McLovin? What kind of a stupid name is that, Fogell? What, are you trying to be an Irish R&B singer?
Well, they’re not exactly Irish R&B crooners, but this trio of young musicians from the Hartford, CT area, Jake (Drumlovin), Jason (Basslovin) and Jeff (Axlovin), have certainly gained a lot of attention in a hurry with their raw talent, impressive chemistry and wise-way-beyond-their-years musical tastes.
In a genre of music that normally requires a good three years of 100+ shows and slow burn word of mouth publicity, the McLovins appear to be the first band in the jam scene to actually blow up. We see it almost every day in the realms of indie rock and pop music, but it sure is fun to see the internets buzzing with fury over the threesome of musical whiz kids because they tackle Phish covers like YEM and Harry Hood as well as plain old virtuoso material like Eric Johnson’s Cliffs of Dover, songs that most players stumble over for months (or years) just to get through a few sections.
Having already made big waves by gracing Rolling Stone’s Smoking Section, igniting the blogosphere, appearing on the local news and making a new friend in Phantasy Tour, we thought it’d be great to get to know a little more about the three J’s: Jake, Jason, and Jeff. The boys were kind enough to collaborate and shed some light on their friendship, the new found internet fame and their plans for a first album. Hopefully, this will help tide you over until we get to see the McLovins live in action.
Hidden Track: Let’s start with a little background on the McLovins; how did you guys all get to know each other and come to realize you shared a common interest in heady stuff like Phish, Eric Johnson, and Weather Report?
McLovins: We met last summer. (Jake and Jason met at Jazz Camp and Jake and Jeff met at Rock Camp). We started playing together in the basement, sharing the songs we already knew and learning new songs we’d heard that we were interested in. We started sitting in together for a few songs every Wednesday night at a restaurant in Collinsville. People started to come to hear us play, even though it is a small place and we could get pretty loud.
READ ON for more of the first print interview with The McLovins…
We appreciate many types of music and have experience in jazz, rock, classical, etc. Because we are open to all types of music, we are always exploring new songs and artists because one of our teachers or friends tells us about it or we just find it because we are listening all the time. The jam band stuff was interesting to us because we loved to improvise and let the music go where it wanted to go.
HT: I love the idea of your The Phantom Tollbooth-themed first album; that is such an great book with so many quirky characters and landscapes. How did that idea manifest itself and what are some of the ideas your tossing around for songs?
McLovins: We were eating dinner last November at an Italian restaurant and while we were talking over our various pasta dinners the conversation sparked about what was our favorite book. It was just a huge coincidence that it was the Phantom Toolbooth [for all of us]. We thought that would be a great platter of inspiration so that night it was agreed.
The book itself is filled with so many emotions, colors and thoughts that there is no way we could capture the whole book on the next album. We are pulling main ideas, colors, pictures and places from the book and morphing them into songs. Some of the stuff we have been playing with sounds killer. Some of it may be harder to appreciate from non-musical people. Either way, we are playing the music the way we feel helps the book and doesn’t censor it.
HT: It looks like you are hoping to earn some money selling t-shirts to get into the studio at this point. Are you getting any offers from labels at this point?
McLovins: We are getting a lot more requests for gigs, which we are very happy about. We are using our t-shirt money to be able to produce our first professional recording. We are selling them on eBay and they’re going pretty fast. As for the labels, not from any known labels, just some little ones that we are unsure about. At this point in time we probably won’t sign until we get a spectacular offer.
HT: Speaking of your originals, what’s the story behind the Purple Tree?
McLovins: We were actually in the middle of working on Guillotine and Jeff had to stop for some reason (probably broke a string or had to tune). When Jeff finished with what he was doing Jake counted off “1..,2..,1,2,3″ and right before he finished Jason looked over at Jake and played that opening bass line and Jeff and Jake looked at each other and we just started. It just came right out. That night we all just went to town on learning some new parts and by the next practice Jake got down some lyrics and we recorded it. We wanted to thank all of the phans at Phantasy Tour so we named it Purple Trees or PT.
HT: Since you guys were only 10 or 11 when Phish last played, I’m guessing that there are some first shows coming up (assuming your parents don’t put the kibosh on it until you are a little older)?
McLovins: We hope we can go together and maybe meet the band. It’s a definite maybe!!!
HT: Was it coincidental that all three members are ukulele players or was that a more recent undertaking since forming the band?
McLovins: Jeff got a Uke at Flea Market last fall and brought it to practice. Ukes are addicting and we each got one right after. We went to a Uke concert in Middletown and got up and spontaneously played Scar Tissue. See Hartford Advocate reference to us. We really have only been playing uke for a few months now.
HT: Are there any plans to add keys or other instruments into the mix?
McLovins: As of right now we will keep it a three piece but if we see some talent for keys, or horns or whatever and we all agree that it will make our sound better then rest assured there could be a bigger band.
But I have to say the three of us just click together and it would be very hard for another person to just jump in. We know each other very well and we talk about a lot of ideas on levels that only we really understand together.
HT: What is the general perception of the McLovins in your respective schools? Are you guys outcasts or do the cool kids know a thing or two about music? Do people in your hometown know you guys are internet phenoms so-to-speak?
McLovins: The kids at school – we think – know that were not an average high school band. With the majority of the kids listening to new Hip-Hop/R&B and new rock hits it’s hard to get some of the kids into our music. But once they hear us live they really like it. Not many of the kids know about the press we get on the Internet but the ones who do find it really cool. As for being “outcasts” or “cool kids” we all have a lot of friends who are supportive of what we do. A lot of people tell us that it’s so cool to be doing what we do. In our books that makes us “cool kids!”
HT: How about the chicks?
McLovins: It never hurts to say, “I’m a musician” to the ladies. Then again it’s kind of tough to tell them you’re in a band called McLovins!
HT: Finally, Phantasy Tour definitely played a big part in getting the word out on the McLovins. Were you guys into PT before that YEM video broke and piqued everybody interest about what you guys are doing?
McLovins: Phantasy Tour was a huge reason and because of the thread that 499′d our videos, we’re getting about 1,000-2,000 views a day. Now it has slowed down but we have more videos. Truthfully, we had never heard of PT before the night that our YEM video was put out. We think the timing was just right. Phish had announced the shows in Hampton. People searched for of Phish’s most well known songs. People saw a couple of young kids and then thought “WHHHAAATT??” and that’s how the McLovins were born.