Lovebettie is no stranger to the music scene in Greensburg, and has gained a national following for their “swagger rock” style of music. Band members C.J., Larry, Nick, and Alexandra have carved out a place for themselves through relentless touring and gigs, and saw its fame skyrocket after opening for Lifehouse a few years back. Lovebettie is planning to release a new album this year that they believe is some of their best work yet! The following is our full interview with Lovebettie. Photos taken by SkySight Photography.
Where did you meet each other and how did you decide to become a group?
A: Alexandra and C.T. met in college and started writing songs together. After one acoustic show, they were asked to open for Lifehouse at a sold out show. Shortly after Larry joined on drums and the band began touring nationally. Nick joined in 2014 and performed over 200 shows in 2015.
What is the process, or first step, you follow when writing the lyrics and music for each song?
A: Our songs are written in a number of different ways. Sometimes they start lyrically, other times from jamming on a riff as a band. It really just depends on the song and how inspiration hits you. Quite a few of our songs have been written on walks when C.t. will beat box and Alexandra will sing over it. When we get home we put the guitar and piano to it.
What is the inspiration for your songwriting?
A: Our songs are just based off of real life experiences. Whether it’s something we are going through personally or someone we know, as long as it is a strong emotion.
Who participates in the process?
A: We all participate in the writing process. A lot of times Alexandra and C.T. will map out a skeleton or general concept and bring it to a practice to fill out and develop as a band.
What current projects are you excited about?
A: We are currently working on a new album that we are very excited about. We’ve written some of our best material to date and we really can’t wait to put it out there. Our new single recorded at Philly Sound Studios and music video produced by Marcus Morelli of Skene 19 Films (of Greensburg) should be released by the time this article comes out, so it’s a pretty cool time right now. Other than that, there is a lot of national touring and major festivals on our horizon this year.
Would you rather play in small venues or larger venues? Why?
A: That’s kind of a difficult question. We get to do a lot a lot of huge festivals and we really feed off of big crowds, but there is something to say for the intimacy and personal connection you get at smaller acoustic performances. Any time you get to make real connections with people, it makes it all worthwhile.
You have played countless shows all over the country. What is one unforgettable tour or show?
A: We have so many memories and cool stories after thousands of shows, that it is hard to think of just one. But this past summer we got to perform at a giant midwest festival called Rocklahoma. We got a second stage headlining slot right after Linkin Park. It was going to be pretty much the coolest gig ever, until a tornado warning and insane weather shut down the festival right before Linkin Park and our set. The festival was evacuated but all the people camping ended up under the tenting for our stage to seek shelter. There were about 500 people under there that were so bummed that the festival was shut down. We decided to rally and start playing acoustic without amplification at the top of our lungs, and started a sing a long of songs that lasted over four hours. It was insane, and so amazing. At some point after about 40 minutes, one of the sound techs rigged together a 2 channel mixer as a pa and used a monitor as a speaker. They ran a line into our acoustic and a microphone to Alexandra, and suddenly we had a real show going on. It was raining sideways outside of the tent while all this was going on, but it was one of the most fun and memorable experiences we have ever had. 500 people rallying with us and singing against the one of the biggest storms we had ever seen.
What was it like playing at the Warped Tour?
A: Warped Tour is pretty cool. There is such a unique family of artists on that tour. It gets really hot around that time of year, and the shows usually turns into a sweatfest, but it’s a lot of good energy, and a fun time.
What was your best experience while on the road performing at clubs and festivals?
A: We have performed at Summerfest in Milwaukee the past 3 years, which is a huge festival that generally draws between 800,000 and 1 million people. We won the emerging artist series 3 years ago and got to perform direct support for Pat Benatar and Rick Springfield the following two years, so that festival is always one of our favorites. The people there are amazing and really look forward to discovering new bands, which of course is always great for bands like us!
What is your proudest moment as a musician?
A: My proudest moments as a musician is when people tell me their stories about how our songs helped them through a tough time, or it’s the song that rallies them to finish big race they’ve been training for. It’s really magical how music is such a give and take between us and our fans. It’s a relationship that I truly cherish.
What can people expect to see in your live performances?
A: We like a lot of energy in our live performances and we don’t like to half-ass anything, so we really give it all we have on stage. So I guess you can expect the best of what we have every time you see Lovebettie. It means the world to us that we get to do what we do for a living, so we never take that for granted, especially with our live shows.
What is your favorite part of performing live?
A: Crowd energy and reaction is definitely our favorite part of performing live. We have developed so many relationships with so many amazing people from doing music, and we draw so much of our strength and passion from them. And when you look out from the stage and you see people singing lyrics to your songs, there is no greater feeling in the world.
What do you value about the music scene in Pittsburgh?
A: Pittsburgh’s a hard working city, and it really taught us that we had to work hard for what we wanted and to earn our keep. Our network of musicians and fans helped us get to where we are, and really enabled us to get the footing to expand nationally. Without them, we would have never gotten off the ground.
When you were growing up and becoming interested in music, what artists inspired you to make music?
A: Each member has their different influences. Alexandra was in love with Motown as a kid, and also artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Carole King and James Taylor. She also used to go to a lot of blues concerts with her father. C.T. was inspired by grunge music in his teens like Nirvana and moved on to everything from industrial to pop rock. Larry loves a lot of prog rock like Dream Theater and Rush, but has performed in every time of music genre from metal to country. Nick was inspired by a lot of classic rock from everything from Kiss to Jackson Brown, as well as Primus.
What was the best advice shared by another musician?
A: We recently got to spend some time with our good friends in Halestorm, and as they shared stories they had from the venues we play now, they told us to stay the course and keep giving it all you got. Hearing them talk about how they miss doing the things we are doing now really made us think to appreciate some of the struggles we go through now because it’s some of the stories we love looking back on later. You can’t accomplish everything you set out to do in a day. They are some of the most genuine and motivated people we know, so their advice matters a lot to us.
What do you wish you would have known when you started in the music industry?
A: I think it would be that everything is accessible. Don’t wait for someone to just hand you anything or “discover” you and give you a career…make one. Every single thing you have seen another person accomplish, you can accomplish yourself. It’s already been done even, so you know it’s not impossible. Start digging for venues, start booking your own tours, make a ton of mistakes, and learn from them.
How has your music evolved over the years?
A: Musically we have matured a lot. We have really worked on songwriting, and settled into who we are as a band and people and touring as much as we do has really evolved the band musically.
What has been your biggest challenge as performers?
A: It’s not always easy to be on the road as much as we are. We miss our families, our significant others, and the friends we leave back home and in each of the cities we leave each night. Sometimes we miss holidays and important events. It’s not always a lifestyle for the faint of heart. But we are fortunate enough to have the kind of support and understanding from everyone that makes it all worthwhile.
What was your first performance as a group?
A: Our first performance under the name Lovebettie was performing a sold out opening set for Lifehouse at Club Diesel.
Did you ever see a live show that inspired you to do this for a living?
A: If you have music in your blood, every amazing live show inspires you. It lights you up inside, and you feel that feeling that only the ambiance of a concert can give you. Our song “Alarm” was written about that feeling at a live concert when thousands of people are all singing along and dancing as one giant force of nature.
Do you like to experiment with new instruments or musical styles? Or, do you prefer to stay within a certain style?
A: I think for us, we have always walked the line between a few genres and have experimented with mixing different musical styles together from the very beginning. We never even considered saying “this is the type of music genre we would like to play”. It was always, just start playing and see what come out of you.
How would you describe your music to a first time listener?
Our fans deemed it “Swagger Rock”, but I guess we would describe it as soulful pop rock.
What are the band’s plans for the spring and summer months?
A: Massive touring, huge festivals, and a NEW ALBUM on the way!
Does the band have any performances scheduled in the region during the month of March and April?
A: Ramada in Greensburg on March 5th and Latitude 360 in Pittsburgh on April 15th and lots of acoustic shows as well.