With yesterday’s announcement that The Love Language had signed to Durham's Merge Records, frontman Stu McLamb told the press, “I've overdrawn my bank account by $200, my girlfriend dumped me, and my car won't start. I think this Merge deal could be a real turning point.”
It was said with a tinge of sarcasm—“I hope people do read that and realize that musicians are all broke-ass motherfuckers, no matter how ‘successful’ things can seem,” he now says—but, given that I caught him shortly after he’d finished lunch with the aforementioned ex-girlfriend, things did indeed seem to be looking up for McLamb, and certainly for his band.
“I’d like to celebrate more on this record,” McLamb says.
So far, he says, there are about seven songs demoed (“that sound just like the last record”) ready to bring into the studio for a higher-fidelity, more-collaborative and, apparently, more-celebratory album than the lo-fi and mostly solo eponymous outing that earned the band national attention in the first place. “It wasn’t like I wanted it to be lo-fi, but I tried to get the best sounds I could with the equipment I had,” he repeats. “There’s no excuse to do lo-fi if you don’t have to, I think.”
Still, this new album is to be self-produced, too, recorded on a borrowed reel-to-reel recorder and edited only slightly with digital equipment. This, McLamb hopes, will give the band a more “natural sound” and help separate the individual tracks from each other. “It’s going to have some character to it,” he says. “We’ll just have an advantage of seeking better tones.”
McLamb concedes that, with this bigger platform, comes more pressure to succeed. “I have to deal with that, but I can’t let it stress me out. But there’s definitely pressure. I’d be a liar if I said there was no pressure. I’m just trying to keep myself in the mentality I’ve been in when I wrote everything else I’ve written for my whole life.”
But this an opportunity for the band to keep going without driving McLamb too much deeper into debt. “The way I look at is, I’m trying to put a really good show together, and you don’t get a lot of big bands like that. With signing to Merge, I don’t think we’re going to get filthy rich, but maybe we might be able to make a living at this, and really push the band.”
The Light Pines, the other band with which most of The Love Language’s members share their time and who debuted two weeks ago at Portland, Ore.'s Music Fest Northwest, only adds more competition for time. McLamb says that album is done, and ready for the right release time, whenever that might be. “At this point, obviously we’re focusing on The Love Language, just kind of striking while it’s hot.”