“What could’ve been has happened. This is it, this is our destiny.” Lee Newell says it firmly, his tone alluding cryptically to something grandiose and just around the corner. By this, he’s referring to his synth-pop band, Lovelife, a young act that’s quickly established itself as smoldering mood rock that can fill stadiums while hearkening to the music we actually miss hearing from the Eighties.
Newell and his bandmates – drummer Frank Colucci, guitarist Sam Jackson and keyboardist Ally Young – are huddled on adjoining couches surrounding an unpolished coffee table sunk into the back of L.A.’s Bootleg Theater. The group has just finished an intense round of rehearsals for the second show of their month-long residency at the venue. Coming off of a successful first week, they are relentless in their back and forth with the sound technician – and the intense perfectionism will shine through later this evening.
The free shows, an introductory staple for any emerging band in the Los Angeles area, are a fitting rite of passage for Lovelife, who recently moved to Los Angeles from New York (originally by way of London). But not every unsigned band who can grab a residency at the Bootleg can also say they are the opening act for 2013 urban-indie sensation The Neighbourhood. It’s an ideal situation for any young, creative and talented band to be in, and Lovelife has earned this coveted spot completely by grit, not chance.
“I don’t just want to be thrown on a pile of bands – send a single to a radio see if it works,” says Newell. “Been there, done that, these songs are more personal.”
As three-quarters of the band were once in the record drama plagued, now-extinct band Brother, currently, the band is - very gratefully - unsigned, retaining every ounce of creative freedom available to musicians in today’s free world. While their star rises on almost purely word-of-mouth hype via the Internet, Lovelife is relishing its time before making a label decision. But time is also something they’re not willing to waste: the group has self-released three EPs to date, the latest being the gleefully dark, synthesizer-rich euphoria Stateless. But while creating these EPs and making them available for free on their website was long a priority for the band, the group is excited to embark on writing their full-length album.
“We feel we are all in the position where we know what we want a Lovelife record to sound like,” says Young. “I think it’s the first time we’ve been ready to write an album. We’re full of ideas right now and just want to get into it.”
Months of touring have made them all itching to get into the studio, which they plan on building the day after this show at their new residence in Pasadena. (It’s a testament to the band’s creative ambition that they also plan on building their studio the same day they move into their new home.)
“We haven’t started, we’re going to assign ourselves probably three weeks to do it,” adds Newell, speaking of the album. “I think we should write it in a short amount of time in the same space.”
The album can exist as the band’s highest priority at the moment because live shows for Lovelife have finally reached a more-than-comfortable place. Several hours after meeting them, we see firsthand just how well the practice perfectionism and touring has served the group. Throughout their seven-song set, the energy between Newell and the room of adoring local fans is almost identical to its intensity when the band played at the much larger Palladium just a week before, the confines of a room with a bar along the wall notwithstanding. A technical glitch causes Newell to cut and restart the band’s performance of “Your New Beloved,” but Newell handles it with ease, riling the audience up once again for the second attempt.
Offstage, in those rare moments of stillness on tour, the band thrives on savoring its current vantage. As for as their transition to the West Coast, the band seems to have fared more than decently, at least from the outset.
“We all bought open-toe shoes and drink kale smoothies,” says Young.
Watch our clip of Lovelife’s week two residency at L.A.’s Bootleg Theater below.
[Photo: buzzbands la]