As reported by Buzzbands L.A., Long Beach-based band The Fling became the newest signee with Silver Lake's Dangerbird Records this week, just as they were leaving town for a multi-state tour with (sudden labelmates) Darker My Love and Delta Spirit. Their self-released When The Madhouses Appear will re-appear on Dangerbird early next year, amplifying its Big Pink-meets-Black Mountain country-gaze for a whole new audience. Singer and lyricist Dustin Lovelis joins us for an interview while eating a sandwich in Santa Fe to discuss strength, stress and the Long Beach curse.
Jeff Castelaz of Dangerbird said “Dustin Lovelis writes lyrics that so perfectly convey winsome, heartache, bitterness and sweetness, I want to spray paint them on the insides of my eyelids.” If you could spray paint the lyrics of another band on your eyelids, whose band would it be and why?
Maybe Townes Van Zandt. I think he has really personal lyrics. They're really straight to the point, and he influenced a little of my song writing in the past couple years. Also Robert Pollard–Guided by Voices, John Lennon's been a big one since I was a little kid. Almost everything Frank Black has done from the Pixies to the Catholics. Anything from the old '60s stuff–like the Mamas and the Papas and all that–to newer stuff.
You guys are a Long Beach band. How did you avoid the Long Beach curse? There are so many good bands there that never break out.
The Long Beach curse–well, I'm not really sure. We were playing the Long Beach circuit–Prospector, all that–and at a certain point we felt like we were annoying our friends by playing so much and playing the same songs over and over. So we made a conscious decision to play in L.A. more often. It seemed as though there was a lot more going on up there that we could be a part of. It took a long time for people to latch on to it, but it felt like within a couple months, things just started falling into place. I think finishing our record was a big part of that too. It seemed like people sort of turned their heads once it was done–more so than the EP. So once the record was done, we got offers to play better shows, and did our CD release and sold out Spaceland. I think from there, word just spread. We've been doing our thing, I guess, and things have been going well. We've been saving up money, trying to go on tour, playing shitty shows in like Idaho. You know–we have been working really hard so I think that's finally paying off.
What can you tell us about the upcoming album?
We actually signed with Dangerbird on the way out for tour and left straight from there, and said maybe mid- to late-February it will come out. It's going to be a re-release of Madhouses Appear. We've been selling it at shows and we're going to release it here, Mexico, Canada, Australia and then tour on it a lot more.
How did you figure out all of your strengths so you could effectively put them to good use on the record?
I think through touring. You learn how to get close really fast, how to deal with everone's differences. That was a huge thing for us. Touring all the time is fun. It's hard, but there's something about it that kind of bonds you. You become a unit, and you can't imagine the band without any of these people. So that's been our strength–touring, and getting through the hard stuff for awhile, being able to tour on our own. That's something we're proud of.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a band and how did you learn from it?
I think finding time to do things–between touring and working our day jobs and trying to pay rent and making our own merch and working on our van. It's really hard to find time to write music. Or even just relax. In the past six months or so, we have gotten better at chilling out. Our last tour van broke down three times but we didn't stress–it ended up being really fun for some reason. So we have learned how to roll with the punches. We never got breaks for awhile, we did everything DIY. For a long time, we felt like we had to do that forever. We definitely don't have money. Even scraping together money to burn CDs, make our shirts–that always has been really hard. Those things won't go away now completely, but Dangerbird does a lot for their bands so that will really help. That's what we're really excited about–we have to still work, still have to struggle, but it does make things a lot easier when someone backs you, someone believes in you.