There’s always been an uneasy, somewhat awkward quality to LOVECRAFT, albeit boosted with a cathartic burst of escapism. The band who first appeared on the Liverpool music scene in the late ’00s blended whipsmart artrock with eerie and romantic offerings in an age that embraced the outsider. Their first two albums 2010’s Whistle And I Will Come, My Lad and 2015’s The Nervous System painted pictures of a group of sci-fi fancying kitchen sink obsessives.
In 2020, keeping the tradition of punctuating their releases with half a decade of developing their product in a laboratory of introspection and collaboration, Lovecraft release Out Of Ether. The four track EP sees Craig Sinclair’s merry band of miserablists joined by guitarist Dave Miller of News From Neptune along with a host of special Scouse scene stalwart guests. The band’s creations were concocted via lockdown-enabled remote working returning a collection of songs which suit the age as much as the authors. Sam Turner caught up with Craig to get the lowdown on the new release.
Craig, it’s been five years since the last Lovecraft release, catch us up.
The world has gone insane! Since the last Lovecraft album, a few of us made music under the name Cartwheels On Glass, which was an exercise in exhaustive self-exploration through stripped-down rock music, which is as fun as it sounds. We released a few really good EPs and played some terrific shows but I always knew I wanted to go back to a more densely layered sound, it just had to be as good as our second album (The Nervous System) to justify its existence. Thankfully, I think it is as good. Meeting Dave Miller (guitar, various other sonic conjurings) has been the key to it all, he’s such a brilliant collaborator and a musical wizard – I couldn’t have got back into it without him.
How does the look and sound of Lovecraft 2020 differ from the previous iteration(s)?
The Lovecraft of five years ago was a tightly rehearsed unit and I was really interested in exploring a kind of sci-fi escapist sound. My lyrics were more occupied with vague feelings and imagery, whereas now I’m finding it’s more rooted in reality. I’m writing in the same way where ideas just arrive from nowhere, but on closer inspection they seem to be grasping at things that seem true to my own life. Of course, age changes you, and I’ve found that the music is unconsciously dealing with more serious things as I’m edging closer to middle age! Hopefully it’s no less interesting as a result, though. It’s a much more insular thing now, too – more of a studio (home) project than a full band. At last I have total control!
There’s a slight paranoid, agoraphobic quality to Out Of Ether, am I right in thinking it’s a lockdown creation?
Yes, the songs were written mostly through a great game of digital exquisite corpse, where my main collaborator Dave Miller and I would send one another loops and fragments via email – the other person would add things then send them back. It was a beautiful way to relieve lockdown stress, and I’d always await his additions eagerly. Others joined in a bit further down the line, adding bits and pieces until we had a lovely tapestry going on. There’s a grubby, lo-fi feel to it which is born out of my total lack of engineering skills and lack of decent equipment, but that suits the mood of the songs well. I think the paranoid agoraphobic qualities you’re referring to have always been present in Dave and I, lockdown or no! That being said, if the year had gone differently, this EP probably wouldn’t have happened.
These dark, absurd, pandemic days seem like an appropriate setting for Lovecraft. How does it feel releasing music to such conditions?
With the gross amount of saturation in ‘content’ online these days, releasing music feels like screaming at a waterfall. It’s fortunate for my own mental health that I’m just happy to put it out and to be heard in some way rather than chasing dreams of pop stardom. The process of making and sharing is gratifying enough. That sounds like a cop out answer, but it’s absolutely true. Plus, there’s a lot of grief and darkness in this record that people might be able to relate to. Sadness is a universal thing that we need to embrace sometimes and channel into something positive.
The EP features many familiar established faces in Liverpool’s music scene. Is the sense of community which was alive in 2010-15 still present today?
There are lots of great young artists thriving in the city today, but as someone who hasn’t been a part of it much recently, I’m out of the loop. I am lucky enough to know loads of immensely talented bands like The Aleph, Real Terms, a.P.A.t.T. and Zombina, and there’s a huge sense of collaboration and community amongst all of those, with lots of musicians helping each other out in various ways. It’s all done on the computers nowadays! Ben Fair (from The Aleph and EEIH) has been a friend for years and I’ve always been in awe of his talents, so to have him playing on Ticking Over Nicely was wonderful. There’s such a joy in the process of firing off a wav file and waiting for it to come back with a whole horn section and live drums added, which is what Nick Branton and David Kelly did for us. My favourite guest on the EP though, is my son Dale, whose singing is heartbreakingly beautiful. But then I would say that.
What are your plans for Lovecraft going forward?
There are lots of half-finished songs and ideas that may come out as another EP or even an album, and we want to play live when we’re able to, maybe just once. The main thing is that we’re creating again, and it’s a lovely feeling.
Out Of Ether by Lovecraft is out now on Bandcamp