The Lovetones' frontman Matthew Tow has returned to music with a newfound creative zeal.
In 2010, when The Lovetones released their fifth album Lost, they figured it would probably be their last. They were wrong. Now, the internationally acclaimed Sydney psych-rock band is in the process of putting together a brand new offering.
To celebrate the release of the new album’s first two singles, Everything Changed and Way The Light Dances, they’ll be throwing comeback shows at Melbourne’s Brunswick Ballroom and Sydney’s Marrickville Bowlo.
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In anticipation of the two shows, we spoke with The Lovetones singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Tow about what went into the new record and how time can shape the art of songwriting.
How are you going lately? I’m sure you’ve been pretty busy with album number seven on the way.
Thank you, I am good. Life is as tumultuous as ever but it seems right now I have found a renewed musical awakening so to speak. Yes, we are throwing ourselves back into writing and recording a new album. It’s quite frightening, to be honest. Plunging headlong into the deep end without knowing what lies beneath.
It’s a journey, but we are taking our time with it. Track by track – getting everything right before we move on to another. I enlisted the great Phil Punch to record the new music here in Sydney at Electric Avenue Studios. I needed someone with the right knowledge and experience.
It was a matter of specifically wanting to go back to recording on 24-track tape. All analogue. We have been so conditioned to digital music over the last 20 years and the production of music by digital means that I wanted to start again. The results were a breath of fresh air. You can hear the music breathe.
When I listened closely to the playbacks, the warm analogue hug embraced me like an estranged family member who had come back into the fold. I had dearly missed it without knowing I had. The difference was so astounding as to how it made me feel that I wish to never go back to digital recording ever again.
You guys took a 10-year gap between your albums Lost and Myriad and now you’re in the process of putting together a new record. How does it feel to be back in the swing of things?
I thought Lost would be the last Lovetones record, then after the 500th massive upheaval in my personal life (they happen pretty frequently these days) I thought the only way I could drag myself out of the mire was to record again, and that was Myriad.
The circumstances around that one were unfortunate to say the least and it got completely lost amongst the Covid clamour and racket – so much so, that no one really knew it had existed at all.
We are making amends with this one though. Perhaps a cliché but it does feel like the right time. All is forgiven – A rebirth. It feels like this! The new album will be a grand statement of sorts. This is how I am imagining it anyway – our fine little offering of service. A heartfelt thank you to all that have supported us throughout our 20-year career. It feels good to be back!
How has your work changed throughout your career? Do you write songs with a new perspective these days?
I was just discussing this very thing with a fellow songwriting friend the other day. Yes, my songwriting has changed and evolved dramatically in the last few years. There is an impulse to reach for something that holds a little more gravitas. I’m still fascinated by the process but there now seems an added urgency and desire to strive for something more serious and pertinent within the subject matter.
Chords are easy for me, but the question is ‘What is it that I really want to say?’ and ‘If there is something I haven’t said then I need to say it now!’. This sort of stuff creeps into everything after a while. Time is running out. Not that I’m planning on going anywhere anytime soon, but thoughts of mortality are not very far away. My friend agreed and quipped – changes occur when the times demand it.
Can you give us a little hint of what the new album is all about?
A big question! It delves into many preoccupations I’ve had throughout my life. I think I’m getting better at expressing myself that way. There has always been a search for the meaning of things in my music.
This one is more about the things that are important to me right now. Going deeper to discover the kernel beneath the hard shell. My naïve little cosmic love letter to those around me whom I love the most.
I’m trying to eradicate uncertainty now. A direct line to the truth in under 3 minutes – how it all affects me and how I affect others. I want the listener to know this without any misgivings. I go back to pertinence within the storytelling.
I’m wanting to get directly to the heart of the matter. I want to say the things I want to say. What I need to say. That is all. The stories and the themes are as old as time itself. In the end, it comes back to ‘What have I done?’, ‘How can I make this better?’ – It comes back to love…
What kind of energy can fans expect at the upcoming live shows?
The band will be in full-tilt mode. We have the old gang back together – Christopher Cobb, Matthew Sigley, Liam Judson and our newest Lovetone member Rob De Freitas Young. Some of the finest musicians one could hope to be associated with.
We are not mucking about – it will be a roaring five-piece exploding ensemble. I will say this now – we won’t be held responsible for the spontaneous good feeling and love that will emanate from the Lovetones’ live experience. This is dangerous stuff and not to be taken lightly. Be forewarned.
What’s your favourite thing about the Melbourne music scene?
I have always loved what Melbourne has had to offer when it comes to the live music scene and the incredible community of artists that exists at large. It holds a special place in my heart which goes all the way back to my early sojourns as a young wide-eyed muso trying to break into the scene back in the early ’90s.
It has been talked about ad nauseum but Melbourne really does have much more to offer for working musicians than any other city in Australia. The system works there. It’s the land of milk and honey for us types. Opportunities abound to strum your stuff seemingly on every street corner. It’s synonymous with the city itself. The music trail is embedded into its very cultural fabric.
We, in other areas and in Sydney in particular where I am from, have lost a bit of that community spirit and solidarity amongst artists over the years. We could all learn a thing or two from its success story.
Thanks for the chat!
To catch The Lovetones at the Brunswick Ballroom on October 2, head here.