Playing 20 Questions with the Loved Ones
The Loved Ones came screaming into the punk scene in February with their Fat Wreck Chords debut and first full-length album, Keep Your Heart and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
But these Philadelphia punks aren’t as new to the scene as some may think. They rise from the ashes of such bands as Kid Dynamite, The Curse and Paint It Black. Already this year they’ve toured with the likes of NOFX and The Lawrence Arms, have played dates on The Shirts For a Cure Tour and made a stop at the SXSW festival.
With a few moments to spare, lead vocalist Dave Hause sat down to answer some questions for yours truly and SLUG Magazine.
SLUG: Your website bio says you got your first experiences in the punk scene by selling t-shirts and proxy tour managing for Kid Dynamite and then later stage managing for Sick Of It All, The Explosion and The Bouncing Souls. How did all that come about?
Loved Ones: I got to know Kid Dynamite from seeing them around town and playing shows with them in an old band. I sold merch, they broke up, and Sick of it All asked me to drum tech on the touring for Yours Truly. The Bouncing Souls shared a bus with Sick Of It All on a European tour and stole me away. I knew The Explosion through the Jade Tree connection and did some touring with them while the Souls were off. That’s it in a nut shell.
SLUG: What was it that made you realize that you would rather play music than work on the sidelines?
Loved Ones: It was something I always knew, but it took a lot of encouragement from a lot of friends and family to push me to do The Loved Ones.
SLUG: Where did the name of the band come from? Is there a story behind it?
Loved Ones: The band name came from an Elvis Costello song that is on Imperial Bedroom and an Evelyn Waugh novel.
SLUG: What is it about the music you play that sets it apart from other punk bands and other genres in general?
Loved Ones: I’m not really sure. We are just a song oriented rock and roll band. We concentrate hard on writing good, dynamic songs, but it is an age-old formula that is just rock and roll.
SLUG: Your booking is done with Margie Alban at Do It Booking, which is based here in Salt Lake City. How did you come across Margie and why did you decide to go with her and Do It Booking?
Loved Ones: I have known Margie for years. She books The Bouncing Souls, The Explosion, Avail, and Strike Anywhere, and I had toured with all of those bands multiple times. We are good pals and she approached us right before we put out our EP, and we love her very much.
SLUG: What was it like playing the Shirts For a Cure show? Do benefit shows have a different feel to them than regular shows?
Loved Ones: For me they do, they put what we do into perspective; you can feel like you have contributed something positive to the world beyond just your art. We played a benefit show for Shirts For a Cure with Lifetime and the Bouncing Souls in Asbury Park last summer and recently with My Chemical Romance in Austin. Both shows were great.
SLUG: What is your take on the selling-out issue that has always plagued punk rock?
Loved Ones: My take is elitism is bullshit. I think as long as an artist is being honest in their song writing and at their show, who cares how big they or their label is? The point is to reach as many people as you can and to connect with people; that is what music does for me. Selling out is something that rarely enters my vocabulary. I would rarely cast that stone at another artist.
SLUG: I have friends who refuse to listen to a band if they’ve gotten too much press or if they think they’ve had an easy way up the music ladder. Along the same lines, some letter-of-the-law punk rock critics say you’ve come too far in too short a time, and because of this, doubt your motives and your staying power. What would you say in response to these people?
Loved Ones: I would say wait and see, maybe they are right, maybe not. But I’d also say they have too much time on their hands to be worried about such insignificant things. We are the ones putting our asses out on the line at shows and on record, so how can our motives be doubted? I can make tons of money doing construction at home and have a great wife and friends. I am putting all of that at risk to play music and connect with people, and it is hard work.
SLUG: Did you ever expect things to take off the way they have?
Loved Ones: I believe what we are doing is good and that people will like it. But no, I didn’t imagine things would shape up this way. It’s very humbling and empowering to have people respond so positively and rapidly.
SLUG: You hold to the fact that you’re an honest songwriter. What do you mean by that? What makes someone honest or dishonest in singing or songwriting? Is it not feeding listeners a bunch of bull just because you think that’s what they want to hear and that’s what will sell records and make you money?
Loved Ones: Yeah I think people are scared to throw themselves under the bus when it comes to writing, especially in the punk culture. I think that there are trite and obviously popular ways of singing and writing that are not reflective of what is going on in that artist’s heart, and that is dishonest. I think the way you connect with people is to be honest with your art.
SLUG: Where does your inspiration for lyrics and songs come from?
Loved Ones: From all over; my personal experience first and foremost, but also from other songwriters, movies, novels, stories…mostly personal experience and other songwriters I would say.
SLUG: You’re all a bit older age-wise (27-30) than most bands when they are starting out. What kind of positive and negative things come out of that?
Loved Ones: Being older you can inform your music with more experience and you are more sure of a direction that you want to go in, I think. The negative side is being older we have more responsibilities, which make touring for next to no money difficult. We have rent, mortgages, girlfriends, wives, pets etc. that complicate the idea of being gone and not earning any money, so it makes things tough sometimes. Keeping focused and keeping things in perspective is a daily exercise for me on tour.
SLUG: Between recording, touring, spending time with families and holding down other jobs, how do you manage it all without just saying, “Screw it,” and losing sight of your priorities outside of the band? What makes it do-able?
Loved Ones: Like I said, keeping perspective is tough. I guess you have to be a somewhat driven individual in the first place, but more importantly you just have to take things as they come, one at a time, assess their importance in your life, and act appropriately.
SLUG: Brian McTernan, who has worked with greats like Hot Water Music and Thrice, produced the record for you. What did working with him add to the finalized sound of the recording? -which I would like to add, sounds raw enough to get a taste of the energy of a live show, yet produced enough to sound good. There’s nothing worse than a CD that sounds like it was recorded two blocks away or like it has been fine-tuned to the point killing anything it might have had to offer.
Loved Ones: Brian is a good friend and a great collaborator. We were clear with him from the get go that we wanted the record to sound natural, no pitch correction on the vocals or beat doctoring on the drums. We wanted a record that sounded authentic and real, and he helped us do that.
SLUG: In close to three years, The Loved Ones have self-released a demo, put out an EP on Jade Tree, toured with well-established bands like Bad Religion, NOFX and The Bouncing Souls, signed to punk powerhouse label Fat Wreck Chords and released a full-length. After starting out strong, if bands have seen success they will slow down and take their time between releases and touring and, well, sometimes they keep going 1,000 miles-an-hour. Which route do you see yourselves taking from here and why?
Loved Ones: We will keep pushing for at least a few records before we take much of a break. Frankly, we just don’t have the time to waste. We are only getting older and momentum is an extremely hard thing to regenerate once it slows down. We will keep pushing for a while, I’m sure of that.
SLUG: What do you like most/least about being on the road?
Loved Ones: I like playing the show and having a chance to watch some movies, read some books, etc. I hate not seeing my wife, missing my family and the fact that I drink to excess most days.
SLUG: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at a show you’ve played?
Loved Ones: Five hundred people in Philadelphia singing along. It was amazing.
SLUG: Was it a big change to make the label jump from Jade Tree to Fat? Why did you do it?
Hause: The change has been amazing, things are great with Fat, we couldn’t be happier. We changed because Fat has so many more resources and just more of a high profile in the music world.
SLUG: Although The Loved Ones is a relatively new band, none of you are new to the punk community and have paid your dues in past bands and with other involvement within the scene itself. For those who are just beginning to get things rolling for the first time, what advice would you give to them?
Loved Ones: I would first say make sure you have good songs and a good live show, as well as something honest to say. I would say be diligent in your work ethic, and play locally as much as possible. The way to grow a band is organically, starting in your back yard with a fan base and moving outward from there.
SLUG: What music do you like to listen to?
Loved Ones: I listen to all kinds of music. The latest played on my iPod would be Elliot Smith, The New Pornographers, Bob Marley, Bright Eyes and Archers of Loaf.