An independent band from Cleveland, Ohio, comprised of Michael LoPresti, Matthew LoPresti, Mark Porostosky and Ryan Walker, The Lighthouse and the Whaler originally broke onto the scene as a folk trio in 2008. Transforming their sound into the rock genre over the years, the quartet is back with their new EP “Paths“, accompanied by a run of shows through November.
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Dean Azriel: Kicking it off with your hometown of Cleveland, what really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the city?
Michael LoPresti: I think what makes it stand out as a city is that it’s not the biggest city in the world, but it’s very diverse. I think that gives the city a lot of interesting and cool things to do inside of it, and that makes it very different from any other city. It’s also a very close-knit city. I think everyone is only a degree or two separate from one another. It adds a bit of intimacy to the city.
© Erik Drost
If I had to send a first-time visitor someplace it would have to be Ohio City. It’s one of the coolest up-and-coming parts of Cleveland. The West Side Market is one of the landmarks that lot of people may not be aware of. It’s a market that has all sorts of meats, cheese and produce from local producers all over Cleveland. There are lots of cool places to grab a bite, as well as bars and breweries to grab a drink. There’s a lot to do in one location.
DA: The West Side Market sounds like a great way to get exposed to the local community and taste of Cleveland. What was your first, real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to create your own and eventually pursue it as a career?
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ML: My father was a pastor, so growing up my first, real introduction to music was at church. I grew up with church music, but my dad was big into Bob Dylan and The Monkees. So, at a young age I got a good exposure to that genre of music mixed outside of religious context. My Inspiration really comes from life experiences, experiences that I feel have made some sort of impact on myself. I was once told a quote that says, “As an artist there are times you go to work and the bear eats you, and sometimes you eat the bear.”
© Christian Barette
For me, that means I can wake up one day and inspiration strikes, go to work and write a great song. Some days you write all day, work hard and nothing happens. You accomplished nothing, but those are the days that help you grow and get better. I think while inspiration is fleeting, at the end of the day hard work is really what makes for a good song and music career.
DA: To create music, and traveling to promote it, must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful and meaningful part you cherish about it? Does the travel help inspirationally?
ML: Oh definitely, the last two records we recorded were done while we where in Seattle, Washington and Montréal, Canada. I believe both of those records where heavily impacted by the city and places we were in when we made them. Being out on the road, and traveling from city-to-city while on tour, lets us see and experience an amazing diversity between places. With that diversity in mind, you can see how fans react and connect to your music. That connection, I think, is invaluable for any artist.
DA: Totally! I could only imagine that feeling of connecting with fans at shows, and seeing their reaction to your music. You just released your EP “Paths” October 6th. What was your overall vision or goal for the EP? Describe your excitement for the release and to play it live for your fans?
ML: I believe “Paths” is a culmination of all the work, experience and growth that we’ve done over the last few years. With this EP, I think we were really able to express and articulate how we feel as musicians finding our own way. Every time we release an album there’s a bit of this nervous energy that comes from not knowing how people are going to respond, connect to it or how it’s going to move your career forward. In the end, it’s good to have that nervous feeling though, it’s there every album, every song. It’s always there. This time around, the feeling isn’t as intense. It feels like we did exactly what we set out to do in creating “Paths”. We really hope that the fans react well to it.
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DA: I’ve heard the EP and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. How does music and travel complement and go hand-in-hand with each other?
ML: I think that a place can have a profound effect on music. Whether it’s on someone who’s writing, or listening to music. Music has the ability to imprint memories on our subconscious, soul and brain. If you had a playlist from a trip, you can listen to it and bring up the memories of that place. That kind of takes you away from the daily shuffle. So, when it comes to travel, I think the ability music has is even more compounded. There is this unique experience that travel offers to a person. Traveling and experiencing some place new, unexpected and different leaves a memory that’s more tangible. Adding music on top of that can leave a profound effect.
DA: Do you have any songs that you’ve written or listen to that conjure up any specific memories about travel?
ML: I’d have to say “Paths”, the new song of the album, is one for sure. Not so much a specific place, but about journeying and the idea of making your own way. Another track would be “I Want feel Alive”. Again, not a specific place in mind, but it’s about achieving the moment, realizing when the right moment is there in front of you and grabbing it.
DA: When searching for a personal get away, are you looking for a serene beach or after a more active, adventurous getaway? Why?
ML: Definitely active and adventures. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a vacation and just relaxed. When we got married, my wife and I backpacked throughout Europe for our honeymoon. On our next vacation, we backpacked across Spain on a pilgrimage called the “Camino de Santiago”. It’s a long path marked with yellow shells that stretches for about 500 miles from the South of France to the west coast of Spain. I can’t really recall any times I’ve really just hung out on a beach. There’s so much to see and do that, when I travel, I don’t want to miss any of it. When it’s an unfamiliar place I want to just immerse myself in the culture and explore with the time that I have.
© Jason Boldero
DA: Engrossing yourself into new surroundings and cultures wherever you go is definitely a must to get a true sense of the local way of life. One of our core objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling, not only to influence people to see and appreciate our beautiful world, but to also minimize cross-cultural divides. What effect does traveling, specifically surrounding music, have on humans in this regard? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
ML: Traveling across the United States from coast-to-coast shows you how diverse the country and its people are. I count myself lucky to be able to see and experience travel because of music. I want to say it’s had a profound effect on me as a person in developing my character and my music. It’s opened my eyes to things that I may have thought are more concrete with my way of thinking, but reality is, it can be far more abstract.
I’ve visited about 28 countries around the world, and my experiences have broadened my way of thinking even further. Taking different cultures and seeing how they operate, the social norms they have and the things they hold dear, shatters any preconceived notions you may have had of the world. If you can take that and apply it to yourself as a person, it makes you more open to people around you and what they are trying to achieve with their lives.
© Mariusz Kluzniak
DA: With 28 countries under your belt, you must be like a cultural sponge. Tying in places you’ve been to, everyone has a list of places that they still have to hit. What are three destinations, either work or pleasure, that you need to see? Why?
ML: Definitely New Zealand, Australia, Patagonia and Madagascar. Madagascar especially, because I’ve heard so much about how it’s a wondrous and rugged place. It has a huge diversity in wildlife, destinations and has hardly been touched by people.
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DA: Tying the music back in, what is the most beautiful outdoor location that you’ve played at? How did the beauty add to the music?
ML: We just played a Sofar Sounds benefit show in Cleveland. Sofar is a production company that has partnered up with Amnesty International. The stage was actually on the roof of a gutted barge that was turned into their office on Lake Erie. We played an acoustic set towards the evening. The sun was setting on the lake, it was a beautiful night and the music was great. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect night.
© Jen Goellnitz
DA: Something about great music, nature and a great cause to come together for really makes for a powerfully-unique experience. Lastly, what do the next couple of months have in store for you and the band?
ML: We’ll be on tour through November promoting the EP. In December, we’ll be putting out an original Christmas song. When the new year starts, we’ll be heading out on tour again most likely on the west coast of the US. 2018 will hold a lot of new tour dates and new music, as well. Hopefully we can see a date in the near future for the release of our full-length album.
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For more on The Lighthouse and the Whaler visit their website: