Following a long hiatus, the band Lonnieclaire is back with the release of their latest project, You’re My A.N.G.E.L. We recently sat down with Lonnieclaire and talked about where they are, where they’ve been and where they’re going.
Indie Minded: So tell us a little bit about Lonnieclaire. Who’s in the band, who does what, where did you meet and for my own curiosity, where does the name of your band come from?
Lonnieclaire: For starters, I’d like to thank you for your interest in the Lonnieclaire and also say that we really appreciate Indie Minded’s amazing coverage of the independent music scene over the years. It’s an exceptional and culturally important body of work. Now let’s talk about the band! Lonnieclaire was formed in Washington DC in 1994 by Drew (bass/vocals), Rick (drums) and me (guitar/vocals). Eventually the lineup got beefed up with Al, Hugh, Patty and Charles. We were united by a common love for bands like Guided By Voices and Husker Du. The name Lonnieclaire
stuck I think because it sounded bluesy and mythical.
IM: You’re currently based in NYC but the band came out of DC in the 90s. What was the DC scene like at that time?
LC: DC was like an “umbrella cart” back then. Ready for the punchline? It was real SHADY. But seriously we lived happily in a little Lonnieclaire bubble in DC for a while just playing some gigs at places like The Velvet Lounge and Galaxy Hut or we were taping demos. Now we all live different lives in different cities, but somehow Lonnieclaire has survived. We just don’t play in the garage anymore.
IM: What are the differences between the NYC and DC music scenes?
LC: Indie rock just meant a little more back then in DC. Certain DC venues like The 9:30 Club and The Black Cat are similar to The Bowey Ballroom and Mercury Lounge in NYC, but DC just had that extra bit of support from everyone. Being in a NYC band is tough. That’s why the famous Gruen picture of The Ramones, guitars stuffed into paper bags on the subway, is totally hilarious, but also very accurate.
IM: How would you describe your current sound and do you think it has changed in any way over the years?
LC: Lonnieclaire’s described as having a layered sound, drawing heavily on basic blues scales, and has been compared to everything from early Pink Floyd to Robbie Fulks. At one point, we did have three guitarists in the band and I think that original dense sound still seeps into the songs. For the You’re My A.N.G.E.L. recordings, it was mostly just me and Rick who reunited after a long hiatus. What’s unchanged I guess is a belief that we can build something together and make the songs sound “real.”
IM: Who are your main musical influences?
LC: Don’t get me wrong, I love Neil Young, X, Yo La Tengo, Chilton, the classics. But honestly mycurrent play list is filled with indie bands the label is working with like Rin Lennon, Monogroove and Nelson Sobral of NorthStar and some other bands. Also, I regularly check Indie Minded’s coverage because there’s a neverending flow of incredible and underappreciated songwriters. I’m not comparing Lonnieclaire to any of them, just thinking of people I visit when I need inspiration.
IM: Tell us about your latest release You’re My A.N.G.E.L including any favorite tracks that our readers should definitely check out.
LC: I promise you there’s nothing out there like You’re My A.N.G.E.L. (Factory Fast Records via Amazon / Bandcamp). It is a true D.I.Y. original sounding, genreconfounding rock album. Now that’s good for us creatively, but maybe bad for some listeners because we don’t have a polished sound. But working on the album was really rewarding. Of course it’s awkward sounding having been made on a shoestring budget, but I think it’s a real unique release. I actually think we caught a big break with You’re My A.N.G.E.L.
IM: Do you write your own songs and if so, I must know, who exactly is this “angel” you speak of?
LC: Writing lyrics (can I say it?) is the bomb! Now the song You’re My A.N.G.E.L. is pretty random, spelling out A.N.G.E.L in the verse and adding some lyrics about “not caring about dirty wings” and “soaring with us.” I guess it ends up being about not giving up on somebody even if they’ve
been beaten up a bit.
IM: You recently found out that a song of yours will be part of the next American Retrofit compilation. Congratulations! How exciting was it to get that news, and what will it mean for the band?
LC: Thank you very much. I can’t believe we’re on The Americana Retrofit sharing CD space with Tokyo Rosenthal and Jiggley Jones and many others. The compilation, which should be out later this month, is the the biggest thing we’ve ever done. I heard some of the tracks from The Celebration Army and The Shannons and was floored. I was thinking to myself “What are we doing on this record?”
IM: What can we expect from Lonnieclaire in 2015?
LC: Indie Minded’s readers should definitely check in with on us on Facebook and Twitter. Like I said we’ve had our mini “comeback” and I promise we’re here to stay. Our new LP called Creating a Mixdown will be coming out soon. It was mastered by Sobral at Melting Pot Studios in Toronto. That record will be…(spoiler alert)…more semiawkward, raw, D.I.Y. rock. So I think it’s very safe to say Lonnieclaire will be keeping it “very real” in 2015.
IM: Thanks for joining us today and best of luck!