving force in all of our lives. Everyone needs to live at least a year in NYC before they die.
‘We Switched Bodies’ is great – was there a core idea behind the album, or were you more focused on just making the best collection of songs you could?
Jude: It was definitely songs first. Our music teacher in high school, Mr. Letiecq, would tell us, “the best songs can be played on a brown paper bag.” So we were trying to make brown paper bag music. Music that can stand on its own minimally. But of course, we produced it all in our crazy LD way…
Things were going great guns before the pandemic, and then things had to go on hold. How did that affect you? Were you close to having the album ready to go before it all kicked off, or is it something you’ve worked together on during it all?
Jude: We had our first week of sessions for what was then called ‘LD4’ back in February of 2020 at Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, CA. To this day, that week is the most creative I’ve ever felt. We wrote like 40 songs. And at the time, that seemed like the foundation for the album, but we didn’t get back to work until September, and by then, with everything we’d gone through, it made more sense to start from scratch. But I hope those songs see the light at some point.
Sawyer: It’s really hard to imagine what life would be like without the virus. In many ways, we were on a roll to becoming the best LD ever; we were working in big legendary studios, getting attention from some of our idols, and playing our first sold-out shows. It felt like everything was really starting to pick up. But then our planet does this thing that completely shatters reality and puts everything on hold, and the universe says to us, “Hey guys, I think you all need to take a break and figure some shit out”. So that’s what we did. We were as picky as we’d ever been when arranging this album, and the process of working on these songs brought us all to a new level of emotional intelligence that we might not have developed on our early March 2020 trajectory. Are we a better LD? I guess there’s no way to really know. Are we a smarter LD? I think yes.
Having Kevin and Romil involved in the production for the album is a big deal. How does working with those guys play out? Are they very collaborative in the process?
HP: Working with Kevin and Romil is serene, Romil has a fast pass to the ether of musical ideas floating in the air, and he’ll suggest or execute whatever he’s thinking in no time. It’s easy for the 5 of us to lock in with him and work every detail out. Now, what was cool about working with Kevin was that it felt like he was paying more attention to the energy in the room than the music itself. He was able to ask the right questions in difficult moments and direct us toward the solutions we thought were best. It is a little funny to talk about music as having “a solution”, but ultimately, when we were in the last week of finishing “We Switched Bodies”, making decisions and solving problems was all there was left to do.
Obviously, with the BROCKHAMPTON guys, and previously touring with The 1975 – you’ve been around people who are in bands that have big creative visions and ideas behind what they do. Is that something you look to as well?
Jude: Oh yeah. We admire artists that have a brand. And not in like a Walmart way. In an aesthetic way, in a cultural way. You know what the 1975 universe is, the Kanye universe. A lot of this album (making it and rolling it out) has been about establishing our world. What LD means. And you asking the question about New York tells me it’s working….
Sawyer: I think we’ve always been DIY because it’s the most fun. We’ve looked up to groups not only because of the music they make, but also because they look like cool people with stories to tell and things to say. You want to be in a room with them, hang out with them. We’ve been lucky enough to call some of our biggest inspirations friends of our, and that is truly a dream come true. We want to keep spreading this DIY energy; we want you to feel like you’re on the streets of NY with us making jokes or running around in spandex superhero costumes.
It’s the first album on a major for you, but far from your first record. How do you compare it with what came before? Is it a bit of a new era?
Etai: I think that this, our major-label debut, resembles our very first album (back in 2018) in many ways! When you put aside the obvious growth and experience, both albums saw us feeling around in the dark for the purest musical excitement. COVID gave us a blank slate, and in certain ways, made us feel like we were starting all over again. Even though We Switched Bodies is our fourth album as LAUNDRY DAY, it can fully stand on its own as a representation of us. We were more conscious and self-aware than ever before while making this album, and I think that resulted in a re-introduction that feels fresh whether you’re a longtime listener or here for the first time!
HP: This album doesn’t appear similar to our debut, and musically it’s not. But you are getting the same characters in a new environment. All grown up and graduated. We’re doing this full time, so our life challenges have changed, but the way we express the fear and love that comes with those challenges is the same. By making an album.
Are there lots of shared musical reference points within the band? What’s the stuff that gets all of you excited?
Henry: For this album, it was mostly ambient music that was what brought us together. That and the Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack.
Etai: I feel like the music we bond over most is hip hop. We love it so much. It may not immediately seem like that influence comes through on this album, but I see it! Besides that, we each have very different musical backgrounds based on what we listened to growing up. We only met in high school, so our most formative listening years were spent apart. I can always count on Sawyer to bring his soulful southern influence to our music. And I can always count on Henry to shred some blues! He loves the blues.
Sawyer: Everyone in the group is so passionate about the music they love and discover. We constantly send songs to each other and try to emulate certain techniques when playing together at rehearsal. It’s the most fun thing about music, the ability to grow your own musical vocabulary by supporting other artists that influenced you and came before you.
HP: a good auto-tuned vocal run can get the tour van lit up.
What’s the best song you’ve written so far, do you think – and have we heard it yet?
Henry: It’s a song called ‘Hashish Dreams’. It’s a prog-rock anthem about finding yourself amidst an out of body experience. There’s a pretty thumping beat that is continuous throughout the song that makes you want to move. At the end, there is a heavenly outro, grounding you, putting you back in your place after the slightly psychedelic and overwhelming previous sections. I don’t think it’ll ever see the light of day, though if it did, I think people would really like it. I think it’s just a little too personal. That’s what’s held us back in the past, and I don’t see that changing. Who knows. Maybe one day.
Etai: ‘Hashish Dreams’ is, unfortunately, only for our ears. We must protect the feeling it gives us.
Sawyer: If I had to choose, it would be a delightful tune called ‘Hashish Dreams’. There are no words to describe how that song moves me. However, as Etai said, it is sacred.
(Yes, Dear Reader, we are going to have to trust Laundry Day that ‘Hashish Dreams’ exists, and isn’t just… y’know… what it says on the title. – Ed)
What’s your definition of having ‘made it’? Is there something on the bucket list you’re gagging to achieve?
Jude: We have this phrase, “JHR”, which stands for “Jack Harlow Run”. He’s just been on such a run. We’re tryna get like that. Where there’s always something bigger and bigger happening. Platinum Single, SNL performance, festival headlining, etc. etc. etc. WE GOTTA BE HOST AND MUSICAL GUEST ON SNL.
Etai: Having a sandwich named after us. Selling out arenas! Getting a Poland Spring sponsorship. Ending COVID single-handedly. Shaking hands with Stevie Wonder.
Sawyer: My goal is to play the biggest shows ever! I love everything we’ve already been able to achieve, and the only place to go is up, so I’m excited to get back out on the road and keep making fans!