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Meet Matthew Tow: Frontman of the Aussie Rockers the Lovetones Talks About His Latest Album, Dimensions

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Matt Tow courtesy of The Lovetones' MySpace.

Matt Tow courtesy of The Lovetones' MySpace.

When the Aussie rockers, the Lovetones released their debut album, Be What You Want, in 2003 through Bomp! Records the critics freaked out. Rolling Stone hailed Matthew Tow' as being worthy of wearing paisley on Caranby Street and hanging out with Ray Davies. Three albums later, the Lovetones haven't lost any of their magic. They will be bringing their classic, psychedelic, 1960s influenced sound back to Los Angeles. The Lovetones will be playing at the Spaceland tonight, and gracing the Redwood Bar tomorrow. Last weekend lead singer and founding member, Matthew Tow, was kind enough to give us a few moments of his time. Here is some of what was said. What made you pick up an instrument? How old were you?
Well, we were made to play piano when we were really young by our Mum, but it wasn't until I was fourteen, when I fell in love with the guitar. That's when I heard the Smiths for the first time. When I was in my early teens there were a lot of great bands coming from England. I got totally into Bill Bragg. He was a big influence.

How long have you been playing?
Well I've been in bands since I left school. (laughs) It doesn’t get any easier, you know what I mean? It’s just the biggest part of my life. I don't see it stopping any time soon. It's part of who I am. It's really hard on the people around you. They're the ones that suffer the most. I'm always grumpy and always tired, but I love it.

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So when did you form the Lovetones?
My previous band broke up around 2000. It was ugly. I decided to do some traveling after that and came to San Francisco to visit my friend Anton Newcombe (founder of The Brian Jonestown Massacre.) I was really inspired seeing him and playing with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, so I rushed home to Australia start a new band. I hooked up with some musicians that I had played with in different bands and that was it.

Is you band a dictatorship or a democracy?

It’s a total dictatorship. No question about it.

What is your writing process like?

I write most of it. Matt (Sigley), the bass player, writes some as well. We all live pretty far apart in Australia, so I will record parts of the song at home and send it to them.

Like Postal Service?
Exactly. The guys send back their parts and then we mix them together. The guys hadn't heard the songs all the way through before we record them. Which keeps them fresh I think because they can interpret their parts however they want. I find inspiring to do it that way. We don't learn the songs together until we go on the road, but the live experience is completely different from recording.


Photo courtesy of the Lovetones' Myspace.

Where did you get the name the Lovetones?
Well there's a Lovetone pedal that we use and that name stuck in the back of my mind. There was no real sort of cathartic moment where I got down on my knees and thought, " This is the best name on the planet!" It was more like, "That’ll do."I hear you've got a new label. Is it confusing having so many?
Yeah it is. There are new people, Planting Seeds Records, who are putting the record out this time around. We're still friends with TeePee Records, but it just a matter of the right timing. I would prefer to be on one label. The reorganizing takes up a lot of time. It's tiring to find new labels. But honestly, as long as the record get’s in the stores I’m happy

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Where did you write Journeyman?
I wrote that at home. Most of the songs I wrote on this album was at home. There were a few songs were hanging over from the Mediations record. Dimensions is really the third album in the trilogy. There are a couple songs here and there that are left over from the previous two albums, but the body of work is the three albums together.

Did you write Wintertime in Hollywood in Hollywood?
I wrote the chords in Sydney, but I wrote the words in Hollywood, yeah. I know it sounds cheesy, but it all made sense when I was there. The song is about being on the road and missing the people you left at home. For some reason, things that are heartfelt sound a bit cheesy.

You have a song called Love and Redemption which is the type of song you don't write unless you've done something heinous. What did you do?
(laughs) I didn't do anything! It’s more about not being truly happy with who you are as a person also. The song is about finding the truth out there and being happy with who you are. Finding that redemptive quality in yourself.

What is your favorite thing to do in LA?
It's so sad, but I love going to Poquito Mas and getting a burrito. That’s my great joy. I love the great Mexican food. You just don't get good Mexican food in Australia. I also love hanging out with friends and playing music, but man the Mexican food is terrific!

What was the worst show you ever played?
You know it doesn’t really matter as long as there are ten people in the crowd. I guess the bad shows are when people aren’t really paying attention. Also it doesn't help when the staff at the bar aren’t that friendly. That makes it hard.

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What is the weirdest thing you ever saw at a show?
That's hard. I think it was back when I was with Drop City. We were supporting the Manic Street Preachers and so the crowd was all waving Welsh flags. That was sort of strange.

Do you have a favorite local band at the moment?
TheDolly Rocker Movement! They’re just the greatest band in Australia at the moment.

I'll have to check them out. Last question: If you were stuck on a desert island and you could bring three things what would they be?
A Scrabble board, a dictionary, and a guitar.

A Scrabble board? Who are you going to play with?
You can play yourself! It’s no problem. You just set up four players and walk around playing with the letter you have. It's way better if you have a lazy Susan, so you can spin the board around, but I only get three things I would rather have a dictionary.

Sounds like a solid plan. Well thank you for talking with us!
Thank you!

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The Lovetones will be at the Spaceland tonight with Scout Niblett, The Stereo Workers Union, and Club Nowhere. Doors open at 8:30.

If you can't make it tonight, be sure to catch the Lovetones tomorrow evening at the Redwood Bar. Doors open at 10pm.