June 25, 2015
It’s the classic tale of creating art through pain. Boy loses girl. Boy writes songs for girl. Boy locks himself in his room and records a debut album in isolation. What makes this story different than most is the success and national attention the record attracted upon its release in 2009. Raleigh’s Stuart McLamb took the pain of unrequited love, disguised it with a “wall of sound” (a la Phil Spector) and created The Love Language.
For his latest album, 2013’s Ruby Red, Stuart enlisted the help of over 20 musicians. With their help he has created a richly layered and enthusiastic pop record; free of pain and free of love songs.
The band lineup has changed over the two successive records but the energy of their live shows have not. Their sound will be familiar to many who have caught them around the Carolinas over the last six years. The Love Language will close out a solid, eclectic mix of Carolina grown music at this Saturday’s CLTure Music Fest.
CLTure recently had a chance to pick McLamb’s brain on who influences the Raleigh-based band, the Carolina bands he’s been digging and what we can expect from a Love Language gig.
CLTure: Critics and national publications picked up on the first record rather quickly. Was this early success a surprise at all, considering how personal the songs on that record were?
Stuart McLamb: I don’t want to sound arrogant, but at the time I was working on the first record I really believed in the music and was confident that it would resonate and connect with people. It wasn’t that much of a surprise to me that it was successful.
CLTure: Each of the records, the new one in particular, have such rich layers of sound. Is it ever a struggle to replicate what you’ve done in the studio live? Is it important to get each song as close as possible or are you pleased with the separate life they may take on when performing?
SM: I view playing live and recording as two very different beasts. I used to be really particular about trying to replicate the sound of the records but one day I realized that it was hurting the live show and that we should just focus on the ‘energy’ for lack of a better word.
CLTure: It’s exciting to have such a diversity of music represented at CLTure Music Fest. Is it a different feel for the band to play festivals? Is the setlist or approach to a song ever altered?
SM: We aren’t the type of band that plays the same set over and over. We definitely try to write them according to the venue or vibe of the place. Sometimes even the weather will affect it. So yes, we’re definitely doing our ‘festival’ set.
CLTure: The state and local scene have so many great bands on the rise. Are there any that you are currently listening to?
SM: Indeed there are. Lately I’ve been really into Zack Mexico. They’re a bunch of rad dudes from the Outer Banks and you can tell that living there really affects their music. Another band I saw on complete accident but who blew me away was a band called Weird Pennies of Raleigh. They were like an incredible amalgamation of so many different styles and bands. I was thinking disintegration era Cure one second, and then early Rush the next. They rule.
CLTure: I’ve read so many different articles and reviews of your music listing a vast array of artists they feel have influenced your sound. Who were your favorite artists growing up and are there any that you feel have had a big influence on your music?
SM: I listen to a lot of different music and many of them aren’t really influential to the LL sound. With the first record, it was a lot of music from the 60s. Velvet Underground, The Kinks, soul records and basically the entire Phil Spector catalog. Lately I’ve been really digging Caetano Veloso’s record Transa.
CLTure: Other than your brother, Jordan, the makeup of the band has changed quite a bit with each record. Is that something you see continuing with future albums?
SM: Not at all, I never really set out to change the line-up as much as it has happened. It’s basically my own project, people come and go based on what’s happening with their own lives and aspirations. The current line-up is tight as %$*# though, so I hope they stick it out with me.
CLTure: When can we expect a new record from The Love Language?
SM: We’re ready to start working on it for real; like for real for real. So hopefully we’ll have it out by next spring/summer.