Plug Into the Raw Rock & Roll Powerhouse Known as Lovehoney
Guitarist Tommy White welcomes the band to his hometown of Peekskill on May 4 for the Brewery’s Takeover Concert Series.
An undeniable cultural influence of the mid-to-late 20th Century, rock music has taken a bit of a backseat to the contemporary reign of largely synthetic hip hop, pop, and electronic music genres. For the majority, this is a welcome change. But a select few, those who crave raw, organic grit, only find respite in the knowledge their music is crafted by the hands of real musicians with real instruments.
Those few will surely find a haven in Lovehoney. The Brooklyn-based rock & roll band likes to keep it raw, even going as far as recording their EPs on physical tape to bring out that juicy retro aesthetic. Peekskill native Tommy White is a force to be reckoned with on guitar, while Alysia Quinones tears the walls down with powerhouse vocals. Matt Saleh on bass and Tom Gehlhaus on drums round out this heavyweight quartet that’s unabashedly carving out their spot in rock history.
Read on for a raw look into Lovehoney’s sound, plus news on an upcoming EP. But most importantly, be sure to catch them live this Saturday, May 4 at The Paramount Theatre during the Peekskill Brewery’s Takeover Concert Series.
The band is from Brooklyn, but Tommy, you’re from Peekskill. Can you tell me about your connection to the area?
Tommy White: So I moved to Peekskill about 2 years ago from Brooklyn. My fathers lives in Croton-on-Hudson, so I wanted to be closer to where my dad lives. I found out about Peekskill just because it was a really nice place and I travelled through there a few years ago.
I was coming up towards the Cold Spring area to get a 4-track tape recorder from someone. Me and my wife stopped back in the area, and it stayed in my mind of how nice it looked and I just loved the vibe of it. And when we decided to move, we picked Peekskill as the place to go to.
How have the last few years in the area treated you?
TW: It’s great, it was definitely the right choice. It’s a really nice small town and its just getting better and better. In fact a lot of people from Brooklyn are moving to Peekskill. One of our closest friends moved from Brooklyn as well. I still commute and it’s an easy commute on the Hudson line. You can still get to the city but then have that really nice Westchester vibe and get all the air and be close to the water.
If there’s one thing our readers should know about Lovehoney, what's that one thing?
TW: One thing? Well, that we’re amazing. [Laughs]
Alysia Quinones: Also that we play original music.
TW: One thing they can know about us is that we’re really true to rock & roll. It’s definitely something fresh for Westchester. There’s not many places where you can locally see bands that are doing original music. A lot of those places it’s just relegated to cover bands. And that scene has just made people think of Westchester as not really a place for original music, unless you go to the theatres. That’s kind of been our goal, to attack the theatre circuit because that’s the only place where an original band that plays all original materials can get an opportunity to play.
Even the places that are in Peekskill that are just bars and eateries, they’ll book a band but they’re not looking for a band to do original songs. For us, we’re a big sounding band and we love a big crowd, so those little smaller places are not really for us. And that’s cool but I think now its important for people to see this band, they got original music, and this should inspire other musicians to look outside of the box.
What are some things you guys are happy or surprised to have seen in the last 4 or so years having been together?
AQ: First of all, such good people have been receiving the music really well. I never thought in my whole life that I would get with a group of guys that wanted to play the same kind of music I wanted to create. I didn’t know many people that like the same music that I make. And I think being able to play what I like without having to play whats popular is probably one of the things that makes me the most happy about what I’m doing now.
Matt Saleh: We didn’t know how much we had in common musically until we started playing together. We maybe have gotten heavier as time’s gone on and we share bands with each other, we read biographies of musicians. We read Rick James’, we read the Black Sabbath biography. We’re going to read the Mötley Crü bio. So, we’ve been learning as we go what we have in common, which makes the music cooler and sometimes heavier.
We have a new album coming out in May that’s heavier than some of the other stuff we’ve released before it.
Is it going to be a full-length or another 3-song EP like you’ve been doing in the past?
Tom Gehlhaus: Another 3-song EP. We’ll do the album once someone gives us a little money [Laughs].
What do you guys like about the shorter, 3-song format?
TW: Everything that we’ve been doing has been premeditated and calculated. It’s with a purpose in mind. We want to make sure that as musicians we wouldn’t let the lack of being signed to a label, or not having a lot of financing stop us from making great art.
We said, “Okay we might not be able to make a full length album, but lets think of this as a full length album.” You essentially can put all our EPs together and it will give you a full length, and it will share a story of our growth as musicians and our connection of educating ourselves on the history of rock and roll.
As far as stuff we’ve been surprised about, we’ve been surprised about the reception. Being able to be on BBC radio in London, without being signed. Getting a 2-page spread in Classic Rock Magazine that will be on April shelves, being on cable on national television with TLC. So many things have happened to us and it’s been great because everything we’ve done has been independently. Even landing this Paramount show is a really big thing for a band. This has been our dream to keep having bigger and bigger shows and to play for a lot more people.
And we’ve noticed people from the soul community and the r&b community and even the heavy metal guys, they all respect what were doing, which is different for a band that is playing rock & roll.
What are some of your musical influences, in terms of the sound you are creating as a group?
TG: We all have our different flavors that come together. I’m more about the soul, rhythm, R&B type of guy.
AQ: I’m definitely more rock with hip hop and R&B mixed into it.
TW: Matt is really our aficionado in terms of the heavy metal, the Sabbath, the doom metal. And I really bring forth the blues and the psychedelic rock of the '60s, '70s, and '50s. That’s kind of been the hybrid of our sound. Each person brings in those influences to give us what we do.
That’s why we have an EP like Call Me that’s retro R&B, and then we have DIG This! which is like '70s funkadelic, psychedelic rock. And the project we have getting ready to come out is definitely heavy blues-rock inspired. But everything has to have a groove. And that’s what differentiates us from a lot of bands.
Can you guys tell me a little more about this upcoming EP?
AQ: It’s coming out late May. It’s called Cruda, which basically means raw. What we’ve been trying to do is bring musicianship back to music, and making music raw again. We’re all playing instruments and creating songs without using a computer. We’re actually real musicians who play real instruments who write real songs.
TG: It will be mastered by Howie Weinberg, and Howie Weinberg pretty much did everything the last 30 years including Metallica, Nirvana, Chili Peppers Deftones, you name it, the list goes on and on. So this is it. This is going to be our best production to date with this EP.
TW: We’re all in the same room together when we’re recording. And we recorded it all on tape, which is perfect for a band like us with a retro vibe. Anyone who’s into that aesthetic, you’re going to really get that old-school feel because we’re doing it the way that our heroes recorded back in the day.
When you’re not using computers, those vocals you hear, those are all [Alysia’s] vocals. There’s no auto tune and all that shit. We pride ourselves on that because you want to let people know that they’re not getting something that’s been thrown together. That we’re different.