St. Lucia’s Jean-Philip Grobler Shares Tour Stories, New Album Plans + More
When St. Lucia started, the band was the one-man operation run by Jean-Philip Grobler. Now, the solo act has turned into a full-fledged outfit that has garnered success and a growing fanbase, thanks to their debut album, 'When the Night.'
The Brooklyn electro-pop act has been selling out shows around the country over the past year -- and with all that time on the road comes a lot of fun tour experiences and stories. Grobler took some time out of the band's busy schedule to chat with Diffuser about their big moments on tour, producing HAERTS' debut album and when we should look out for the next St. Lucia record.
You guys still have a few days left on your tour. How has it been going?
It's going very well actually. It was a 10-week tour, so it's been a long run, but it's gone really quickly. It was a lot of fun, and yeah, it's been good.
As exciting as it is every night to play and have fun, I'm sure it can get tiring. What are some of the challenges of being on the road?
Well, I'm married to the girl who plays keyboards in the band, Patti [Beranek]. And being on a bus is great for a lot of reasons. You just sleep through the drive and then wake up in the city that you're playing in and then have a couple of days to do whatever you want, which was so different from driving around in a van where we're driving all day from city to city. But the problem with that is that we don't have a bunk together. But we'll cuddle. I'll cuddle her in her bunk then have to head back up to my bunk. So you kind of miss that intimacy a little bit.
And then you also have to get used to actually sleeping on a bunk. Imagine trying to go to bed and someone randomly shaking you and hearing loud rumbles everywhere. Sometimes I'll wake up and think we've crashed into something. But then you get used to it and just sleep pretty well. And of course, being on top of the same nine people all the time, there will always be fights from time to time and disagreements and stuff -- but nothing major.
St. Lucia shows are pretty intense. How do you guys stay healthy to keep the energy up during performances?
On this tour, we've been very fortunate to be on a bus. We play till late then get to bed even later after a drink or two, but then don't have to get up till about 11AM or noon. For us, we definitely have to work out every day. I don't go that crazy. But it's cool because in every city we go to, you can change up what you do. So I love swimming. I'll often go and find swimming pool lanes and do some laps or something or do 100 lengths. Sometimes, when we're in a place like Boulder or in Flagstaff, Ariz., there is hiking nearby. There are just these cool ways you can keep fit. It's just good to get as much experience of the city that you can.
Speaking of cities, what have been your most memorable stops on this tour?
Before this [tour], we'd always go to bigger markets like Boston, New York, Chicago -- the bigger cities wherever they may be. And on this tour, we went to a lot of smaller towns and cities and stops along way. Like I mentioned before, Flagstaff was such a cool city. I think it's cool that it's close to the national park where you can go on hikes. And there's a town called St. Luis Obispo between Los Angeles and San Francisco that was really surprisingly cool. New Orleans is always a wonderful surprise. We just love being there. There's always something that you find surprising. I don't think you could go to every restaurant and every bar. It's just cool to discover new places and try to take breaks where you are and experience the city for what it is.
We spoke around the same time last year and chatted about the then-upcoming 2014 tour. Now we're at the tail end of it, and St. Lucia have experienced a lot success along the way. How does that feel?
Obviously, I wake up every day and I have to pinch myself with what has happened. It's incredible to be able to support ourselves and support our crew and support the band. And to travel as well and to do it with my wife -- it's amazing. Sometimes I wake up and I'm like, "Oh my god, I travel so much. When am I going to come down from this?" And I really just have to pinch myself. I could not have foreseen anything better really.
You've been playing 'When the Night' for the past year. Will we be seeing a new album soon?
The plan is to definitely release a new album next year. At some point over the last year and a half, I realized that the making of this album has to be different from 'When the Night.' If I made it the same way, it would take me another three years or something. So I just realized I would need to do a lot of writing on the road and just demoing things on my laptop. The first album was made in my very non-glamorous studio in Williamsburg. And I had all my instruments available to me and every thing available to me. This time around I'm in a band. I can't record an acoustic guitar or a horn section or strings or whatever it may be in a band. So I'm somewhat limited, but the good thing about that, I think it's forced me to just come up with as many ideas as possible. And that's what I've been doing -- writing a lot of other stuff. After the tour, I'm probably going to go straight into the studio and just really start recording it and doing stuff and really see what happens. So the plan is to release the album next year, but everything may change. You never know.
You're a producer as well, so are you planning to do this one on your own or do some collaborating on the production side?
I'm always trying to do things a little bit differently. I think when you try to replicate what you did before, I think it's a bit of a trap. So I decided to work with this guy, Chris Zane, who produced all the Passion Pit albums, Holy Ghost! and some bands I really respect. And he also did production and some mixing on 'When the Night,' and we really had a good vibe going. So we're going to try working together and see where it goes, but I'm really excited to get back into the studio.
One of the other projects that you worked on was producing HAERTS' debut album, and I know you were working on it with them for a while. How does it feel to have it out now -- and then being on the same tour with them?
It's awesome to have it out. Like you said, we've been working on it for a long, long time. We started working together three and a half years ago. So to see them progress and do everything they've done and take some of the original stuff we've done and do some of their own stuff without me, I'm super proud of them. I originally thought the album was going to be out like a year before it actually came out, but things happen. And you try new things. But I'm incredibly proud of what we did together and what they did.
You've been busy with the tour and are heading to the studio afterwards. Are there any new things we should look out for at the end of the year?
Yeah, I think I'm going to put out some remixes. Also, I have a couple of collaborations with artists who I love that I'm working on, which will also be coming up soon -- depending on those artists' schedules. Whoever has been coming to our shows, we've been playing some new songs, which we're also excited about. So nothing set on [St. Lucia's] end for the end of the year, but we've been trying out some things at our shows.
St. Lucia's debut album, 'When the Night,' is out now via Neon Gold Records. Get details on the release and the band's remaining tour schedule at their official website.