Interview with Matthew J. Tow of The Lovetones

Photo by Tamara Thomas

How’s it going?

It’s going good, man. We’re enjoying ourselves in New York, it’s great.

And you’re about halfway through this tour?

We are halfway, yeah. We’ve just done the East Coast. We traveled down to North Carolina, played Baltimore, DC, and now CMJ! And then, off to the West Coast with Asteroid #4, so it’s a month-long tour, and we’re having a great time.

That’s fantastic. Well, I’d like to talk about your new record, ‘Lost.’ Where did you record it?

It was recorded in a few different places — we did some stuff with Rob Campanella in LA, and I was lucky enough to get Miranda Lee Richards to sing on one song, which was fantastic.

That’s “Coming Home,” right?

Yes, right. We just called her up, and she came down and did it, and it was incredible. And we did the rest of it in Sydney. We mixed it in the Blue Mountains, which is west of Sydney, at a friend’s place, so it’s been everywhere around the world.

Lovely. I’m curious how your writing process works.

Normally, I write most of the stuff. Matt Sigley, the bass player, also wrote one song on the record, “This Great Romance.” But normally, what I do is just write the songs and bring them to rehearsal. We’ve played together a lot in bands over the years, so whatever those guys want to put on [the track] is fine by me. I give them as much space as they want to create their own thing around the music. Matt plays great keys, and brings all that texture to the record: pianos, organs, all that sort of stuff. Chris is very tasteful on the [drums], and we’ve played together for so long that it’s really natural when we go to record. Sometimes the guys haven’t even heard the songs before we record them. We just get [together], jam it for a couple of takes, and then record it. It works out — it’s pretty easy with us at the moment. We’ve been doing it for too long. [laughs]

Your songwriting has been compared to Ray Davies, Bowie, Lennon & McCartney…

That’s silly [laughs].

How do you feel about that?

For me, as a huge fan of those artists, it’s a fairly ridiculous thing to say because I’m in awe of those artists. So, it’s nice to hear it, but it’s completely wrong [laughs]. It’s crazy. But, it’s nice to know that people like the music. That’s all I care about: the actual songs. If people dig the music, that’s fine by me.

Is [Brian Jonestown Massacre member] Rob Campanella the 5th Lovetone?

He is the 5th Lovetone, yes, correct. Rob’s just always been there with the band, he’s recorded the music, he worked on ‘Axiom,’ on ‘Dimensions,’ on this new one, and we have a really great working relationship. He loves the music, and he understands how to record the band, and what the band’s after in the recording process. He opens up the house to us when we come over there and we can hang out… and now he’s a part of the touring band, so when we come over to the States, we call Rob up, and he’s into doing the tour. It’s fantastic to have him be part of it. And he’s not a bad songwriter himself! He’s all right [laughs].

Do you guys record digital, analog, both?

We do both. We record to analog tape, 16 or 24-track tape, depending on what the studio’s got. Normally we do all the drums, bass and the guide tracks that way, and then transfer to digital after that. But we’re very careful to keep that analog sound while we’re transferring it. When we do vocals, even though we’re recording them digitally, we revert the vocals back through tape, so we get tape echo, and then bring them back into the computer. We really want to keep that sort of sound when we record. Sometimes we’ve just done it [digitally], but most often, when we can, we try to make it work as an analog recording.

What’s coming up after this tour?

Yes, well, the record is out. We’re going to hit the West Coast with Asteroid #4, we love those guys, they’re one of our favorite bands, it’s going to be a big tour, and [after that] we’re just going to keep putting records out!

Pick up The Lovetones’ new album Lost and check out their upcoming tour dates with The Asteroid #4:

October 29: Trashpretty Vintage – Long Beach, CA
October 30: Spaceland – Los Angeles, CA
October 31: Ghost Town Galleries – Oakland, CA
November 1: The Elbo Room – San Francisco, CA
November 3: The Comet Tavern – Seattle, WA