in a bid to force myself to get some proper activity going around these parts, i've got my shit together long enough to get something of a first for this blog, an interview! and until i figure out how to create a summary post with a link to the rest of the text, yr just gonna have to scroll down all the entries like the good old days.
now on to the meat of the post - here's my Q&A session with Shaun Hencher, the vocalist for Nottingham's most abrasive kick-yr-teeth-and-nick-yr-wallet punk band, Lovvers. having just returned from the US where the band spent their time between gigs recording their debut album, i asked Shaun a few questions about the recording process, being on the road, the Lovvers' back catalogue, the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, and his record collection.
Your live shows vary wildly in terms of chaos. I’ve been at one of yr gigs that had a stage, when Shaun spent the entire length in the pit, getting the fans into it and frightening the guys who‘d come to see the headliners (Crystal Castles) - but in contrast to that, I’ve seen you guys when you were quite reserved in terms of stage presence. Not much kicking and screaming, but still an excellent show. Is there specific circumstances behind a decision to perform a particular kind of gig, or is it all just as chaotic as it appears?
HEY IAN. WELL QUITE SIMPLY I THINK ITS DEPENDS ON A PARTICAULAR MOMENT/MOOD. ITS BETTER KEEPING YOURSELF OPEN. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW TO PLAY A SHOW, WE JUST PLUG IN AND HOPE FOR THE BEST. SOMETIMES IT CAN GO GREAT, OTHER TIMES NOT WELL AT ALL. I DON’T REALLY HAVE ANY EXPECTATIONS ANYMORE. I REMEMBER VERY CLEARLY AT THE CRYSTAL CASTLES SHOW WE GOT TREATED LIKE ABSOLUTE SHIT, IT REALLY WAS DEPRESSING TO SEE A BAND ACT THAT WAY. ALL THE OTHER BANDS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF CADENCE WEAPON ( I DON’T REALLY KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT HIP HOP) WERE REALLY TERRIBLE, PLUS I WAS ATTACKED EARLIER IN THE DAY BY SOME MENTAL GUY WITH A BIG RED FACE WHO THOUGHT I’D CALLED HIS DAUGHTER SOMETHING SILLY ( OBVIOUSLY THIS GUY WAS AT THE STAGE WHERE HE WAS NOW HEARING VOICES) SO BY THE TIME WE PLAYED IT COULD BE DESCRIBED AS PRETTY HIGHLY STRUNG SITUATION.
You recently supported Yeah Yeah Yeahs in London - from the look of your blog entry it seemed to go down well. Previous “noisy” YYY supports (The Locust, The Blood Brothers) have had a hard time winning over their audiences at those gigs. What kind of audience response were you hoping to provoke, and what did you get?
WELL THIS WAS OUR FIRST SHOW IN ENGLAND IN OVER 6MONTHS, I DONT THINK THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE THERE HAD HEARD OR CARED WHO WE WERE WHICH PUTS YOU IN A KIND OF NO LOOSE SITUATION. FOR ME IT WAS GREAT TO PLAY A VENUE THAT HUGE AND THAT WAS SOLD OUT IN TERMS OF THERE BEING ALOT OF PEOPLE THERE. WE PLAYED AND SEEMED TO BE EXCEPTED BY THE MASSES. ASIDES FROM THAT I DIDNT REALLY READ TO MUCH INTO IT, THOUGH IT WAS DEFINATELY ALOT OF FUN.
What has been your favourite place to play so far?
WE’VE PLAYED A LOT OF SHOWS BUT FOR ME IS HAS BEEN BERLIN, LA, COPENHAGEN & BARCELONA.
What about least favourite? Like the biggest, down-and-out, low point on the road?
RECENTLY THE ONLY PLACES I CAN THINK OF ARE BASED IN THE UK, WE HAD A PRETTY TERRIBLE TIME IN GLASGOW, LIVERPOOL AND BRISTOL, ALL HAVE THESE PLACES HAVE SUCKED MASSIVELEY. IF I THINK FURTHER BACK THEN PLAYING IN PETERBOROUGH WAS JUST THE WORST, SAME WITH BIRMINGHAM . IT GENRALLY REVOLVES AROUND HAVING TO DEAL WITH IDIOT PROMOTERS AND AT THE END OF THE DAY NO PEOPLE. SAYING THAT WE DECIDED TO GO BACK TO BIRMINGHAM & IT WAS A TRULY GREAT SHOW.SO I THINK IF YOUR ABLE TO HAVE A GREAT SHOW IN APLACE LIKE BIRMINGHAM THEN YOU SHOULD LEAVE IT, NEVER RETURN AND JUST REMEMBER WHAT A GOOD TIME IT WAS . SO FROM NOW ON WE SHALL BE DOING JUST THAT.
You just finished your first full-length in Portland, Oregon. The Pacific Northwest is known for its rich history of noisy, grungy punk bands that have clearly been an influence on your sound, and its general vibe seems to be one of embracing all kinds of outsider art. How influential was Portland’s culture and musical history on your decision to record there? Or was it just a case of “right place at the right time”?
WE MADE THE DECISION TO RECORD THERE FOR THREE REASONS A) WE WERE IN AMERICA ANYWAY SO IT MADE SENSE BECAUSE ITS A LOT CHEAPER B) BECAUSE WE WANTED TO MAKE A RECORD WITH A GUY CALLED PAT KEARNS C) WE ALSO WANTED TO CHECK OUT THIS STUDIO CALLED JACKPOT WHICH IS RUN BY THE A CHAP CALLED LARRY CRANE WHO PUBLISHS TAPE OP MAGAZINE.
THERE ARE ALSO A FAIR FEW BANDS FROM PORTLAND THAT WE LIKE (WIPERS,HUNCHES, EXPLODING HEARTS, CLOROX GIRLS, EAT SKULL) SO IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD PLACE TO GO AND SPEND SOME TIME.
THINK was very much a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it straight up punk rock record. Did you employ any new recording processes while making the new record? Did you get into any experimental touches or is it all carrying on the same vibe as THINK?
THE NEW RECORD IS CALLED "OCD GO GO GO GIRLS" AND IT WAS RECORDED IN PRETTY MUCH THE SAME WAY AS "THINK" THE DIFFERENCE THIS TIME BEING THAT EVERUTHING IN STUDIO WORKED AND THAT WE TRACKED ALL THE INSTRUMENTS/VOCALS COMLETELY TO TAPE. NOT ONE COMPUTER. 100% ANALOG RECORD, RECORDED TO 24TRACK 2INCH TAPE.
AS FAR AS PROCESSES WE USED ALOT. THERES A TON OF NEW INSTRUMENTS ON THERE AND I ALSO DOUBLE TRACKED MY VOCALS WHICH WAS A FIRST FOR LOVVERS.
When’s the LP coming out? Is it coming out on Witchita?
LP WILL OUT IN AUGUST THROUGH WICHITA. SO WATCH THIS SPACE.
You’ve been together since 2006, but you just got THINK out last year - you put out a few singles in the years in between, but that’s quite a while for a band to get a commercial release under their belts. Was that because of a lack of label interest, or was it a conscious reaction to the MP3 culture by doing things the old school way?
WELL IT'S ALWAYS GOOD TO BE DOING THINGS FOR THE CORRECT REASONS. OURS BEING WE WANT TO PLAY MUSIC AND TRAVEL. MEET PEOPLE. HAVE A FUN TIME. SO LABEL OR NO LABEL WE WOULD BE DOING WHAT WE'RE DOING NOW. ALSO FOR PRETTY MUCH THE WHOLE DURATION OF THIS BAND WE HAVE LIVED IN SEPARATE CITIES AND HAD JOBS. BEING SO SPREAD OUT MEANS THINGS EITHER COME TOGETHR REALLY QUICKLY OR THEY TAKE TIME, SO IN THIS SITUATION IT’S HARD TO THROW OUT COUNTLESS RECORDS. I THINK THE SINGLES SHOW THE PROCESS OF A BAND. “THINK” WAS AS YOU SAID STRAIGHT UP PUNK ROCK EP, TRYING TO CONVEY SOMETHING FUN AND CARE FREE. SO "OCD GO GO GO GIRLS" IS PRETTY MUCH THE CULMINATION OF EVERYTHING TO THIS POINT AND I THINK IT REPRESENTS OUR BAND PRETTY WELL.
Will those early singles see a re-release of some kind, like a CD or compilation?
I DOUBT IT WILL.
Like bands such as HEALTH and No Age can’t really have an article written about them without a mention of The Smell venue, Crystal Castles or Times New Viking, Lovvers are frequently compared to bands who have a lo-fi, punk vibe but in reality sound nothing like you. For example, I’ve seen you being compared to Wavves in the press, even though the only similarity I can see is that you both have an extra V in your name. Do you see the trend in the press and in the blogs to group bands together in neat stables as a hindrance or a benefit?
WELL I GUESS PEOPLE HAVE TO COMPARE THINGS AS A WAY OF PUSHING THEM INTO CHECKING IT OUT. ALSO IT HELPS IF PEOPLE HAVE NEVER HEARD A BAND AS IT GIVES THEM A REFERENCE. EVEN THOUGH THAT REFERENCE COULD BE PRETTY FAR OFF THE MARK. I CANT THINK THESE THINGS ARE A HINDRANCE, THEY MAINLY PROVIDE THE BAND WITH AN ENTERTAINING MOMENT FOR EXAMPLE WE RECENTLY GOT COMPARED TO THE SEX PISTOLS. NOW THERES A PRETTY SPOT ON REFERNCE.
I know you guys have been in other bands before, that have ended up dissolving before finding proper success. Are you surprised at all at how far this band has come, compared to the others? Did it start as a fuck around in a practice space that eventually turned into a full-time option, or has it always been about Lovvers as a career?
I STARTED LOVVERS WITH THE AMBITION OF TRYING TO ACHIEVE THINGS THAT I HAD PREVIOUSLY NOT BEEN ABLE EXPERIENCE. I WANTED TO DO THIS WITH LIKE MINDED INDIVIDUALS THAT WERE CARE FREE ENOUGH TO DROP ALL THERE COMFORTS AND PRIORITES AND LIVE OUT THIS ROCK N ROLL FANTASTY. SO MINUS NEARLY DYING AFTER THE FIRST SHOW ITS GONE PRETTY WELL.
A WAY OF LIFE AND DEFINITELY NOT A CAREER.
Apart from all the SST and Sub Pop records, what are the other prime influences on your music?
FOR ME (SHAUN) I LISTEN TO LOADS OF OLD STUFF, I LIKE SOME NEW BANDS BUT MAINLY THINGS FROM THE PAST OR A FEW YEARS BACK. A FEW THINGS I HAVE BEEN INTO LATELY ARE MARK SULTAN, BAD SPORTS, COLA FREAKS, ELVIS COSTELLO, NO BUNNY, BUZZCOCKS, MIKA MIKO & WAX MUSEUMS
The lyrics in your songs, they’re usually drowned in feedback and crashing drums, (and are even more indecipherable when heard live) but when you do get through to them, they’re usually quite eloquent! How important are the lyrics to you?
WELL TO ME I CAN GENRALLY HEAR THE WORDS TO OUR SONGS BECAUSE I WROTE THEM & I UNDERSTAND THEM. THIS HOWEVER ISNT THE CASE FOR OTHERS AND I FIND IT HARD TO PUT MYSELF I THERE POSITION. WE’VE NEVER HAVE A LYRIC SHEET IN ANY OF OUR RELEASES, I’M CONSIDERING THAT FOR THIS RECORD BUT THE WAY I WRITE THE WORDS IS THAT I NEVER RIGHT THEM DOWN, THERE CONSTRUCTED IN MY HEAD AND IF THERE GOOD ENOUGH THEN I WILL REMEMBER THEM, I’M AFRAID IF THESE ARE WRITTEN DOWN THEN THEY WILL LOOSE SOME OF THERE FEEL. A FEW PEOPLE IN THE PAST HAVE MESSAGED ME WANTING LYRICS AND I HAVE JUST SENT THEM OVER SO MAY BE IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE. I’M NOT SURE. LYRICS SHOLD REFLEX SOMETHING, THEY DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING, THERE A LOT OF WORDS OUT THERE SO IT CAN BE A LOT OF FUN.
“I’M SICK TO DEATH AND I’M SO BORED. WHICH OCD DO I LIKE MORE, YOU AND EYE EYE DON’T KNOW EVERYBODY WANTS TO GO GO GO”
OCD GO GO GIRLS.
Finally, what’s your all-time top five favourite records?
DOSENT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS IN MY OPINION.
1.BLACK SABBATH (1970)
3.MASTER OF REALITY (1971)
4.BLACK SABBATH VOL. 4 (1972)
5.SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH (1973)