An interview with Portland band Lovejoy
By: Dylan Conner
Not too far back I saw this band absolutely kill it at a house show here in Corvallis, Oregon and just knew I had to track them down to talk music. They brought a wave of energy to a crammed living room of sweaty, drunk college kids that I haven’t seen a band do in forever. I sat down and chatted with two of the founding members, Jonah and Nate about the history, and the future, of Lovejoy.
Sucker: Wanna introduce yourselves and tell me a little bit about Lovejoy?
Nate: I’m Nate and I play guitar.
Jonah: I sing!
Nate: Jonah, he’s our singer. Then, we’ve got Tysin on the drums and he’s down here in Eugene, and then Cody is on keys, and Joe on bass. The two of us write the songs for the most part.
Jonah: We started the project back in March when we met each other, over time we kinda had this moment of desperation because I promised a very good friend of mine that I would sing at her wedding. So I had to get a band together. At the time I met [Nate] and so we had to panic and get a bunch of people together. It just so happens when I met [Nate] I was starting work at this place called Benchmade Knives where he was a machinist. Cody happened to be working there too and we sort of connected and Cody has known Tysin since he was in college, so they have had like a seven or six-year relationship and he brought him in. Then, we happened to meet Joe at another show that he was playing not that long after that.
Nate: We just talked to him after the show and brought him in. And, as far as I go, before that I was in a different band and that’s when the other members decided to go a different way. I was pretty upset about it. Two weeks later, I get a phone call from my now-roommate that he had met this guy and found out that he sang. So, we started texting back and forth and ended up forming the group.
Jonah: Yeah, it was fun.
Sucker: When did you guys first realize that you wanted to start a band?
Nate: I was fourteen.
Nate: I met [Jonah], he’s been singing at his church since he was…
Jonah: Like, six. Yeah.
Sucker: What are some of you guys’ favorite venues to play?
Nate: The Hawthorne was fun. We played the lounge there. Personally, I love house shows. They get so rowdy and everybody is right there in close proximity. It’s really easy to get the crowd involved.
Sucker: I saw you guys at a house show recently. How did Corvallis treat you?
Jonah: Corvallis…it’s a college town and everyone is down to have a good time. It’s very relaxed in that regard. Sometimes in Portland or bigger cities, you can really meet this little bit of a disconnect because everybody is too busy trying to be cool, as opposed to having a good time. So, it’s nice to come to a college town where it’s a little bit smaller and everyone is kind of like there for the same thing which is to have a good time and listen to music.
Nate: We’re probably going to be doing another house show there in either March or April.
Nate: We want to try to come down like once a month, maybe, and play a show down there.
Sucker: Do you guys have any album plans?
Nate: We’ve got an EP planned, sort of. Right now, we are just focusing on live shows, on our performance, and writing new material.
Sucker: I saw that you guys have two songs on Soundcloud.
Nate: Yeah, we have a sufficient amount of really good songs. [We will] release them as an EP or an album. We’ve got about twenty songs stacked up right now. Right now we are trying to figure out which ones to use. We just released one last Sunday, called “Just You” and that was recorded in my bedroom.
Jonah: *laughs* Yeah..
Sucker: How did you guys get the name Lovejoy?
Nate & Jonah: *both laugh*
Jonah: We didn’t necessarily come up with the name, it was actually a friend of ours who we tell is an honorary member of the band.
Nate: He’s basically the band manager.
Jonah: His name is Jake. He suggested the name a long time ago and we kind of just blew it off because we were trying to find something new that was super cool and we got a little bit too caught up in it. Then, we just realized how the name just… fit. It’s got a really strong Portland connection and it’s two of the things we love the most: love and joy. So..why not?
Nate: *laughs* Short and to the point. People love hearing it. It’s catchy.
Jonah: Especially in the local scene people recognize and remember it very quickly.
Nate: We’ll tell people from Portland our band name and they’re just like “Oh, I used to live on that street!” or “I know where that is!” and it’s pretty cool.
Sucker: Do you guys have any tour plans?
Jonah: The plan is to go on a world tour tomorrow. *all laugh* But, that’s probably not gonna happen as soon as we’d like it to. We are trying to build our band chemistry, keep playing local venues, and keep trying to make band connections. Then, try to hook up with other bands and tour America if we can.
Nate: We wanna do it smart and not get in over our heads and then put ourselves in a bad situation where we would regret doing anything. We’re trying to plan a west coast tour though, in the summer. So going from up in Bellingham because we’ve got some friends up there, and then doing like a college town tour from Bellingham all the way down to LA.
Sucker: What has been the most exciting thing to experience as a band through the process of becoming Lovejoy?
Nate: Some of the shenanigans that happen live.
Jonah: Definitely that.
Nate: And, just getting to know everybody is cool.
Jonah: One of the cool things about our group is that, not only are they all super, super talented musicians, but we are all really good friends and that we’ve all relatively known each other for a few months. We just happened to have all of our personalities click and everyone falls into their particular roles quite easily and no one wants to out-do another person. There’s no tension or competition that’s occurring in the band.
Nate: There’s a little competition when it comes to, just, when we’re writing songs. There’s a little back and forth where it’s like “Okay, you came up with that, okay let’s see what we can do now.”
Nate: It’s healthy though.
Jonah: It’s only to push us. There’s no malice or anything. We’re very happy to be working with each other. Even after we’re done practicing, we’ll go out and just hang out. Like, it’s not uncommon for when everyone gets together, like after practice or after we’re done playing a show or whatever, to just go somewhere and hang out or spend a weekend together. It’s turning into a little bit of a family.
Sucker: That’s good to have band chemistry so you guys don’t get sick of each other.
Jonah: It’s everything. If that’s not there, everything just kind of falls apart.
Sucker: Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Nate: A lot of 60’s soul and 70’s funk, stuff like that. I was raised with a lot of blues influence. Like, Stevie Ray Vaughn and all those old guys like BB King, Albert King, Hendrix, of course. And then there’s Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, all that kind of stuff. Also, lots of 90’s music and pop music of all sorts.
Jonah: Basically, the first sounds I ever remember hearing was actually jazz and jazz vocalization. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Harry Connick Jr. at all. Literally one of the first songs that I ever remember hearing is a Harry Connick Jr. song and it went from there to an insane amount of black gospel, because I come from the South. And R&B and a bunch of other soul-influenced things. I’d like to tell people that I learned how to sing by listening to Marvin Gaye. Michael Jackson too. I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson. He’s a pinnacle for me in regards to entertainment. So, it’s something I like to model, some of the elements that I’m trying to do.
Nate: When it comes to the performance aspect, Hendrix or Vaughn or The Beatles, they’re all just so great. Like…that energy live. As far as like, recent stuff goes, we love the Weekend, Drake, and some of the pop-y stuff.
Sucker: Yeah, you guys’ cover of the Weekend was…amazing. That absolutely slapped. *laughs*
Jonah: Oh, thank you! That was actually the first time we ever played that for a group of people. We figured it out twenty minutes before people started getting there.
Jonah: We tried to make it more Lovejoy than it was before, that’s for sure.
Nate: We do a cover of Magnets by Disclosure. We throw it through, you know, delays and all that stuff so it’s more of a rock feel rather than just the synth-pop type thing.
Sucker: Do you have any prospective labels that you have any interest in working with?
Nate: TLE is cool. They’re in Portland. I’ve got a buddy who works there right now and we’ve kind of been chatting a little bit. As far as that goes, obviously the big labels would be cool. But, we are just trying to be very patient with the exposure that we get.
Be sure to check out Lovejoy on Soundcloud