Lydia Loveless Rocks Harder, Still Censors Nothing
The new record has a loose, rock & roll feel. Was recording it easier, faster or harder than the last one?
I don't know if it was faster, but it felt easier. I'm closer to everyone in my band now. And I worked more closely with Todd [May], my guitar payer. The arrangements were more thought out. And I'd improved on the guitar. We were able to layer the guitar parts, which is not something I would have done when I was younger. I was too punk rock. I didn't have time to make good records! Not that Indestructible Machine wasn't good, but this time I wanted to create more layers, more of an atmosphere. So it took a little longer, but it wasn't like we were in the studio for a year getting bored and hacking it out. It was still a rock & roll environment. We were able to be spontaneous and try different things. So it was more comfortable over all.
You've been quite productive over the last year in your songwriting. You had an EP out late last year, and then a few months later you have the full length. Did something trigger all those songs?
I don't know. I did have a wave of inspiration. It had been two years since Indestructible Machine came out, so I was pushing myself to write more. It coincided with being inspired for some reason. I'm at the mercy of my brain and my hormones. I just trusted them and followed them, and ended up writing a lot of songs last year.
It's not that you didn't have an audience before Indestructible Machine came out, but it did expand your audience, and I'm wondering if that changed your songwriting?
When I was started out I was really aware of an audience, and that gave me writer's block. I definitely try to keep in mind that people are going to hear the songs, so I care a little more about lyrical content, and maybe not being as silly this time around. But I still just make music because I have to. It just comes out of me. Thinking about all the people that are going to hear the songs can really hinder creativity.
It's not like you're censoring yourself on the new album.
Yeah, not really. [Laughs]
Or maybe the uncensored version would be the Columbus Chainsaw Massacre.
There might be alternate lyrics, but those are mostly reserved for band practice.
On the subject of censoring or not censoring, your song "Head" is hardly the first song about fellatio, but unless Prince is writing about oral sex, it's usually a subject written about through metaphors. But that song is really literal and really emotional at the same time. Were you surprised that it happened?
I was a little surprised. It was an idea that I had for a long time. When I first met Todd we were having a songwriting session, and one of the ideas we threw out was to write a really sad song about head, not make it funny or gimmicky, but make it emotional, even make people cry. I tried for quite a few years to get the right lyrical formula. I felt like it was too funny or too in your face, but we finally got the formula right. It is an emotional song, and it is depressing. It has an upbeat feel, but it's not an uplifting song. I didn't want people to point to it and say, "Here's another joke song from Lydia Loveless."
The song "Everything's Gone" is really powerful. It's about returning to the place where you grew up and having that feeling of wanting to burn it all down. Is that autobiographical?
It's totally autobiographical. I wouldn't go into too many details; it's sort of my family's personal history. It's something I wanted to write about for a long time. I live in the city and don't get to get away too much, so I went hiking in the woods. Going out there and unplugging for a couple days unleashed a flood of emotions and nostalgia for the country, so I was finally able to write about it. It's about missing the country but still hating that town and a lot of people in it -- hence the desire to drop a bomb on it.