A Conversation With Los Encantados’ James Armstrong


For a band that has only been playing music together for a year, Los Encantados has accomplished a tremendous amount. The New York-based sextet has released not one, but three EPs since March, all acting as installments of a larger concept called The Same Damned Soul.

Aside from copious amounts of writing and recording, the band has also been playing gigs in its hometown of Brooklyn, with hopes of touring the States next year. The six-piece is currently working on its full-length debut, which aims to build on the EP series and incorporate surf, post-disco and pop rock. Los Encantados’ singer and primary songwriter James Armstrong was nice enough to chat with me about The Same Damned Soul, the full-length album, and how Queen basically molded his adolescence. Read our conversation below and stay tuned for an exclusive premiere of the band’s track, “Meet Me In Paradise.”


Katrina Nattress: You recently released the final installment of your three-part EP series, The Same Damned Soul. How does it feel to complete it?

James Armstrong: Spectacular. I’m proud of what the record became. Sammy Gallo did a great job producing, engineering and recording it. It’s exactly how I wanted this project to sound. I love these songs, they came from a very important and happy time in my life which will continue to inspire my writing through the next song, album and beyond. I’m happy and I’m very excited to put it on the shelf as we continue to move forward.


KN: What made you decide to release an album in three chapters like this?

JA: We thought it better to give people just small helpings at first. The pacing of the EPs also falls nicely around the seasons, with the more upbeat, fun tracks hitting in late spring and early summer then the more bleak, heavy tracks in fall/winter.

KN: You’re a large band—six members—do you all collaborate on song writing or do you have a primary songwriter?

JA: I primarily write the songs and then bring them to the band to fill in and flesh out.


KN: You’ve said you’re releasing your debut full-length next spring. Have you begun the recording process?

JA: Yes, we have! Tim Wagner (33hz & Dither Down Records co-founder) is producing and we’ve done some tracking at Strangeweather (DIIV, Friends) with Dan. It’s going to be an exciting process. Much of the music is written for our upcoming debut full-length. I’m still trying to conceptualize it lyrically and tie everything together at the moment – so you’ll have to stay tuned until 2013.

KN: What can we expect from your full-length?

JA: It’ll be a build off the EPs & really fun. High highs, low lows. A lot more varied instrumentation. In my head it sounds like maximalist surfy post-disco, pop rock.

KN: You guys have gigs booked in New York; can we expect a tour anytime soon?

JA: We’ll do spot dates around but likely won’t tour until following the release of our album next year.


KN: You’ve been compared to bands like Surfer Blood, Morning Benders and Wavves; do you agree with these comparisons?


JA: I think that those bands are really great, so it’s flattering.


KN: What would you say are your largest influences?

JA: Queen really opened me up to music and was the first band that captured me.  My mom had Queen’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 cassette, which she let me borrow…forever. I basically got a Walkman so I could always listen to it. ‘50s rock and ‘70s glam are big for me, as well. I like the positivity and simplicity of the melodies. I’ve also gotten heavily into Harry Nilsson’s work in the ‘70s. His vocal range is beyond inspirational.


KN: What’s next for Los Encantados?

JA: I’ve been searching for a leopard-skin blazer with no luck, so I’m going to ask my bandmates to help me tonight after rehearsal. After that, albums, tours and shitloads of secrets.


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