US / UK Tour
September – October 2009
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

“It will break you in two immediately and you'll do nothing but fall fast in love with Ann Yu's vocal shouts and calls, the crunchy guitars and the driving, heart-pulsing backbeat. It's emotive and aching and we can't seem to shake it.” THE CULTURE OF ME

“Sounding at times vocally like a more laid back Karen O and with an early 90s shoegazey feel, fans of My Bloody Valentine should find something to like. In William, the sound is bolstered by the occasional throbbing bassline and urgent repeating drum fill which adds more immediacy to the impending swell.” Q MAGAZINE

“Full-throated indie along the lines of their hometown heroes The Killers in their pre ‘are we dancer’ days, or a rougher edged Howling Bells. This also has a hint of a dark country rock edge, like an answer record to one of Ryan Adam’s more anthemic moments.” NME

“These San Fran types roar out of the gates with their delightful and defiantly soaring pop songs. Ann Yu’s vocals beckon and seduce like a siren, while the crystalline musical shell around her builds and solidifies. Signs is a definite highlight, with its haunting vocal climax.” DROWNED IN SOUND

“Ann Yu has a real presence and they are obviously not afraid to put their soul onto a record and let it pour out.” MUSIC WEEK

Active since January 2006, LoveLikeFire (originally the title of a Generation X song), already have a pair of independently-released EPs, Bed Of Gold (2006) and An Ocean In The Air (2007), under their belts, as well as several self-booked / self-financed tours, and are now set to issue their full-length debut album, Tear Ourselves Away (Heist or Hit Records), on September 14. Which one reviewer posited, “embodies a passage of feelings that manifest themselves in a collection of bittersweet and thoughtful tunes. The album tells tales of the desire to run free from inhibitions, being keenly aware of surroundings, fears, desires and compelling moments of inspiration.”

With a couple of line-up changes since their inception, the four-piece’s roots lie in Las Vegas – although founding members Ann Yu (vocals, guitar) and David Farrell (drums), plus newbies Marty Mattern (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) and Eric Amerman (bass, guitar, backing vocals), are currently based in San Francisco, California. Bonding over a genuine love of music and soon locking into a shared purpose, it would seem that the band have now ‘found their sound’, which could be likened to an elemental force that’s awash with widescreen wizardry.

As with most groups, LoveLikeFire’s melodious music is rustled up through a collaborative process, which then sees Ann unpacking her thoughts and delivering the song’s emotive lyrics, with unashamed and unfettered swooping vocals that can also effortlessly dissolve into a gently gorgeous timbre – resulting in pleasing-to-the-ear orchestral dream pop and enchanting lullabies, that will leave you hanging on every word. Ann told one journalist, “Our songs are born in private, in your bedroom, whispered and imagined, in your own reality. We're not trying to write super cerebral or flashy music. We just want to tap into our most private moments and share that with our listeners. It’s about the general feel you get from a song – the gut feeling, the most honest feelings, the ones that come out best when you are by yourself. There's nothing more amazing to me than that.”

Deservedly, plaudits are coming thick and fast, with a glut of favourable press coverage on their home soil, and the UK just beginning to pick up on the band with the buzz having gradually seeped in through osmosis. And for ‘Fact Fans’, Spin once revealed how the Las Vegas-born Ann, “used to share her apartment and garage rehearsal space with The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci.” With LoveLikeFire’s Press Release going one step further, by flagging up how, “Borne out of the constant frustration of growing up with her parents refusing to let her listen to pop music of any kind, the young artist trained as a classical violinist, but yearned for sounds that spoke to her on a more personal and affecting level.”

After contacting the group’s PR Officer, Tasha @ Anorak London, she very kindly asked Ann + Marty if they could fill in a Questionnaire for R*E*P*E*A*T, which amazingly, was returned less than a day later! Listening to LoveLikeFire, you’ll soon realise that they are in a different class and are something of a marvel – and as they say, great oaks grow from little acorns…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1.To give us an idea of some of your musical influences and tastes, if you were asked to guest host your own radio show as DJs, which records would you play, and who would you most like to invite into the studio for a live session + interview?
Ann: “I would play some Eggstone first and foremost, because they were one of my first obsessions as a teenager, their bittersweet melancholic form of Swedish indie pop satisfied every craving I had musically. Then maybe an old Lush record, Spooky era, because more people need to appreciate and love this band. I would also make sure to play some Field Mice and The Passions. The Passions have a couple of gems for songs that need to be heard. Hmmm, it might be strange to throw in some of the Walkmen into this set, but this is a band that is quite special to me and everyone else in the band. The Walkmen have created a point of view quite unlike any other band out there right now. It would be cool to invite them into the studio and pick their brains about their creative process.”
Marty: “I would play Aphex Twin (Drukqs), The Bad Plus (Suspicious Activity?), Beach House (Devotion), Beck (Midnite Vultures), Beethoven (Pathetique Sonata), Monks (Black Monk Time), Blonde Redhead (In An Expression of the Inexpressible), Bob Dylan (Blonde on Blonde), The Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), Caribou (Andorra), Chopin (Nocturnes and Preludes), The Pixies (Bossanova), Bulgarian Women's Choir (Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares), The Flaming Lips (Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots), French Kicks (Two Thousand)… OK I have to move on because I'm just scanning through my library and I could go on… I would invite The Monks into the studio for a live session and interview because I wouldn't know what to expect.”

2.Some music critics have argued that “a band's value is measured in terms of both their reach and their artistic qualities” and that “important acts are driven by a desire to change things.” Would you agree with this and has there ever been an artist / band that has changed the way you think about music?
Ann: “This is so very true, an artist has to have a point of view they want to share with the world. When your message is loud and clear, you influence and change the way people think naturally. I think Blonde Redhead did this for me along with so many other great bands. When I first heard this band, I thought that even pain can be beautiful and there is beauty in all things. They inspired me to feel beauty in tragedy and be okay with that too.”
Marty: “There have been many artists that have changed the way I think about music, however, I don't think many of those artists set out to “change things”, they were just being themselves and creating what they loved. Many artists don't reach a wide audience until they've passed on; sometimes it's because people aren't ready for the music they're making. A few artists that changed the way I made music are: My good friends Russ Wieland, Joe Mormann, John Smythe and Navid Mir (these are old band mates of mine).”

3.Continuing with this train of thought, who for you are some of the great musical pioneers + what do you think has been the most influential musical movement?

Ann: “Bjork, Radiohead and Lee Hazlewood are some great musical pioneers, because they really had and have no boundaries. They were genius. Nirvana was a great musical pioneer because they help solidify what alternative music meant and paved the way for a slew of bands. I really have them to thank for us being able to do what we do.”
Marty: “Some great musical pioneers for me were: Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, Franz Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Elvis Presley, Joy Division and Brian Wilson. I'd say that Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, was the most influential collection of music for western music. It laid the groundwork for harmony, counterpoint, rhythm and tonality from which, we base our tuning system and our most basic songs. Music wouldn't be where it is now if it weren't for Bach's amazing talent.”

4.Looking back at the history of popular music, artists and groups used to release much more music per year without fans having to wait long period’s in-between records. However, it seems that musicians may now be returning to this way of working, in order to combat early Internet ‘leaks’ etc. Do you think this is a positive step?
Ann: “Totally love this. We are already writing for album two and it's becoming more and more necessary to constantly put yourself out there with new music. Otherwise, they forget about you really fast, just like technology.”
Marty: “I do believe it's a positive step. Lately, we've been discussing this very topic quite a bit. I think that it is important to only release music that we are happy with; so I don't think artists should just release more music in order to combat Internet ‘leaks’. Artists should be writing all the time and recording; music business people should be figuring out how to properly release more material. By the time you hear a band play their material live, it may be years old; the band could have moved on to a new sound or new material that describes where they're at, as people and artists. I believe in playing music that speaks to you and describes something meaningful; it doesn't matter when you wrote it. All artists won't be prolific, but the ones that are should be releasing more than one album a year; as long as they've got solid material to release.”

5.It was recently reported that “The 'Big Four' major record companies have joined forces to launch a new digital album format that they hope will take on Apple. Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI, are putting the finishing touches to an album download that will include a digitised version of the record sleeve, including artwork, lyrics and videos. Dubbed ‘CDX’ and launched in November, the new format is designed to boost interest in digital album sales.” What are your feelings on this?
Ann: “I think it's been going this direction for a while, I haven't bought a hard copy CD in ages myself. All my music is on my iPod and laptop.”
Marty: “A lot of people download music both legally and illegally; that will not stop. I think that most record labels are beginning to adjust to the new ways people are listening to music. Personally, I like having a physical record or CD, if it's an artist I'm really into. Owning something tangible helps me connect to the artist and it increases the odds of revisiting those artists. Some artists that aren't so easily accessible upon the first listen, are rarely given a second chance if it only exists digitally.”

6.On a similar note, it has just been announced that the Indie Charts are set to be revamped, with the aim of helping both new and established musicians who have never had a Top 20 Album. Do you think this is a good idea and of all your peers, are there any who you have an affinity with?

Ann: “This is a tough one, I'm not sure who this would help, I'd have to familiarize myself with the Indie Charts system more.”
Marty: “Odds are, I've heard of 25% of the artists on the Indie Charts, it's hard to keep on top of current artists. I usually rely on hearing new music through playing shows and friends recommendations. If being on Indie Charts will give bands the kind of exposure they want, then I'm all for it.”

7.Kings Of Leon once admitted that their breakthrough hit single, Sex On Fire, nearly didn’t make their fourth album, as Caleb wasn’t sure about it. But of all your songs to date, are there any that have taken on a life of their own / gone beyond your expectations, i.e. people’s reactions to them?

Ann: “Well, the single Boredom, was our collective least favorite song. It's very poppy and straightforward and didn't seem like it would do well, but I think after some time away from the song, we all realize that sometimes it's okay to have a song like this too. People listen to and understand music through their gut feelings and they don't intellectualize songs to the point of breaking it down into pieces like we do to our own songs.”
Marty: “Yes, there have been songs I've written that almost didn't make an album or EP. The only reason they did was because friends of mine said, “You have to put that song on it, it's one of your best songs.” I don't know what people are going to react to, people at radio stations predict what they think people will latch on to, but I'm not so sure those are the people you want putting out singles. I'd rather the artist chose.”

8.Prior to recording your debut album, did you have any criteria for choosing a producer and what was the most valuable lesson that you learnt from these sessions?
Ann: “Well, going back to the point of view idea, I think it was very important we worked with someone who had a strong point of view that we understood and respected. It's very hard to say how things will end up, but it's super important to start a recording session with everyone on the same page about their respective viewpoints on what kind of album it will be. I learned from these sessions to hold your ground when you feel strongly about something. It's very tricky to walk the line between teamwork and creative freedom when four people are working together on art.”
Marty: “I would want to have a personal relationship with a producer that was going to work with my band. Someone who I respect and trust in their knowledge of what sounds ‘good’.”

9.Do you write to suit your mood, and over the years, have you had many ‘happy accidents’ in the studio in terms of musical ideas / directions?
Ann: “I always write to suit my mood. I am inspired by so many different sounds and things I see day to day, that it's hard not to let that flow into something like a song. And as my good friend would say, ‘happy accidents in the studio are practised and rehearsed months before the studio’. I am a strong believer in this.”
Marty: “Happy accidents are great. I love being spontaneous and maintaining an awareness of the moment; especially when writing or recording music. I can't say I always write in accordance with my current ‘mood’. I've written much darker songs than my mood would reflect. I love eerie sounding music but I'm not a particularly eerie person.”

10.Can you reveal any of the lyrical themes in your new songs, and of all your lyrics to date, which line or song are you most proud of writing?
Ann: “I was very honest with my lyrics on this album and didn't try to hide much with ambiguous poetic sentiments. I had a lot of fear in me when I wrote these lyrics and it's sort of an ongoing theme. Trying to let go of the fear is also in some of the songs. I had and still have fear of so many things I can't control, like where am I going to be next year, how do I make my love stay with me, why do I always say the wrong things, how come things do not come naturally for me, lots of these sorts of thoughts seep into me and I let it out in song. I connected with Good Judgement and William the most, the lyrics from these songs were pretty much like a page from my journal.”

11.I really love your promo videos, but of all your favourite artists, are there any video concepts that you wished had been yours?
Ann: “Yes! The Bat For Lashes video for What's A Girl To Do, is brilliant. I want that video to be ours.”
Marty: “Strangely, our video for Stand in Your Shoes was very similar to a recent Radiohead video. I hadn't seen or heard of the Radiohead video until a few weeks after we shot our video. I can't say either of us really did the idea justice, or maybe the idea itself just isn't that good. The Bat For Lashes video that Ann mentioned, with some BMX riders in costumes, I like the simplicity of that video.”

12.Beck has just enlisted a group of friends (including MGMT, Devendra Banhart and Nigel Godrich) to form the ‘Beck & Friends Music Club’, whereby they will re-record entire albums in one-day sessions and post a track a week on The first album in the series to be re-worked is The Velvet Underground & Nico, but if you were ever asked to participate, which album would you be interested in re-recording and with which other musicians?
Ann: “I would love to re-record Nancy and Lee, and it would be quite swell to do it with the Walkmen.”
Marty: “Tom Waits - Blood Money, with Brian Wilson, Radiohead and The Bad Plus.”

13.When playing live, what type of experience do you hope that you give to your audience and what have been some of your favourite gigs that you’ve attended as a fan over the years?
Ann: “I really hope that our honesty comes through and people feel something when they see us. Some of my all-time favorite shows in no particular order are: 1) Beach House, 2) The Walkmen, 3) The Cure, 4) Morrissey, 5) Beulah, 6) Tilly And The Wall.”
Marty: “Utter Ecstasy. I can't say what my favorite gigs were.”


14.What are your biggest hopes for LoveLikeFire long-term, and when you do have some free time to yourself, how do you like to spend it?
Ann: “Biggest hopes long-term: Sustainability. Free time: Making banana bread, playing tennis and getting a nice haircut (with friends).”
Marty: “Biggest hopes long-term: That one day we can all quit our day jobs and play music full-time. Free time: Answering these questions...”

15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?

Ann: “CREAM BUNS!!!”
Marty: “Cream buns.”

A very special thanks to Ann + Marty, and to Tasha @ Anorak London, for all of their time and help.

“Close your eyes, rest well tonight
You can try your luck tomorrow”

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?