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Allah Las: Welcome Back to La La Land 

The LA-based psych rockers boast a well-balanced blend of musical transformation and creative liberation.

by Sarah Morrison

Photo by Alexandra Cabral

When LA-based psych-rock band Allah-Las reunited post-pandemic they were reminded just how different they all were. However, it was these differences that became the driving force behind their creative process on their new album, Zuma 85. 

Instead of viewing their differences as challenges, the band found them to be refreshing and invigorating, injecting new life into their music. “When you’re forced apart, you start to drift apart a little bit and rediscover some of your personal interests or things that you’re uniquely into,” frontman Miles Michaud tells RANGE. “When we came back together after a few years apart to start making this record, all of our differences, which we’ve always had, became readily apparent again.”

 The choice of studio played a pivotal role in shaping the character of Zuma 85. The Panoramic House Studio located near the western Marin coast north of San Francisco made for a serene coastal setting and provided the perfect backdrop for the band’s musical experimentation. The studio became a sanctuary for their creativity, allowing them to explore their music without distractions. Michaud highlights the importance of the studio, saying “it really created an environment for us that allowed its time to really compound its potential.” 

The studio, combined with the expertise of in-house engineer Jeremy Harris, granted Allah-Las a space with minimal constraints and maximum creative freedom. “Over time you learn to be able to rely on your own creativity and your ability to work in new and different environments,” Michaud says. The minimal gear they brought along, relying more on Harris and the space itself, proved to be a winning formula.

The album’s artwork, a creation by the California photographer John Divola, exemplifies the duality that defines Allah-Las’ music. The stark contrast between the natural beauty of a sunset and the man-made destruction of an abandoned apartment offers a visual representation of the band’s quest for balance. “It goes together symbolically in a way,” Michaud says. “As we progress and the sounds change, there’s a little bit of a darker element that has crept in and that balance is probably most apparent on this record.” This duality is expressed in the song title “GB BB,” which stands for “Good Baby, Bad Baby,” but it’s most vividly done through the angel and devil on either shoulder, emphasizing the band’s pursuit of creative symmetry.

Independence has been the linchpin of Allah-Las’ creative journey. The band established their own record label Calico Discos, and fostered a partnership with local label Innovative Leisure to get their music to the masses. Their commitment to nurturing a close-knit musical family echoes their desire to offer a helping hand to friends seeking opportunities in their careers. Michaud summarizes their approach, saying, “We wanted to help out some of our friends who might otherwise not know how to break into the industry at this stage of their careers.”

Allah-Las’ evolution is a testament to the ever-evolving nature of artists, crafting a well-balanced blend of musical transformation and creative liberation. With their latest, it remains clear that their readiness to adapt, explore, and remain true to their roots has indelibly shaped their musical path.