I first met La Bouquet’s Drew Bruchs in a performance art class, where I was immediately struck by his kindness and warmth, and was floored by his talent for visual art. I learned of his musical prowess during a project designed to draw a confession from the artist. While many students went the traditional route of spilling their secrets through traditional visual mediums, Bruchs lugged a guitar, amp, and pedals all the way to campus, giving a performance that left the entire class deafeningly silent.
Bruchs is a member of Los Angeles-based sad-pop group La Bouquet, which recently released their debut LP, Sad People Dancing. I got to chat with La Bouquet members Bruchs and Bryan Sammis (formerly of the Neighbourhood) before their July 6th show at the Moroccan Lounge, which was presented by KROQ.
First of all, can you tell me about your album art? What inspired that?
Bryan Sammis: I will tell ya, and you’ll get the scoop...
Drew Bruchs: Oh, okay!
BS: There’s a jazz album called “Turkish Women at the Bath” by Pete La Roca, and if you look it up you’ll see that I kinda ripped it off. It’s pretty much the same thing. This is totally different, what’s in the middle, but it is like a Renaissance thing in the middle. The font is very similar. I basically sent it to our guy Trevor who did the design for our merch and stuff. Even the back how there’s like all of this [gesturing], like they did that on old records. This is a poem, this is all the credits, and this was talking about the album. It was just some lowkey jazz record I found on Spotify when I was listening to stuff on shuffle, and I really liked how it looked. There’s stuff, obviously, that’s different but even putting “a sonic experience of cut-flower love, profound sadness & patience,” they had something else there and I was like, “Cool, I’ll write something for us.”
How were you able to successfully maintain your band while you were in different locations, while Drew was in school?
DB: Bryan always hit me up any time there was rehearsal or a show and I basically just made the time to make the drive down and kinda did whatever it took to come down and play.
BS: I mean it was easier for me. A lot of the shows we play are in and around LA. I live in downtown - I live five minutes from this venue.
That’s very convenient.
BS: Yeah, I mean I can’t just like walk home because I have too much sh-stuff...shit. Why do I think I can’t curse?
You can say shit.
BS: I have too much shit to do that. Yeah, but I mean [Drew]’s the one making all the...
DB: I was also able to schedule all my classes in the morning and the afternoon to have evenings off, just in case, to come down for practices and shows.
That’s very noble.
DB: Oh yes.
Morning classes are a beast.
DB: [Laughs] Those 8 am’s...
Who do you count as your biggest musical influences?
DB: I kinda grew up with more classic rock: Hendrix, Clapton. Then Bryan comes from the more hip-hop, rap current genre.
BS: It all depends.
DB: He loves Frank Ocean.
BS: Yeah Frank Ocean’s like my number one. But it depends on what it’s for. I listen to everything so if it’s for this band...
DB: It’s like the 1975.
BS: When I look at this band I always want it to be like if The Cure or The Smiths were a band in 2018 or ‘19. So obviously they’d have some electronic elements, and maybe they’d up the production a bit, and maybe they’d do some things in the studio that they couldn’t do live. Maybe they’d do tracks, maybe they would do other things, and so I take that approach. I love the nostalgia of it. Every intro on the record I go, “Ooh, could we add chorus to that?” “Do you have a chorus pedal for this?” We have saxophone, and I like having that nostalgia factor, but still keeping it modern. I do listen to a lot of hip-hop and a lot of R&B. That comes in melodically—R&B and stuff. I don’t like a lot of that old stuff lyrically, I like folk music.
DB: Father John.
BS: Yeah, Father John Misty, Dawes, City and Colour, Iron & Wine. It’s kind of a mixture of those lyrics, R&B melodies, and having the music be nostalgic but modern.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would you choose?
BS: I’ll let you answer yours.
DB: That’s a tough one. I need to think about it.
BS: For me it’s Frank Ocean for sure. I don’t know if it’s the right thing for this band right now, but it is what I want in my life. I have the guy’s name tattooed on me for god’s sake.
BS: On my thigh. It says “Frankwood Mac,” for Frank Ocean and Fleetwood Mac. If not him, what would make sense for this band and my number two on that list—maybe tied for number one—would be Bon Iver. I think that makes more sense for this band, because we do acoustic stuff.
Anyone else? That sums it all up?
BS: Drew wants to collaborate with Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock.
DB: [Laughs] Ugh. Yes. Please.
BS: Weird Al.
DB: Love Weird Al.
Of songs on your newest record which has been your favorite to perform live?
BS: It’s different. I feel most emotionally connected to “Pure Heartbreak,” but it doesn’t get the best reaction. The best reaction, and us, and everything that’s good is either “Sad People Dancing,” or “Scream My Name” probably. But I have other ones, like “Pure Heartbreak” for me but the crowd’s like, “Oh this is cool, but I can’t really dance to it,” kinda just bobbin’ around. It wasn’t the biggest song on the record but to me, personally, in my brain, every time I play it I’m like, “I need this right now. This is like therapy.” But in terms of overall vibe—us getting energy, them getting energy from us—probably “Sad People Dancing.”
DB: Probably “Scream My Name.”
What’s next for you guys?
BS: We have a show in August that we’re going to post about after this show, because I didn’t want anyone who was going to come to this show to be like, “Oh I could see them in August.” There’s some festival in Calabasas that I’ll post about. And we’re writing some new tunes. We have one demo already in the bank, that’s awesome. We have other stuff written but not recorded, so I think we’ll probably work with some different people too. We did one with one guy, maybe go and do some with somebody else, see what feels best. Maybe that means we release a couple singles, we release some singles. Maybe that means we release an EP with somebody we really like…we’re kinda figuring it out from there. So much about today’s music culture, it’s about just having content. And I feel like sometimes it’s cool to not do that. Obviously once we have material I wanna put it out, but I don’t wanna just do it to do it. We made a vinyl, for god’s sake, and not everybody has a vinyl player. I wanna eventually give somebody another body of music, to be like, “Sit with it. Live with it.” It’s not for everybody nowadays, but whoever it is for: Sit with it. Listen to it. Let’s talk about it.
Listen to Sad People Dancing below: