CKD: So talk about about what you’ve been doing for the last year and a half or so since Wild Sweet Orange broke up.
PL: Wild Sweet Orange broke and I didn’t really know what to do. It was very similar to a breakup of a relationship. It’s like if you broke up with your girlfriend. You love her, you respect her, but it just doesn’t work for whatever reason. It takes a lot to get over, especially if you envisioned it a certain way for so many years. Still a lot of soul searching and I felt like giving up on it. It’s just sort of been a lonely place until I started getting support constantly from Jeffery Cain, the guy who owns Communicating Vessels, and constantly getting support from so many people. I just wasn’t able to hear it until my Darrel Thorp, who’s the producer, asked me to come out to LA and bring 3 songs. So I brought three songs out there in May, flew out Mother’s Day May 8th, and I brought three songs that I had sort of finished and through that came a burst of creativity and a burst of serenity, a burst of self-confidence. It’s been definitely an adventure. A lot of highs and lows, but we’re about to be finished with the record and I’m super excited about it.
CKD: Could you talk about the record? What kind of plans you have for it? Maybe a tentative title?
PL: Well, we have a working title, but I don’t know if I can share that just yet.
CKD: That’s understandable. I know you said it might not be out until February or March.
PL: Not until February and I sort of have a title right now, but who knows. It could change. THe theme is really letting go. There is a theme of if you hold on too tight to something, you’re gonna lose control. There is a theme of self-acceptance. Really the theme is letting go and not obsessing over the tiny, little seeds you’re trying to plant. Just trusting that the things you want to happen will happen. That was something I wanted to discover in my own life and through the creative process. I used to be very obsessive and it was getting worse and worse and I wasn’t able to finish songs. Towards the end of the record, when I went out to LA, I didn’t even know what songs I was gonna record until 15 minutes before the session. That kind of take on it was extremely new to me and I was able to have a new type of creative inspiration to finish the whole thing.
CKD: What are some of the albums and artists that have influenced you the lately? I remembered the last time we spoke, it was Paul Simon and Neil Diamond.
PL: I would say now it’s a lot of artists, but more so certain songs. I get sort of obsessed with certain songs from certain artists. Some of those songs right now would be the first track from the newest U2 album No Line on the Horizon. There’s that song from Transformers soundtrack, that Linkin Park song “Iridescent”. Also the Spiderman: Broadway song, “Rise Above,” has been really influential to me as of the past two weeks.
CKD: I remember saying you wanted to write almost pop songs because you wanted to write songs that people could remember. Do you still feel that way?
PL: I think in that phase, I was still in that mindset of trying to please others, which comes from being signed to a major label. I think I was so much a part of that cult and so I didn’t realize...it’s a good part of me. I just really like pop songs. I grew up in a Southern Baptist home and grew up around really poppy good music, like Sandi Patti, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, all those artists are extremely good artists to me. It’s hard to escape what you’ve heard from a young age, good and bad. So I’m really just trying to recreate that. I just love those songs and I just love good songs. I’ve never thought about doing anything different than what comes out when I sit down with a guitar.
CKD: Could you talk about The Moviegoer and how Walker Percy has served as an inspiration for you?
PL: That’s really funny. When the band did break up and we weren’t working anymore, I did discover that book and that writer. Honestly, that’s the whole reason I kept writing and I keep trying to write as good as that to me. As someone who’s Southern, as someone who’s Catholic, as someone’s who definitely is looking for the deeper meaning behind things, Walker Percy just came to me and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I think about him every day. It was sort of an obsession at first, but now it’s sort of a comforting, encouraging presence. It was more of a friend and a hobby. I was sort of an enthusiast at the time. It was something that strangely kept me connected to everything around me. It happens every now and then, even if I pick up one of his books, I find that whatever I read about, I’ll overhear somebody talking about or I see something that’s so connected to whatever’s happening in that story. I just feel like the spiritual journey that he was on, all this talk of how man is a pilgrim on earth, is something I really needed to hear and help me connect some of the dots from my past. His take on the whole Southern, Christian gothic experience is just ridiculous. I can’t forget about it. It meant so much to me. I could go on forever about it. Isidore South, the studio we record at here in town, is right next door to Walker Percy’s childhood house and when we first started recording there, I was reading this book called The Last Gentleman, which is based off that area and Country Club Road and the golf links there. Then, when I went down to New Orleans once for a memorial service, and I overheard someone talking about Walker Percy and ended meeting this wonderful photographer named Jared Ragland, who had just done a black and white series on Walker Percy in New Orleans. He’s actually going to be doing the photos for the 7-inch that’s coming out November 15th and he’s hopefully going to be helping out with the album artwork as well. So it’s just crazy.
CKD: What exactly is Communicating Vessels? Is it a record label, publishing company?
PL: It’s a real deal label owned by Jeffrey Cain and he’s the best ever. He’s been in the industry a long time and just knows a lot. He has a lot of savvy, knowing how to nurture a band because he’s an artist himself. There’s just so much freedom there and so much excitement. There’s a studio to record in and there’s someone to be excited about. If you have a sure idea or a record cover idea, he’s going to be support and be into it.
CKD: I heard a lot about it and went to the website. I just wanted to confirm what it was.
PL: Yeah, it’s just a label that’s going to nurture bands from the ground up. So it’s just crazy because he’s picked so many great artists. The Grenandines to me are one of the best bands in Birmingham, and the Great Book of John, and Green Seed. And Sanders Bohlke just moved from his home with his wife from Mississippi to Birmingham. It’s just exciting to me that something is being nurtured and grown here as a Birmingham thing, but understanding too, that there’s a whole world out there to have fun in. They’re doing press and doing the whole real deal label thing to help promote your band.
CKD: What are your plans for the album and your music for the next year to year and a half?
PL: Well, I think we’re going to release it in February. But I think I just want to do a house show tour with certain groups of people who have reached out these past few years and inspired me to keep writing. A few people in Michigan, Seattle, California, and Nashville that I just want to go play for and hang out with and just be with them and chill and not just go play clubs for four weeks. I don’t want to just play clubs. I want to be with people I love and respect and be respectful and loving and have a good time. So that’s the first plan, just to do some chill, more relaxed shows to get my feet wet. Just be around some communities of people and use that to inspire the next push of what we do, whether it is to go on a six-week club date tour. Just have that as the beginning experience of this new venture.
CKD: What’s the best way for our readers to find out about your music?
PL: I guess right now through Facebook, Preston Lovinggood, and the Communicating Vessels website.
CKD: Where would you hope to see the Birmingham music scene in the next few years?
PL: I would just love to see it continue to think outside the box, which is what I love about Communicating Vessels is that they think outside the box and they do think about the world, and know that there’s a world outside of Birmingham. While knowing there’s a world outside of Birmingham, they’re still loving and acknowledging Birmingham, and still respecting the art of playing music for other people.