For a tiny little fuzz-punk band from the Midlands, Lovvers have come a long way this year. Since releasing their debut EP, Think, on Wichita last September, they’ve spent a sizeable amount of time in the US, playing shows at South by Southwest, touring their arses off, and recording their first full-length, OCD Go Go Go Girls. DiS caught up with heavily-jetlagged frontman Shaun Hencher less than 24 hours after they touched down back in the UK to review the year so far – and find out what’s next…
DiS: Hi Shaun – how are you doing?
SH: OK, man – pretty tired though! We only got back to the UK this morning and I haven’t slept for over 24 hours. I’m looking forward to my bed.
DiS: I guess we’d better try and make this as painless as possible then. First up – can you give us a bit of a run down of what Lovvers are all about?
SH: Well, basically we just play weird loud pop music! I guess were pretty honest-sounding: We’re influenced by quite a few bands, particularly British punk from the Eighties: bands like the Buzzcocks, the Damned, a band from Swansea called the Barracudas, as well as a lot of music that came out of LA in the Eighties. I guess we’ve taken a lot of influences from different places, and we’re putting our take on that.
Saying that, our style has changed a bit over the last few years – we used to be quite aggressive, but that’s toned down recently. We’re trying to have fun, write some decent songs, and record them in our own way: we’re not interested in following trends.
DiS: Your new record is out now – could you tell us a bit about that?
SH: It’s pretty different from the EP, actually – whereas that was essentially a document of what we’d done thus far, the album’s a bit more experimental. Even so, it’s still pretty short – its only about 33 minutes long. We recorded it in Portland in Oregon–
DiS: Why did you choose to do it there?
SH: It was cheaper! Plus, there was a bigger range of studios than there is over here – we ended up recording in Jackpot! Studios which is owned by this guy Larry Crane. I don’t know if you know of him but he edits Tape Ops magazine and deals in recording techniques: Plus, Portland is a pretty awesome city, so that was a bonus too!
We also had Pat Kearns producing, who’d recorded a lot of albums that we really like. He really understood what it was we were trying to do, and made the process extremely smooth. In fact, when we went in to record, we played throughout the first week, then came back in on week two and started all over again, because we felt more relaxed – it’s not often you’d get the opportunity to do that over here! Pat really understands sound – he’s a big fan of Phil Spector and the wall of sound technique, but equally he just let us go with what we wanted to do and allowed us to run with our ideas. I really don’t think we could have made a better choice.
Video: Lovvers: 'OCD Go Go Girls'
DiS: I understand the album has been recorded completely analogue. Why?
SH: It’s something we’ve always wanted to do: and with a lot of studios that we’ve recorded in in England, we haven’t necessarily been able to embrace that philosophy fully, due to time or financial constraints.
Jackpot! had a computer system, which we originally intended on using. However, we thought we’d give analogue a go, and it just sounded awesome. It was like the bands we grew up on, back in the day – the same kind of sound, that you can only get when there’ no digital trickery or retouching, and you can really hear the gain from the instruments. I think it really gives the record a personality and soul that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
It’s incredible, really, just how much you can doctor a sound with digital technology – I mean, you can record a demo, put it on GarageBand and it’s amazing how much you can doctor it. You can’t do that with analogue – instead, you get something much cooler: you can capture a moment in a much more honest and satisfying way.
Another good thing about the recording process – and working with Pat – was that we were able to be really hands-on and involved in the mixing. Y’know, five people staring at a screen can be pretty dull, whereas it’s amazing what you can do with analogue. I’d definitely do it again – it was really cool to work like that.
DiS: Musically, you’ve been compared to American bands like No Age and Times New Viking – not least through the use of analogue. Are you influenced by that particular scene, or is it coincidental?
SH: Well, first off, we’re really good friends with both bands, and we get on with them really well personally. The whole analogue thing’s a bit of a red herring, really – No Age only record on digital, and Times New Viking tend to have a lot of fun with the analogue thing. They just like to record on whatever’s around – after all, it’s a cheap way of recording.
Musically, those guys definitely influence us. We’ve played a lot of shows with them, and we’re all inspired by the same kind of bands – whether US or UK. It’s funny really – they’ve tended to get to know us by asking us about UK bands that they’re into, and vice versa!
I love both those bands, and it’s been really good to see the new wave of bands like that, and how it’s grown. Two years ago, we played in Sheffield with No Age to 40 people. Two days ago, we were playing with them to 3,000 people in New York. We’re definitely influenced by them, but I guess we’re also all influenced by the same thing too. It’s the same with any art – after all, if you’re a writer and you’re a fan of Charles Bukowski, it stands to reason that you might write a bit like that too.
Audio: Lovvers: 'Society Jam' (new song)
DiS: As you’ve just alluded to, you’ve just returned from touring the US. How was that?
SH: It was really cool – it felt very much like we were winging it, as not many people knew who we were. We touched on the States briefly in March, then did SXSW: it was really basic, as we took a car and guitar and borrowed the rest of the gear. We had good shows and bad shows – where that’s concerned, there’s not a lot of difference between the US and the UK, although you tend to have more house shows and more arthouse shows. That’s quite a cool thing, mind, and it’s a good way for a band to develop. But yeah – the US tour was a real experience.
It was weird in a lot of other ways – I suppose in the same way that it’s weird for American bands coming to the UK. I mean, we got to swim in lakes! We’re definitely planning on going back soon, to build on what we’ve done there. It’s great that a band of our stature gets to tour there at all really – it’ll be even better to do that on a larger scale.
DiS: And what about your UK tour? What can people expect from that, and why should they part with their hard-earned cash to come and see you?
SH: Well, we start our UK tour proper on 17 September – it’s an eight or nine week tour – I think 68 shows in 70 days? It’ll be the first UK tour we’ve done in a long time though.
As to why to come… well, first off it’ll either be free or cheap to get in! We’ll be playing plenty of material off the new album, plus some new songs… probably some fun covers too. Ultimately, we’ll be having a good time – if you’ve been to see us before, you’ll know what to expect, and if not, you’ll soon find out. If you get in there and have a dance, you’ll have a good time, whereas if you stand at the back looking cool you’ll probably have a less good time. It’s what you make it really.
OCD Go Go Go Girls is out now on Wichita. Lovvers' tour begins in Belfast tomorrow; for tour dates, visit www.myspace.com/letscommunicate .