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The Love Ways: “Music scenes are ephemeral!”

Rock was never dead; simply, it entered a “conservation stage”, being maintained by a selective group of talented creatives with intense dedication to the genre. The Love Ways are part of that exclusive crowd, delving into boundaries-breaking, fierce and empowering punk and alt-rock matter, showcasing charisma and confidence in the process. 

Hailing from Brooklyn, the duo of rockers has been navigating the industry landscape for quite some time. They are experienced, and the latest effort ‘Sunset Signs’ displays exactly that. A slice of raw, gritty and powerful rock energy delivered with incredible panache and energy. The record hits the listener thick and fast, making for a memorable experience. 

Intrigued by the project, we caught up with The Love Ways to find out more about their artistry and future goals… interview below!

Hey guys, how is it going? We are new to The Love Ways, and frankly, we are impressed by your hard-hitting, intense, yet clear-cut sound, as seen and heard in ‘Sunset Signs’. How does it feel to be a rock duo in 2024?

Mark Shreve: Honestly better than it did 2012-2022. I feel like rock music wasn’t necessarily gone but the stuff that was coming out was so dreary and self-serious and miserable. There weren’t good bands becoming big bands, you weren’t feeling any real cultural impact from it, and it was pretty grim. I feel now like those tides are shifting again though and very, very good rock bands are here that are good at their instruments and they’re ambitious and enjoying themselves. When I look at the success of Idles, or Turnstile I feel really encouraged that some new voices are breaking through and getting the same footing as the old guard (Foo Fighters, QOTSA, Killers, KoL…all these very good bands but they’ve been around for 20+ years). I’ll add as well – in 2023 Tom was back in Blink and The Hives put out a new album and it felt like “fuuuuuuck yes the fun is back in rock”. I’d been really missing it. Feels like there’s space to thrive now that has been really missing and I’m so happy about it.

James Langlois: In addition to feeling part of any tides shifting on the surface of the music, it just feels good to feel good. To feel agile and emotive and wholly interested in what we’re doing. It’s been a helluva thing to push our way forward, entirely on our tangent without any worry of where it fits into the culture in a referential way. It’s just fun to create and we’ve really hit our stride and what that means for us these days. The ideas are always flowing and the walls seem to be dropping away around us as we go. Can’t be mad about that.

The Love Ways are currently a duo, but are we correct in saying there’s much more history behind you two? Is the artistic alchemy as a pair working well?

James Langlois: Quite a bit more history, in fact. We’ve known each other for so long and been so imbricated in each other’s lives for so much of that time, that it’s funny to imagine creating together not being some part of the foundation of our lives, whatever form that ends up taking. Mark’s always writing songs or concepts for songs. I’m always writing lyrics. We’re both always thinking about what music videos would be fun to shoot so the treadmill is always moving in some way. It only makes sense for us to combine what we naturally do on our own anyway. We also seem to get better at it as we go, so I have no problem following that trajectory. The fact that it’s fun and that we’d be in each other’s lives anyway makes all of it kind of a no-brainer.

Mark Shreve: The history does indeed run deep, so much so now that the idea of James & I operating as a two-piece is now, what…about 4 years old? I’d say that when we were a five-piece James & I already clicked in a way that went beyond writing & playing songs – I think we had an ambition and shared idea of what we could be doing that’s become just even further honed now that it’s just the two of us. I love writing songs with James, I’d say the alchemy is spot on. To James’ point – I’m always working on something but things start getting really special when his input and partnership are there. I’m thrilled with what we’re producing now, I think we keep getting better and more focused as we go. Certainly we are focused and delivering as a two-piece in a way that we never were able to as a five-piece. And then outside of being in a band/being creative partners, we’ve known each other nearly 15 years at this point; we’ve seen each other through jobs and moves and relationships and everything that comes with living your 20s and 30s in New York City.

You mentioned jumping into a heavier sound for ‘Sunset Signs’. How did that change in sonic character come about?

James Langlois: Mark’s definitely more into a certain kind of heavier music than I am so he’s always on the hunt for riffs. I’m always on the hunt for a certain kind of emotion and aesthetic so there’s a push and pull there between what we both like so this was born of that. To Mark’s credit, he was the one who really wanted us to stretch out some of our core sound and expand the tent a bit. The way in which he did that here, was one I was more than happy to go along with. Rather than just being some riffy, heavy song, we’d created something that conveyed real emotion and not just some bro-y angst. In a way, I’d call this song one of the more perfect marriages of our two musical outlooks.

Mark Shreve: I gotta really thank Idles and Turnstile on this one (laughs). I’ve tried to get James to do something heavier/punkier over the years but his love of Idles finally landed me a win on that front. I think with the things they were doing, James & I finally had this fertile common ground where there were very interesting things happening that we were both really excited about. I’d add to that – for me personally, hearing like Idles, Turnstile and then especially The Hives coming back this year…all of it really made me feel like it was time to write some riffs, have some fun…enjoy playing these instruments and go harder than we have before. It was definitely intentional that we did something like ‘Sunset Signs’ at this particular point in our career – I’d always had the itch but it hadn’t been right until now.

That said, we spent a considerable amount of time in the studio making sure it was the RIGHT kind of heavier sound. It had to sound big but it had to be fun. I give a ton of credit here to our producer Rob Freeman – he really helped us capture the messiness and boisterousness of a song like this and made it sound timeless. With a song like ‘Sunset Signs’ – it was really important to me that although it’s coming out in 2024, it wouldn’t have sounded anachronistic in any decade for the past 50 years. I really think Rob did that for us.

What does ‘Sunset Signs’ mean to you? Is there a specific origin story behind the record?

James Langlois: By my lights, Sunset Signs are the thoughts and revelations that come to you in transition. I know the lyric, “It might tear you apart, like a simple realization” might seem extreme but I mean it only to refer to those tiny moments when you finally clock something that had perhaps been at the edge of your understanding and you’re more fully able to make a change or move forward. That’s what I mean by, “You’re welcome to the conversation”. You’re always encountering those small understandings or working through things that bring you from one moment of your life to another so, in effect, it just becomes a conversation you have only with yourself as you create your new self from moment to moment. In a quote, “[it’s] a dream that you had inside a locked room, a dream about being a person.” Unlike the pessimism that might be implied there though, I think it’s all just a personal evolution and we’re (hopefully) making ourselves better, second to second, sunset to sunset.

Mark Shreve: James is our lyricist and pretty much every time I hear or see the words for the first time (which is usually when we get to the studio and he’s about to sing them) I am always just floored. ‘Sunset Signs’ is no exception. In fact I’d say these are the best lyrics he’s ever written. As far as what it means – as the lyrics’ writer, James is the authority here. As an observer of them though – like as a listener – to me this is a song about crisis. Catastrophic realization. A reckoning with what’s brought us to where we are and whether it serves us anymore. One’s identity becomes a violent setback to one’s ability to progress.

Do you write material together, in collaborative sessions, or individually?

James Langlois: I’m always writing lyrics and Mark’s always writing music so at a certain point, he’ll start pulling ideas that he feels are starting to be more fully formed and we talk about what we want to do with our next song. He’s usually prepared a pretty good précis on what he thinks the next song or batch of songs should be conceptually and then I’ll react to that and we’ll go from there.

Mark Shreve: As James says – I write all of the music and he writes all of the lyrics, so I’m always working on something just not necessarily something that’ll see the light of day. Typically James and I are always talking about the stuff that gets us excited or that we think is really special and those tend to be the songs we gravitate towards trying to “write our version of” so to speak. We’ve mentioned already that he and I are drawn a bit to different polarities musically at times, so the instances where we come together always feel like a no-brainer as far as what to pursue. Once we’ve agreed on a feeling, an idea and a creative challenge, I’ll whittle away at a demo and share what I’ve got with James who’ll give feedback and suggestions. Once we’ve got it in a state we feel we’re really proud of, we’ll take it to the studio together.

If you were to give a piece of advice to an aspiring young band, what’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you years ago?

James Langlois: Scenes are ephemeral.

Mark Shreve: James said in three words what I’m going to say in like fifty but yes, that is the right advice. My guidance is: focus on what you truly love about music and make sure that that’s what shows up in your own music. Listen to your favourite songs and ask yourself what makes them your favourite. Aim for that feeling of greatness, not any kind of sense of belonging to a scene or being trendy or cool. Please, please try to be a good band, not just a cool one. The stuff you truly love making/hearing will be your best stuff. But you gotta put it out there. You gotta play it and record it and give yourself something at stake otherwise it’s as ephemeral as the scenes we’re here to tell you don’t matter.

Artistically speaking, what challenges have the last two years presented you with?

James Langlois: Interestingly enough, the challenges have almost entirely been of a pleasurable creative nature. We’ve really gotten to a place where we’ve honed down our process so that it can truly be in service of the things we want to make and the things we don’t even know we want to make yet. So really, in clearing the deck of procedural obstacles and honing in on certain things we’ve taken a lot of potential challenges off the board.

Mark Shreve: I’m really happy to say that yeah – the challenges happen because we feel like we push ourselves to the limits around us in a very good way: budgets, timelines, equipment, personnel, etc. There’s enough history and certainly enough trust between the two of us that any time we hit a challenge we blast right through it because no matter what we’re aiming to make our songs, our videos and our band as great as they possibly can be. I’ll add as well one challenge I’m feeling rather acutely now as a two-piece though is that as far as really nailing all of this live, I’m obviously unable to play 2 guitars + bass + drums all at once. It’s the great irony of my 30s. Back in the day, we were 5-piece…we had the bodies to do this live but I don’t think the songs were really there. Now we’ve got the songs but we don’t have the bodies (laughs). Know anyone who wants to play bass for free?

What are the next steps for your project? Anything exciting on the horizon?

James Langlois: More songs, more videos and more projects. Always more projects.

Mark Shreve: Every time we go to the studio we do two songs, so very pleased to say we’ve got another new one locked and loaded that we’re in pre-production for a music video on. Outside of that, there’s no end in sight as far as continuing to create music and interesting projects together. Feels like each time we put something out we really feel like we’re proud of it and that’s a feeling worth chasing indefinitely.


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