The Lawless Sound of Lydia Loveless
MARCH 17 3:30 PM
HILARY HUGHES | CULTURE NEWS
The alt-country sound of Lydia Loveless is the kind of bright, twangy goodness that goes down smooth with sunshine, a side of barbecue, and the company of a bunch of people who aren’t afraid to dance. Thankfully, most of her shows at SXSW involved all three.
Loveless tried her luck on Austin’s 6th Street for the first time at the age of 19, where the girl with the soaring voice captivated the owners of her soon-to-be-label, Bloodshot Records. She’s returned to Austin with a brand new record under her belt, Somewhere Else. The place where it all started turned out to be a fitting setting for the launch of the next phase of Lawless’s career.
In between sets at Bloodshot’s backyard shindig in South Austin, Loveless took a moment to walk us through everything from her future plans to her tour wardrobe. (She’s got plenty of American flag-printed clothing, and rocks a dress made from the Ohio state flag on the road.) She plays to the beat of her own drum—or, more accurately, the earnest strums of her electric guitar—and Austin wouldn’t have it any other way.
YOU’VE BEEN COMING TO AUSTIN FOR SXSW SINCE YOU WERE 19, AND IT SEEMS LIKE IT’S THE PERFECT HOME AWAY FROM HOME FOR YOU. WOULD YOU SAY YOU HAVE A NOSTALGIC CONNECTION TO THE FESTIVAL?
I do! My first SXSW, that was the first tour I ever did with a full band. I’ve come a long way since then. I didn’t even have a band; I was just playing with my dad. SXSW is our anniversary, a little bit.
YOU HAVE A NEW RECORD TO CELEBRATE. HOW MUCH OF THE NEW MATERIAL DID YOU DEBUT HERE?
In general, this is where [the most] people have heard the album at this point, so they connect with it more. The one I’m most excited about is “Mile High”, which is our 7-inch that we’re going to put out on Record Store Day. I wrote that song in Sweden, actually. I just had a really terrible experience there. I was kind of losing my mind. I was wearing thin after two years of touring on Indestructible Machine, so I wrote that.
SO YOU WERE DESTRUCTIBLE, THEN.
Yes. I was very destructible. [laughs]
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WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE SOMEONE WHO HAS AN ALTER EGO ONSTAGE?
To an extent. There’s the performer side of me that’s very … I don’t want to sayobnoxious, but I’m definitely a little more enthusiastic up there than people see offstage. I’m a pretty mellow person in real life. I get a little depressed and ranty, but for the most part I’m pretty chill. I think a lot of people don’t realize that after they see our show. I think the best example of the combination of what I am would be “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud,” because it’s got the great pedal steel line and it’s a little bit country. It also exemplifies my inspiration from Richard Hell and poetry.
HOW HAS THAT BEEN FOR YOU, PERFECTING YOUR OWN BLEND OF COUNTRY, ROCK, AND ALTERNATIVE?
I’ve just had to pull back with the country. I grew up on an 80-acre farm, literally a farm girl, feeding cattle every day. That’s always going to be a part of me, but I don’t necessarily want to perpetuate the country music stereotype of, “Yeehaw!” I feel like people are very into that right now and I’m just trying to pull back and settle down into my songwriting niche instead. I just want to let all of my influences and all of my inspiration come through. With Somewhere Else, the classic rock and soul came out. I don’t necessarily want to be pigeonholed at all, which is hard as a woman. But I think we’re going in a good direction where we just want to make good music.