Interview: Lovats

Just over a year ago, indie pop five piece Quayside changed their name and began performing under their new identity, Lovats. Moving in a more electronic direction and evidently taking Foals as their inspiration, the boys honed and crafted their sound along with their live performance. Now, managing to expand on that individuality, the outfit are creating sounds unlike anyone else in Birmingham and show a deft ability to write both lively and upbeat tracks as well as slower and more ethereal numbers.

Ahead of their performance at our Beat the January Blues party, we chat to guitarist Tom Barr and bassist Ryan Clark to find out more.

Hello boys, I don’t believe we’ve spoken to you before, step on in and introduce yourselves!

Hey there, we are Lovats, a five piece band of 18 year olds from Birmingham. We are Tom [guitar],  Ryan [bass/vocals],  Nathan [guitar],  James [drums/vocals] and Ciaran [vocals/keys].

Give me some background to the band – you were Quayside previously so is Lovats merely a name change or a change of musical direction as well?

Tom: Yeah we used to be called Quayside, but everyone kept pronouncing it ‘Qwayside’ at gigs. It seems like a silly thing but it got frustrating after a while. We released four demo tracks under Quayside, and just messed around really, I suppose we started to take things more seriously when we decided on a name change in December 2012. I think we have definitely changed our musical direction slightly, trying to mould our own sound, we ditched most of the Quayside tracks apart from Fiction and Stained Glass and have been writing new stuff ever since.

And where does the name Lovats come from?

Tom: Lovats was a word I stumbled across online, on, believe it or not, a six letter word dictionary site. We were all sat at our computers trying to come up with ideas for a new name, we knew we wanted something short and bold, yet mysterious.

Ryan: I know that Lovats means a shade of greeny blue fabric and I remember saying if we were to compare our sound to colours it would definitely be this musky greeny blue colour

Tom: I can’t think of anything more interesting to say on the band name, other than we are massive Demi ‘Lovato’ fans.

Describe the sounds that you create.

Tom: We don’t fully know ourselves, we just jam in rehearsals and go with what sounds good. I’d say Over is probably the most indie pop track, whereas the others are more alternative, some people have referred to it as ‘disco rock’ on SoundCloud, maybe ‘dance punk’? I don’t know.

James: I’d say earthy, synthy, indie rock, if that helps?

Tell us about 2013, what you did and the tracks that you released within it.

Tom: We started off playing a few shows around Birmingham early on in the year, and recorded our first track Over around March at Monochrome Studios out in the sticks near Banbury. We got our friend Owain Ulyt to record the music video and released it on YouTube in April. We were really surprised with the reaction and good feedback we got from the release, which was great motivation for us, we did a bunch of shows around Birmingham during the summer and autumn of 2013 and have recently released Golden and White Fire on SoundCloud. I don’t think we have played one show outside of Birmingham yet, but we have loved every minute of 2013, it has been great.

You name check Birmingham as your hometown – where are you all from originally and how do you find the city from a band’s perspective?

Tom: Me and Nathan are from Alcester, a little town about 15 – 20 miles from the City. Ciaran lives in Kings Heath, James is from Wythall and Ryan’s in Salford Priors close to Alcester. We have thoroughly enjoyed every gig we have played in Birmingham and had some great laughs. We all enjoy going to see the bands we love in the city’s well known venues and I think a few of us have shared some interesting after parties and Snobs experiences, so all in all, we dig the second city.

Over is an absolute belter of a tune – it sounds really big and is wonderful live – big fan. Talk to us about it – what’s it about, how and when did you write it and where did the inspiration come from?

Ryan: We’re glad you like it, it was one of the first, if not the first song we wrote as Lovats. Over is just about things turning stale and boring, like, what used to be enjoyable becomes boring, mundane and uninteresting.

Tom: I think it’s just one of those basic ‘verse chorus verse chorus bridge’ style indie pop songs, some people have said it has similar characteristics to Foals’ Inhaler so I guess that’s part of the inspiration as we all love that track.

Tell me about your separate and collective musical influences and the extent to which you draw from them when creating your own music.

Ryan: We are all influenced by a core of similar music, but it’s the stuff we listen to on the peripheral that really changes how we each think. Lovats songs usually form out of ideas and loops or jams.

Tom: We listen to a lot of music I guess, I just received a record player for Christmas as I have wanted one for ages, so I have been listening to a lot of old King Crimson and Jethro Tull vinyls . I know as a collective we have been listening to The Physics House Band recently, who are absolutely fantastic, so I guess you could say both our personal and collective song ideas come from many old and new bands, it’s so hard to whittle it down to a select few, but of course we are inspired by the current Birmingham music scene as well.

How does a Lovats song come into being?

Tom: We all meet up every Saturday morning at the Brickyard rehearsal rooms and jam for two hours. Usually we find a little gem hidden in the chaotic mess of five different timbres of instrument; sometimes one of us will have an idea beforehand and will bring it forward at rehearsals.

You play the Brum Notes Beat the January Blues Party on January 9th. Do you get the blues after Christmas and if so, how do you overcome them?

Tom: I think we get the blues after Christmas – aside from not being able to open any more cool presents we are probably a couple of stone heavier too, but it means we get back together as a band after the holidays and start beating the blues with some funky rhythms.

What do you make of the other bands on the bill?

Tom: I managed to catch a bit of Eat Y’Self-Pretty’s set just before we went on at the Villa Park Kit Launch festival in June and from what I heard they sounded great, so I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing them again. I don’t know much about EKKAH other than they are a new band formed from members of The Arcadian Kicks, so looking forward to hearing them for the first time!

What can people expect from this performance – how do you plan to entice people out from their post-NYE poverty-ridden husks?

Tom: We hope to re-energise the crowd after the post festive anti-climax with some raw stage energy, powerful riffs and poppy hooks, hopefully cementing our performance in people’s minds.

What’s the plan for 2014?

Ryan: We are going to release a single sometime early this year, with a view to following up with a five track EP towards the end of the year. Maybe we’ll buy a van and go on tour too, that would be cool!

Lovats play our Beat the January Blues Party at The Bull’s Head, Moseley on Thursday, January 9 with Eat Y’Self Pretty, EKKAH and The Grafham Water Sailing Club DJS. Entry is £4 – find out all you need to know here.

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