No guilty pleasures: A chat with Lydia Loveless

Lydia Loveless performs at DC9 on Wednesday, September 24. Get your tickets here. Photos from her DC9 show after the jump.

lydialoveless_bs219promo_horiz_whiteHer voice is like a good whiskey — a warm, tantalizing smoothness followed by a fierce kick that reveals potency and fire. Lydia Loveless delivers punk-inflected and country-infused songs that are a bit Loretta Lynn and a bit Replacements, but ultimately and undeniably her very own brand of swagger and smarts. It’s an addictive combo, and it’s no wonder Rolling Stone named her as one of “10 New Artists You Need to Know.”

Following a tour with the Old 97s this spring, Lydia Loveless is back on the road. Over the weekend, she answered a few questions via e-mail.

Q. I read that “Hurts So Bad” was inspired by a book you read about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Are there other stories — from novels, films, poems, etc. — that have found their way into your music?

Yes, Verlaine and Rimbaud for instance. I wouldn’t say anything I write is strictly about one thing, but inspired briefly by things I observe or read and then stretched as far as I can take them.

Q. “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” is one of my favorites. Most folks who read your bio about growing up on a farm in rural Ohio would not expect a song about a torrid affair between two French poets. How did you decide on that song idea?

Well, we did have books in the country. Ha. It just came to me when I really needed a song.

Q. What albums are you listening to these days?

I really love Chrissie Hynde’s latest. Always on a Paul Westerberg kick, forever. And Sia’s latest kills my heart.

Q. What’s the last book you read — if the life of a touring musician allows time for reading?

I am reading [Jeffrey Eugenides’] The Virgin Suicides. It is slow going in the car, but I have been making more time for it.

Q. Can you name four albums that have been really meaningful to you through the years — say, at ages 10, 15, 18, and 21?

Aaaahhh…..10 is kinda hard, that was when I was sort of “coming out” with what music I liked…That was when I bought Gorillaz first album. Which I loved. 15, probably Straight to Hell by Hank III. 18, I was up some guy’s butt and listened to his album constantly. 21….probably Animal by Kesha. Yeah I’m awesome!

Q. Tell me a bit about life on the road. Who does the driving, and who picks the rest stops and the music you listen to?

I would say Ben [Lamb, bass player] does 90% of the driving. We all like to pass around the demon Spotify and “DJ”. It’s pretty democratic. We all like so many different kinds of music it’s usually pretty entertaining.

Q. Do you have favorite cities or venues to play? What about places that you have not yet performed, but would like to?

I love Seattle, Santa Cruz, LA, and Spain….I’d love to play Athens, GA.

Q. What are your guilty pleasures? How do you unwind after a show?

I have no guilty pleasures because I don’t really feel guilty about much. After the show I unwind by hugging my band, talking about stupid shit, and passing out from exhaustion.

Q. Are there instruments that have not been featured yet in your music that you would like to experiment with in future recordings?

I think piano will be heavily featured in the future.

Q. You toured with the Old 97s this spring. Can you share any stories or secrets about those guys? Or was their a mutual non-disclosure pact — what happens on the road, stays on the road?

They’re the nicest guys ever and seem generally well behaved. But yeah, I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone’s secrets.

[Note: Well darn — those boys do seem awful nice so I guess that’s to be expected, but you can’t blame me for trying!]

Q. You and your siblings started playing music when you were pretty young. Have you always thought music would be your calling, or did you ever contemplate other careers?

I just knew I wanted to do something creative. It didn’t have to be music. I was really into dancing until I was 15, and wanted to do that. Then I kind of had to make the decision because I couldn’t keep up with both.

Q. And finally — I’ve read that you keep a journal of song ideas and poetry that you turn into songs — any way you would be willing to take a quick pic of that journal cover to share with your fans?

My phone’s broken so I can’t take a picture, but it’s just a black leather hardback journal. That’s all I use ever. I used Moleskine for a long time but I recently found a knock off that is pretty much the same thing for 15 dollars cheaper at the German Village Bookloft in Columbus.

*  *  *

Somewhere Else is a gritty, gutsy exploration of the sonic and romantic landscape, from the unbridled energy in the rock riffs of “Really Wanna See You” and the simmering heat and shimmering tambourine in “Head,” to the heartsore harmonies of ‘Wine Lips.” This is a perfect show to check out as we transition to fall, when the weather seems as fickle as the heart. DC9, this Wednesday, 9/24 (show at 9pm, tickets $12). Tomas Pagan Motta opens.

Check back later this week for concert photos. In the meantime, here are photos from Lydia’s show with the Old 97’s back in May.

Update: And here are photos from the DC9 show. Thanks to Josh @ Bloodshot Records for the photo pass!

Author: Vivian Wang

A gal with a camera and a penchant for deconstructing lyrics. Know of a band I should be listening to? Need press or concert shots? Let's chat: [at] gmail [dot] com.

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