Lydia Loveless: She’s a fighter
Columbus, Ohio-based singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless’ first album embraced a more traditional country sound. She’s since veered from that sound but with her new album Somewhere Else, she heads back in that direction. She sounds a bit like Neko Case as she croons on the album opener “Really Wanna See You,” offsetting the noisy guitar riffs with a bit of twang. She talked via phone from her Columbus home where she was prepping to play a few regional shows before hitting the road hard the first week of March. “I’m going stir crazy,” she says, “so I’m ready to get out of here. We usually spend most of the year on the road.”
You have said you were always playing some kind of instrument while growing up. Talk about your early musical influences.
I was born in 1990, so my influences were really bad pop music. My first favorite thing was Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.” We had a piano and my older sister played guitar and my dad was a drummer. It was pretty musical. Most of the time, I just made up really stupid songs. I think the first song I wrote was “The Ugliest Man of All.” It was about Don Henley. My dad was a huge Eagles fan. There was a lot of that going on.
Was your dad into country or rock?
More rock ’n’ roll and Led Zeppelin. He also liked New Wave and listened to the Tubes and Devo and Talking Heads. There were always the sad, “have-a-fire-outside-and-listen-to-the-Eagles-for-hours” sessions. That’s just part of being in the country, I guess.
At what point did you turn punk, or is that a misconception?
I wouldn’t say it’s a misconception. I was 14 and there was that horrible pop punk wave and I was really into that. But then I moved to the city and started going to punk shows and meeting people who were actual punks. I felt stupid and threw away the Good Charlotte records and started over. That’s still something I care about.
Why did (your former band) Carson Drew break up?
I think it was everyone’s first band. We started that when we were really young and the lead singer moved to New York. There wasn’t a huge fight and the band exploded or anything. It was just a gradual waning.
You started doing solo stuff after that?
I was still in Carson Drew when I started playing out. I was 16 when Carson Drew started playing out and I was 17 when I started making my first record. It took a long time to finish that record. It took three years. It was kind of a bullshit situation but we’ve all moved on from that.
You’ve said you weren’t happy with the way your debut The Only Man turned out. I think your voice sounds great on the album.
Nobody wants to hear the first songs they ever wrote. I don’t think all the stuff on that album, but the songs are about how my boyfriend broke up with me when I was 15. Somebody was like, “Play ‘Girls Suck’” the other night at the show. I was like, “Absolutely not.” They were serious. It happens fairly often. At least they have the back catalog.
You were happier with the way Indestructible Machine turned out, weren’t you?
Yeah. I was heading more in the direction I wanted to go. When I was younger, I wanted to make an album that sounded like crap. We made that album and it was very polished and very country.
Talk about the making of Somewhere Else and the direction you wanted to go in.
This time, I felt more in control and understanding of my own craft, I guess, for lack of a better word. It was similar to making Indestructible Machine, but we thought more about arrangement, especially with guitar. There were some songs I wanted to cry after practice because I thought I would never get it. We kept cracking away at it. I wanted to make a similar rock ’n’ roll record but with more of my pop influence thrown in. It’s a little more produced but it’s not completely over the top. I just wanted to show I had improved both in the studio and as a songwriter and I think we accomplished that.
Do you think it embraces pop music a little too heartily?
Not really. I think being concerned about what the music is going to sound like is why it took me so long to write the songs.
One review described “Really Wanna See You” as “contemplative and desperate.” Is that accurate?
Yeah. I think it’s an accurate description of me so that will work. Desperate is often used.
You’ve said you’re not as introverted as you once were.
Yeah. I think that’s a little bit of growing up. I’ve tried to get rid of that. I’ll always be awkward and weird, but I can go out and order coffee without breaking into a sweat.
What inspired you to write a song called Chris Isaak? Did you have a crush on him?
Yeah, I still do. I love his music. But that was mostly about this guy; we had this tumultuous relationship that wasn’t going anywhere. He was like “Someday, we’ll be together.” He really liked Chris Isaak and we listened to Chris Isaak together. It was poking at him and maybe trying to upset him. It’s a bit of a Taylor Swift move on my part, but I like the song.
“Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” is really a love song isn’t it?
Yeah, I would say.
Is it based on a historical incident?
It’s totally a true story. Verlaine was madly in love with a younger guy who was kind of an asshole. The guy leaves Verlaine and Verlaine goes out to kill him. He really couldn’t do it, so he shot him in the hand. It’s similar to my contemplative and desperate way of loving people. I’m very intense. I like to fight. There’s a little bit of me in there.
How’d you come across the story?
I was having such a hard time getting inspired. I started reading French symbolist poetry. I was into Verlaine and I found that story somewhere. It was in the introduction to something. It just stuck with me.
Any plans to move to Nashville?
Probably not. I’m more of an LA person. I like the West Coast a lot and I’ve been kicking that idea around. That’s more of realistic idea.
Any plans to sign with a bigger label?
I’m happy with where I’m at right now. We’ll see what happens in the future.
Upcoming 2014 Tour Dates
MI- Auburn Hills – Callahan’s Music Hall
OH- Cleveland – Beachland Tavern
KY-Newport – Southgate House
OH – Columbus – Rumba Cafe
MO – St. Louis – Off Broadway
MO – Kansas City – Czar Bar
MO – Columbia – Blue Note
OK – Tulsa – Mercury Lounge
TX – Fort Worth – Lola’s
AZ – Phoenix – Last Exit Live
CA – San Diego – Seven Grand
CA – Los Angeles – The Satellite
NV – Las Vegas – The Hideaway
CA – Fullerton – Slidebar
CA – Modesto – The Brewhouse
CA – San Francisco – Thee Parkside
CA – Mammoth – Underground Lounge
OR – Portland – Doug Fir Lounge
OR – Eugene – Sam Bond’s Garage
WA – Seattle – Tractor Tavern
WA – Bellingham – The Green Frog
ID – Boise – Neurolux
UT – Salt Lake City – Garage on Beck
CO – Denver – Hi-Dive
AL – Waverly – Standard Deluxe
AL – Anniston – CD Cellar
WI – Madison – High Noon Saloon
MN – Minneapolis – 7th St Entry
IL – Chicago – Schubas
IN – Indianapolis – Do317 Lounge
TN – Cookeville – Muddy Roots Festival