Running this site definitely has perks from time to time. Besides being able to write about music, I’ve been able to come into contact with a lot of bands I really enjoy. Recently, I was able to get in touch with one of those bands: Love&Reverie. Formed in 2006, the Richmond-based band (consisting of guitarist Josh Breth, singer Noah Skelton, bassist Chris Hessler, & drummer John Beard) started off big and has just kept growing from there. With soothing vocals backed by blistering melodies & hooks, the band definitely trademarks a fresh sound in the music world’s often-time sea of banality. With their breakthrough 2008 album The Mapping, the band took it a step further offering a unique, yet familiar sound. Something that you feel like you’ve been listening to forever, yet it sounds like nothing else you had on your iPod. They definitely showed the musical world something to keep their eye on for a while.
It was with great privilege that I got to chat with guitarist Josh Breth about the band’s history and dazzling future. With their new release Gravity&Me (read the release by clicking here) about to be released & their line-up finally locked down, the band seems more comfortable than ever and may have their best recording yet despite it only containing five songs! With more from the band expected to be on the way soon, we can only keep our eye on one of Richmond’s best & brightest bands in Love&Reverie as they strive to make their impact in music.
So I guess the most obvious question was how did Love&Reverie come to be?
Well, it all started very long ago with Noah just playing acoustic shows by himself and then he called upon me to help out with some guitars in the studio. From there, the foundation of Love&Reverie was born. We then realized we wanted more and called upon some of our friends John & Hessler.
How did you guys all know each other?
John & Noah had been childhood friends and the rest of us knew each other from playing in other various bands & just being at shows.
What bands were you guys in before Love&Reverie?
Hessler was in a band called Waiting For Yesterday which was more pop rock. John used to be in a band that was kind of post-rock. I was in a couple bands (Hindsight 20/20 & FIAD). One was more pop-rock and one was a little harder rock.
Sounds like a good mix there. How did you come up with the name Love&Reverie?
We were originally named another band, Too Late The Hero, but with the remake of the movie & another band by the same name, we wanted a change. We decided to try to come up with a name that described our music as well as what we are about. We feel like our music is pretty dreamy & imaginative. [Laughs] Also, a dictionary & thesaurus helped us a lot!
What kind of music did you guys grow up listening to and who do you think has inspired you the most as a band?
We all grew up listening to lots of music from Classic Rock to R&B, but we mainly stick to some good rock music: anything that speaks to us. To name a few: The Appleseed Cast, Saves The Day, The Get Up Kids, Jeff Buckley, The Early November, & Silverchair. We really are inspired by the things that affect our lives like our families, friends, & big things that change who we are as people. Just living and experiencing life.
How long after you guys started to play together did you start performing publicly?
Noah & I started playing together pretty soon after we first recorded. Once we added the rest of the fellas, we were playing shows within like two practices. We jumped into things real fast.
Wow, you guys really did move fast. Where were some of the places you guys first played?
Our first show was Cornerstone Church in Chester, VA and then we played some out-of-state shows in North Carolina at Greene St. & The Brewery. We then made a home at Alley Katz in Richmond pretty quickly.
What are your memories of those early shows?
Just having lots of fun & getting to know each other probably knowing more things than we wanted to. [Laughs] We played a lot of frisbee as a band when we first started.
How did your first release, the self-titled EP, come about?
That was the first thing we did and was actually just Noah & I as well as our friend Blake on drums & bass. Noah came to me with five songs that he wanted some electric guitar & a full band sound so we just started jamming together on them & jumped in the studio!
Did you guys have the songs already lined up or did you write any specifically for the album?
Noah had been playing a bunch of the songs live for a while and had a good idea of what songs he wanted to record.
So what were those first original songs like as a band?
They were a lot simpler & straight forward than we are now. It mainly started with Noah having a song that he has written & we would add our bits around his structure.
How would you describe the recording process?
[Laughs] Very laid back. We recorded with our friend Kenny in a warehouse in Petersburg, VA and we just did everything our own way. It was over before we knew it.
Had you guys had any experience in a studio setting before?
We both had had a good deal of studio experience. I had recorded in a couple of other bands before that had a few CDs out and Noah had a recording out as well.
What kind of attention did the EP get after it was released?
We got a lot of good response from people. It was a nice mix of some good upbeat pop songs and some meaningful acoustic jams.
When did you guys start to feel like you were gaining momentum as a band?
Probably right when we became a full five-piece band & were playing big hometown shows. About right after our release of our first EP.
Your next EP Lovers Are Liars was released a little over six months later. How long after the last EP did you start planning for the next EP?
It was almost immediately. We didn’t know right away that we would record so soon, but we had such a creative rush that we kept pumping new songs out, one after another.
Where did the name come about?
Well, there’s a line in a song by the band Cursive that says “All you lovers are liars.” It’s always stuck in my head and a lot of the songs on the EP were about lost love & complications so it seemed fitting.
What kind of differences did you see in recording the self-titled EP and this one?
This one was the full band and was a lot more rocking than the first EP. We also did it in a bigger, better studio out of state which was crazy because we basically lived in a studio for a month in Tennessee where we knew no one and had nothing.
That must have been weird being in an unfamiliar environment for a month.
It honestly made us grow closer together as a band. We did everything together for a full month and had no one to rely on but each other. Through the good and the bad! It made us realize we could handle anything together basically.
How did you make the decision to go with an EP versus a full album for Lovers Are Liars?
Being picked up by the label Firefly prompted us to cut the full length to an EP because we weren’t really happy with how the album came out & we wanted to record another full length right away. We decided to just cut the full length to the songs we thought came out the best and release it independently before having our Firefly release.
How did you make the decision to release the B-Sides for free for your fans?
After a while, we had all these songs no one had heard before! Our fans do a lot for us so we thought it would be interesting for them to hear these versions of some of the songs they already knew from The Mapping as well as get a taste of some of the songs that never made it out of the studio.
How do you think the reaction was to this release?
Very good for us. The Lovers Are Liars EP made us a whole lot bigger along the East Coast than we were.
Did you guys see a difference in crowds after these two releases compared to before?
Yeah, our shows got a lot bigger & better once Lovers Are Liars was released and we got a lot more out of state shows.
How did the recording of your first album The Mapping come about and how did you get connected with Firefly Music?
Well, Firefly came about from our friend Mike who was the drummer for Yearling as well as guitarist for Dakota Darling. He was on Firefly, gave the label guys our music, and they loved it. We met a few times and decided we would all love to work together so they threw us in Warrior Sound studio in Chapel Hill, NC and we created The Mapping!
Did you guys have the songs in mind for the album or did you enter the studio fresh for new material?
We had about two months to write the songs for The Mapping before we had to be in the studio so we worked nonstop and came into the studio with nine fresh never recorded songs. Then we re-recorded “Perfect Picture” which was a Lovers Are Liars B-Side.
How long did the recording process take for your first album?
I think we were in the studio for like two weeks. That was all the time we were given so we made it work!
That’s a big difference than being locked up for a month!
We had to rush a lot of things and weren’t able to experiment & play around as much as we would have liked to. But it made us work harder and push ourselves to meet our deadline.
What kind of role did Firefly Music play in the recording or planning for the album?
They played a huge roll. They fronted all the money for the recording & pressing of the album and they got the people to the designs for it & everything. They left all of the music & ideas up to us, but they made it all possible.
Was it hard to work with the label after doing two releases yourself?
Those guys made it real easy. They are some of the nicest fellas ever and they were just as excited for our new music as we were so it made it real easy.
Was your deal with Firefly Music just for one release or is there more planned with the label?
It was for just one release with an option for more if we wanted to and they wanted to.
What was your take on your first album?
We thought it came out amazing. We did a lot of things we had never done before and worked with two incredible producers.
What was working with the producers like?
They taught us a lot about tones and perfecting our sound. Without them, our sound probably would have come out a lot different because their input had a lot of influence over us since we respected them a great deal. I personally owe a lot of the guitarist I am today to the guys at that studio. We all really bonded while working on the album and hanging out all day everyday for two weeks straight.
Favorites from the album?
Yikes! [Laughs] So many to choose from. Um…”Death, Architect, Machines,” & “Footsteps” probably.
I’ve seen many glowing reviews for the album. How long was it before the album started to get some recognition?
Pretty quickly. I think we had a couple of reviews before it was released and there was a lot of anticipation for it since we had been doing a good amount of show playing with the new songs.
Were you guys surprised by the reaction at all?
We were a little surprised and taken back for sure. We didn’t know what to expect since it was a bit of a change in sound from our previous releases, but we knew if we backed up the release with our live shows, we would get a good response with some hard work.
Speaking of hard work, did the label set you up with any tour dates in support of the album or was it still a do-it-yourself approach for gigs?
It was all pretty much done by us. They helped when they could, but when it came down to booking tours, it was all us.
How would you say the shows went after the album was released?
They just kept getting bigger and better. People started to take notice that we were doing something serious and working very hard at it.
Switching the subject for a second, your line-up isn’t the same as the original, is it?
Well, we have had a couple of line-up changes now. On The Mapping, we actually had a different bass player than Hessler. Now, we are a four-piece because our guitarist Zach quit about a year ago. We feel they all happen for a reason and we just keep pushing on. We feel like we have the final Love&Reverie line up ever. It’s the four of us or nothing from here on out.
After three releases, some of your fans have said that your recordings just don’t capture your live feel. What are your thoughts on this?
We totally agree. Up until our new release, we have never been 100% satisfied with our recordings. For some reason, things just never came out as big as they should have. Hopefully we think we got it now.
So would there be plans for a live album?
We have definitely thought about it and would love to do it. When the right time & venue come, I think it’s a very good possibility.
How would you describe your philosophy on touring?
When we first started, it was nothing but touring on our minds and we tried to be on the road more than at home. But with how the economy has changed & other things out of our control, we have found it less successful for us to tour right now so we have put touring on a temporary hold. It really kills us a little bit, but is definitely for the best right now.
Since you guys are pretty well-traveled, what are some of your favorite cities & venues to tour?
We love North Carolina a lot as well as Boston. The mid-west is probably our favorite part of the country though. Favorite venues: Greene St (Greensboro, NC), The Brewery (Raleigh, NC), Murray Hill Theatre (Jacksonville, NC), The Se7en Venue (Douglasville, NC), & Jester’s Pub (Fayetteville, NC). We still haven’t gotten to Texas, California, or anything too west. We would really love to get to Texas for sure.
How would you guys describe your live shows?
Dark & big. When we are on stage, we don’t even realize what is around us. We are just so involved in our music that we become our music as we are playing it.
From what I’ve seen, that seems to sum it up well. Any covers you like to perform or any fun stuff you like to do during shows?
We had a tribute to Tiesto, one of our favorite DJs, that we used to play which was fun. [Laughs] When we get to, we use strobes on stage which is always a good time.
What’s life like on the road with the other band members?
It’s always amazing. We all get along great. We just generally goof off and have a good time. We are pretty carefree dudes.
What do you guys like to do to occupy the time with each other when you’re on the road, in hotel rooms, or relaxing before shows?
We listen to a lot of music and watch a lot of television. [Laughs] Being lazy & chilling around is what we do best.
I’m sure that kind of atmosphere leads us to some fun tour stories, right?
[Laughs] Oh, man; too many. We’ve stayed in lots and lots of strange places that make for good stories, but we are a pretty quiet calm band so we tend to just keep things as normal as possible. You always meet a lot of interesting bums & homeless people on the road. [Laughs] We picked up two legit hippies once in Florida and gave them a ride to a hippy gathering in the woods. One guy’s name was Colors and he made our van smell for about a week!
Besides hippie-smelling vans, what’s your all-time worst road story?
Oh, so many, but actually probably the worst was on our most recent tour last June. We had to cancel the last four dates and head home early. Just some bad luck on the road and small turn outs at shows. It basically came down to possibly running out of money on the road or cutting our losses & making it home safely. We never like to cancel shows because we live to play music.
How would you describe the song-writing process in the band?
It has changed a lot. Now when we write, it’s usually me, John, & Hessler in a room with very dark lighting to set the mood. We just start jamming on stuff. Usually Hessler or I will have something in mind to play around with and we just build it & go from there. When the music is all done, we give it to Noah to put his vocals to it.
Your sound has been described as a lot of things. “A musical whiplash” has to be my favorite, but how would you describe your sound?
[Laughs] That’s about right. It’s unpredictable. You never know what is going to come next from us. Sometimes we don’t. We just let it flow and how it comes out is what you get! We like our music to be an emotional rollercoaster. It’ll bring you up, take you down, and probably throw you for a loop or two.
You have another EP coming out soon titled Gravity&Me that I’m sure is another musical rollercoaster. How did this EP come about?
It’s been a long time in the coming: two years since our last release. We had been wanting to record for a long time, but the timing was never right. With our second guitarist leaving last year, it made us make some changes and allowed us to focus on finally not touring, but writing & recording. We took the opportunity to get things done and get some new music out there to everyone.
Where does the name come from?
It starts from the first track “Think Gravity.” We thought it just fits us and our music. Gravity affects everyone and it definitely affects us.
How does it differ from your other releases?
We recorded it completely ourselves at our friend Dan’s studio. That was very different for us because we were completely in control and made every little detail how we wanted it. We had also recorded most of the songs before so we knew exactly what to do to make them better this time.
Some of the highlights for me were the re-worked versions of “Patience” & “Machines” from The Mapping. What led to including those songs?
We have a lot of fans that still love our old songs and beg for us to play them. We thought it would be a nice treat for people if we took a couple of those songs & recorded them in a new way so people can hear them in a different way.
Which versions do you like better?
We love them both equally. The full band versions will always mean more to us because they were the first time those songs came to life, but with the new versions, we got to expand our abilities and try new things which we always enjoy more than anything.
Gravity&Me has to be one of your smallest releases yet offering just three original compositions. What led to this decision?
It really kills us to have that happen in the first place, but putting this out ourselves as well as paying for everything on our own is a daunting task. We just wanted to get in the studio and hopefully get it done in a small amount of time. This will buy us some time to work on completely new material and get something 100% new out to people hopefully by the end of the year.
How’s that goal looking right now?
Hopefully much sooner than later. We already have a handful of new songs that we are waiting to record and are working on pre-producing some of them now. The first chance we get to get back in the studio, we are taking it.
Any chance your next release will end up being on another label?
Naw, it will definitely be by us. Firefly is now no longer a label. They decided to call it quits about a year ago actually which was sad but good because it let us out of any sort of contract. We also got a lot of The Mapping CDs to do whatever we want with! But unless someone really likes what they hear & want to do amazing things for us, we like doing things on our own. That’s how we are for now.
Sounds like a good plan so far. Well, I’m pretty much out of questions so here’s a random one to wrap up. What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever played?
[Laughs] That is a good one! We once played a show in a roofless building in Charlotte, NC on a freezing cold night. It was a concrete building with one big bon fire in the middle of it, random art hanging on the walls, and a good amount of people & a few bums wondering around. Having no roof made it impossible to stay warm. Definitely the worst and weirdest show!
Well, thanks for talking to me here for a while.
Thank you too! I appreciate all the questions, man!
Gravity&Me will be first available at May 29th’s Give It All You Got Fest 3 in Warrenton, VA. It will be available online the following week. You can read Balarama Music’s review of the new EP by clicking here or you can preview some of the new songs at the links below: