NYC Rock band Love Crushed Velvet (great name!) recently released a new EP titled Delusions. With a focus on bringing back the spirit of Rock ‘N’ Roll, the group draws almost as many influences from some of the most well known bands out there as they will comparisons. I think we can all agree that bands like Joy Division, U2, and The Rolling Stones have penetrated our own personal musical experiences in some way or another, but it’s another thing altogether to capture their collective spirit and channel it into a creative project.
Just following the release of Delusions on September 24th, I caught up with singer/guitarist A.L.X. via email to get the low-down on Love Crushed Velvet, the new release, and what albums every Love Crushed Velvet fan would probably have in their collection.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
A.L.X.- I’m the singer and main songwriter and play a number of instruments, but stick mainly to voice and guitar. I was born in Germany and moved here as a kid. Massimo is our drummer and comes from Verona, Italy. He’s been giving us weekly charm lessons and is a mean mofo in the kitchen! Chris Foley, on guitar, joined the band in the spring and has been doing some great work with us. We’ve started playing recently with Johnny Pisano on bass, who has really helped anchor down our rhythm section–He’s a born and bred New Yorker through and through!
G- How long has Love Crushed Velvet been around, and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “click?”
A.L.X.- We’ve been around nearly four years–we formed in New York City. Everything really clicked quite early on for us–when it’s right, the chemistry comes very naturally. You sometimes have to go through a number of players to figure that out, but when the right combo is in place, then it feels as if things should have been this way all along. It’s like most kinds of relationships in that sense–if it’s too much work to hold together, then it’s probably not right to begin with.
G- You recently released your latest EP release, Delusions, on September 24th. How has the reception been to the new songs, and have you noticed any fan favorites off of the record?
A.L.X.- The reception to “Delusions” has been fantastic–we’ve had overwhelmingly positive reviews from the music press and our fans, which has been really nice. As for the songs, “Bye Bye Baby” seems to be the live favorite–probably because it’s so easy to sing along to–while “Lover, Leave the Lights On” seems to be the favorite cut off the EP itself.
G- Can you tell us about the recording process for the album? Where did you record it, who was behind the boards this time around, and how long did the release take to record and get ready for release?
A.L.X.- We worked with a new producer this time: David Maurice, who also engineered the sessions. David put a lot of emphasis on toning down our overtly classic rock influences while still staying true to who we are as a band. Unlike our debut, which was based largely around recording the band live, we spent a good deal of time building these songs up from scratch and layering them. That allowed us to be very meticulous in our choice of sounds and create an interesting sonic landscape. David is also great at working with singers–he really pushed me hard and was able to pull things out that many other producers hadn’t been able to.
G- What should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? What should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
A.L.X.- While our recorded sound is rather polished, we are very much a full-on Rock and Roll band when we hit the stage: Lots of energy and enthusiasm, without any sense of preciousness. Love Crushed Velvet is very old school in that regard–it’s where our retro influences really come out.
G- 4 albums every fan of you should know about and why. Go!
A.L.X.- 1. Achtung Baby by U2. Brilliantly crafted and showed incredible stylistic range. In many respects, it felt like all of my influences combined into a single album. I couldn’t stop playing it from the second that ‘Zoo Station’ came through the speakers. It really influenced my songwriting during that period, and it was Bono that inspired me to start developing my falsetto.
2. Rebel Yell by Billy Idol. Was the soundtrack to my early teens. Billy had a very over-the-top image that prevented much of the music literati from taking him seriously, but the sonic texture and attitude of that record is incomparable. Nobody had made an album that sounded quite like that before, and nobody’s done it since. Love Crushed Velvet’s original drummer, Thommy Price, played on “Rebel Yell”, and there are definitely aspects of our debut album that pay tribute to Billy’s work of that era.
3. The first Velvet Underground album, which combined great songwriting with sonic experimentation. The famous quote that “very few people bought the first VU album, but each of them went on to start a band’ has become a bit of a cliche, but it’s absolutely true. This was a band that wasn’t afraid to try things and clearly didn’t give a damn what others thought about them. What could be more rock n roll than that??
4. Goat’s Head Soup by The Rolling Stones. A lot of people pass over it within the pantheon of Stones recordings, but I love the attitude and vibe of the record. I lived in Italy some years ago and remember a night when a fellow expat had a party in his shabby-chic villa in the countryside. Lots of wine and whiskey were being poured by candlelight when he put ‘Goat’s Head Soup’ on. Suddenly, everything felt completely in sync–I still remember that night whenever I play the record.
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
A.L.X.- I’m really proud of “Spotlight”, from our new EP–it’s the closest thing to a perfect song that I’ve been able to write thus far–it just feels very true.
G- Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
A.L.X.- It would be a blast to play with the Black Keys, or one of Jack White’s projects. They’ve both incorporated retro influences through a modern filter, which we can very much relate to.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
A.L.X.- I did a tour of German biker clubs with an old band years ago–that experience partially inspired the song “Problem Child”, from our debut album. My bandmates and I were really quite young at the time and started the tour half-fearful for our physical and mental well-being–I kept thinking of the Stones and Altamont! We ended up making some great friends along the way and it turned out to be a blast—albeit a very blurry one!
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
A.L.X.- Make sure that you’re doing music for the right reasons. There’s only glory in it if you make it at a very high level, and that glory comes with a price. For most of us, it’s a slog, but a slog we can’t live without–if you can, you’re probably not in it for the right reasons. Treat every day like a new opportunity and be open to the people you meet–it makes the experience better for everyone. And while it’s important to take what you do seriously, it’s equally important to not take yourself too seriously. At one point or another, you’re going to stumble, so make sure that you don’t leave a sea of people in your wake who want to see you stay down.