By Luis Collado
Lovejoy is the newest project to come out of Chicago’s underground rock scene. Bands like Modern Vices, Twin Peaks, and The Orwells within the last couple years have burst into the spotlight wielding garage-influenced indie rock tunes, slightly driven guitar tones, and a focus more on relationships, love, energy, and rock and roll rather than dancing and bubbling happiness. Lovejoy is formed out of the well-known embers of The Boxers, a psychedelic rock band who released their only album in the spring of 2015. Joined by other friends from all corners of Chicago’s rock scene, Lovejoy have released two singles and are planning on releasing a full-length debut album before summer 2017. Duncan Lee, guitarist and lead vocalist for the band, joined Rare Candy for an interview on being in a band and what brought Lovejoy together.
Rare Candy : Given the context of what’s happening right now, politically and socially, I feel like there might be more to your name - Lovejoy - than just sounding nice. How did you come up with Lovejoy as the title of a band?
Duncan: I actually didn’t come up with it, none of us came up with it. We were really struggling to find a band name, and my friend Justin and the band Blue Dream and I were talking once, and I was talking about how we were really having trouble with a name. He gave Lovejoy as an idea, and we sat on it for a long time, thinking of other stuff, and kept coming back to it. I would say a big reason why we ended on that as opposed to the other ideas was because of what’s going on. But we all love love, and we all love joy, and they’re important things that need to be spread right now. In my opinion, there’s not enough of that positivity going on in the music world lately. I get the protests, and anger, but I also think we should be spreading the love. I also know that it’s really easy for us to say that as a group of all white dudes, but I think it’s important that it’s still out there.
RC: How did you guys all meet? It’s a lot of you guys in the band.
Duncan: Yeah, there’s six of us. Four of us went to high school together. The bass player, Zach, and I, learned to play our instruments together. We’ve been playing together since we were freshmen in highschool. Our guitar player, Sam, was the other kid that played guitar at our school that we would play music with. Cal, our keyboard player, also went to grade school with me. He was a year above me. I didn’t really play any music with him in high school, but I always knew that he was really good at piano. He had just finished college when we were forming the band, and I asked him about it and he said yes. Our drummer’s name is Dave Matthews, which is hilarious. I met him in music school in 8th grade, and he was the drummer in my first band before The Boxers. We were called Magic Child. Our trumpet player is Kris Hansen, which is also hilarious. And we had a group! He was the lead singer of a band called Zaramela. I was friends with a few members of those bands and they recently had broken up. I had just met him through mutual friends in the last four years or so. I don’t think everyone had met each other until the summer, though.
RC: How does songwriting go?
Duncan: It really depends on the song. Sometimes I’ll come with a completely finished song, sometimes we’ll work everything out together, sometimes someone else will come up with an idea. The album that’s coming out right now I did a lot of the writing, but that’s just because I had a backlog of stuff that I had been working on since The Boxers put out The Blue Pool, and that was two years worth of time, so I pretty much had an album ready to go. We reworked it a lot as a group, and lately we’ve been writing a lot together, and other people bring ideas to the table. It really depends, every song is different.
RC: This album in the works - is it an EP or a full length album?
Duncan: It’s a full length, it’s gonna be anywhere between 9 to 12 songs long, depending on how we feel at the end.
RC: Is there a message to your album?
Duncan: I wouldn’t say it’s a message to society, or anything like that. It’s more like a concept album. It’s a lot to explain, but it’s gonna be called The Girl from the Crystal Cave. We tried to make a different world, a different planet. I don’t think we’re gonna be doing any sampling interludes like on The Blue Pool, but it does have a lot of concepts and overlapping themes.
RC: You’ve all been playing music before. What are you guys taking away from previous bands to make LOVEJOY different?
Duncan: Well, I mean a lot of the experience I got was just going through the experience and situation of starting in a band in high school and doing bad. Not everyone has to do it like that, a lot of people start later or don’t do that, but I think a lot of people are in their high school band and you gotta get that outta the way. That, and learning how to write songs, learning how to play in front of people (I had a lot of stage fright when I started), learning how to book and talk to people. All of that, that was the first band. We really tried to do it with The Boxers. We went on tour a couple times, and got the experience of traveling and knowing what it’s like to just do the band. A lot of it is personal dynamics with other people, and I think that's a big thing that we focused on in this group. Knowing that we are all very good friends is an awesome thing and we all get along really well and hang out with each other all the time. That’s a huge thing, in my opinion, in bands. A lot of bands don’t make it, they might have all the talent, they might have the songs, but if you don’t get along with all the other members, you’re fucked.
RC: If you had to cover a song and perform it live, what song do you think the band would agree on?
Duncan: What would we all agree on? I have no idea. I’ve been voting for Rock Lobster for years. I’ve been trying to cover Rock Lobster since the very first Boxers show. I’ve always wanted to cover Rock Lobster. Everyone calls me ridiculous, but I’m like, nah, this is a fucking awesome song. Rock Lobster is rad.
What everyone would agree on, though, I don’t know. We’ve talked about a lot of different things, we all like The Beatles a lot, they’re my favorite band and a lot of our writing influence comes from them, so we’ve talked about covering a Beatles song. What we were gonna do with the Boxers last year was a bunch of David Bowie stuff that we never got around to doing, but I would still love to cover Bowie, especially him being recently deceased unfortunately. We were gonna do Life on Mars, which I think would have been awesome as well.
RC: Going off of that, what music are you listening to right now? What’s playing in the van?
Duncan: We don’t have a van right now, but we all listen to a lot of different music. We all listen to the same music too. The new Foxygen record, for sure. That album is absolutely insane, I love how crazy it is. I personally have been listening to a lot of old soul music lately. Our trumpet player Kris does a lot of hip-hop music, and sits in on a lot of hip-hop sessions, so I know he’s always listening to rap music. I love the Joey Purp tape, and SABA’s tape. Also, Diane Coffee! It’s the solo project of the Foxygen drummer. It’s all psychedelic soul music, super awesome.
RC: Would you classify LOVEJOY as psychedelic?
Duncan: Yeah, I would. It depends, because everyone’s gonna have a different definition for psychedelic is, or what psychedelia is, or whatever that line is. I’d say for the most part, if you were to categorize our music, other than rock, soul, or psych, it’s definitely pop music in a more overarching way. We write pop music, for the most part, I would say. I love psychedelic music, it’s probably my favorite kind of music, and we definitely try to lay that on. Like I said, with the concept of the album, we’re trying to create a different world and cultivate this very individual aesthetic. I think using psychedelic tones really brings it out of just being somewhere and listening to music. We don’t do 20 minute long Pink Floyd jams, we’re not psychedelic like that. We don’t do 7/5, or 5/10 time signatures, or anything like that. We just add trippy stuff to pop songs.
RC: Any local bands you wanna give a shoutout to?
Duncan: Yeah, always! My boy Swill, he’s a great rapper. Modern Vices, Twin Peaks, but they don’t need a plug from me. Brisco Darling are a new band, and they’ve only played a couple of shows, but they’re great. That’s what I’ve got off the top of my head.
Listen to more Lovejoy on their Bandcamp