Mating Ritual is recognized for their bold and bouncy blend of synth-rock. Crafting a nostalgic, electro sound with a modern twist, the group brings a unique flavor to today’s musical landscape. Previously known as Pacific Air, brothers Ryan Marshall Lawhon and Taylor Lawhon set out to accomplish a very ambitious feat. Their goal was to finish five albums in five years. Since then, they've have completed four extraordinary offerings, How You Gonna Stop It? (2017), Light Myself On Fire (2018), Hot Content (2019), and The Bungalow (2020). Now they just released Songs for the Morning and Evening Times, reaching that desired target. The past four albums laid out the foundation for this new offering."Future Now" off Hot Content talks of wanting the future, while "Old Disco" is about clinging to the past. The Bungalow has a song called "Voodoo", setting up this album's "Voodoo No.2." EARMILK spoke with the band, discussing conquering that objective, their upcoming tour and of course, the album itself.
Ryan reveals, “The idea came spontaneously during an interview for the first album, and I never thought we’d have to follow through with it." It happened to be one of the best slip of the tongues I’ve ever had though, it pushed both of us to be consistently creative and finish work that we might have sat on in the past. We used to be over critical —and maybe a little timid— of releasing music and this rather tight timeline required us to put aside our ego and trust our instincts.”
Songs for the Morning and Evening Times is appropriately named, as some songs fit better for the daytime while others are more representative of night. “The title was the last creative decision we made for the album. We had some 20 odd songs and about half fit this summery sunny vibe, while the other half screamed a night on the town. So we split them in complementary halves, designed to be listened to in the morning or evening times.”
Beginning with the upbeat and funky “Old Disco,” the track bursts with so much effervescence and sentimentality. Focusing on holding onto cherished memories of the past, that message can be felt lyrically and as well as sonically. “That tune was actually written a few years ago with our friend Sean Van Vleet. During the album process, we came across it again and Taylor completely overhauled production and made it the danceable tune you hear on the album. It’s definitely an alt rock song, but to make it cohesive with the album and the vibe we’d already established, we programmed all the drums to give it that bounce and heavily distorted two acoustic guitars so it had drive but wasn’t too abrasive.”
Another fun and highly infectious song is “Nah.” There are so many things in life we wish we could just say “nah” to, making the song so relatable. “We wrote 'Nah' with the goal of creating a tune an entire drunk bar could sing along to, even if they’ve never heard it before. Lyrically it’s about being stuck in the never-ending cycle of rent culture and never being able to get yourself ahead.”
Then there are mellower, slower pieces like “Voodoo No. 2.” The song is so captivating as they serenely sing, “I’ve tried to run/ I’ve tried to hide/ you must be a witch/ you’re controlling my mind.” “'Voodoo No. 2' was not initially intended to be a Mating Ritual song. I wrote that for the show 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' based on a brief the show’s music supervisors sent out to a bunch of songwriters. It didn’t end up on the show, but I loved the sarcastic tone of the song and the laid-back nature of it, so again we swapped out the production so it fit within the landscape of the album.”
Throughout this energetic album, Mating Ritual gets deeply personal sharing real accounts while also sprinkling in a few made up ones as well. With this release, they want this to encourage others to show their many sides. Throughout each album, the group has presented every part of themselves, but in Songs for the Morning and Evening Times that multifaceted nature is that much more clear. “I hope people take away that you don’t have to base your entire personality around one trait. It’s ok to be light and goofy while also feeling intense pain or sadness. Both can be honest at the same time.”
Mating Ritual has upcoming fall shows with support from alternative/indie outfit Low Hum. The group is really looking forward to the tour. “We’re so excited to get to play these songs with the human connection element. We’ve released two albums since we’ve last been able to tour and (at least in my opinion) an album doesn’t feel real until you’ve had the chance to share it in a physical space. We’re also crazy excited just to leave Los Angeles and eat different foods and see different landscapes. We've been cooped up since the end of 2019. Also, Low Hum rules. They are good friends of ours- can’t wait to see them on a nightly basis.”