A conversation with Scott Blonde
Interview by Amber Henson
Times of Romance, the most recent album from The Lovemakers, was released in August 2005. Although they had been on the map and out on the road touring since 2002, this was the time when they started playing with big name bands. First came a tour with Veruca Salt, then She Wants Revenge. After these tours, one would imagine that The Lovemakers would continue to tour and push their album, hoping to reach a fever pitch that would taken them off the indie stations and into the mainstream.
But then they dropped off the face of the earth, aside from a few shows here and there. Guitarist Scott Blonde put up a Demos page on MySpace to keep the rabid fans happy, but that was all until this May, when they announced a July tour on the West Coast. So what have they been doing in the meantime?
Working on a new album. “We’ve already demoed all the new tracks,” says guitarist Scott Blonde. “Now it’s just a matter of getting them set and finishing them.” In the meantime, they’ve been trying to tour—preferably as an opener for a larger band again—but “It hasn’t been easy to get new tours. It’s like you and a thousand other bands. If you’re not in the top twenty, forget it.”
During the July tour, they won’t be playing the new material. “Before we can play the new stuff live, we have to figure out exactly what it will sound like on the album, and then go from there,” says Blonde. “A lot of our stuff, especially our old stuff, was on the computer or a keyboard sequence. We used to go to shows and people would yell ‘Play something!’ So we have to find that delicate balance.”
“A lot of the songs are a little reminiscent of Nirvana,” he continues. “There’s more grunge, some heavy stuff…it’s still a pop record, but 70% of it is more guitar-heavy. There are some power ballads. There are a lot less keyboards and less sequencing.” When The Lovemakers started out, bands were beginning to rediscover synths after close to 20 years of ignoring them. But after two keyboard-heavy albums, particularly their debut, the machine just “doesn’t sound interesting anymore.”
Earlier in the interview, I’d asked whether the new album would be heading in the direction of the ‘80s; the newer songs on Times of Romance sounded like they were trying to replicate that era. “The ‘80s are a huge influence because that’s when I was listening to all the music I grew up with, that pop format. Michael Jackson, Prince, Duran Duran.” What about The Human League—a band that they are almost always compared to? “You know, every time I hear that, I’m like, ‘Really? Them?’ If we do [sound like them], I don’t know why. I only know, like, one of their songs. Every time I sit down to write a song, every time, it’s whatever comes out. I don’t think about it.”
Now that Nirvana has become a vital influence, it’s as if The Lovemakers are moving forward through time, from decade to decade. “I’ve never thought about it ‘til now,” says Blonde, “But I want to hear the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ melody, so that’s just what I’m thinking of when I write.” Radiohead is another band that is mentioned. “Not that I’m at all comparing ourselves to them; it’s just that I really agree with that concept of moving on.”
The music isn’t the only thing that’s changing. “A lot of our lyrics are darker this time,” Blonde says. “On the last one, a lot of songs were written about situations that were real, but we’d sort of switch them around and change them. This time, they are personal—life or death situations. I think it comes from touring and being on the label. It’s like, ‘Hey. It’s not exactly like we thought.’”
Another major development for The Lovemakers and their fans was the departure of keyboardist Jason Proctor. The rest of the band has stayed, although drummer Josh Kilborn has a new nickname, scrapping “The Eagle” in favor of “Jeesh Le Guillotine” (“That happened in France,” Blonde explains).
Proctor left the band to pursue a “more normal life,” and, true to their new sound, instead of replacing him with another keyboardist, The Lovemakers brought in another guitarist. “It wasn’t luck that Jason left, but we did want something more,” Blonde says. “Before he left, we were looking to add a guitarist and become a five piece. The touring process of these new songs would involve needing to have another guitarist.”
The Lovemakers have had just two singles to date: “Prepare for the Fight,” which has been out on the West Coast for almost a year, but is just starting to get played in the East; and “Shake That Ass,” which also inspired a video that’s viewable on the band’s website. Next up is “Falling Apart,” which is already getting airplay on the station that has been most supportive to The Lovemakers, the Bay Area’s 105.3 KITS.
“It’s so weird to get things pushed onto the radio,” Blonde says. “I always thought that when you come out with an album, if it’s good, they pick a song, and that’s your single. But there’s so much politics involved, it makes getting a song on there the hardest thing in the world. You can sell tons of records, but that doesn’t guarantee you a breakthrough hit.”
Both Blonde and singer/bassist/violinist Lisa Light have been keeping it real by occasionally subbing at their old jobs as waiters and bartenders. Even after the success of Times of Romance and the subsequent touring, they still will occasionally show up for their previous employers in Berkeley.
“We’re pretty on and off with it,” says Blonde. “Sometimes we get bonuses, so we don’t go in. But then there are little times when we’re not working at all, so we’ll go in. Being in the band all the time is not really that great; it burns you out. It’s not like having a normal job. When you’re doing music, you obsess over it. If I go wait tables or bartend, it clears my mind, and gives me that push because it reminds me that I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.”
I was able to go to a few shows of their tour with Veruca Salt. Their stop at Harper’s Ferry in Boston was particularly memorable. That night, Light announced to the crowd that Blonde’s parents were in attendance. This made me wonder if Scott would be putting on his normal show, which eventually involves stripping off his shirt and wagging his ass at the audience. Surely, I said to myself, he’ll be a little more reserved with his parents in the audience. Instead, he threw himself on the floor with the audience and played his guitar while lying down, shirtless.
So where do those moves come from? “The dance moves? I don’t know,” he says. “That’s just the way it was. It’s funny, ‘cause I’m actually pretty shy. In the last band I played with, I played bass, so I didn’t move much. But now when I would get the chance to take the guitar off, it just kind of happened. That’s what happens when I have three beers, and there’s a screaming audience. I like to put on a show. It’s fun to do that. But in real life, I’m really shy. I’m the last person you would think would do that.”
Speaking of shy, I asked Blonde about the vibrator that he occasionally uses on his guitar on stage. “I keep losing them,” he said. “Well, actually, they were stolen off the front of the stage. I would put them under the vocal monitor after using them, and nine out of ten times they would be gone by the end of the set. Now I only do it if I have one on me.” Have one on you? “We used store models. We’d walk into porn stores and ask them if they had one that we could have for free for this purpose. But we’ve done that so many times, it’s starting to get embarrassing. I stole the idea from Dave Navarro. When I was in high school, I had all these bootlegs of him doing it. He would make the coolest sound. So when he stopped, I started.”
Before I could let Blonde go, I had to ask him a question that only the most hardcore of Lovemakers fans would understand. “Prepare for the Fight,” it has been said, is about a kitten that Light and Blonde found that wasn’t doing so well. So is the cat on “Prepare for the Fight” the same cat that is mentioned in “Online Girlfriend?”
“No,” Blonde laughed. “There are lots of cats. Lots of strays.”
The Lovemakers - Live - July 8, 2006
The Lovemakers - Misery Loves Company
The Lovemakers - Live - March 17, 2009
More by this writer:
Johnathan Rice - Further North
LoveLikeFire - Bed of Gold
Leerone - Imaginary Biographies
Gram Rabbit - Cultivation