Maybe it was because of the holiday weekend. But I doubt even that would have done the trick without a killer headliner. Ladada has spent the past year steadily building buzz around a unique sound that at times envisions Proto-Punk roots crossed with Surf Rock sensibilities. Add a dash of Rockabilly swagger and you’ve got a band that occupies a space somewhere between the Ventures and the Pixies during their weirder moments, with nods to My Bloody Valentine.
Bandleader Josiah Schlater has obviously picked up some wisdom from the leader of another band he’s been known to kick it with — MAS Y MAS. Ladada employs a blue-collar work ethic in how they’ve approached building a fan base, and it’s paid off in spades here. This show debuted new songs showcasing some tasty chops from both Schlater as well as the the rhythm section of James Robert Smith on bass and Bobby Rangel on drums. Jon Reynolds unassumingly rounds out the sound with quiet workmanship from the back of the room on a second guitar.
Norfolk, Virginia's Ladada have released the title track from their upcoming debut full-length LP, Heaven on the Rocks. Like the band's previous efforts the genre here can be described as "surf-influenced indie rock" but now with a more evolved approach. While their earlier work broadcasted the surf-rock sound through use of punk-rock vocabulary, their new single includes a darker, more reflective take on the genre with more emphasis on the songcraft. Heaven on the Rocks (the album) will be released this summer through Gold Robot Records. — Bobby Lewis on June 25, 2018
Ladada are a Virginia Beach based band fronted by Josiah Schlater, who has recorded and toured in Mae, We Are Trees, and Jake Clemons. For the past four years he's been making music on his own, a shimmering kind of retro-fuzz pop that pulls from both 60's soul and garage rock. This summer the band will release their full length debut Heaven On The Rocks via Gold Robot Records, a record built for the season with it's hazy surf melodies and light psych pop exploration.
The roots of first single and title track "Heaven on the Rocks" came "during a tubing trip down the James River, seemingly floating through paradise, rocks would scrape their backs at random. Peace and solace interrupted by shouts of pain from across the water." Sometimes life is sweet and then you quickly get a giant slap of its many harsh realities. The introduction is pretty triumphant, an upbeat rally cry that is soon washed out with the calming presence of the vocals. From their the song swells and expands like the river itself, at times brash and choppy, others subdued and meditative.
Josiah Schlater looks at music differently from not just the average person, but from the average musician.
He consistently finds fresh ways to deliver songs, like his his tax return drum beat series on Instagram (more on that later) and the video game for his band Ladada’s new single “My Van.”
Inspiration for his lo-fi surf rock band comes from groups like Brian Jonestown Massacre, the philosophy of Dadaism and recent vacations that changed his outlook on life. Japan changed him deeply, Schlater said, and vacationing on the James River helped lead to the name of Ladada’s debut full-length album, “Heaven on the Rocks.”
First off, he was ordering an Evan Williams bourbon on the rocks, and a friend thought he had said "heaven" so they joked that it would make a great album title.
“Tubing down the James River … it was low tide and there were gnarly rocks that would scrape our backs randomly. Complete paradise, sun in your face, wind in your hair, drink in your hand, then BOOM. Sheer pain and agony,” Schlater said. “It was all good fun of course, but the metaphor struck me hard enough to write a song about it.”
Ladada will be celebrating its album release Friday at Toast in Norfolk. Support comes from Snake Mountain Revival, hippie jammers; Piranha Rama, frenzied rockers; and Elliott Malvas, Schlater’s long-time collaborator who is performing shoe-gaze under the name Obscure Son.
Schlater answered a few questions by email about the new jams, projects, inspirations and trips. (Answers are edited.)
Tell me a bit about the new record and how it's different from your other stuff?
When we had our friend Jon Reynolds in the band a couple of years ago, we would all get into these jams, and sometimes another friend – Charlie Paschall of Four Directions Batik – would film these snippets of the jams. A lot of "Heaven on the Rocks" is a piecing together of those jams, putting vocals and lyrics on top of them. This record is a lot “spacier” than our previous efforts. More blues and greens as opposed to the onslaught of red and orange, although there’s some of that on there, too.
Norfolk. Indie Pop.
Snake Mountain Revival
Norfolk. Psychedelic Rock.
RVA. Indie Pop.