Loch Lomond emerged out of unexpected places
Ritchie Young didn’t get out much over the summer between his junior and senior years in high school. He was grounded. Young’s father put the rambunctious adolescent on house arrest after he hospitalized a friend—a nail-gun fight gone awry, Young explains with a chuckle.
The singer songwriter of the Portland-based, chamber pop ensemble Loch Lomond can laugh about it now. His friend has long since recovered and they still talk to this day. He recalls how stir-craziness drove him to the attic of his central Oregon home that summer. It was there that he was met with two very distinct instruments: his father’s old rifle and a guitar.
“I had this weird feeling that it was time for me to decide what kind of person I was going to be,” Young says. “I picked up the guitar and I’ve been playing almost every day since.”
Young worked his way through a Neil Young tablature book, which he found next to the fateful guitar, and eventually found himself playing with The Standard, a Portland indie rock outfit. He left the band in the early 2000s to pursue his interest in creating a more eclectic sound.
“It was just drums, bass and guitar,” he says remembering his qualms with the group back then. “It was just this rock thing that I really loathed for a while. I wanted to make music that was layered, where no one was trying to overplay another member.”
Loch Lomond started out as a solo project in 2003, and according to Young, the moniker is only linked to Santa Cruz’s reservoir through chance. He found the name scrawled across an old reel-to-reel tape used during his first solo sessions.
“We had no clue,” Young says, until the band played Santa Cruz a few years ago and fans kept asking about it. “It was weird, but cool. Just a total coincidence.”
The sound that Young has developed since recalls The Velvet Underground and Nico and Pet Sounds. It is a sound that has seen a resurgence of late, as new groups such as Fleet Foxes and Devendra Banhart turn down their amps and often unplug completely (Loch Lomond doesn’t use any amplification in rehearsals)—embracing soft vocal harmonies, mandolins, strings, xylophones and a wider variety of instrumentation than has been commonly seen in popular rock music of the last three decades.
“I totally think music goes in cycles,” Young says. “This (style) will die and then it will come back again in 20 or 30 years.”
Young is certainly not immune to the cyclical nature of music. He says that recently he has shaken his aversion to the rock arrangements he was playing in The Standard. In fact, “Ghost of an Earthworm,” the lead track from Loch Lomond’s latest EP, Night Bats, is noticeably devoid of the diverse instruments that usually pepper the group’s recordings.
“We decided to do something we hadn’t done in a while,” Young says. Loch Lomond wrote, recorded and mastered Night Bats in 20 days, consciously scaling back the variety of instruments they usually use. Little Me Will Start a Storm, the group’s forthcoming LP set to be released this spring, will see a return to a wider scope of accompaniment.
As for playing on this latest tour that hits The Brookdale Lodge this week, Young says he’s excited to get back out on the road with the new material. He says that touring earlier this year with The Decemberists and Blitzen Trapper prompted the band to amp up its live show.
Loch Lomond performs at 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at The Brookdale Lodge, 11570 Hwy 9, Brookdale. Tickets are $12 in advance. For more information, call 338-1300 or go to folkyeah.com.