Sunday, January 18, 2009


For Preston Lovinggood, lead singer of the Birmingham-based alternative/indie rock band Wild Sweet Orange, music and art have always existed in the very core of his being; he only had to discover the outlet in which to create it. As a young elementary school child, he would listen to his sisters practice piano in the den of his parents’ house. “I always remember hearing them play and having melodies come to mind, not necessarily lyrics, though I would sometimes sing lyrics,” Lovinggood says.

Though he has toured across the country and written several songs with Wild Sweet Orange (or “WSO” to fans), Lovinggood’s initial artistic outlet was not music, but theatre. “At a young age, I got into theatre. I love theatre and will always consider that my first love; I hope to get back into it and make movies.” As he approached middle school, he found himself at a crossroads. He felt he had to decide to which art he would devote his energy, acting or playing in a band. He chose the latter.

Musically, Lovinggood finds inspiration from bands and songwriters like the Beach Boys and Neil Diamond; an early influence includes church choir, where he met drummer Chip Kilpatrick. “More than anything, I’ve been influenced by the idea of reaching a lot of different people at the same time. Growing up in theatre, you try to do that as an actor. That’s what Shakespeare was trying to do, reaching all types of people and social classes at the same time, and I think that’s what pop music is. I think I’ve always just loved pop music. I just love something I can remember.”

After writing several songs, Lovinggood recruited guitarist Taylor Shaw to play with him in the local Birmingham scene. Kilpatrick, guitarist/keyboardist Garrett Kelly, and former guitarist Matt Parsons rounded up the lineup, and WSO was born. Often asked about the origin of the moniker Wild Sweet Orange, Lovinggood says that Parsons discovered the name from an unexpected source. “[Parsons] met an old guy at a coffee shop who made us a list of band names, and before the old man died, he gave Matt that list, and Wild Sweet Orange was on the list.”

The band soon began touring the coffeehouse scene in Birmingham and Homewood, including several shows at Cool Beans in Homewood and Moonlight Music CafĂ© in Vestavia Hills. Though the band had the opportunity to open for indie-rock group Tilly and the Wall at Cool Beans, Lovinggood admits his favorite show was opening for Chris Staples at Safari Cup in Birmingham. “For some reason that show was like the biggest show for me. There was like 50 people there, but I loved that show.”

After the band recorded some demos with producer Lynn Bridges, their song “Sour Milk,” found its way to the set list of Scott Register’s “Reg’s Coffee House.” “Scott Register is a friend of mine, a really good friend now. I didn’t know him at the time, but he was our magic moment, our opening into the music business. He is a true lover of music.” Register soon passed along the demo to Seattle-based radio station, KEXP, who began playing “Ten Dead Dogs” to generous response.

In late 2007, the band signed with Canvasback Records and began a heavy touring schedule that has lasted well into late 2008. The band has shared the stage with several well-known and independent acts such as the Whigs, Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, Sherwood, and the Counting Crows. In late 2007, their song “Land of No Return” appeared of the ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy. Their appearance in on CBS’s The Late Show with David Letterman, where they played “Ten Dead Dogs,” marked their official television and introduced the band to millions of potential fans. Finally, the summer of 2008 ended with an appearance at Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois.

Still, Lovinggood has chosen to stay realistic about his expectations for the band. However, he still holds true to the rock and roll dream of playing for large crowds and packing out stadiums.
“Honestly, right now in the big scheme of things, we’ve experienced very mild, mild success. We’re sort of able to do it professionally. We’ve been on TV and stuff like and we’re so grateful for it. But I’ve just realized that I want to be a big star. I want to be huge and be in a huge band. I know a couple of people are weirded out by that, but I’ve just come to terms with the fact that is healthy for me to say, to have that desire and not care if people think it’s stupid.”

Lovinggood also admits that despite the generous support given by the Southeast, particularly Birmingham, the band itself has a lot of work to do on the road. “No one knows who we are. We’ve played 230 shows in the last year and a half. It’s crazy. It’s starting to feel like Safari Cup in about five other cities. We can go to Chicago and play at Schuba’s for 75 people and it’s a lot of fun. We just went to Portland and played for about 350 people. We can play in Seattle for 200 people and it feels exciting. We’ve played in Orlando, LA, and New York for that amount of people. There’s a lot of work to be done. It’s humbling and it’s so hard.”

As far as discography is concerned, the band has released 2007’s The Whale EP, which includes songs such “Wrestle with God” and “I’m Coming Home”, as well as their 2008 Canvasback debut, We Have Cause to be Uneasy, which contains the singles “Ten Dead Dogs” and “Either/Or.”

“I think growing up in the South and wanting to be an artist, it was really hard to take that risk and do something different. Everyone was telling me we were stupid and everyone was telling us we were wrong, so saying ‘We have cause to be uneasy’ is a way of telling people off in a way, but in a respectful way. I have cause to think these things and I have a right to let them play out. I’m going to be as angry as long as I need to be angry and forgive what I need to forgive. It’s sort of been a catchphrase for me, but I’m out of these things; I’ve forgiven and moved on. “

With almost a year and a half of touring and two recordings under their belt, the band has started writing new songs for their sophomore album. Lovinggood says that the songwriting process has been difficult because he does not want to create a “negative” album. He says that he does not want to write about touring and other factors in the lives of the musicians, but “songs about normal things that people can relate to.”

Currently, the band is on a three month break from touring and Lovinggood hopes to use that time effectively for songwriting. “Right now, I’ve made decisions to try and be creative every day. I think Hemingway said: ‘If a writer doesn’t write every day, he’s bound to create grave and moral evils.’ I think I’ve found that true for myself, so I think I need to be creative every day, whether I’m writing a song or whether I call someone to plan a band practice.”

For 2009, the band plans to record a five song cover EP, which includes some of Lovinggood’s favorite songs from the 1970’s. They will begin work on the new album, working with Jeffrey Caine, a member of another Birmingham-based rock band, Remy Zero, who garnered fame when they recorded “Save Me” for the television action-drama Smallville.

After their time in the studio, the band will hit the road sometime in March. “We hope to play with some bigger bands and write some better songs and keep working hard. Take a band like My Morning Jacket. They didn’t become a big pop band until their sixth record or so. So we’re just trying to have fun. Maybe we’ll never be a huge band, but we’re going to push it as far as it can go. We’re just going to keep touring, writing songs and making videos, and meeting people until we want to quit.”

For more information on Wild Sweet Orange, go to or visit their Myspace at

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Explodes with the dawn

How magnificent is the passion of Your heart
You mesmerize the very core of my being
Calling, beckoning, drawing me near to the center of Your Grace.
Each morning brings a fresh coat that explodes with the dawn.
Not the creation of man, but the Creator of humanity,
You sing into our souls promises, truth, redemption, and justice.
We stand in awe, silent, because we know our limited vocabulary
Can never fully express the majesty of Your character
Mighty to save You delight in giving us everything we ever need.
Never holding back, You only ask a portion of this generosity from us.
Bring us into the brilliance and radiance of Your presence.
Let us raise our voices as one
As You capture our souls,
And let us forever be satisfied.