Lovanova keeps the instrumentals flowing with "We're All In It Together"
The Hammond organ has long been a staple in pop music. The instrument has a very distinct and recognizable sound that can be utilized in a variety of ways as a lead instrument, or it can be placed somewhere in the background to add another layer of depth to the music.
For example, Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" has the Hammond organ front and center, whereas Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" uses it to build atmosphere.
Paul "Evil" Kneevers, front-instrumentationalist of the band Lovanova, prefers the former approach, and brings the Hammond organ to the forefront of their music to act as the "voice" of their singer-less tunes.
With the release of their second album set for June 10 at Club Garibaldi, I got in touch with Kneevers to talk about the new record, "We're All In It Together," and his love for the Hammond.
OnMilwaukee.com: By listening to your music, you can tell that you all have a very diverse background of musical tastes. At times the music feels like Pink Floyd and other times it feels like The Mars Volta, to name a couple. What led you all to create the music on this album?
Paul Kneevers: I've been playing the Hammond organ for quite some time. I bought my first one in 1974 with money I'd saved from my Milwaukee Sentinel paper route! I've played guitar, bass, accordion, trumpet ... all kinds of instruments. But, I thought I was stretching myself too thin, not having enough time to be satisfied on any one instrument. So, after The Probers broke up I played the guitar in a couple of bands but it wasn't the voice I was feeling so I happened to plug in my old Hammond and the songs just started flowing. It took a while to put together the right group to support my Hammond playing, but it was the decision to focus on the one instrument that first made the material happen. I think it might have been right after I saw "The 5 Obstructions."
OMC: Why did you go the instrumental route?
PK: Playing instrumentals allows a subtlety of interpretation of music that vocals can take away. We can play the same song 10 times, and every time we bring new interaction between the players that keeps the compositions fresh to us. So much music is carefully contrived nowadays, with songs written primarily from lyrics and melodies. Writing instrumental music allows the opportunity to explore more and varied compositional formats and arrangements. This makes the music lots of fun to play and interpret, which motivates the veteran musicians in Lovanova, and is one of the reasons why this amazing band is already starting to record our third album this June.
OMC: What were the sessions like for this album?
PK: The second album was tracked almost entirely live, including solos. The first album took over a year, as we went through member changes and were still finding our combined voice(s). On "We're All In It Together" we recorded the majority of the album in just two weeks because we had a greater sense of expectations for ourselves, and we'd progressed as a band far enough to realize those expectations easier. The little tidbits, guest tracks, etc., took far longer than the actual band tracking. I have produced a lot of albums, but working with the members of Lovanova has been one of the most inspirational experiences in the studio I've ever had.
OMC: Is there a level of improvisation in your live show or is your format very tight?
PK: We play every show much differently, in response to the audience. Some crowds get right up and start dancing and that energy inspires us to play better. We encourage our audience to participate, giving them noisemakers and stuff to jam with us too!
OMC: Your album art is interesting to say the least. How did you come up with the concepts that you did?
PK: I was next-door neighbors in Bay View, for over a year, with the amazing Ms. Emily Burns, a MIAD graduate who is our art director and web designer. I suggested she create a board game for the band that fit our demeanors and lifestyle so the front cover art is her visualization of a game for us. The actual cover art painting is over eight feet wide! Emily designed the game pieces as well. We have no pretensions, so the pieces are dressed in only their instruments. Like our music, the cover art is open to the interpretation of the listener/viewer.
OMC: You mentioned a level of comfort with your band members. Who are all the players?
PK: Lovanova wouldn't exist if it weren't for the mad skills and intuitive vibes of the players. We've had Dave Schoepke (Willy Porter, Natalia Zuckerman, Moloko Shivers, No Quarter) on the drums for both albums; Josh Tovar (Invade Rome, Whiskeybound) and Joey Carini (Saddle Brook, Growing Nation, No Quarter) teamed up on the guitar duties on album one and Sean Williamson – a.k.a. The Situation (Jimmy At The Prom) – played all of the guitar on album two. The bass on album one was handled by the multi-talented Jeff Hamilton (The Violent Femmes, Beatallica, The Probers). Bass on album two was performed by Eric Hervey (Daryl Steurmer, Streetlife) and Joey Carini.
The musicianship of these individuals has made arranging and performing the music of Lovanova an amazing experience. Lovanova also uses subs for shows regularly, as all of the members are so musically active in many other projects. For our next two shows, Mr. Matt Turner (The Adventures of the Erotic Chicken, Tristan Royalty Squad and numerous others) is sitting in on the bass guitar, as Mr. Carini is performing showcases for Gibson in Nashville.
OMC: What do you want people to take from this album?
PK: I want the album to make people smile, think, drink and dance. Our music is serious and silly at the same time, because life is too.
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