LoveLikeFire US / UK Tour
September October 2009
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman
It will break you in two immediately and you'll
do nothing but fall fast in love with Ann Yu's vocal shouts and calls,
the crunchy guitars and the driving, heart-pulsing backbeat. It's emotive
and aching and we can't seem to shake it. THE CULTURE OF ME
Sounding at times vocally like a more laid back Karen O and with
an early 90s shoegazey feel, fans of My Bloody Valentine should find
something to like. In William, the sound is bolstered by the occasional
throbbing bassline and urgent repeating drum fill which adds more immediacy
to the impending swell. Q MAGAZINE
Full-throated indie along the lines of their hometown heroes The
Killers in their pre are we dancer days, or a rougher edged
Howling Bells. This also has a hint of a dark country rock edge, like
an answer record to one of Ryan Adams more anthemic moments.
These San Fran types roar out of the gates with their delightful
and defiantly soaring pop songs. Ann Yus vocals beckon and seduce
like a siren, while the crystalline musical shell around her builds
and solidifies. Signs is a definite highlight, with its haunting vocal
climax. DROWNED IN SOUND
Ann Yu has a real presence and they are obviously not afraid to
put their soul onto a record and let it pour out. MUSIC WEEK
Active since January 2006, LoveLikeFire (originally the title of a Generation
X song), already have a pair of independently-released EPs, Bed Of Gold
(2006) and An Ocean In The Air (2007), under their belts, as well as
several self-booked / self-financed tours, and are now set to issue
their full-length debut album, Tear Ourselves Away (Heist or Hit Records),
on September 14. Which one reviewer posited, embodies a passage
of feelings that manifest themselves in a collection of bittersweet
and thoughtful tunes. The album tells tales of the desire to run free
from inhibitions, being keenly aware of surroundings, fears, desires
and compelling moments of inspiration.
With a couple of line-up changes since their inception,
the four-pieces roots lie in Las Vegas although founding
members Ann Yu (vocals, guitar) and David Farrell (drums), plus newbies
Marty Mattern (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) and Eric Amerman (bass,
guitar, backing vocals), are currently based in San Francisco, California.
Bonding over a genuine love of music and soon locking into a shared
purpose, it would seem that the band have now found their sound,
which could be likened to an elemental force thats awash with
As with most groups, LoveLikeFires melodious
music is rustled up through a collaborative process, which then sees
Ann unpacking her thoughts and delivering the songs emotive lyrics,
with unashamed and unfettered swooping vocals that can also effortlessly
dissolve into a gently gorgeous timbre resulting in pleasing-to-the-ear
orchestral dream pop and enchanting lullabies, that will leave you hanging
on every word. Ann told one journalist, Our songs are born in
private, in your bedroom, whispered and imagined, in your own reality.
We're not trying to write super cerebral or flashy music. We just want
to tap into our most private moments and share that with our listeners.
Its about the general feel you get from a song the gut
feeling, the most honest feelings, the ones that come out best when
you are by yourself. There's nothing more amazing to me than that.
Deservedly, plaudits are coming thick and fast, with
a glut of favourable press coverage on their home soil, and the UK just
beginning to pick up on the band with the buzz having gradually seeped
in through osmosis. And for Fact Fans, Spin once revealed
how the Las Vegas-born Ann, used to share her apartment and garage
rehearsal space with The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci.
With LoveLikeFires Press Release going one step further, by flagging
up how, Borne out of the constant frustration of growing up with
her parents refusing to let her listen to pop music of any kind, the
young artist trained as a classical violinist, but yearned for sounds
that spoke to her on a more personal and affecting level.
After contacting the groups PR Officer, Tasha
@ Anorak London, she very kindly asked Ann + Marty if they could fill
in a Questionnaire for R*E*P*E*A*T, which amazingly, was returned less
than a day later! Listening to LoveLikeFire, youll soon realise
that they are in a different class and are something of a marvel
and as they say, great oaks grow from little acorns
Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking
forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans
1.To give us an idea of some of your musical influences and tastes,
if you were asked to guest host your own radio show as DJs, which records
would you play, and who would you most like to invite into the studio
for a live session + interview?
Ann: I would play some Eggstone first and foremost, because they
were one of my first obsessions as a teenager, their bittersweet melancholic
form of Swedish indie pop satisfied every craving I had musically. Then
maybe an old Lush record, Spooky era, because more people need to appreciate
and love this band. I would also make sure to play some Field Mice and
The Passions. The Passions have a couple of gems for songs that need
to be heard. Hmmm, it might be strange to throw in some of the Walkmen
into this set, but this is a band that is quite special to me and everyone
else in the band. The Walkmen have created a point of view quite unlike
any other band out there right now. It would be cool to invite them
into the studio and pick their brains about their creative process.
Marty: I would play Aphex Twin (Drukqs), The Bad Plus (Suspicious
Activity?), Beach House (Devotion), Beck (Midnite Vultures), Beethoven
(Pathetique Sonata), Monks (Black Monk Time), Blonde Redhead (In An
Expression of the Inexpressible), Bob Dylan (Blonde on Blonde), The
Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), Caribou (Andorra), Chopin (Nocturnes and Preludes),
The Pixies (Bossanova), Bulgarian Women's Choir (Le Mystère des
Voix Bulgares), The Flaming Lips (Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots),
French Kicks (Two Thousand) OK I have to move on because I'm just
scanning through my library and I could go on I would invite The
Monks into the studio for a live session and interview because I wouldn't
know what to expect.
2.Some music critics have argued that a band's value is measured
in terms of both their reach and their artistic qualities and
that important acts are driven by a desire to change things.
Would you agree with this and has there ever been an artist / band that
has changed the way you think about music?
Ann: This is so very true, an artist has to have a point of view
they want to share with the world. When your message is loud and clear,
you influence and change the way people think naturally. I think Blonde
Redhead did this for me along with so many other great bands. When I
first heard this band, I thought that even pain can be beautiful and
there is beauty in all things. They inspired me to feel beauty in tragedy
and be okay with that too.
Marty: There have been many artists that have changed the way
I think about music, however, I don't think many of those artists set
out to change things, they were just being themselves and
creating what they loved. Many artists don't reach a wide audience until
they've passed on; sometimes it's because people aren't ready for the
music they're making. A few artists that changed the way I made music
are: My good friends Russ Wieland, Joe Mormann, John Smythe and Navid
Mir (these are old band mates of mine).
3.Continuing with this train of thought, who for you are some of the
great musical pioneers + what do you think has been the most influential
Ann: Bjork, Radiohead and Lee Hazlewood are some great musical
pioneers, because they really had and have no boundaries. They were
genius. Nirvana was a great musical pioneer because they help solidify
what alternative music meant and paved the way for a slew of bands.
I really have them to thank for us being able to do what we do.
Marty: Some great musical pioneers for me were: Chopin, Beethoven,
Bach, Franz Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Elvis Presley, Joy Division and Brian
Wilson. I'd say that Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, was the most influential
collection of music for western music. It laid the groundwork for harmony,
counterpoint, rhythm and tonality from which, we base our tuning system
and our most basic songs. Music wouldn't be where it is now if it weren't
for Bach's amazing talent.
4.Looking back at the history of popular music, artists and groups
used to release much more music per year without fans having to wait
long periods in-between records. However, it seems that musicians
may now be returning to this way of working, in order to combat early
Internet leaks etc. Do you think this is a positive step?
Ann: Totally love this. We are already writing for album two and
it's becoming more and more necessary to constantly put yourself out
there with new music. Otherwise, they forget about you really fast,
just like technology.
Marty: I do believe it's a positive step. Lately, we've been discussing
this very topic quite a bit. I think that it is important to only release
music that we are happy with; so I don't think artists should just release
more music in order to combat Internet leaks. Artists should
be writing all the time and recording; music business people should
be figuring out how to properly release more material. By the time you
hear a band play their material live, it may be years old; the band
could have moved on to a new sound or new material that describes where
they're at, as people and artists. I believe in playing music that speaks
to you and describes something meaningful; it doesn't matter when you
wrote it. All artists won't be prolific, but the ones that are should
be releasing more than one album a year; as long as they've got solid
material to release.
5.It was recently reported that The 'Big Four' major record
companies have joined forces to launch a new digital album format that
they hope will take on Apple. Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI, are putting
the finishing touches to an album download that will include a digitised
version of the record sleeve, including artwork, lyrics and videos.
Dubbed CDX and launched in November, the new format is designed
to boost interest in digital album sales. What are your feelings
Ann: I think it's been going this direction for a while, I haven't
bought a hard copy CD in ages myself. All my music is on my iPod and
Marty: A lot of people download music both legally and illegally;
that will not stop. I think that most record labels are beginning to
adjust to the new ways people are listening to music. Personally, I
like having a physical record or CD, if it's an artist I'm really into.
Owning something tangible helps me connect to the artist and it increases
the odds of revisiting those artists. Some artists that aren't so easily
accessible upon the first listen, are rarely given a second chance if
it only exists digitally.
6.On a similar note, it has just been announced that the Indie Charts
are set to be revamped, with the aim of helping both new and established
musicians who have never had a Top 20 Album. Do you think this is a
good idea and of all your peers, are there any who you have an affinity
Ann: This is a tough one, I'm not sure who this would help, I'd
have to familiarize myself with the Indie Charts system more.
Marty: Odds are, I've heard of 25% of the artists on the Indie
Charts, it's hard to keep on top of current artists. I usually rely
on hearing new music through playing shows and friends recommendations.
If being on Indie Charts will give bands the kind of exposure they want,
then I'm all for it.
7.Kings Of Leon once admitted that their breakthrough hit single, Sex
On Fire, nearly didnt make their fourth album, as Caleb wasnt
sure about it. But of all your songs to date, are there any that have
taken on a life of their own / gone beyond your expectations, i.e. peoples
reactions to them?
Ann: Well, the single Boredom, was our collective least favorite
song. It's very poppy and straightforward and didn't seem like it would
do well, but I think after some time away from the song, we all realize
that sometimes it's okay to have a song like this too. People listen
to and understand music through their gut feelings and they don't intellectualize
songs to the point of breaking it down into pieces like we do to our
Marty: Yes, there have been songs I've written that almost didn't
make an album or EP. The only reason they did was because friends of
mine said, You have to put that song on it, it's one of your best
songs. I don't know what people are going to react to, people
at radio stations predict what they think people will latch on to, but
I'm not so sure those are the people you want putting out singles. I'd
rather the artist chose.
8.Prior to recording your debut album, did you have any criteria
for choosing a producer and what was the most valuable lesson that you
learnt from these sessions?
Ann: Well, going back to the point of view idea, I think it was
very important we worked with someone who had a strong point of view
that we understood and respected. It's very hard to say how things will
end up, but it's super important to start a recording session with everyone
on the same page about their respective viewpoints on what kind of album
it will be. I learned from these sessions to hold your ground when you
feel strongly about something. It's very tricky to walk the line between
teamwork and creative freedom when four people are working together
Marty: I would want to have a personal relationship with a producer
that was going to work with my band. Someone who I respect and trust
in their knowledge of what sounds good.
9.Do you write to suit your mood, and over the years, have you had
many happy accidents in the studio in terms of musical ideas
Ann: I always write to suit my mood. I am inspired by so many
different sounds and things I see day to day, that it's hard not to
let that flow into something like a song. And as my good friend would
say, happy accidents in the studio are practised and rehearsed
months before the studio. I am a strong believer in this.
Marty: Happy accidents are great. I love being spontaneous and
maintaining an awareness of the moment; especially when writing or recording
music. I can't say I always write in accordance with my current mood.
I've written much darker songs than my mood would reflect. I love eerie
sounding music but I'm not a particularly eerie person.
10.Can you reveal any of the lyrical themes in your new songs, and
of all your lyrics to date, which line or song are you most proud of
Ann: I was very honest with my lyrics on this album and didn't
try to hide much with ambiguous poetic sentiments. I had a lot of fear
in me when I wrote these lyrics and it's sort of an ongoing theme. Trying
to let go of the fear is also in some of the songs. I had and still
have fear of so many things I can't control, like where am I going to
be next year, how do I make my love stay with me, why do I always say
the wrong things, how come things do not come naturally for me, lots
of these sorts of thoughts seep into me and I let it out in song. I
connected with Good Judgement and William the most, the lyrics from
these songs were pretty much like a page from my journal.
11.I really love your promo videos, but of all your favourite artists,
are there any video concepts that you wished had been yours?
Ann: Yes! The Bat For Lashes video for What's A Girl To Do, is
brilliant. I want that video to be ours.
Marty: Strangely, our video for Stand in Your Shoes was very similar
to a recent Radiohead video. I hadn't seen or heard of the Radiohead
video until a few weeks after we shot our video. I can't say either
of us really did the idea justice, or maybe the idea itself just isn't
that good. The Bat For Lashes video that Ann mentioned, with some BMX
riders in costumes, I like the simplicity of that video.
12.Beck has just enlisted a group of friends (including MGMT, Devendra
Banhart and Nigel Godrich) to form the Beck & Friends Music
Club, whereby they will re-record entire albums in one-day sessions
and post a track a week on Beck.com. The first album in the series to
be re-worked is The Velvet Underground & Nico, but if you were ever
asked to participate, which album would you be interested in re-recording
and with which other musicians?
Ann: I would love to re-record Nancy and Lee, and it would be
quite swell to do it with the Walkmen.
Marty: Tom Waits - Blood Money, with Brian Wilson, Radiohead and
The Bad Plus.
13.When playing live, what type of experience do you hope that you
give to your audience and what have been some of your favourite gigs
that youve attended as a fan over the years?
Ann: I really hope that our honesty comes through and people feel
something when they see us. Some of my all-time favorite shows in no
particular order are: 1) Beach House, 2) The Walkmen, 3) The Cure, 4)
Morrissey, 5) Beulah, 6) Tilly And The Wall.
Marty: Utter Ecstasy. I can't say what my favorite gigs were.
14.What are your biggest hopes for LoveLikeFire long-term, and when
you do have some free time to yourself, how do you like to spend it?
Ann: Biggest hopes long-term: Sustainability. Free time: Making
banana bread, playing tennis and getting a nice haircut (with friends).
Marty: Biggest hopes long-term: That one day we can all quit our
day jobs and play music full-time. Free time: Answering these questions...