At first glance, you might consider the band Lake Street Dive to be another overnight success story. The band has received a lot of acclaim with their latest album, “Bad Self Portraits,” which was released earlier this year. They’ve appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Colbert Report” and “Ellen.” And now they’re on tour with Amos Lee, making a stop at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary Friday evening.
But while their hard work has finally paid off, it’s taken the quartet years – a decade, in fact – to get to this point. “Well, we were in school for the first, you know, four or five years we were together,” says singer Rachael Price, on the phone from Brooklyn, where Dive is now based. “We were playing around town, sort of figuring out our sound. We were all in other bands. We sort of all went full-time and quit all of our other projects a few years ago.”
The 28-year-old Henderson, Tenn., native (and daughter of composer/producer Tom Price) does vocals for Dive, along with Mike “McDuck” Olson on trumpet and guitar, Bridget Kearney on upright bass and Mike Calabrese on drums. They all got together while attending Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. As with many bands, it took them a while to find their groove.
“We figured it out kind of slowly,” remembers Price. “When we first started playing, we didn’t have a specific genre at all in mind. In fact, I think we were trying to just play something that wasn’t even a genre. And it wasn’t until we all kind of figured out we liked the same music – which was the Beatles, soul music, Motown, stuff like that – that we sort of realized that’s sort of where our passions were.”
What made people start taking notice is when they made a video of themselves performing a down-tempo cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” on a Boston sidewalk to promote their 2012 covers EP “Fun Machine.” So far, the video has gotten over a million views on YouTube. “And, from then on, only in the span of a couple weeks, it just went all over the Internet,” says Price. “But, as much as we’d heard of that happening for YouTube videos, we didn’t realize that it was going to result in our shows being sold out and getting more gigs and sorts of things like that.”
This new-found recognition came right when they were recording “Portraits” in Maine with producer Sam Kassirer (aka Josh Ritter’s producer and keyboardist). For a while there, it seemed like there was a possibility that the album wouldn’t come out until Price – to borrow a Drake line – got her paperwork right. “I was still tied up in an old contract, basically, and it just took a year to sort of settle and get me released from it,” she says. “And, then, as soon as we did, we were able to put out the album.”
As evidenced by “Portraits,” Dive’s sound can be a compendium of genres, from Americana to jazz to swing to even Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. Price, whose deep, vocal richness she says she got from listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan as a youngster, says when you have a unit of musicians who can bring in their influences while still remaining on the same page, some good tunes are definitely going to happen.
“You know, we’re a totally democratic band – everybody writes, everybody contributes equally,” she says. “And we’re also just really good friends with one another. We enjoy being together and being on the road with each other and we really have a good time. And when it comes to being in a band and doing music sometimes, you really just have to go for it all the way.”