Thee Sacred Souls Talk Importance Of Soul Music At Lollapalooza 2023
Written by Vocalo Radio on August 11, 2023
Just after they stepped off the stage on the rainy third afternoon of Lollapalooza, lead singer Josh Lane, drummer Alex Garcia and bassist Sal Samano of San Diego trio Thee Sacred Souls met with Vocalo mornings host Bekoe to talk all things soul.
Thee Sacred Souls takes note from vintage soul and reaches deep within to produce timeless, ethereal ballads — which reverberated throughout a cheering crowd of Lollapalooza attendees in Grant Park on the rainy afternoon of August 5. Lead singer Josh Lane’s vocals could be heard across the festival grounds as he crooned out the lyrics to “Weak For Your Love,” a standout track from their 2022 debut self-titled album.
The album was met with acclaim at the time of its release, described by the Grammy foundation as “a devastatingly beautiful, accessible record.” On their debut, the trio — comprised of Lane, drummer Alex Garcia and bassist Sal Samano – blends the music they were raised on, like Texas Chicano soul, Marvin Gaye and ‘60s Motown, with rare 45s passed around by DJ friends, all strung together by lyrics evoking love, yearning and heartbreak.
“We just wanted to kind of, I don’t want to say put a new spin on the stuff that we grew up on, but kind of our interpretation of honoring the music that we all like,” Garcia reflected.
“Paying homage to the greats before us, but also not being stuck in their shadow and trying to be there and just trying to let it flow through us,” Lane furthered. “Whatever we’re going through, whatever we’ve digested as teens and adults, up till now, also is involved in the conversation and … we try to make something new with that information.”
Following their Lollapalooza set on August 5, Lane, accompanied by drummer Alex Garcia and bassist Sal Samano, made their way to the festival’s media lounge to discuss their time at the festival with Vocalo morning host Bekoe. They also broke down some of the influences on their debut album, and energy differences between performing for festival crowds versus intimate venues.
Bekoe: It’s Vocalo Radio, 91.1 FM, Chicago’s only NPR Music station. I’m your host Bekoe. Have some very special guests with me, we’re live at Lollapalooza, and I got Thee Sacred Souls! How’re you all doing?
Alex Garcia: Good man.
Josh Lane: Doing good.
Sal Samano: Doing good, man.
B: So on your website, right off the bat, you all see a quote: “First impression, oftentimes, is the best impression,” or something like that?
AG: We didn’t write that, but I feel that!
JL: I believe those are the words of Bosco Mann.
SS: Yeah, I think Gabe said that.
B: Would you agree?
AG: Sometimes you only have one impression, right?
JL: Yeah, but also I believe in … I feel like it’s not the end-all, be-all. You can mess up and then there’s grace. And then you can have another go.
AG: You got one chance!
JL: Oh, what about … dang, what’s the song? We got a song about second chances!
B: He has a point though. You know, this also isn’t your first time performing in Chicago. So what do you love most about Chicago? And what do you love about Chicago’s audience?
JL: We got a good energy. I think we played Thalia Hall outside one summer and then inside, and it was some of the best energy we felt.
SS: Yeah, no, I agree. Mostly, it’s just always every time we’re in Chicago, the energy. They always bring the energy.
B: What are some of the first things you all like to do once you arrive in the city? I know everybody … I know all you have different things.
AG: Try to find the best coffee shop.
JL: I agree with that one. But also try to find somewhere to do some yoga. I found a spot, I forget what it’s called. That’s it, for me!
SS: I usually try to link up with some of my friends out here, and try to find some jewelry or vintage. I got a friend out here with a shop called Sad Heart. Yeah, I think they just opened up, check ’em out.
B: Things has happened in recent years, and you all have been growing as a band. So what are some of the things that you’ve dealt with as changes, as far as like when the pandemic hit? You all recently put out your debut album. So what are some of those changes you had to pretty much go through to get to where you’re at now?
AG: I think just growing more as a band and just playing more on the road. And pretty much being on the road constantly has changed the way we write, and kind of just forces you to make time, really. Because you don’t have that much time.
JL: Yeah, I feel like just being on the road, playing these handful of songs over and over again, it gives you a chance to refine the performance or try to see … what stories you’re trying to tell with the music you wrote. At this point, we’ve played so often that you’ll get bored if you don’t try to think of ways to feel like the music comes alive to you when you’re on the road.
SS: Yeah, I mean, before, we’d be back at home and sit in Alex’s studio and just kind of be able to play through something, an idea, over and over. And out here, it’s kind of just finding the moment when you have it, which is, most of the times, in the greenroom before a gig, or after or in-between or in a hotel room.
B: To hear that you all don’t have much time, but find time is very interesting, because I know tour life can get a little hectic. But you all found time to put out your album, Thee Sacred Souls. Can you at least give everyone an idea of what inspired the album?
AG: We just wanted to kind of, I don’t want to say put a new spin on the stuff that we grew up on, but kind of our interpretation of honoring the music that we all like. ’60 soul music is kind of timeless, you know?
JL: What he said, you know, just paying homage to the greats before us, but also not being stuck in their shadow and trying to be there and just trying to let it flow through us. And whatever we’re going through, whatever we’ve digested as teens and adults, up till now, also is involved in the conversation and … we try to make something new with that information.
B: What are some of the artists that you all listened to forming Thee Sacred Souls album?
SS: Man, I feel like we all listen to so much music, and not even necessarily just soul. Even when thinking about writing soul, it’s a, I don’t know, pulling from all types of different genres, whether it’s …
JL: This is for the last record.
SS: Oh, sorry, last record. Yeah. Last record, I feel like when we first started, I was still pretty stuck on the groups that I was raised on, which was a lot of the music out from East LA and Texas, a lot of the Chicano soul groups.
AG: Yeah, like the Eptones from San Antonio, Royal Jesters and a lesser-known band, I think from Detroit, I’m not sure, Symphonic Four. I’m not sure where exactly they’re from. But they, it’s like the rare 45s in the DJ scene. We’ve had a lot of friends that put us on some new stuff. And they’ve been collecting records for years, man. So like, they put us on to some different stuff that we’d probably never heard of, and all that inspired us to make something out of it.
B: Now, you know, I checked out the album, I love soul music. But for you all, I want to ask you all, what does the soul genre mean to the world?
JL: I don’t know. I feel like every genre is important, and it’s a beautiful expression of humanity. So it’s all, there’s something for everybody. But soul, specifically, I feel like is one of the best conduits for raw emotion. Specifically listening to the records they were just telling you about, they put me onto those, too, because I grew up on mostly Motown stuff. And listening to some of these rare 45 things, it’s like you could feel the raw emotion almost in this. The fact that their voices weren’t perfect, the recordings weren’t perfect, it hit harder that way, it felt real and emotional. And I think soul music has that power to just get to the core of people’s emotions. And we all experience the same myriad of emotions, just in different ways. And soul music is like, it’s the conduit.
B: Would you also say love inspired your recent album?
AG: Of course.
JL: I feel like love, hopefully, should inspire everything.
JL: But yeah, definitely was on the forefront of the messages is like, we live in a screwed up time, we have been. Our favorites, one of my favorites, Marvin Gaye, said the same thing. And it’s, we’re, what, 70 years? We’re how many ever years past that, and we’re still saying the same thing. It’s a cycle. It’s like, if we don’t lead with love, we’re kind of screwed. I’m trying to keep my language clean!
B: If you want to let it out! I heard when you use profanity, that means you’re being yourself, okay! You’re letting out that pure raw.
JL: If we don’t lead with love, we’re f***ed, that’s all I was saying.
B: Now, speaking of love, I’m pretty sure all of you all have fell in love at some point in your life. I hope I’m right. Alright, so what do you remember about, what do you remember most about your first love?
AG: My first love. I’m still with my first love, really. The first girl I really fell in love with, I’m still with her. And I don’t know, it’s a feeling of like, it hits you and you kind of have this face and you’re staring off into the distance. You’re like, you don’t know how to feel, you don’t know how to describe it. So I feel like that’s kind of like, the same way music is. And the same way you should feel love for the person you’re with is the same way you should feel for the things that you do.
JL: Man, I’ve only experienced shades of love, man. The last person that was a deep love for me helped me realize who I was. And that’s the feeling that makes me think that it’s more than just sharing intimacy and just intimate friends. There was a love at one point that helped me realize who I was, even as I was learning it. And that’s kind of what I’m still chasing. I don’t know what else you want to hear, man! I can’t say anything else.
B: At least you experienced it!
SS: Yeah, I don’t know, man. I don’t got any deep s**t. But, love is good. And when you feel it, it’s good. And I hope that everybody gets to feel it, because it’s good.
JL: That’s deep! What are you talking about? That’s deep.
B: And lastly, with the album, what would you all like for people to take away from your debut album, The Sacred Souls?
AG: I think I just want people to hear authenticity, and just feel the music that came out of our minds and just know that they can relate to it, too.
JL: Personally, I just want people to feel a closer connection to this humanity we share, because that’s what my favorite music does for me. It just reminds me how big and small I am at the same time. And that’s what I want people to feel when they listen to our music.
SS: Yeah, I’d hope that younger generations, and even people of our age, when they listen to the album, maybe it’ll, like what it kind of did for us, which was bring you back to the music that you grew up on. And maybe people who didn’t grow up on soul, maybe they hear the album and maybe it’s a gateway for them to realize that they do like soul, and maybe it’ll get them into soul in the future. Or even, the older generations that will listen to the album and remind them of, you know, because they were around for the time. So if we get the older generation on board, then …
SS: Yeah, then that’s everything.
B: And lastly, because we’re at Lolla. You all have been on so many stages, from venues to festivals, so what is that transition like, hitting a regular stage? What’s the differences of hitting the venue stage compared to a festival stage like Lolla?
AG: It’s always nice to play smaller, intimate shows, but we’ve been playing so many different types of venues and different capacities that you still feel the love in a big venue or at a big festival. It’s like, either way, it’s like you know you’re reaching people,
JL: I feel like the different rooms are like different little realities to practice and learn. It feels different. You have to, I know for myself, I have to look inward in a different way for a festival than I do for a 400-cap. The capacity mentally changes, so you got to, I put on a different cap that’s a little bit more, maybe protect myself with the ego in a bigger spot and let that take most of the hit, versus a smaller intimate thing, it’s a little easier to be day-to-day Josh on those smaller stages, at least for me. It’s all the same stuff, but it’s just different capacities.
B: Energy, too.
JL: I think that’s what I mean by capacities, yeah.
AG: It’s great to see, though, he went off! Went running, and he had a whole crowd …
JL: Because they were following me!
AG: They were chasing him like Rocky! What’s that ‘Rocky’ movie? All the ‘Rocky’ movies where this dude’s running up the stairs.
B: That’s where yoga come into play!
SS: No, yeah, I mean, that’s a good example … I love playing the smaller venues, and some of my favorite shows have been at the smaller venues. But it’s still a good energy and it’s just a different type of energy. You get to see more of just everybody’s expressions and how they’re connected with the music, rather than when it’s in a small room, it’s right in front of you.
B: From San Diego to the beautiful city of Chicago, man. We appreciate you, brothers, for taking out time to stop by with us, and enjoy your time here in Chicago!
Keep up with Thee Sacred Souls on Instagram
Interview conducted by Bekoe
Audio editing by Bekoe, production by Morgan Ciocca
Video editing and production by Omi Salisbury
Portrait photos by Morgan Ciocca
Performance photos by Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere (Chicago Sun-Times)
Written introduction, transcription and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca
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