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Interview: Dustin Lovelis

Long Beach native Dustin Lovelis has been playing music for the better part of the decade starting off his public career with The Fling. After releasing their stellar debut in 2010, an EP the year following, and a follow-up full length in 2013, the band slowly faded out of view. After stepping out of the spotlight Dustin emerged last year with the track “Off The Rails” and a succeeding solo debut. I spoke with Dustin via e-mail earlier this month to talk about his past, the current album and most importantly, his favorite nightcap.

Stream/purchase the album on Bandcamp where you can also pick up the vinyl version.

Let’s start where your last musical effort left off: The Fling. Walk us through the end of the band.
Dustin: There wasn’t really a much of an end. We just toured a lot over 3 years and always came home broke and tired. Things just slowed down, people moved away and we stopped booking shows. I still talk to all of the guys. Justin still plays drums for me.

Did you ever consider quitting music after the band dissolved?
Dustin: No, I’ve never considered quitting. I did take a little break to get my shit together though. It was a nice little breather.

Would you still consider doing music with any members of The Fling?
Dustin: Yeah totally. I’m a big fan of all those songwriters.

Discuss some of the pros and cons you’ve discovered between being in a band versus a solo artist?
Dustin: It’s great to be able to call the shots and do things the way you think they should be done. In a democracy even something as simple as mixing a record can turn into a big blowout argument about whether or not the fucking tambourine is too loud. .

The difficult part is making important decisions alone. If you are wrong, you are the only one to blame. Finding musicians who work for peanuts is a pain in the ass too. I’m on like my 5th bass player!

Moving onto the present, you’re set to release your debut album Dimensions. Describe how you first approached writing the album?
Dustin: Ideas just started coming to me all at once. There was a lot going on in my life at the time and I needed an outlet. Writing this record was basically a form of therapy for me.

Was there a milestone, either in the studio or while writing the record, that made you feel you were headed in the right direction?
As soon as we started recording at New Monkey Studios I knew this was gonna be something special. It was such a personal record for me so I hired 2 of the best musicians I know to play and produce the record with me (Eli Thomson and Frank Lenz). After we recorded the first song I got chills and couldn’t stop working on it. We recorded the entire record in 2 days. Then I took it home and put a bunch of weird synth textures over it.

Who did you record the album with? Did you have a solid group of musicians playing with you or a rotating cast?
Dustin: It was just me, Eli on bass, Frank on drums. When I was recording synth at home I had my friend Brian Andrews add some cool textures. I played everything else.

How did the process compare with previous recording sessions?
Dustin: It was really fast and easy. It’s never that way in the studio.

How much did the songs change in the studio, if at all?
Dustin: The songs didn’t change at all. Other than having great musicianship on them, they just sound like fully realized versions of the demos I brought Eli.

Lyrically the album is dark (“Dimensions”), self­deprecating (“I’m An Idiot), and conjures images of paranoia (“White Coat”). How much do the lyrics reflect your personal inner workings versus, say, character pieces?
Dustin: It’s pretty autobiographical. I’m not gonna go into detail though.

Your music has a very nostalgic sound with modern twists. Where do you draw your sonic inspiration from?
Dustin: All kinds of things. My dad was a 60s guy. The Beatles were playing at home all day everyday when I was young. I really got into music in the 90s with bands like Dinosaur Jr, Teenage Fanclub, Nirvana, Guided By Voices etc. Sixty Ninties rock and roll.

Now that you’re playing the songs live, have you assembled a permanent band?
Dustin: Yeah minus those damn bass players.

What are your thoughts on translating songs from the studio to the stage. Do you try to “stick to the script”
Dustin: We just rehearse until it sounds good. It’s not exactly like the record, but we don’t stray too far from the recordings. We keep it loose, maybe drag out a song or two.

Enough psychoanalysis, let get to some some fun stuff! A) If you could choose an author to write your dramatized biography, who would it be and B) If you could choose an actor to play you in the dramatized biography of your life, who would it be?
Dustin: A) Tom Waits. B) Tom Waits.

If you could have chosen which decade to grow up in, which one would it be? Why?
Dustin: I’m cool with this one. I’d probably go back and change a couple things though…..then again, I probably wouldn’t have made “Dimensions.”

What is your favorite late night drink?
Dustin: Bourbon rocks.

Favorite watering hole to enjoy that drink?
Dustin: Blind Donkey in Long Beach. There is a beer and wine bar called 4th Street Vine that I love. They do a lot of shows.

That’s all I’ve got; thanks so much for your time. Any parting words you’d like to leave us with?
Dustin: You can get the vinyl or a download of “Dimensions” over at Porch Party Records!!!