by Author Griffin (@AuthorGriffin)
Officer Michaels: McLovin?
Officer Michaels: Great name.
Officer Slater: It is, it just rolls off the tongue.
Officer Michaels: Sounds like a sexy hamburger.
If you thought I was above doing movie quotes… you wrong.
Besides having the great name, I like The McLovins for myriad reasons, not least of which is that they’re good dudes with Connecticut roots and ties to the Hartt School, the University of Hartford’s vaunted comprehensive performing arts conservatory.
I’m, in fact, a good dude with Connecticut roots and my friends Jennifer Hartswick of Trey Anastasio Band fame and Alan from Telefunken definitely attended Hartt, although, back when I hung out there they just called it the Hartt School of Music.
Aside from our shared backgrounds, The McLovins are an improvisational powerhouse of a live act and are also getting some incredibly promising results out of the studio, as is very evident in their latest full-length release, 2014’s Beautiful Lights. And I dig all that about them, too.
I had a chance to speak with McLovins’ drummer Jake Huffman about the band and about Beautiful Lights in advance of their Infinity Hall show with The Interlopers on 4/20.
Griff: So the McLovins are just off of a couple of Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic runs already this year, your first ever shows in the region, how was it for you guys down there?
Jake: Yeah, in early January we went down to Miami and back, played about twenty one shows in three and half weeks. It was really fun and surprisingly successful and, you know, cool to see a new part of the country. We hit it again a couple weeks ago, we went back down to Georgia, hit Athens and Atlanta, came back up through the Carolinas. It’s definitely been a lot different because this is the first year we’ve been able to really break outside of our region, I think Philadelphia was the farthest South we’d gone for the last five years and now all of the sudden we’re all over the South East and this summer we’ll be going out to Colorado so it’s definitely exciting and different.
Griff: Touring the South beats playing New England in January, huh?
Jake: It was great, when everyone up North was getting hit with snow, we were relaxing on a beach in Miami, so definitely some perks.
Griff: Perks! Nice, we’ll take ’em, right? So all this touring is in support of Beautiful Lights, your fourth full-length album, which was recorded back at Sonic Boom studios with your friend and former Spin Doctor Anthony Krizan. Now, I’ve always felt that comfort is a good prerequisite for art, meaning you do your best work in your most comfortable surroundings. Does it feel as though, at this point, that Sonic Boom is like your wheelhouse?
Jake: Yeah, you know, I totally agree with that. When you’re in a nice, comfortable environment you’re going to do better than maybe you would in an unfamiliar place. We’ve known Anthony for years, we’ve written songs with him and we’ve even gone down just to hang out with him, not necessarily music-related so we’ve gotten to know him on a really personal level. Not only is the studio state-of-the-art and awesome to hang out at, there’s like tapestries all over the walls along with his gold and platinum records, but he’s so down-to-Earth and super cool himself. We were playing like probably 15 to 17 hours a day for a whole week and it was really relaxed but also really productive. Anthony doesn’t ever step on our toes in terms of songwriting, but when he does give suggestions they’re always really smart and we always take them. A lot of them are usually on vocal melodies and kind of the lead-type parts, but he just has a great mind, musically, and a great energy to be around and I think it came through. This is definitely our best record we’ve ever put out, it sounds a bit more mature, there’s more layers, but also we’re a little older and I think that came through as well, but yes, we do our best work with Anthony in his studio.
Griff: Awesome man, and I’m glad you clarified that point, that comfort doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not working hard, it’s just… comfy hard work. Next question, in reference to your song of the same title, is there a real ‘Tracy’?
Griff: (laughs) Or is that like a metaphor for the collective ghosts of girlfriends past?
Jake: Well, to be honest, I don’t know how to write, ahh… I don’t know how to fabricate stories so every song is definitely about something that has happened in my life so yes, there was a Tracy, although her name wasn’t Tracy. Of course, if you did any like Facebook detective work (laughs), I’m sure you could figure out who the real Tracy was, but it’s a very personal song and all the songs I write are about people I know or things that have happened to me.
Griff: Nice. No I hear that, I dabble in lyrics myself, published on a couple, two/three albums, nothing major, and I always envied the guys like Dylan, who could write fiction lyrically, I don’t know how to do that either. Now, I always ask this question the same way, what was the last disc in your player? And by disc I mean Spotify playlist, Pandora station, iTunes library, anything up to and including round pieces of plastic…
Jake: Tallest Man on Earth was the last thing I was listening to, The Gardener. Speaking of him, he’s kind of like a new age Bob Dylan, that’s kind of the style he goes for and I dig that. Before that it was Phoenix, I think.
Griff: Good stuff. Jake Huffman of The McLovins, thanks so much for taking the time and I for one am way psyched for your 4/20 show with The Interlopers.
Jake: Yeah we’re super excited for the Infinity Hall show ourselves. This summer, for us, is about breaking new territory, new ground so other than festivals, this will be our last show in Connecticut until probably November so…
Griff: So let’s do this! Jake, thank you brother.
Jake: Thanks Griff.