INTERVIEW: The Stubborn Lovers

Photo credit: Taylor Barnes

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Well, we’ve been working on our first full-length album for more than a year, and it’s finally coming out next month, so we’re pretty excited!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Porch Light”?

“Porch Light” is the first single and lead track from the album. Musically, it’s a bit of a throwback to ‘70s Southern rock, with a modern alt-country twist. Lyrically, it’s a nostalgic look back at childhood summers spent at a rambling lakeside house in upstate New York. While it’s specific to that experience, we think most people will find they can easily relate the song to their own childhood memories. And easily sing along to it!

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Jenny, our bassist, wrote the song after the passing of her 92-year-old grandmother, inspired by the love she felt for, and from, both her grandmothers. Rather than a sad elegy, she wanted to write an upbeat song celebrating that love, and long lives well-lived.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We put together a lyric video that’s available on YouTube and We’d love to shoot a narrative video for this or the next single, because we’ve got a lot of great ideas. That will have to wait until time and budget allows, however.

The single comes off your new album Mother Road – what’s the story behind the title?

“Mother Road” is also the title of one of the songs on the album. The phrase originally comes from John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, in which he refers to Route 66 as “the mother road”. The song was inspired by a cross-country road trip that included Route 66, but really it’s just about being on the road in general. The song also imagines itself as a sequel to Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”, so “Mother Road” is kind of a play on that. We chose it for the album title because it encapsulates the main themes: family bonds, especially those between mothers and daughters, and the journeys we take along the road that leads both away from and back towards home.

How was the recording and writing process?

Most of the songs were written before we decided to make the album. In fact, noticing that so many of our songs were about family relationships is what inspired us to make it. We were lucky to get Patrick Tetreault as our producer—he really understood the vintage vibe we were going for with the sound, and he hooked us up with this amazing studio built in the 1950s, where Willie Nelson once recorded. Although we recorded digitally, the tracks were bounced to tape before mixing, and mastered for vinyl to get that warm, classic sound we were after.

What role does Portland play in your writing?

Well, we’ve noticed that the word “rain” appears in a lot of our lyrics! Seriously though, we love Portland—it’s a fantastic place to live if you’re a musician or any type of creative person. The culture here really supports and nurtures artistic expression. Only one song on the album, “Among the Evergreens”, directly references Oregon, but the beauty of the Pacific Northwest colors everything we do. And it does rain here, but not as much as you think.

What aspect of Americana did you get to explore on this record?

That’s an interesting question, because there are so many aspects to Americana. It’s a somewhat nebulous genre, but we kind of like it that way, because it allows us to draw from a variety of influences. A lot of what we do in general, mixing country and rock, comes from artists like Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Uncle Tupelo, Drive-By Truckers, and so on, who started making music in the ‘80s or ‘90s. But the sound of Mother Road is more heavily influenced by music of the 1970s. We mentioned Southern rock, which you can connect via someone like Tom Petty to the same era’s heartland rock, embodied by folks like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger. That’s all in there, along with some California country rock—a bit of the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and of course Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. We even hear hints of Heart and Fleetwood Mac, but maybe that’s just because we want to hear that.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Although none of the songs is strictly autobiographical, they’re all pretty much based on personal experience. “Porch Light”, as mentioned, arose from the loss of a grandmother, while “Downstream” is about the loss of a child, which makes for a markedly different tone. But “Among the Evergreens” celebrates another child coming into the world. “Mother Road” isn’t the only song about mothers and daughters—so is “Stronger than the Storm”, and so is “Whiskey Sisters”, which unsurprisingly is also about sisterhood. “Painting Lines” is addressed to a sister as well. Basically, we’re inspired by being part of a family, in more ways than one.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! We’re currently booking a regional tour for this fall. We’ve got several Oregon dates lined up for September, where we’ll be joined by Gina Villalobos. If you don’t know her, you should rectify that immediately, as she’s been putting out really good music since the early ‘00s and was one of the original inspirations for this band. After that we plan to hit more of Oregon, as well as Washington, Idaho, and Northern California. The best way to stay up to date on where we’ll be is to check our website or follow us on all your favorite social media.

What else is happening next in The Stubborn Lovers’ world?

The next single is out on July 30th, and the album is out on August 17th. Between prepping for that and rehearsing for our release show and fall tour—not to mention the fact that we all have day jobs—that’s about all we can handle for the time being. Eventually we’ll get back to writing new songs. Our hope is that enough people like this album for us to justify making another one!

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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