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Chatting with The Loved Ones

PAUSE: Just so I can remember who I’m talking to, what’s the names and what part do you play in the band?

Dave H: I’m Dave, I sing and play guitar.
Chris: I’m Chris, and I play bass.
Dave W: I’m Dave and I play guitar.
Mike: I’m Mike and I play drums.

PAUSE: Today I read your interview with CityBeat and I read some other reviews and interviews online and, while you tend to have a punk sound why is that music category something you kind of want to shun?

Dave H: I don’t think it’s something we want to shun, it’s something we don’t want to get boxed in to. I think that whenever you get labeled with one category as a band people come with certain baggage and expectations to listen to you. We’ve made certain decisions with bands when touring and putting out records on certain labels that encourage that genre, but we just want to be comfortable with the music we write whether that sounds familiar to punk audiences or not. So yea, it’s not something we want to shun it’s just something we don’t want to get pigeon holed with.

Dave W: Yea, and I think everyone in the music business now wants to put a music label on you. Ya know, on myspace you have to list what you are: “Loved Ones, punk/rock”…you only have about three or four options of how to label yourself and I don’t think they necessarily did that back in the day. It was just rock and roll.

PAUSE: Well, with your style of music, no matter what genre it might or might not fall under, it is energetic and you’re bound to have an energized crowd. So, what makes for a good show because usually, from what others have told me, it’s how the audience interacts with you as a band.

Mike: That’s funny, this is something we’ve actually been talking about recently because when you grow up playing punk and hardcore you’re used to seeing one sort of predictable audience: they start leaping off high beams and punching each other and such. But, we’re having to get used to the fact that when you do play a slower song, not only should you not expect that sort of response, but you should expect a different sort of engagement. Personally, when I’m back playing the drums I’m looking for people who are just engaged. I get just as much energy from someone who is just bobbing their head and watching what’s going on as I did when I saw someone doing a back flip off the stage.

Dave W: I get just as much enthusiasm watching my band mates play

Dave H: I mean, the crowd response does make it easier when you do have a slightly more explosive show. But I think energy can just come from just too many drinks from the crowd or…you can just tell when folks are excited to see a band there’s a certain electricity in the venue that we get. Knowing the words for me is something that turns my crank right away. It means you’ve reached that person and you’re communicating with them through your music and lyrics and that’s the whole point of this thing. I mean, I really wasn’t prepared to see that this early in our career.

PAUSE: Well yeah, you guys have only been around for about a year, right?

Dave H: Yea, it’s only been a year since the four of us have been playing. Mike and I had been playing together since 2004. So to see people singing along was just mind blowing…there’s just no better feeling, well, there’s few better feelings in this world that I’ve felt.

PAUSE: Given the liveliness of your music, it’s not that easy to decipher your lyrics. So, I don’t know, what is it that you’re trying to do with your music besides fulfill this need to do what you feel you were born to do? What is it that you want people to get?

Dave H: Well, you want people to get whatever it is they need to get out of it. I mean, it’s communicating and, well, it is just music and people can put too much importance on it.

Dave W: And, we did decide to have a central theme with this album so I guess, in a way, we want them to understand or feel apart of that theme. It’s just like when you see a series of paintings that revolve around one theme.

Dave H: I was raised in a pretty devout Christian environment and that’s not something that I’ve embraced. Instead, my church was rock and roll music and that’s where I found a lot of strength and faith and answers for my own little existential crisis. And, that’s what I want people to walk away with after a Loved Ones show. I want, when we come a town and people come to the show and have that experience, to have something to get them through whatever it is. I want them to walk away and be able to say, “I feel a little bit better about this crazy screwed up world where things are going crazier by the minute.”

PAUSE: I totally agree that music needs to be able to do that for listeners…

Mike: And as a means of escape. We’ve had multiple people tell us, “I was sitting in traffic and I put on your record and I didn’t even care that I was sitting in traffic.” And yea, if we can help them get through traffic than we’re doing what we meant to. Whatever people need…people come to music for different reasons and, well, I remember going to my room so I could escape and it didn’t matter any more if I got beat up by some bully in 7th grade or some girl wouldn’t look at me or whatever…

Dave W: They’re all looking now though.

PAUSE: So what’s given, lets call it the deconstruction of genres, when you go on tour do you have a certain kind of band you want to play with?
Dave W: I love the band we’re on tour with right now, The Gaslight Anthem—they’re just great. And I’m excited for the ones that just joined the tour

Dave H: I think there’s a lot of other bands that are thinking the way we are and approaching music in a similar fashion. I think it all boils down to songs, and that other stuff dealing with genres just don’t matter. I think there are a lot of bands that are thinking: songs first and then add the other stuff around it like if you want a mohawk or if you’re covered in tattoos. It’s important to have songs that can reach people and there are lots of other bands we can tour with because they’re more concerned with creating memorable hooks and well thought out lyrics. That is what’s key, to me, for picking an opening band and what tours we choose to accompany.

PAUSE: Speaking of lyrics, when you go to write your songs, is it more reflective or creative or a combination of the two?

Dave W: For me it’s like story telling; you’re going with a theme and developing a story and sometimes its factual but it doesn’t have to be.

Dave H: I think if you’re a good writer you want to mix up perspectives. You want to be creative in your approaches: are you speaking in 3rd person or are you come from 1st person. When you can mix those up you can approach songs in a much more diverse way instead of staying in one way.

PAUSE: Anyone can go to your myspace page and see what other musicians have influenced you. However, what other influences—outside the music scene—have some impact on you in your approach to your music?

Dave W: Anything from writers that you love to daily experience of going to work to living with my wife. I draw a lot from those things.

Dave H: Yea, it’s a lot of everyday life but also there’s the political climate that greatly affects how you look at life…in America especially. For me, films are a big thing because I really enjoy movies and I have an urge to make things cinematic.

PAUSE: In one of the interviews I read you said something like, “We don’t really care about selling records because you don’t even make money off records anymore.” That has to piss you off as musicians. I mean, you spend so much time and energy in a studio perfecting an album knowing that it is going to get pirated.

Dave W: It’s weird in a way, but my experience has been that people are getting a little more sympathetic towards musicians now and actually purchasing the albums. People who wanted to get the album early downloaded it and then went and bought the vinyl. We got the sales report after the first week of this record and it was above what the last album had done.

Chris: I think, in general, online vinyl sales are up and maybe it’s coming back or not totally lost yet.

Mike: It’s certainly frustrating because you do want to qualify how you’re doing and record sales used to be such a pre-qualifier for that. And that sucks because everyone who was involved in the music industry would use that to gauge your success and whether you had the ability to play at this venue or that. So it’s more squirrely in trying to gauge how well we’re doing. I mean, I don’t think we have that much of a need to qualify ourselves because we’re just wanting people to come to the shows. So yea, we want people to get the music but we want them to get it so they’ll come and share that with us. So as long as people are still getting the music, that’s a victory in itself. It’s just difficult when you know you’re struggling to make it while on tour and you think, “I wonder how we would be doing if this were five years ago”, but you try not to dwell on that. We’re just excited for the success we’re having.

Dave H: I’m kind of curious how it’s going to all shake down…someone is going to find a way to make this all work out. It can’t stay in limbo forever. It makes you ask yourself, though, “Am I doing this for the right reasons?” That’s where you have to flip it around and you’re staring at a mirror. I don’t know how many records we’re selling, or how many people want this music or have it, but—is that the reason you’re doing it or are you doing it because you have a burning desire to make music?

Dave W: Yea, it takes a lot of the false pretense out of the music scene.

PAUSE: It seems that in the music scene there are just so many bands and you don’t really get the chance to make that timeless song anymore…how do you deal with that?

Dave H: It’s somewhat symptomatic of our culture. Everything is instant gratification and everything is disposable. You can just write another hit, another single, put out another song, put out another record. Everyone just wants to devour everything that’s in front of them. . To me that’s why The Sopranos did so well—you watched Tony Soprano just devour everything and that’s what’s going on in America. So yea, as an artist, you want to make something timeless. But I do think that people want timeless things, they just get so mixed up by what’s sold to them and forced down their throats.

Mike: And that’s a supply and demand relationship there. There’s the demand but the supply is just pure saturation, it’s not that high quality. There has to be more bands today than there ever has been. I just can’t imagine how many there are. And so, what is a great band, or a great song?—I think that’s what is being lost because you have this insane amount of output and this insane amount of consumption and the actual worth is missing in that. So it is a frustrating thing for an artist…anyone can be an art celebrity thanks to the internet.

Dave H: But time will tell; I don’t really get worried about it anymore like I used to. I mean, if you stick it out and really believe in what you’re doing than you will become timeless. And I think what we are doing is timeless. We’re not perpetuating an image…we’re just four doofases who love playing music and trying to reach people. And I think that’s what cuts through the poor quality.