Call & Response: The Love Machine
Energetic indie rock foursome The Love Machine aren't nearly as well known in Toronto as they should be. They're my favourite band from Ottawa and one of the best unsigned bands to see live anywhere. They give it 110% every time I've seen them play.
Musically, The Love Machine's sound is hard to pin down - another great characteristic I think every band should strive for. They like to sing - a lot. All together whenever possible. They're ahead of their age in their ability to craft tight power pop, but they're also great at the unhinged group Arcade Fire-type sing-a-longs.
The Love Machine are back in Toronto tomorrow night as part of the successful weekly concert series at Rancho Relaxo presented by Two Way Monologues. I spoke with lead singer/guitarist Sean Prescott about James Brown songs, being a big fish in a little pond, and maybe swimming to a bigger pond.
blogTO: Your band name always reminds me of James Brown's "Sex Machine" for some reason. How did you come up with your band name? Were there any other options at the time?
Sean: The Love Machine actually came from a member who is no longer in the band. We had been thinking of names for a couple weeks prior but nothing else was ever seriously considered. There was some definite hesitation to it at first...as most people (myself included) would take it as something sexual and/or immature. But as time went on the name just started to symbolize us as people and our attitude in general with the band (as in "we are all caring big hearted dudes" not "we are sex machines").
How did your band form?
In the winter of '04 there was a big battle of the bands style competition in Ottawa. Allan and I were in a band called "Hero for a day" and Jordan, Mike (although he wasn't an original member of TLM) and Steve (our original singer) were ironically, and to make this sentence even more confusing, in a band by the name of "Fifth Grade Hero". Basically we all hit it off and the members from each band that were serious about music after high school started The Love Machine.
Listening to your music, it sounds like you are influenced by a lot of different bands in small ways. Would you agree with that?
In general, I don't think we as "The Love Machine" are influenced by any specific bands. Musically, we are all really turned on by strong catchy music, but the songwriting is such a collective thing that I think the act of creating it, in itself, is the influence (as in "that riff turned me on, what if we added this?") I always tip toe around this question because, my guess is, if I named bands we all listened to, you wouldn't see how it related to the music at all. If any of us were the sole writer than I'm sure it would be 100% different but who knows, you're probably right, and that's what makes it such a tough question.
All four of you sing - sometimes all together. Was it a conscious decision to have lots of vocals in your songs or is it a sound that developed naturally over time?
It was definitely natural. It helps that we all have the ability to sing. Again, because we all write the songs it's hard not to put your voice somewhere. Luckily it doesn't turn out too messy. I think we're all just egotistical bastards who like the sound of our own voice. ; )
What have been the pro's and con's for you guys being based in Ottawa? Have you ever thought about relocating to a bigger city?
It's the whole "big fish, little pond" thing. We've been so lucky in Ottawa as far as fan response goes. The shows are mostly all sold out and everyone is having such a good time. That, in itself, is so much more inspiring than to have to "break" a bigger city your first time around. I feel like baby steps is a really healthy way to start a band as a "career". That being said, I think we're all starting to feel like we've done what we can here. The idea has been thrown around to relocate, but right now we're all pretty focused on our first full-length to think about much else.
You're playing Toronto this Friday. What do you like best and least about our city? Any places you need to go to while you're in town?
Toronto has a buzz about it Ottawa doesn't. It's nice to be around that, it's very influencial in itself. The least thing, I think, is more the fact that we haven't really been lucky with shows (other than that Horseshoe gig) as far as attendance, but it's a challenge and that rocks our socks right there.
What do you hope happens in 2009?
I hope we successfully get the funding for, finish and release our first full-length. I believe that is the first door in a row of many we will bust our asses to get through in 2009.
Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with artists/bands from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Gilda Furgiele.
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