Daniel L. Mitchell
Lovedrug is the kind of band that has a hard time fitting in… to a definite category, that is. Much in the same way that Radiohead doesn’t really fit anywhere, this can be said for Lovedrug. At times, they rock out in grandiose and melodic fashion, quite similar to Muse; occasionally they dirty things up, and add herky-jerky times and end up sounding a bit like Sunny Day Real Estate. Within the same breath, the band can slow things down and thrive purely on atmosphere and simplicity, a la Modest Mouse.
Their first release for the Militia Group label, Pretend You’re Alive, was released in the late spring of 2004. It exhibits everything described above, and much more. Imagine a cross between Remy Zero, Radiohead, Muse, Coldplay, Spiritualized, and Sunny Day Real Estate; that’s about as close as I can come to describing their sound. They have shared the stage with the likes of Elliot, Braid, Piebald, Something Corporate, and Hanson alike. I had the pleasure of discussing the album with lead singer/ guitarist Michael Shepard via phone, as he and the band were driving in their van on tour with Mewithoutyou, Working Title, and Noise Ratchet this past summer.
How do you describe Lovedrug’s sound?
We play Brit-poppish stuff: I liken it to Radiohead or Coldplay, with elements of Queen. Modest Mouse is also really inspirational to me.
The cover artwork for Pretend You’re Alive is really ornate and gorgeous; who came up with the design, and was it pricey to use such an elaborate scheme?
The entire band came together with the design. It was executed by Ryan Clark, of Seattle. I don’t know how much it cost, as the label gave us a blank check!
I hear a lot of Jeremy Enigk (vocalist for Sunny Day Real Estate, Fire Theft) in your vocal style; was this intentional?
No; I used to be really into those guys (Sunny Day Real Estate), but I’ve had a bit of a falling out…
Pretend You’re Alive is very heavy and longing in mood; were you going through rough times when you wrote the songs on the album?
Yeah, I was going through a variety of things, but I wasn’t intentionally trying to convey any certain mood; it just sort of happened. There was a lot of confusion within the band at the time.
Which songs on the album have the most meaning to you personally?
That’s kind of like asking which child is your favorite. Maybe “Down Towards Healing,” that’s a really honest song about simplicity. Most of the album plays on everyday life.
Did Pretend You’re Alive turn out the way in which you envisioned it, as the songs came together in your head?
No, not at all… most of the songs never really do. Once we start putting songs together as a band, things really change. I am really happy with how the record turned out; I love it!
Is Lovedrug a “Christian” band? Your last band, Kerith Ravine, was clearly fueled by a dedication to their Christianity.
No, not technically. Not everyone in the band is Christian.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in Lovedrug thus far?
Hmmm, maybe opening for Hanson in Canton, OH. Those guys are actually really nice, and opening for them helped us sell a lot of CDs that day!
Are there any unique activities that Lovedrug has while driving from city to city in the tour van?
No, not really. We’re all avid readers. We talk a lot. We have a TV in there, but no one ever watches it.
What was it like touring with Elliot (incredible, now defunct band)?
It was great. Those guys were a really great live band!
Your press materials note that you guys were courted by some major labels before Pretend You’re Alive came out; who were they and why did you choose to go with The Militia Group?
Warner Brothers Records was very interested in releasing the record; RCA also showed some interest. We went with the Militia Group because the music business is in such chaos, and we knew that TMG was very stable. Everything with major labels is basically shit. It just made a lot more sense to sign with TMG. I would bet that Lovedrug will probably be a major label band someday, though. We hope to sell 100,000 albums on TMG, and then make the jump to a major.
What types of jobs do you guys have when not touring or recording?
None of us have jobs anymore; we’re trying to start a band payroll system, but as for now, we all make enough to get by without extra jobs.
What are your hopes for Lovedrug; i.e., what goals do you have for the band?
I honestly want Lovedrug to become the biggest band in the world.
Since this interview, Pretend You’re Alive became the fastest selling release in The Militia Group’s history, and it debuted at #4 on Billboard’s Internet chart. Also, original bassist Adam Ladd is no longer with the band, for reasons unknown, and has been replaced by Matthew Depper.