Preston Lovinggood jump started his career as the frontman of local legends Wild Sweet Orange, touring the country and appearing on David Letterman’s stage. At the end of the decade, the band hung it up and Lovinggood languished for a few years, releasing the occasional single, but not putting out a full-length until last year’s beautifully written and performed Sun Songs on Birmingham’s Communicating Vessels. On February 25th, Lovinggood released the much-anticipated follow up, the aptly titled Shadow Songs. He collaborated with producer/engineer Darrell Thorp (Beck, Radiohead), Todd Fink of the Faint and a slew of friends in Birmingham and Los Angeles. We have the interview here:
Chris K. Davidson for You Hear This?: When and how did the concept for a Sun Songs companion record come about? Or was it there all along?
Preston Lovinggood: It was not there all along. It really happened about 6 months after the release of Sun Songs, listening to the recordings on a few road trips during the summer of 2013 while I was visiting Sanders Bohlke in Miami, Florida.
YHT?: Why did you wait so long to release the original recordings with Darrell?
PL: I waited so long because I still had an itch to make a low-fi album. The first Wild Sweet Orange album was a lo-fi version, but was never released. I had a different vision for the album in mind. Originally, I had my lo-fi album made (Sun Songs), but then I eventually realized Darrell’s vision for the album was genius. Since Sun Songs had long been out, I was able to relax and rely on Darrell’s skill and vision; and it sounds beautiful.
YHT?: Sequencing-wise, why did you decide to put those five songs that were originally released on Sun Songs pretty much at the start of the album? Was it a sense of dichotomy or A-side/B-side thinking?
PL: It just seemed natural like a story. These are songs that you have hopefully heard or maybe not. I mean, “Pat Conroy Beach Music is sort of like waking up from a dream. “Ancient Path”, “Cage Dive”, and “Fear Not” are the most positive songs on the record. so I wanted it to end on a positive note.
YHT?: What makes those three songs so positive?
PL: I sometimes struggle to express what I’m truly feeling, so the listener can experience my emotions. For those three songs, I had, somehow, given up trying to control my words and trying to control what the listener feels. I was singing whatever came to my mind. I just let it flow out of me, without questioning myself. It was a beautiful experience for me, marking a turning point.
YHT?: How did going out of Birmingham help your creative process?
PL: I can’t explain the joy of just being in an old/new city with warm days and cool nights.
YHT?: What was it like working with Darrell and how did he help push you to make the record we hear today?
PL: He was really comforting. We would get breakfast every morning and the best days were the days when I let him do his thing and not try to control him. He is so good at what he does. I can’t even believe how good the guitar and drums sound on this record. It really is a dream come true.
YHT?: Darrell, as producer/engineer for this record, how do you feel you helped shape Preston’s vision?
Darrell Thorp: I worked really hard to make Preston’s songs come to life. He is such a incredible song writer, one of the best I have had the pleasure of recording and producing. One thing for me was making sure everything sonically was recorded with as much passion as possible to set the tone of each song. Sonics while recording can have such an impact on how musicians play and how Preston himself performs. The production side of the record was getting the right players in place. I knew that I could add and enhance each song with how they play. I know what they are capable of and what I can get out of them. I have to give the musicians a lot of credit on this album. Their talent and love of music really came through and added such a dynamic to all of Preston’s material.
YHT?: For comparison’s sake, how is Birmingham a different creative space than Los Angeles, but also in what ways did having Preston get out of Birmingham help shape the results?
DT: Birmingham is a great place! So many talented people live in the area. It’s really incredible to see so much talent there. In some ways, the talent scale is comparable to Los Angeles. There is a very cool creative environment there now. A couple of amazing studios have popped up to record. I really enjoy my time there.
Bringing Preston to LA was a great experience for him. He was able to step away from life at home and be some other place that’s creative. And bringing talented friends of ours to help record was an perfect process to really capture Preston at his best.
YHT?: Preston, how did you start working with Todd?
PL: I met him at Maria Taylor’s house in LA, and then we hung out again in Birmingham at Maria’s new house and wrote a song. I asked him if he would read this poetry I wrote. He loved the idea. I’m so thankful that he is on the record.
YHT?: What plans do you have for promoting and touring on this record?
PL: We are going to have an intimate night of music for the release and then start off slow with shows in Nashville and LA.
YHT?: Obviously, music is subjective, and certain songs will appeal to listeners more than others, but what are your favorite lyrics from the record and why?
PL: “Fear Not” has my favorite bridge on the record, and I love singing it more then any of the other bridges. I like the lyrics as well. I like that I know what they mean. Some of the songs im still figuring out what they mean.
YHT?: Besides Darrell and Todd, who else worked with you on this record?
PL: Jeffrey Cain, Carrie Merritt, Shane Harless, Zach Lindsey and James Mcleod.