Lydia Loveless is walking home from hot yoga. "It was fucking hellish," she says. "But it's the warmest thing you can do in Ohio right now. It's 105 degrees in the room, so it's pretty awesome, if you like torturing yourself, which I do. It's exhilarating.”
If you listen to the 23-year-old musician's new album, 'Somewhere Else,' out this week through Bloodshot Records, it is not hard to tell she enjoys a bit of torture. The songs are about losing at love and life and whatever else there is to lose. But Loveless always sounds like she's having the time of her life.
She seeks corners around corners, drinks way too much wine, takes loneliness to the extreme, loves head, and romanticizes that one time Verlaine shot Rimbaud. The music is a bit alt-country -- think Whiskeytown -- and a bit punk -- think: The Replacements. And Loveless has a spectacular twang and timeless power to her voice.
'Somewhere Else' is Loveless' third full-length album and it is also her strongest. With a new band behind her, she sounds more confident and urgent and on fire than ever. As she was walking from yoga to her home, in Columbus, Ohio, I asked her a few questions about her new album, Beck's new album, and some things she tweeted on Twitter.
I learned through Twitter that you listened to the new Beck album this morning. What did you think?
I really liked it. I listen to 'Sea Change' a lot, and it reminds me of that. It's a weepy album. I was staring at the ceiling this morning, it was dark, and I was listening with my headphones on. I felt like I was 12 years old.
I was 15 when 'Loser' came out, and I loved Beck so much because he was this badass, reckless idiot, and that's exactly what I wanted to be at the time. And now he's a sad old man, which turns me off.
I guess you gotta grow up sometimes. But it is weird because he used to be a lot more zany. I miss that too.
I know it's hard to predict the future, but do you think you'll go through a similar change as a songwriter? Now, your music is really reckless and sad, but do you think one day you'll make safe and sad music?
I can't really predict it, but by the time I'm 40, if I continue to be so sad, I'll probably just sound dead. I'm definitely a desperate sounding person, but I don't always want to be that. I don't always want to be so angsty. I don't want to remain this way. Now I'm 23, so it's okay. But a 50-year-old person who's still angry and as desperate as I am now would be pretty annoying.
On your new album, more so than on your previous albums, there's an exuberance to the sadness, and an exuberance to the self-destruction, and an exuberance to the recklessness. You seem way more exuberant about everything. What changed?
I don't know. It's hard to know yourself. It's just the natural evolution that everyone goes through. But when you're an artist, people see you go through those changes. I guess I was really manic when I was writing the songs. I am a little insane, so I was having a severe case of mania. I wrote a shit-load of songs last year, so maybe it was just my general state of mind. I was manic and excited and inspired. I'm normally a slow writer, but last year was a big year for me.
One of my favorite moments of the album is on 'Somewhere Else,' when you turn 867-5309 -- a reference to the Tommy Tutone song -- into a verb. You sing: "I just wanted to 867-5309 you, honey.”
I was so reluctant to do that at first. It takes me a long time to write lyrics, normally. When I came up with that, I was just rambling, and I said it out loud, and then I realized it actually sounded really awesome. The band was like “What are you talking about?” But I think they like it now and so do I.
You have stated that 'Verlaine Shot Rimbaud' is your favorite song on the album. Why?
I think it represents us moving forward. It also uses some of my influences that I've never really shared before. I love Verlaine. And there's also a lot of Voidoids in the song, I think. Lyrically, it shows a different side of what inspires me. I love playing it live. I sweat when I play it, and I used to always say I wanted to play songs that made me sweat.
On the Verlaine and Rimbaud tip, what have you been reading recently?
I read a lot of poetry and fiction, but recently I've been reading a lot of comic books. Right now, I'm reading 'Maximum Minimum Wage' by Bob Fingerman. It's about this guy writing this embarrassingly honest semi-autobiography. He lives in New York City, and he gets married to this Italian punk rock wife, who I can relate to a bit. And I just finished the 'Locke & Key' series, and I'm really sad about that, because now it's over.
You recently tweeted the following: “I can't wait until pop music exits this everything sounds like the Lion King phase.” What was that all about? And can you please name names?
I like the movie: 'The Lion King' is one of my favorites. But that's just something I've been noticing a lot, and I don't even know who these bands are. I live next to a radio station, and the signal invades my computer speakers -- the speakers just randomly pick up the signal. It's really loud, like I-can-hear-it-from-the-other-room loud. So, all day, I hear this weird 'Lion King' shit. It drives me fucking nuts.