I first met this guy many years ago in the quiet walls of a Broad Ripple piano bar but knew immediately his voice was going to take him as far as he wanted to go. Matching incredible vocals with a polished set of instrumentals, and creative original lyrics you have a complete package in this musician. He is known all around town as the guy who understands concept of working hard and pushing through. He has long hair, a calm smile, and a very interesting personality that draws you in and takes hold. Sit with me today as I introduce you to Lovely Houses.
Where did you come up with that name?
It’s an ode to the Herron-Morton Place Neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis where I first lived after moving out of my parent’s place when I was 19. 100 year old homes transformed by urban renewal. Many are painted bright, beautiful colors. I used to enjoy walking around and admiring those houses.
How long have you been performing?
Well, I was the lead singer in a couple of rock bands in high school. I quit performing for a few years, but began playing shows as Lovely Houses in the spring of 2006. So, periodically over the past 9 years.
What are your thoughts of MySpace?
I like the concept a lot. Their email doesn’t always function as well as I’d like, but I tough it out. I think MySpace is a great way to present music to a lot of listeners. For me, performing is the ultimate way to share my songs, but when people find me on MySpace who may have otherwise never knew I existed, it makes it very worthwhile. And it’s free. I like free. At this point, I don’t want to pay to create my own website.
Are you on Twitter?
No. The thought kind of annoys me. Constant flood of information. It’s probably a good way to promote something and I may look into it sometime. I just don’t know anyone who follows Twitter. It doesn’t seem too relevant to me yet.
Do you write all your own lyrics?
I do. It’s the most difficult and most important part of the writing process for me. I often finish the music long before the lyric. “‘Til It’s Gone” from my album, took over a year to finish writing the words.
Where do you get inspiration for a new song?
I think my creativity is driven by spending a lot of time alone. I especially like being in a place wear a large group of strangers are experiencing something collectively and I get to be among them and observe. I was in Millenium Park in Chicago last night and the symphony was putting on a free summer concert. Lots of tiny scattered groups with blankets and chairs. Many picnics too. And these people really went to town. Small tables with candle-lit centerpieces, wine, chocolate cake, it was wonderful to watch and I won’t be surprised if I put it in a song someday.
Have you ever co-written with anyone before?
Yeah. I was writing a song for a compilation CD and, once again, had the music ready to go and most of the words unwritten. A friend of mine, who was a songwriter himself, offered to help me finish it and we ended up trading lines back and forth until the verses were done. However, I’d say I’m currently opposed to co-writing. I’m uncomfortable with not having full control, especially with the lyrics.
What is the biggest crowd you have ever played for?
The sound man and the waitress in New York City. A handful of people eventually came in and sat down half way through my set.
What is your favorite venue to play?
Locally, I like playing acoustic shows at Big Car Gallery. It’s really intimate and a good room for that sort of thing. I haven’t played Radio Radio, but it’s my favorite venue to see a show. On tour recently, I really liked playing The Jewelbox Theater in Seattle and Genghis Cohen in Los Angeles. Intimate, dark, and pretty. Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina is dear to my heart. Great food and beer and I always meet wonderful people there. They also have a web cam and my friends and family in Indy can watch the show.
Do you have a job outside of music?
I work for a contract cleaning company. They have contracts with several schools around Indy and I clean one of them in the evenings. Basically, I’m a glorified janitor. I love that job! I’m alone in the building and don’t listen to music. Just me, my thoughts, and the hum of the vacuum cleaner. I’ve written a lot of songs and have come up with many ideas for my music at work. When the school isn’t in session, I tour. It’s a great job for a musician.
Where can I get some merchandise?
My debut album is for sale at Luna Music, Indy CD & Vinyl, and online at www.cdbaby.com/lovelyhouses.
What about that new album of yours?
My album is called “Dragon Feet” which is a play-on-words of the phrase “dragging feet.” My band plays on it. I love it. Really pleased with how it turned out. It’s a folk-rock record. My friend Liz Janes from Asthmatic Kitty Records offered to sing on it and I’m so glad she did. It’s really just a lot of the first songs to come out of me. It’s representative of the contemplative life of a 20 or 21 year old. I was forming a lot of opinions and learning to take responsibility for my actions. A lot of my life came out on this album. I’m almost 25 now. So, I’ve got a few records in the draft stage, but am trying to focus on touring to promote this one to the many, many, people who have yet to hear it.
Are you pursuing a record deal right now?
No. Though, I occasionally realize that I just want someone to do all this promoting and booking for me. Ultimately, I don’t want to forfeit control of my music creatively or legally and don’t think that my goals really are aligned with the basic ideals of good business in the first place. Anti is a label I’d be interested in talking to, but, for the most part, I’ve accepted that I’ll probably be doing this on my own forever.
Describe your genre in one word.
I see you are opening for an Indyconcerts.com fan favorite Trevor Hall. I interviewed him a while back. Are you going to get more page views than him? (Laughs)
Ya know, I had no idea who Trevor Hall was until I was asked to open for him. I recently checked out his music and watched some interviews. I really look forward to meeting him. I think I’ll connect with him on a personal level. Hopefully, it’ll give me some more exposure. He’s opened for my favorite artist, Ben Harper. It’s exciting to be one musician removed from him.
If you could live anywhere other than Indianapolis where would you go?
San Francisco is my favorite city in America. I just went through there on tour and miss it already. Montpelier, Vermont is my favorite small town. Asheville is great too. The more I tour, the more places I fall in love with. It’s great to wake up in an amazing new place everyday.
Ever think of cutting that hair?
Actually, during the first year or so of growing dreadlocks, I would often consider it. But I had several nightmares where I was standing in front of a mirror in a bathroom staring at my freshly shaved head and really regretting it. Those dreams kept me from cutting them. I love my dreads! I’ve had them for 5 years and if I were to cut them I’d grow them back again.
What are your thoughts on Michael Jackson’s death?
I played a show in Los Angeles the same day he died. My bus pulled into Hollywood a couple of hours after the announcement. I walked into the bus station and stood in disbelief as I read the words “Michael Jackson Dies” on the television. I was already on Hollywood Blvd. So, I walked a few blocks over to Vine. His supposed star was there and I wanted to pay my respects. The star that belonged to Michael Jackson, the musician, was elsewhere and covered up by red carpet because of a movie premiere, but it’s the thought that counts. News crews and people were swarming. Candles, flowers, and letters were laid on the star and people were sitting around it crying. That moment was the first that Michael Jackson was a real person to me. I realized his being alive and dead all at once. It was quite a way to experience Hollywood for the first time. My earliest musical memory is listening to “Thriller” with my mom on her record player. That cackle at the end of the tune really frightened me and I would always run to my room before the ending.
How do you know Jascha?
We have a mutual friend who is a local songwriter named Kendall Ludwig. I had been aware of Jascha’s music for a little while, but hadn’t yet met him. I was at Locals Only with Kendall and he got a text from Jascha asking if he wanted to meet the bass player from Augustana. Jascha went to college with a couple of the members. We all ended up hanging out for a bit at Bourbon Street Distillery.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Gosh, I’ll be thirty! Weird. I still feel 21 and probably will for some time. I see myself making albums and touring. It’s what I want to dedicate my life to. Making music is what I’m best at and passionate about. I like to think i’ll be more known and respected by then, but I’m committing to do it regardless. I watched Chris Issak interview Stevie Nicks recently and it really made an impact on me. She said she decided a long time ago to never marry or have children because she wanted to dedicate herself to being an artist and that had to come first.
Where did you record your newest album?
The Lodge Recording Studios in Indianapolis. I feel comfortable there and will probably do other albums there if I can afford it. It’s an old Masonic lodge. It’s a cool place.
If you could only sing one cover song for the rest of your career what song would you choose?
I think “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen is the best song ever written. Though, it’s covered often. I play a song by The Great Book of John called “A Traveler Dreams of Home” that I love and probably won’t ever grow tired of. I’ve recently worked up a version of “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” by Colin Hay. I’m pretty pleased with my version and it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.
What do you want to be remembered for when this is said and done?
I’ve been branching out from popular folk and have been doing some writing in a few other genres the past couple of years. I’d like to be remembered for writing good songs in multiple styles. I think that’s one of the most respectable things about Ben Harper. Most of all, I want to be a great lyricist. Also, music is the soundtrack to a lot of people’s lives. It’s certainly been that way for me and has enhanced my life experience. I like the idea of my music being attached to a moment and memory in someone’s life. I just hope it can make life on this planet more substantial for others.
What would you be doing if you were not performing?
I’ve been told I’m a good listener and have the ability to make people feel comfortable. Maybe a counselor? Working with people really wears me out though. I guess I’m doing what I’m bent to do.
I always let the artist get the last word. Go.
Thanks so much for this opportunity and thanks for helping to nurture the music community in Indianapolis. I love being a part of it.