La Scala plays the kind of music found in the Sicilian alleys frequented only by the forlorn street singer, or in the smoky cabarets of prewar Paris, or in the tiny hillside villages of the Eastern bloc, tucked away all those years behind that iron drapery. It is this spirit, this old world sense of melody, that La Scala employs with such expert skill, creating a sound that is equal parts rock, Eastern European folk, and saccharine 1960’s Continental Pop music.
The frontman at work in La Scala is Balthazar de Ley. A childhood split between Paris France and Champaign USA taught him the art of melancholy and the art of song, both of which he honed in his previous endeavors with bands such as Menthol and Hum. The driving rhythms are provided by drummer Joshua Lohr, formerly of The Dirty Things, and electric bassist Ryan Jewel. Rounding out the lineup is Kirk McMahon, responsible for the tremolo guitars and the thick blanketing of reverb.
The band made its live debut in early 2007 with a commanding performance Chicago’s Empty Bottle. This first live set and the general sense of elation it spread throughout the club quickly earned the band invitations to appear at a number of other esteemed Chicago venues such as Metro, the Double Door, and the Hideout.
Roughly six months after this first performance, La Scala began work on its debut EP, which is soon to hit the shelves on the Highwheel Records imprint. Entitled The Harlequin, it was recorded in one of Chicago’s dark corners and mixed by renowned producer Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse, etc.).