Frontman Chris Allison and drummer Michael Feld are a dynamic two-piece act “based out of a sweaty garage in the bowels of Van Nuys.” They met at a house party roughly three years ago, carrying around the burden of wanting to make music without having the manpower to do so. So after Allison mentioned to Feld that he was looking to start a band characterized by “sludge metal meets James Brown,” Feld responded with, “I love both of those things. I have no idea what that band would sound like, but absolutely.” And thus Lord Loud was conceived.
In classic DIY fashion, Feld positioned his drum set inside of Allison’s walk-in closet, while Chris set up shop in the bedroom, and the two wrote songs and arrangements in that manner until they had produced their first EP, 2015’s IN. Though their music is described as “fuzzy garage rock,” strip away the pulsing reverb, belting vocals, and commanding drum arrangements and you’ll find catchy, accessible melodies alongside heavy instrumental solos.
While both members are passionate and devoted to the project, they aren’t interested in overly promoting themselves or shoving their music into their friends’ iPhones. They’re in a band because, according to Feld, “It’s a really amazing creative outlet that isn’t putting me in the hole to the point where it’s debilitating and affecting other parts of my life…it’s a pleasure and a joy to be making music.”
Lord Loud is one of the many creative endeavors that Feld and Allison pursue, but it is essential that music maintains a significant place in their daily lives. Allison is a cartoonist and Feld works on music documentaries, however, both emphasize that “every free waking moment is going towards this project.”
I spoke with Chris and Mike regarding their respective musical upbringings, how they’ve harnessed their sound, and their aspirations for Lord Loud in relation to their independently hectic lives.
Were you guys always heavily involved in making music?
MF: I played in a nu-metal band in high school called Infinite Zero. And I was in a band in college called the Holy Roses, which was like an AC/DC whiskey rock band. We put out an EP and a live recording that was awful. I played in a couple bands here and there and got kicked out of all of them.
I got kicked out of one because I got in a fight with one of the members because he was a Scientologist. I was in a band with a married couple, and it was so weird because we weren’t really getting along, and I hated playing with them — they wouldn’t let me do anything I wanted — so at our last show, I was like “I’m gonna sabotage them and play a drum solo when no one asked.” They were like shoe-gazey and slow, and we didn’t even play the show because the girl in the band had such bad anxiety about playing live.
CA: That’s why I fell in love with you, because I feel like the first time that we jammed, you just shredded a drum solo the whole time, and I was all about it.
MF: That’s funny because you’re always trying to get me to do solo stuff, and now I like doing more simple stuff.
CA: I was in one band in college. I’ve always wanted to be in bands, but all of my friends played basketball or whatever. I had more of a Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix band in college — we had a horn section.
Were either of you writing your own stuff before meeting each other?
MF: I play drums, but I also play guitar and bass. I write riffs that I won’t really do anything with; I just kind of stock pile them. When Chris and I started playing, I was able to have somewhere to bring them. And Chris would play with those riffs for a while and come back with something a little more defined. I would say that’s the writing I do as a drummer.
CA: I’d been writing songs since the day I saved up enough money to buy a guitar when I was 17.
How much effort are you putting into touring and trying to promote yourselves, or is it really just that you enjoy the process of making music and seeing the finished product?
MF: We’ve played live a couple times. And us being a two piece, we have a lot of things that really benefit us in the sense that it’s just us two trying to figure things out. I think we played two shows that I thought were awesome, but I think Chris comes from a place (the way his brain works as an artist) where he thinks of something, puts it out, and then wants to move onto the next thing.
Do you always agree on what the music should sound like?
CA: Between the two of us, we have a very diverse music tastes. I come from a super pop sensibility. I really like Guided by Voices and all of that stuff. I grew up listening to punk, and my musical education was all in the ’60s. A lot of the heavy stuff tends to be these 8-minute-long songs, really self-indulgent, but [Mike and I] wanted to trim the fat and be a lot more accessible.
MF: I like a lot of Chris’s music that he really likes, and a lot of the music I really like he’s not on board with. I follow Phish around; they’re my favorite band. Last year I saw Limp Bizkit. I like very weird music. There are a lot of riffs that I’ve sent him where he’s like, “No, not for us.”
CA: I make sure Mike writes at least one song on everything we do.
What’s it like playing live with just the two of you?
MF: I started taking more of a role singing-wise, because it’s easier for me to sing and play since Chris is doing a lot more live than I do. He’s on guitar, bass, and vocals.
CA: We had to strip a bunch of stuff down otherwise I’d be like fucking River Dance — tapping, loop pedals — and that’s not rock ‘n’ roll.
MF: On the record, we have lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, vocals, and drums, and people have told us that when they’ve seen us live that we pull it off really well. I don’t think playing live is gonna be a huge part of our existence as a band. It’s something I would love to do, but Chris operates in this way where he makes something, puts it out, and wants to move onto the next thing. Not make something, put it out, and then go take that thing and play it for the next year.
I love that about Chris, but I don’t think it’s conducive to being a road band, and I don’t think either of us want to go on the road. I think we want to play shows when we can, around town, but our main objective is to create something, put it out, and keep making things for people to hear.
CA: I think we’re pretty tied to LA at the moment right now. I can’t go on tour. I need to figure out what my next job is. We have a new album coming out, and one of my best friends in Santa Fe and I are starting a label to release it. We’re researching everything it takes to press a vinyl record, and I’m doing all the design myself. Me and Mike are always talking about music videos and whatever else, we just had our music video come out for “Tune In” from [our EP].
What role do the lyrics play in your music?
MF: I like writing story-based stuff. The last song I wrote, called “The Wolf,” is about a friend that had me pick him up from a rave because he was freaking out on mushrooms. He called me “The Wolf” for a long time for saving him. Chris is a little more abstract with his lyrics.
CA: I feel like music fills a hole that art and other stuff can’t. I draw comics and stuff like that, and I work in animation, and all of that comedy is very direct in regards to what you’re talking about. With music, I can talk about more abstract feelings and moments in an interesting way that I don’t think you can do in fine art. Those ways aren’t as interesting to me as music is.
When you compose an album, is there a cohesive theme going on or would you say the songs kind of stand alone?
CA: I don’t think we sought out to make a concept album per se, but I think all of our songs seem to be about moments or feelings I was having while we were recording, so I can remember things that were going on in my life. But I don’t think I address any of that stuff directly.
MF: The LP is really interesting because we’re doing it so DIY that it’s really been taking a significant amount of time. We had a majority of the songs written in the first year, but getting it recorded, getting it mixed, mastered, figuring out what to do…I mean, April will mark two years since we started that record, and I think thematically it’s really interesting to see how the songs have changed over that period of time. For the next one, we’re more interested in busting it out, writing a lot, and recording it a little faster.
Do you notice any changes instrumentally during the span of the recording?
CA: I think we always like to experiment a little bit, while still being able to play a version of everything live.
MF: We’re getting less heavy, there’s less distortion and more fuzz, we’re always in the ’70s. I feel like we’re going a little more bluesy now, a little more Hendrix-y. But we’ve got some really hard stuff, too.
Do you think music will ever take precedence over whatever else is going on in your life creatively?
CA: If the money was there.
MF: I just don’t look at it that way ever. I never think, this’ll be my ticket out! I would never want this to become my job, where I’m like, “Oh fuck, I need to do that thing now.” It’s a release from another creative thing I’m doing — that’s why I love it so much.
CA: It’s like our fantastic curse. We just have to do it, I guess.
Who would you say your audience is?
CA: We’ve had a great reception from people on the internet, tons of young kids with long hair, and people asking where they can buy our EP on vinyl.
MF: I think our music is pretty accessible. My parents were very surprised that they enjoyed it when I played it for them. They really liked it. It’s rock n’ roll. It’s just fun.
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Lead Photo credit: Jon Shoer