by Ryan Meehan
Blessed with a commanding, blast-it-to-the-back-of-the-room voice, the 21 year-old Lydia Loveless was raised on a family farm in Coshocton, Ohio—a small weird town with nothing to do but make music. With a dad who owned a country music bar, Loveless often woke up with a house full of touring musicians scattered on couches and floors. When she got older, in the time-honored traditions of teenage rebellion, she turned her back on these roots, moved to the city (Columbus OH) and immersed herself in the punk scene, soaking up the musical and attitudinal influences of everyone from Charles Bukowski to Richard Hell to Hank III.
On Somewhere Else Loveless is less concerned with chasing approval – she scrapped an entire album’s worth of material before writing this set – and more focused on fighting personal battles of longing and heartbreak, and the aesthetic that comes along with them. She might not steal your car after the relationship goes south, but you can be damn sure she’ll still take a baseball bat to the windows on her way down the street. She might even smile about it, and she’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What can you tell us about your hometown of Coshocton? How much of your interest in music came from the fact that there wasn’t a lot to do growing up on a farm?
LL: Well, I think it goes for all of the Midwest that you have to focus on your crafts because it’s freezing cold a lot of the time. And in Coshocton there wasn’t shit to do except run around in the woods, go for walks, or focus on something creative. I was in plays and did dance lessons. Of course there was always hanging out in the Wal-Mart parking lot, haha. I haven’t lived there or visited in 10 years and I don’t have supremely fond memories of Coshocton proper, but my home in the country was beautiful. But I don’t know, I think interest in music is innate. If you want to pick up a guitar you’re going to. And if you have songs inside you, you can’t stop them from coming out.
RM: What does the new album mean to you with regards to your progress as a musician? Are you the kind of person who obsesses over things like being a great instrumentalist or the little nuances that you hear sometimes in the playback?
LL: I definitely think I am a stronger songwriter. I am more sure of myself and less afraid to break away from genre restrictions. I’m not a guitar Goddess; I play enough to get ideas out of my head. But I have improved, simply from touring constantly and having my guitar player prod me to break out of my shell a little bit lately. I definitely obsess over my voice in recordings, because that’s my main instrument. I focused a lot more on harmony this time around and that’s something I’m proud of.
RM: On your blog you mentioned that you recently had “mini post-tour breakdown of sorts”…what do you think was the cause of that? And what did you do when you were in Los Angeles?
LL: Well, stress. I was out of the country for like 3 months total, far from home. My dog died. It’s a pretty stressful lifestyle and I wasn’t taking care of my brain so it started to wear on me. I went to LA to do absolutely nothing, and just have some solitude and travel without having to run around making sure I was where I was supposed to be. Just lots and lots of walking, sitting on the beach, and reading and writing.
RM: Your new single “Really Want to See You” premiered on Stereogum Wednesday, and it tells the story of a girl who is trying to get in touch with someone who recently got married. You also said in a recent interview with SPIN magazine that one of the songs off of the new album “Head” is “more about passion and wanting something that you can’t have.” Do you look at creating music as something that’s more than just the track itself – almost as if it’s a way to vocalize some of your fantasies and think out loud?
LL: Well I think any songwriter would say that, ha. You’re telling a story. Really Wanna See You was about an ex boyfriend who would call me all the time after we broke up, on drugs or drinking, and I guess it was my mean spirited way of calling him on that behavior…Head is obviously pure sexual fantasy.
RM: How hard was it to fire your father as a drummer? What were the reasons that you did that and what was his reaction when you finally had to break the news to him? Do you think that he saw it coming?
LL: Well, it was obviously very difficult. My dad is one of my best friends. But I didn’t really think of it as “firing” him. I guess I don’t know what I would call it. But it’s a difficult lifestyle I lead as a touring musician, and I didn’t want my dad to live that way. It’s hard to see your dad wake up in a van after driving til 6 am, ha. I think he is leading a much better life now. But yes, it was a very hard decision to make.
RM: Your first full-length album was called “Indestructible Machine”, and the new record is called “Somewhere Else”. Is there a reason for the title of this disc being somewhat more welcoming? How long did it take to record the album and where was it done?
LL: That’s actually my second album. I’m a different person now and it’s a different vibe, so the
title is different…I’m not sure I was consciously trying to be welcoming. It just popped into my head and really seemed to fit. It was my usual knock out the tracks in 2 or 3 days, then spend a couple more days overdubbing guitars and vocals. I went back to Sonic Lounge, where I recorded Indestructible.
RM: Your Facebook page lists influences ranging from Buck Owens to Britney Spears…Do you think of yourself as a country or pop singer as far as song structure is concerned? What’s the shortest amount of time that it’s ever taken you to compose a song from start to finish?
LL: I just think of myself as a songwriter. I guess I would say rock and roll. I am so heavily influenced and inspired by pop and country both, and sometimes the influences meld and sometimes they stay separate. I try to stay away from defining myself by a genre because it hinders my creativity. But rock and roll can be anything.
RM: You do interviews similar to this one as a journalist for 614 magazine, a Columbus-based online publication…Have you learned anything from doing that which can be applied to writing music?
LL: That was actually a one off thing, but I would definitely like to do more and branch out in my writing. I definitely don’t think it taught me anything about writing music, but it certainly taught me exactly how difficult it is to execute a good interview on the other side of the fence.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
LL: Lots and lots of touring, and just cracking down and writing again. A move is being considered–we’ll see.
Official Website: http://lydialoveless.com/
Lydia on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lydia-Loveless/141806382514011
Lydia on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lydia_loveless
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