Prior to starting LA Music Blog and experiencing the joys of being inundated with great artists on a daily basis, I had to get creative about finding new music. One of my favorite things to do when my collection was starting to feel a bit stale was to walk the aisles of Best Buy and pick out a few albums based on their covers alone. This crapshoot method of musical discovery yielded some pretty great results, including Pretend You’re Alive, the debut album by a band called Lovedrug. Five years later, I’m still a fan of both the album and the band, proving you might not be able to judge a book by the cover, but sometimes it can be used to find a really great album.

LA Music Blog recently talked to Lovedrug guitarist and synth player, Jeremy Michael Gifford, about the group’s recently released EPs, the stress of working without a label, and the band’s plans for 2010.

Jeremy from Lovedrug
Photo by: Lisa Austin

Lovedrug has released several EPs and a few full-length albums. How do you think the band has evolved over the years of releasing its music?

I think the biggest thing is that Lovedrug’s gone through a lot of lineup changes. The first album was mainly Michael, our singer, writing songs by himself, and then he had the band come together and arranged the songs with them. Then the second album was like, “All right, different lineup, let’s hurry up and write some songs together and get the second album out.”

Then the third album, which was the latest album we put out, was the most collective writing because we’d just got another brand new lineup, [LAUGHS] which is the one we have now. So thank God I stuck around for this long. That was just writing together, so different personalities in each album have formed the different sounds ’cause the lineup’s changed from album to album.

It’s definitely where we’re at right now. We’re just taking our time and putting our—as shitty as it sounds—our hearts into the songs and just trying to make the best songs together as we can. This is the first time it’s been the same lineup for two albums, so it’s kind of cool. We’re excited about it.

You guys are working on the three EP releases, and you’ve already got parts one and two out. You’re also working on HiFi, the upcoming album. With that many releases planned, how do you decide which songs go on which release?

[LAUGHS] We want to make them so that each EP has the same vibe because we’ve written so many songs working up to the album that there’s a lot of variety. We’re trying to make sense of the EPs as we go so that there’s the same vibe for each album. It was kind of just picking the songs that we were really stoked about at the time, and then just putting ’em on. We have no idea what’s gonna be on the third one, so it’s gonna be adventurous. [LAUGHS]

Lovedrug EP II

Are there concepts behind the EPs or are they more just collections of songs you want your fans to be able to hear?

Actually it’s just like demos we’ve been doing in our rehearsal studio. We’ve been recording ’em ourselves. When we first started writing and recording, we didn’t even have the EP mindset. It was just pre-production that we were gonna shop around because we’re free from our contract from our old label. We have this awesome freedom that we’ve never had before, so we got the idea, “Let’s just give our fans some music,” so that’s where it came from. We’re just taking advantage of the fact that we can go straight to our fans with the music, and there’s nothing in between, watering it down or anything. The EPs are pretty much just us being like, “Screw it, let’s just give the music to our fans.” [LAUGHS]

How do you feel that HiFi will differ from the EPs?

Obviously there will be some of the same songs from the EPs since these are demo versions, but when we go to work with a producer, I’m sure they’ll change a little bit. Hopefully they’ll be better. Then we’re still writing, so even after the third EP we release, there’s gonna be a lot more songs that people haven’t heard.

You guys have worked with Michael Beinhorn and Tim Patalan on previous releases as the producer. Do you guys have a producer in mind for the HiFi album?

As of now we don’t. We’re just playing that by ear, just writing the best songs we can right now by ourselves. Then we’re shopping the labels, and hopefully we’ll get picked up. After that, depending on what label we get signed to, we’ll determine the producer. I love Michael Beinhorn. [LAUGHS] I wasn’t in the band when we worked with Tim Patalan, but it was an awesome experience with Beinhorn, and we really looked up to that guy, to what he’s done. I have no clue who we’re gonna work with next.

Photo by: Lisa and Chad Austin

How has being label-free changed how the band currently works?

Not too much is different. The label we were on, we didn’t have too great of experiences with, so pretty much the only difference is that we’re sitting there with our manager figuring out ways to do things. We’re doing a lot of things ourselves, which feels good at the end of the day. You’re playing the shows, and you’re doing the touring. You’re like, “Wow. We did all this work for it, but it’s paid off.” It kind of puts it into perspective and puts you in your place. Very humbling. [LAUGHS]

On top of writing, recording, and everything else you have going on, you’re also touring. How do you find the time to do all of this?

It’s very, very, very stressful. [LAUGHS] I won’t lie. We’d been playing spot dates or mini runs on the weekends, like go Thursday through Sunday playing shows, and we’re just about to start doing house shows also. The tour we start in June will be the full tour for months.

During the weeks, Michael, the singer, and I’ve been writing. We’ll get together, and we’ll work on song ideas, and then if we don’t have shows on the weekends, we’ll get the full band in, and we’ll go over these songs, and everybody will write their parts. So it’s just a matter of juggling everything. It’s stressful, but it keeps us busy, so that’s better than sitting there twiddling our thumbs.

Photo by: Lisa and Chad Austin

Do you prefer the freedom that comes with not being on a label? Or is it one of those situations where you would rather have a label as long as it was the right fit?

It’s nice being free for the time being, but we’re not to the point where we can fund everything ourselves, so it’d be nice to have the right label that still believes in the music and respects our artistic standpoint on the songs, but can support us like a good label should. That’s what we’re looking for, but we’re not just gonna jump on the first label offer. We want to be smart about it and make sure they believe in what we’re doing and try not to change what we want to do too much.

It’s a really interesting situation to see that the independents are really coming up and saying, “You know what? Let’s support these artists right.”

It’s interesting how things are going these days, but I think it’s a different story for each band. You go as far as you can without getting screwed over. You definitely have to have somebody that believes in you. As long as you have that—somebody that actually likes your music—that’s the most important.

What else is in store for Lovedrug in 2010?

We’re gonna be touring through June. Gonna be the east coast and just go non-stop to Texas, then back to some more writing. Hopefully we’ll release all three EPs, and then by the end of the year we’ll be working on the album. I know we want to try to get over to the west coast also, so just writing and enjoying the tour, juggling those two as much as we can, but the main focus is definitely the album.

For more info on Lovedrug, check out: