An Interview with Curse of Lono
Talk us through the tracks on debut album ‘Severed’ – Who’s the main songwriter and the meaning behind some of the songs?
Severed was written by Felix over a fourteen year period. Some of the oldest songs were written in a detox ward in South Florida when he was kicking heroin and methadone while some of the newer tracks are brand spanking new additions. There are a lot of references to a darker past but there are also rays of hope.
Pick Up The Pieces is a snapshot of a relationship at the stage when too much damage has been done to keep the boat afloat but neither party is ready to say it out loud.
Five Miles is comparing the breakup of Felix and Neil’s old band, Hey Negrita, to a drug comedown.
Felix literally wrote Just My Head in his sleep. He woke up after a late night of BBQ and vodka with a Bright Eyes song in his head but soon realized that the words were all wrong. So he wrote them down, came up with a new melody and that was that.
He Takes My Place is a song about sexual jealousy. Let’s just say that heroin and infidelity make a pretty wretched cocktail.
How was it filming the video to Pick Up The Pieces? Did the band have the concept set in mind or was it all down to the director?
Shane Davey, the director, is an old friend of ours. We had already released four videos around the EP in the form of a four-part short film (Saturday Night: A Film Of Four Songs – directed by Alex Walker), all of which featured actors instead of the band. So this time round we wanted to make a simple performance video with a little nod to 90’s bands like Nirvana, Faith No More and Pearl Jam. We showed Shane some examples of stuff we liked and he suggested that we film the whole thing on 16mm film.
He dragged us down to this warehouse in Wapping and shone a massive spotlight in our faces. He only had a few rolls of film so the whole thing was done in a few hours.
Your sound has been described interestingly as ‘southern gothic’ and ‘Indie Americana’ – that definitely comes across in the music and new video, what influences your style and how did you arrive at your sound?
The songs are mostly written on an acoustic guitar. A lot of them are very dark and rootsy when they come out and then it’s our job to break them down and rock them up. The producer, Oli Bayston (AKA Boxed In) had a big influence on the sound of the record as well. Oli comes from more of a Krautrock and Radiohead background so it was really exciting to try to come up with a fresh and unpredictable sound.
The band have your own Doghouse recording studio – How did you put the studio together and how important is it to have your own space? Are there limitations?
The Doghouse is our rehearsal room. Felix and Neil played in a band called Hey Negrita for years. They toured a lot and collected a lot of gear over the years, partly thanks to endorsement deals with the likes of Gibson, Gretsch and Moon. The Doghouse is our home. Everyone has their own space and no one messes with our stuff. The limitation is that it is set up very much as a rehearsal room so we have to rent in a bunch of kit when we want to record.
‘The Curse of Lono’ is a book by Hunter S. Thompson describing his experiences in Hawaii in 1980. Is that where your band name came from?
Yes. We had a copy of the book in the studio when we were recording and the name just seemed to fit the mood of the record.
How did the band get together and how do you all get along?
Felix and drummer Neil Findlay played in Hey Negrita together. They released four records, toured all over the world and played more festivals than they dare to remember. The others (guitarist Joe Hazell, bassist Charis Anderson and harmonium and keyboard player Dani Ruiz Hernandez), all answered ads on various music sites. Bizzarely, despite having met through ‘musical online dating’, none of us have ever been in a band where we felt more at home. We’ve been together for less than two years but we’ve already been through some serious highs and lows that have really brought us closer. We’re a tribe. We chat every day and we stick together.
Can you name some of your bands influences?
Between us we have a vast range of influences but the ones that people keep picking out are The Doors, The Velvet Underground and Wilco.
What’s coming up next for Curse of Lono? Are you holding back new songs and where are you gigging in the UK this year?
We’re playing our next London headline gig at Water Rats on April 20th. After that we’ll hopefully be at The Great Escape followed by some other festivals. We’ll also be heading out on our first headline tour in September. As far as new material goes, the next album is coming together nicely so we’re looking forward to road-testing a few new songs in the summer.