Shortly after the inception of shoegaze/space rock quartet Love Animals, the outfit of longtime friends parted ways with its original guitarist and nearly threw in the towel altogether. Ultimately deciding to stick it out due to a significant investment in merchandise, the band responded to the setback by recruiting guitarist Josh Holt roughly a year ago, reconfigured its entire catalog and now prepares to unveil its debut EP.
Spacey from the start, Love Animals’ re-bred songlist ups the ambience while introducing a darker edge. The band tells that it started over essentially from scratch after adding Holt “out of respect for the lineup change,” and thus includes only one pre-Holt track in its current set list.
“Obviously the sound changed as soon as Josh joined the band, so we started writing all new songs,” explains Steve Gaskell (vocals, guitar).” We kept one song that’s on the EP. Everything else went to the song graveyard.
“We didn’t have a CD yet, so it would have been easy to just start over as a new band. It really came down to us having put money into all this merch. Nobody knew who we were anyway, so we just decided to stick with Love Animals.”
The darker direction is most apparent when examining the lyrical theme of the group’s first recorded outing, “Reckless Holiday.” Described as a desert trip gone awry, the EP’s four tracks weave a single tale of obsession leading to live burial.
“You get writer’s block almost when you’re trying to write something personal about yourself,” says David Brown (bass). “But when you can turn songs into a Twilight Zone kind of thing, it becomes easier to be more thematic.”
“It just came from old horror movies, movies like ‘Vacancy,’ ‘Psycho’ and stuff like that,” Gaskell elaborates. “We watch a lot of forensics shows and things where some crazy dude is obsessed with some chick who has no idea who he is, (and) he thinks they’re like soul mates. So we kind of went off that premise and wrote this whole story from start to finish, going from track one to track four.”
Love Animals’ process to lyric-writing isn’t typical. The band points out that lyrics are the final component of newly written songs, and subject matter is inspired by the music, never the other way around. Gaskell adds that the frustrating part is that eagerness to debut new material at live shows often leads to having to ad lib vocals on stage.
“We already had all the songs’ instrumentation tracked and pretty much mixed before we even started on vocals,” describes Gaskell. “For me, it was a lot of listening to the songs over and over. I felt like they were darker songs and needed to have a darker theme.”
“I may be speaking for myself, but with past bands, vocals have always been kind of last minute,” adds Brenton Smith (drums). “I think that’s part of being in a rock band. None of us have been in a singer/songwriter scenario. We do music first and put vocals over it at the last minute.”
Marked by a long hiatus between previous acts and this one, Gaskell and crew’s renewed zeal makes them ambitious to move forward with Love Animals. Diligently promoting and scheduling shows, the act has found a sense of purpose in its music. After a brief tour of Tennessee and Virginia this month, the group will lose Holt for September as he tours Europe with Generation of Vipers. During this stretch, the band intends to devote most of its time to writing for a full-length it hopes to have ready by this time next year.
“I look at this as making up for lost time, taking such a long break,” Gaskell says. “I went out before with our other bands and just toured all the time and then stopped doing it to move forward with the career thing. Now that I’ve been doing that, I realize that I’d rather be poor and travel around with my friends, even if we’re just playing to 10 people every night. So there’s this increased sense of urgency that I have for sure... I don’t think any of us care if we’re poor for the rest of our lives; this is what we really want to do. You look at bands like Royal Bangs that kept going and didn’t give up, those are the things you have to do. You have to make sacrifices to do what you love. I want to be able to have the flexibility to leave home like we used to and tour but do it a little smarter this time around.”
Saturday night Love Animals launch the release of their new EP with a show at The Pilot Light. Lipliplip Hands and Rally round out the bill. The show is slated for 10 p.m., and admission is $5.
Stash bash: This year’s Jerry Garcia Birthday Bash is celebrated with performances by Grandpa’s Stash, Jescoe, Fatstacks and the Fun Guy, and Cornbred Friday night at Preservation Pub. Music kicks off at 10 p.m. and costs $5.
Haduken! Senryu takes the stage at The Well Saturday with Henry Gibson and Spades Cooley. The show starts at 10 p.m. and has a $5 cover.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!