Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Obsession...The Story of The True Lovers & Interview with Dion Lunadon...Show # 311

Following June of 2006, Dion Lunadon, previously from the New Zealand band The D4 headed to Los Angeles. Relocating to New York, he got started on a project with Ben Maitland who was also previously in a New Zealand band called Box Car Guitars. Drawing upon influences such as Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, Andre Williams within the Soul genre and other music such as Howlin’ Wolf from the Blues genre, The True Lovers would emerge. Before the band played any shows Dion and Ben Maitland got together and wrote the songs that would appear on the bands first album. A band was put together made up of Dion Lunadon (guitar/vocals), Ben Maitland (guitar/vocals), Evan Pazner (drums), John Schwartz (bass) and Soren Oakes Christensen adding additional guitar and keyboards. After rehearsing for about three months, The True Lovers went into the studio to record an album.

In February 2009 at Mission Sound in Brooklyn, New York, The True Lovers recorded their album, but it was not recorded like your average modern day album would be recorded. The band used vintage recording gear and recorded to analog tape as opposed to recording digitally. The album was engineered by Oliver Strauss and produced by Dion Lunadon and Ben Maitland. The sound of the album is different from what Dion and Ben have done in their past bands, there is a certain grittiness to the recordings. A large majority of the songs featured on the album were recorded live in the studio, there were minimal overdubs done on the record.  After listening to the album it is apparent that there is an undeniable groove to it, the album sweats and breathes along with each track.

The first song on the album, “Death Threat” was actually one of the first songs written for the album. The songs origin began in Los Angeles shortly after Dion moved out there from New Zealand. “Death Threat” along with a lot of songs on The True Lovers album started out as a bassline, even before the rest of the song was completed. A music video for the song was filmed by director Michael McCarthy. The concept for the video was born out of an interest for music videos shot for Guitar Wolf (a Japanese Garage/Punk band). It was shot in Memphis over three days and the church featured in the video was the very same church where Johnny Cash played his first show. “Cougar” another song on the album follows along with a common theme of sleaze that seems to be engrained deep within the songs on this album. Lyrically the song is self explanatory, the music is drowned in feedback, raunchy guitar solos and a soulful, bouncy bassline.

Songs such as “Lady of the Manor” and “Guilty Pleasure # 9” ooze with Blues elements, while vocally, the lyrics are sung in such away that is akin to Iggy Pop on The Stooges album Raw Power. “Bang Bang” is a shot of Garage Rock themed passion, sounding like a classic 60s nugget cut. “Love and Affection” is soaked in Soul, complete with congas, while “Fade Away” bleeds with organ drowned riffs, heavy bass, and guitar slides. “Makes A Fool Out of Me”, a song written and sung by Ben Maitland is an acoustic track with Folk qualities. It is a very different track compared to the others on the album, but still follows suit with the style and groove that is constant throughout the album. The True Lovers is very unique combining elements from many genres, but sounding raw, honest, and real. The lyrics and music are filled with a gritty sleaze, groove and a Rolling Stones swagger.

Following the recording of the album, The True Lovers started playing live gigs. A different version of the band was put together for their later live gigs featuring Mike Welsh on bass and Kevin Stapleton adding additional guitar and keyboards. The band played live gigs on the West Coast in the US, and also played the Big Day Out Festival in New Zealand. The album was released on Altra! Records in March in New Zealand, and in April in the US and elsewhere. There was talk of recording a 7 inch single for a Spanish record label, the songs were said to have had a rawer sound than the ones found on the True Lovers album. True Lovers were also said to have been working on a video for the song “Cougar”, which was supposed to be their next single, but that never happened. Around February of 2010, The True Lovers stopped playing as a band. Currently Dion Lunadon is playing bass with the Brooklyn band A Place To Bury Strangers and is working with them on their third album.

The True Lovers album can be purchased via their official website in digital and vinyl formats.

Links of Interest:

True Lovers Facebook Page


The following interview was done between myself (David Konstantino host of Revolution Rock) and Dion Lunadon (of The True Lovers).  Dion elaborates on The True Lovers, his past and current bands, and recording. 

RR:  How did the formation of The True Lovers occur?

DL:  Post D4 I moved to LA. I discovered that Ben Maitland (True Lovers guitar player and co song writer) was also moving there and I always loved his playing. The first time I saw him play I was like "I want to play in a band with this guy". Anyway, for one reason or another it was to hard to get things off the ground (find somewhere to live) so he moved to Portland and I moved to NY. About a year after that he came to NY for a month and we wrote about half the record. After that he moved to NY and the rest of the members fell into place pretty organically. We knew what we wanted in our players, a good sense of groove and finesse. Not just standard hard hitting rock people.

RR:  What were some of the musical influences you drew upon when creating music for The True Lovers?

DL:  Mainly Blues and Soul stuff. Howlin' Wolf, Funkadelic, Curtis Mayfield, Andre Williams, CCR, Stones and obscure soul comps from the late 60's early 70's. We wanted it to sound like a real, unprocessed band. I was trying to move away from what I'd done in the past but still retain my strong points as a musician and a performer.

RR:  How did the recording process of the True Lovers album differ from other recordings you have made in the past?

DL:  Not wildly different. I've always been one to record live to tape. There are very few overdubs on the album and some songs are completely live including vocals. Minimal mics on the drums, generally 4 I think. We also tend to play pretty quietly. Because we were recording live I felt the room was important so I went to Mission Sound here in Brooklyn, which allowed us to set up the way we wanted and has a great sounding purpose built live room. Minimal effects on the record too. I distain plug ins so we used the real thing where possible.

RR:  Who did you work with when recording this album (ie: Producers, engineers, etc.)?

DL:  Ben and I produced it ourselves. Too many bands get pushed by labels to hire big name producers who have no idea what the band wants. I engineered quite a few D4 recordings and have recorded myself ever since I started playing so we knew what we wanted and how to get it. Looking back I should have done a few things differently like making it a bit more extreme especially in the mix. Oliver Strauss the owner of Mission engineered it. I was going to but producing, playing and working on gear I'd never worked on may have been too much. Or maybe not...

RR:  You have always got great guitar sounds on your albums. What types of guitars/amps did you use on this album as opposed to 6twenty by The D4?

DL:  We used smaller amps. The D4 recordings I did also have smaller 20 Watt amps. We used Fender Deluxe Reverb, Fender Pro Junior, 50 Watt Fender Bassman and Fender 2 x 15 for bass and a Vox here and there. Guitar wise we mainly used a 72 Fender P Bass, 64 SG Junior and a Fender Bronco.

On 6Twenty we used various amps including the New Zealand 60's amp Jansen 6Twentys. I used a Les Paul Junior and Vaughan used that same P Bass. Think Jimmy used his 72 Tele Deluxe.

RR:  Do you prefer recording on analog or recording digitally and why?

DL:  Analog no doubt. I like having to capture something as a whole and sticking with it. I don't want it to be perfect and move little blocks around a screen. I also like to overload the tape although that's not so evident on The True Lovers record. I tend to use little to no compression so the tape helps with that too. Digital has it's place for sure. It doesn't really matter what you record on as long as the performance and the songs are good. If it sounds good it is. We also mastered it, I feel, a bit more tastefully than they do today. We did not make it as loud as possible and tried to find a balance of what we like and what's out there today.

RR:  What are some of your favourite albums?

Changes with time, but some staples (pretty obvious). The first 3 Stooges records, John Lee Hooker "It Serves You Right To Suffer", The Sonics records, The S/T DMZ record on Sire, Exile On Main St. The list could go on.

RR:  You have played with a variety of bands. What are some of the other bands that you have been involved with and do you still keep in contact with any of the other bands you have played in?

DL:  My first real band was called Nothing At All! and is definitely worth a listen. Early 90's three piece. I played bass. The drummer Paul is still my best friend. Unfortunately the singer Tony passed away from Cancer at the early age of 21. We toured NZ relentlessly and built up a loyal fan base. Our only album came out on Festival records. Then I was in a band called The Snitches playing guitar. Tony was on drums with a boy/girl partnership up front, more of an edgy power pop thing. Then the Rainy Days, quite a unique band. Marty Sauce And The Source, [which was a] Heavy rock band where every song had the word "Rock" in it.

RR:  When did the True Lovers stop playing together and What are your plans for the future musically?

DL:  We stopped playing around the start of Feb this year. So we were only playing live for 8 months before we disbanded. Iv'e been playing bass in Brooklyn band A Place To Bury Strangers since early March. We just got back from Colombia which was wild and are working on our 3rd record.

This Weeks Play List:

1. The Stooges - Gimme Danger
2. Howlin' Wolf - I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)
3. The Orpheans - Turn Out The Lights
4. Painted Ship - Frustration
5. Northwest Company - Get Away From It All
6. The Morlocks - I'm A Man
7. The True Lovers - Cougar
8. The True Lovers - Bang Bang
9. Otis Redding - Cigarettes and Coffee
10. A Place To Bury Strangers - Keep Slipping Away
11. Shapes + Sizes - Tell Your Mum
12. Sunfields - City
13. BBQ - Justify
14. Them - Just A Little Bit
15. Ugly Ducklings - Just In Case You Wonder
16. The D4 - Baby in a Box (John Peel Session)
17. Ultravox! - Young Savage
18. The Mark Inside - Circling the Drain
19. Nothing At All - Busted
20. The Sonics - Keep A Knockin'
21. The Gruesomes - Hip-no-tyzed
22. The True Lovers - Guilty Pleasure # 9
23. The True Lovers - Obsession

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 3rd. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

No comments: