Interview with Mariel Loveland of Candy Hearts

Photo: Stephen Yang

Loneliness, infatuation, and doubt are just a few of the quotidian feelings vocalist Mariel Loveland confesses of dealing with on Candy Hearts’ sophomore LP. Entitled ‘Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy,’ the record almost comes furnished with a play-by-play of everyone’s most delightful and direful college experiences. What really elevates the New Jersey up-and-comers, however, is their ruggedness. When mixed with Loveland’s oftentimes innocent but offbeat phrasing and Kris Hayes’ salient guitar work, it’s no wonder the group can’t help but produce a propitious set of tracks.

Not too long ago, Mariel took some time out of her day to speak with Rock Edition about touring, cooking, sharks, and Candy Hearts’ new album. Head below to see what she had to say.

Congratulations on making it to album number two.

It’s interesting.

Because it’s different than the first one?

[chuckles] Yeah.

You’re out of college now, right?

Yeah.

Were you working on ‘Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy’ while in college?

I wrote half of the songs while I was in college and half when I was out of college. I’ve only been out for a year and a summer.

It must have been difficult to get a lot of songwriting done during that time.

I was really busy in college, but when I got out, I had this job that was really time-consuming — not that my job isn’t time-consuming now. I was just so exhausted when I came home, and I would be in a bad mood. When I was in college, I might have been working the same amount of time, but I wasn’t mad about it. [laughs]

Was the decision to self-produce the record a financial one or more about creative control?

Well, yeah, it was a financial one, because I didn’t want to dump any money into it if I felt like we could do it ourselves. The people that I had access to that could have done it, and that I could have paid to do it, I don’t think would have done a different job than we would have done. If I felt they would have done something different, or if it would have helped us in any way to have someone else do it, I would have tried to scrounge around money and figure it out. I’m super controlling over the way stuff sounds, and I know as much as I might piss off Kris when we’re working together on the project, it’s not going to be as miserable as it could be if someone else was doing it.

How many of these songs did you do by yourself?

Well, I write all the lyrics and the melodies. Typically, I come to the band with a full idea — usually just on acoustic guitar — and sometimes I won’t have a bridge written or in-between parts, but I’ll usually have the verses and the chorus. Then, we’ll talk about how we think it should sound, and we develop it from there.

Were there points of separation between you writing and recording the songs or was it all done back-to-back?

No, it was totally different. I usually show everything to Kris first. He’s like the first screening process, because he won’t sugarcoat it if something sucks. The other people in the band will obviously tell me if they think something sucks, but I guess I feel most comfortable showing it to him first because he knows exactly what to say where it won’t make me feel as bad if it’s not good. After I show it to Kris and we talk about whether we should play it or not, we bring it to the rest of the band. Then, we develop the ideas of how it sounds. So, we did that with the whole record. We started recording, and there were still some lyrics that weren’t totally complete, so I had to finish them the week before we did vocals. Other than that, everything was already written by the time we went into the studio, except for harmonies, auxiliary percussion, and lead guitar parts. All the extra stuff isn’t really written, it’s more like the meat of the song is all there by the time we get into the studio. We don’t like to waste any time.

Was everything recorded at one of your houses?

Well, Kris is an audio engineer and does other people’s records sometimes, and he has a studio with his friends in Staten Island. We recorded the bass and drums there; the drums we felt [shouldn’t be] recorded in our basement. The rest we wanted to do for free, so we did it in my basement and his apartment.

Were the dual vocals on “I Want Out” planned from the beginning?

There were actually some other songs that were supposed to have dual vocals, but sometimes weird things get in the way. The night before we recorded vocals, Kris and Greg — our bassist at the time — and myself went out drinking. I wanted to go home at midnight to rest my voice, but the guys didn’t really think it would be an issue and made me stay out until the bar closed. I was sleeping in the bar and not really talking, but they were screaming at the top of their lungs. When it came time to record their vocals, none of them could really sing as well as they normally do. We had planned from the beginning to do [“I Want Out”] together, and I think it came out really well that way, but on the other ones, their voices were not having it.

I know you guys did a short tour last month, but could you see Candy Hearts as a full-time touring group?

I would love to tour as much as possible, but it’s just so expensive. If we could afford it, we’d do it in two seconds.

The first three days are difficult for me because I have trouble adjusting to things, but after that everything’s great. I wouldn’t want to go on random tours with just our band playing random shows. It would have to be with a clear direction and another band, otherwise it’s not possible to do it.

So you’re saying you’d want to jump from tour to tour instead of just doing sporadic dates?

Actually, playing for three or four days is a lot less expensive and more comfortable than leaving for a month. We can’t afford to not work for a month.

If you could…

If we could, absolutely! [laughs]

Do you have any aspirations to play in Europe or different countries around the world?

Yeah, I really want to go to London. I mean, I want to go to other places to see what it’s like, but I really want to play in the UK.

I was just looking at your blog a while ago, and I noticed the lovely pictures of Coney Island. The ferris wheel in the album cover…

I haven’t updated that in a while.

Your blog? Yeah, your last post was made on July 28. Get to it! [laughs]

I know, I have all this stuff from our tour that I didn’t put up.

So you went to Coney Island to find the perfect shot for the album cover, right?

Yeah. All the shots inside the album are of Coney Island. I took like 130 photos. A lot of them were blurry and stuff. It was actually my birthday when we went, and I made the whole band come with me so that I didn’t have to go all the way to Coney Island alone.

Nice. These pictures of food on your blog are really great, by the way.

Thank you.

I need to somehow get one of the pictures into the interview.

I live with my twin sister, and she loves baking, so I take pictures of a lot of the stuff that I sort of help make. I don’t really cook very much. I mean, I’m trying to more. I just moved like two months ago, and since I moved I’ve been super unhealthy.

In some ways, this new record of yours has a sad flavor to it. Do you get inspired by the darker moments in life a lot? “Good Enough” and “She’s So Cool” definitely have some weight to them.

I’m trying not to sound like a bummer. Whenever I do these things, I always feel like I sound like a bummer. I think it’s just a common feeling. Particularly in those two songs, I feel that way constantly — like, all the time. I feel like a lot of people focus on writing love songs or [break-up songs], but what I write about is a more personal struggle that doesn’t have to do with anyone [else] necessarily.

What’s “Asbury Park” about? It seems to depict an adventure in a park with someone.

The “you” in the song is more like a group of people. I played a show in Asbury Park. We were playing with two other bands who are from Richmond, and that night it was kind of an empty show, so we all hung out in the back. They got really drunk. I was like, “Yo, I’m from New Jersey, let me show you around.” So we snuck onto the beach and we went swimming. They were all afraid that there would be sharks there. I don’t know why people even think twice about that. It was like midnight. I was telling them that there weren’t sharks there, and my mom called me the next day to tell me that it was all over the news that people who were swimming at night have been getting bitten by sharks. Nothing happened to us, though. I would have felt terrible.

I believe only about 5 people are killed by sharks each year. That’s not a lot. More people are killed by vending machines falling on them.

I’m scared of most things that are irrelevant like that.

Hippos kill a lot more people, too. As you can tell, this is how I spend most of my time online.

[laughs]

What’s “Jawbreaker” about?

Jawbreaker is this band that I sort of listen to no matter what mood I’m in. Even if I’m really upset, I listen to Jawbreaker all the time. It always makes me feel a little bit better or mopey or whatever I want to feel. I pretty much listen to them constantly. That one song is about when you like someone and they don’t like you back and you waste all this time thinking about them and worrying about what they think. And the smallest things can completely change your mood regarding them. You should never let anyone let you feel that way. But we’re human, and we obsess about things. That song is kind of about letting go of that stuff and getting as far away from that as you can.

The greatest thing to do in the world is over-analyze things. I like to do it all the time.

[laughs] No, it’s horrible! I hate it!

After the album is released, what can we expect to see you guys doing?

Well, we’re working on some tour dates around the record release. We’ll be playing CMJ, and we have a couple shows at the end of this month and beginning of next month, I think. I’m usually the last one to know about that stuff, because I’m the one who stresses out about it the most. I just tell them to handle it. We’re also working on a music video. We’ll be working on that in the beginning of October. I’m really excited.

Pick up Candy Hearts’ new album, Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their website.