The Loves don’t exist any more, though Simon is threatening a reformation in 2024. They did exist from their formation in Cardiff in 2000 until their final gig on 13 February 2011. Since ‘Little Girl Blues’ on Cardiff’s Boobytrap Records, they’ve released a number of singles and 4 albums on Track and Field and Fortuna Pop! Records, as well as having a track on the ‘Kat’s Karavan’ boxset that commemorated the life of John Peel. They had various career ups and downs: they were criticised as pasticheurs by the Cardiff indie scene but they always had a devoted audience in London where they played dozens and dozens of times. John Peel was a massive fan (3 sessions and a live Peel Acres appearance in 2 years) and their second album Technicolour was the Sunday Times album of the week in 2007. Their live peak was probably Indietracks 2010 where they brought out exotic dancers, which no band, not even the Pains of Being Pure At Heart, could follow. Their inadequate Wikipedia entry lists only 13 past members, although there are many more, including the lovely Liz Hunt, now of The School, and comedian Danielle Ward. The line up at the end was Simon, Jenna, Alice, Ed, Jonny, Gerard and Dan. They may be history but they’ve left some fine memories, excellent records and a collection of wonderfully bizarre videos on YouTube. RIP Loves. We spoke to Simon (and various bandmates) in January 2011.
The God of Love(s)
SXP: It’s been 10 years – why give it up now?
Simon: It seems like a good time. When I went home recently, I found a box full of cuttings and magazines and all my old notebooks. There are loads of song and lyric ideas that I’ve yet to use. The first one was written in 1997 or 1998 and has four LP titles written in there and they’re all pretty much as the [Loves’] LP titles were, except Technicolor was originally going to called In Colour but I found out that the Concretes were putting out an LP by the same title in the same year so I changed it.
SXP: What are you going to do next?
Simon: I’ve got an idea for a girl band called Knickers. I’ve got a logo, I’ve got 4 songs. I’ve got an idea for what the LP will be and there’s one song I want to sing on it but then everything else is all girls. The ‘Motherfuckers’ single that came out in November was meant to be a purely Knickers song but the girl who was going to sing it, couldn’t sing it, so I sang it instead. The logo is the Mattel logo from the 1980s, with Knickers rather than Mattel. I’m going to be recording some things with the Voluntary Butler Scheme, Rob, who mixed the last Loves record and was a drummer on the third one as well. I’ve never paid much attention to mixing a record before; I thought if you had everything where you could hear it, that counts as mixing but he was doing all sorts of fancy things, making everything sound good. Me and Ed did the mix for Three and I thought that‘s as good as it’s going to get. We mixed it in [Rob’s] bedroom, where he’s almost walled himself in with musical equipment, and sat on his bed with him going “whoosh whoosh whoosh”, making everything sound 10 times better than it would have done. So I figured if we record with him, it will sound good even if the songs are shit! Which I hope they’re not.
SXP: Does a girl group imply that you’re more of a Svengali now?
Simon: I’m going for that – cos I am quite fat and I do just stare at young girls! I would be more like Kim Fowley than Phil Spector which is worrying!
Gerard: And he’s got a gun…
SXP: And what were the highlights of the Loves’ 10 years?
Simon: One favourite memory was sitting backstage at the ICA after playing with the Rapture. I just drank an entire bottle of vodka to myself, didn’t talk to the Rapture at all, and then on the way back in the minibus was sick out of the window, wee’d out of the window, bought a porn mag and told Liz she should be more like “Michelle”, and I sort of passed out, I think, and then woke up in my own bed going “oh what!”. And then did a gig the next day!
SXP: What about the Peel sessions and playing at Peel Acres? Not many people have done that. In two years you did three sessions and a live session at Peel Acres.
Simon: That was weird because I get really bad stress headaches. If I get stressed, I’m tense all day, and when it goes well I collapse and get massive migraines. I had one after the first live one, and I had one driving back from his house. But that might have been because the driver was swigging vodka and apparently doing coke in the service station toilets. And he gave some to our drummer and I wondered why Dave was stood up the entire way, just punching the air! They were good but really nerve wracking. When I listen back to them now, we just sound like we’re about to cry or something.
SXP: I’ve read different figures for the number of members of the Loves – I’ve heard it was up to 37 Loves.
Dan: That can’t be right – I’m number 27!
Simon: I reckon it’s about 31 – but that includes people who just came to rehearsals and said “am I in the band?” and I’d say: “yeah” and never bother [with them] again. We’ve had at least 2 drummers like that. We had one drummer who, god bless him, drove all the way from London for a rehearsal and drove back again for a gig and for some reason I didn’t speak to him that day so he came on stage wearing a jumpsuit; I thought: this is not how I wanted it! That was where I was really drunk and I filmed my cock on someone’s video camera.
SXP: Is it on YouTube with your other video exploits?
Simon: That’s not there yet but it probably will be at some point. Apparently the person has still got the tape and she [went] on holiday afterwards so she’s got a holiday tape with my cock at the beginning! Not one of my proudest moments.
SXP: So what do you do to your bandmates?
Simon: Well it’s just…*pause*. I’m not making any money, from it, it’s meant to be fun and if you’re not having fun with the people, you might as well get rid of them or stop doing it.
Gerard: Some people have gone of their own accord as well. It’s not like you’ve callously kicked everybody out!
Simon: No, a couple have said I don’t want to do this anymore. There are some temporary members like Ross who played bass for a while. He was a lovely fella who slept with his eyes open. When we played Cardiff last month we did our last Cardiff show and Dave the old drummer, everyone’s favourite, posh Welshman, came back and drummed on ‘Fucked Up’. That was good. We did a soundcheck, just me and him, and it was lovely, like no time has passed. I miss Dave! He was a lovely fella. After I sacked pretty much all the first wave of the band, it was just him, me and Psosni, and Pnosni was getting out of control. I just don’t think he was having fun any more so he just stopped. He did say he’d never drum for anyone else ever again other than for me, which is good, but then he did drum for his friends!
SXP: How did you get Doug Yule for the new album?
Dan: Asked him?
Simon: We found him on Facebook.
Gerard: Theoretically it could be an impersonator.
Simon: How much work would there be for a Doug Yule impersonator?! *laughter* He’s on Myspace as well and there's one song where it's definitely him singing. I emailed and he said alright. He said: “how do I get some time in the studio?” And I went, no, don't do it fancy, just do it on your computer. The morning he sent it through to me I was stupidly happy.
Alice: I've had to explain to so many people who Doug Yule is!
Simon: He’s my favourite. Also Squeeze is one of the best LPs [The Velvet Underground] have made, even though it’s just him. I love that LP. We got him through social networking. So thank you Matt Zuckerman or whatever your name is - 9 billion pound idiot!
SXP: You’ve been quite prolific on YouTube.
Simon: I don’t know how or why! It seems to be the last LP. I’ve been aware of YouTube before. I’m planning to make one on the weekend. I’m making it on my phone, where it’s just me going round and leaving copies of the LP with big stickers saying 'free' and I’m going to stick it on the front of magazines and hide it in clothes in H&M. You know phone boxes with all the cards for sex with lovely ladies? Stick it on there: “4 boy, 2 girl action”. Peel it off and there’s a CD.
Dan: Next time we go on the road, drop one in the beans in a Little Chef… *laughter*
Gerard: You still going to do one for 'King Kong Blues'?
Simon: Gerard wants to make a monster film, and one of the songs is 'King Kong Blues'. I bought my girlfriend a doll’s house for Christmas. And I was going to get a monkey hand and just reach through.
Dan: Doll's house? How old’s your girlfriend?
Simon: Eight! *raucous laughter*
SXP: Was ‘Motherfuckers’ always intended to be a one-off?
Simon: It was meant to be a song with Knickers, because they do the backing vocals. My friend Kaufman, (who put the record out) only asked me to do it in August or September, and he said: “write a Christmas song”. I thought all Christmas songs had descending things, and I came up with that, and the idea of having a Christmas song called ‘Motherfuckers’ was too good to pass up.
SXP: There’s more variety on this album. Has your taste or style changed over the years?
Simon: I don’t think so. I get bored. If I do an LP of all the same things I get stupidly bored and even I’d stop listening during recording. But it’s a case of songs that go well together. I’m always obsessed by getting track listings right and how things flow up and down; that’s why loads of our LPs finish with a really short song or a stupidly long song. It’s almost like making a mixtape.
SXP: Most of your music is inspired by the ‘60s but do you think you’ll ever do anything really different? After all, you posted on the SoundsXP website that your favourite songs of the year were 3 dance songs and a Robbie Williams song.
Simon: ‘Shame’ – it’s brilliant! I tried to do techno music; well, not techno but sort of dance music.
Gerard: “Do techno”? Like doing a drug?
Simon: It didn’t sound that good. That’s another thing with me, if I had the equipment to record, I would record myself. I have a crappy little 8 track thing. That’s what we recorded ‘I Lost My Doll…’ on. But I’ve just not got the time or patience to learn to make anything work like I see Simon in Soup Studios [doing]. Doing that sort of music, it seems like you need a lot of things. I bought a monotron and it makes the *whoop whoop* so maybe I could make a dance record with that.
SXP: At the start, you covered songs by John Lennon and Daniel Johnston, now you’re doing the Beeds and Nathaniel Mayer. What do cover versions mean to you?
Simon: The Nathaniel Mayer one, I only heard it after he died and a friend of Delia’s put it on SoundsXP saying it’s the only song that would make him dance. I heard it and it was really good. We did it fast and more like a Merseybeat thing. I always like to put a cover version on an LP just because it’s one less song to write! We’ve done an EP for the last show called ‘The Loves Love You Too’, which is five cover versions. I’ve done a version of 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' as well. Brings tears to my eyes.
SXP: You also do a Jake Yapp song. Who’s he?
Simon: He’s a comedian. He does a lot of things on BBC 6Music’s breakfast show with Sean Keaveney and he has this programme on BB7 where he played an old woman. Every week he would end on a different song on the ukulele and one week he did ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain on the ukulele and it sounded really good. I heard ['The Very Stars Were Meant For Us'] one night as I was going to sleep and it was brilliant. I asked him if it would be OK if we recorded it and he said yes and we got in contact with him again because I couldn’t figure out what the chords were! He’s been really nice about it.
SXP: Comedy is quite important to you isn’t it?
Simon: I started trying to make al the videos a bit funny – because if you try to make serious videos on a budget, they come out looking shit, cack-handed, Kings of Leon or something. If you make them funny, it makes people remembers them – hopefully! Like if you’ve got an Elton John puppet in your video, fellating Gerard in a car. That was the first thing he did in the band as well! *general laughter*