Dustin Lovelis just released his second solo album on August 25th. Entitled “Been Hit Before” is a terrific album, and absolutely worth a listen! Dustin was gracious enough to take the time to answer some questions:
Artful Axolotl: I know that you are formerly of The Fling and I am wondering if there is any crossover between the group of musicians you are currently working with and your former band? How did your current lineup come to be? Are they full time members?
Dustin Lovelis: Long Beach has a great community of musicians that are really generous with their time even though they all have their own projects. Justin Ivey (Highlands) and Joel Bond (Fortjams) were both a part of The Fling. Having them around is great because we have been playing together for over a decade now….makes things simple and fluid. Joel Jasper (Forest of Tongue), JP Bendzinski (almost every band town), Brian Andrews (Snacks) are all great players as well.
They are mostly full time members. l’ll usually have to find a fill in for tours here and there. These boys are the core of the live group though.
AA: The songs on your new solo album “Been Hit Before” are certainly longer and more experimental than those on your album with The Fling, and to a certain extent even your previous solo album “Dimensions.” Is this indicative of a maturation or a progression in your musical career, or merely an exploration of new ideas?
DL: I think part of it is just getting little older and not being as concerned with how people will react to the music. I’ve definitely found some new artistic freedom with age. The whole process has become much more fun and relaxed. I used to get kind of bummed if a record flopped or a tour was a bust. Now I just really enjoy writing/recording and because of that I think I am maturing as a songwriter.
Music used to feel like work sometimes. It shouldn’t ever feel that way.
AA: Where was “Been Hit Before” recorded? How long did the process take? How long had you been writing the material before starting recording? Which instruments did you play? There are impressive harmonies throughout the album, I imagine that must have made recording an even more grueling process?
DL: It was record at a few different places. I recorded a lot of stuff at home and engineered it. I also had a lot of help from great friends all over Long Beach and Los Angeles. El Casino (Frank Lenz, Eli Thomson), Abbey Road West (Joel Jerome), Jazzcats (JP Bendzinski), Palomino Sound (Jason Soda), and Tackyland (Matt Wignall) were the main studios/engineers. I also did some recording in an empty floor of a skyscraper and arabic church.
The whole process took about a year. Mostly because I would have to work and save up for a recording session every couple months. I was pretty broke at the time.
I played guitar, some synths, vocals and some percussion. I did all the harmonies. Recording harmonies is my favorite pastime. It comes fairly natural to me and the pay off when you hear it played back is unreal. I can’t even imagined how Brian Wilson felt hearing some of those massive harmonies and studio monitors for the first time.
AA: What is the origin of the title of the album “Been Hit Before?” Also, one of my favorite tracks from the album was Tompkinsville, what is the meaning of the title?
DL: Been Hit Before is a phrase I stumbled on when searching for a title. It has a little bit of a personal meaning but I really just liked the way it sounded.
Tompkinsville is a about Eric Garner’s altercation with the police. He was murdered for no reason. It was very upsetting for a lot of people, including me. So I felt compelled to write something. Politics are slowly making their way into a lot more music and for a good reason. Things are pretty shitty right now.
AA: Who are some of your primary musical influences? How would you describe the genre that you have achieved and/or you are striving for?
DL: Within the last year I have really been obsessed with R Stevie Moore. He’s a DIY recording artist. He’s been around since the 60’s and recorded over 400 albums. I’m in the process of putting together a RSM covers album with some local bands. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Songs:Ohia recently.
I don’t really know what genre I fit into but it’s pop music to some degree. Unconventional Pop? Alternative? I don’t know. I grew up on 60’s records and was a child of the 90’s. I think it shows.
AA: Do you have any shows planned? Do you find it more difficult to network/promote as a solo artist compared to being billed as a conventional band? How many other musicians do you need in order to perform your songs live?
DL: I don’t have anything booked in Sept but we will prob get back into it Oct/Nov. I have a couple small tours in the works. I only like to tour in small increments these days. I like being at home.
Networking and promoting has always been a pain in the ass. It’s the same if you are a band or solo. I just try to promote when it’s necessary and not overthink it. Finding new and creative ways to keep people’s attention can get challenging. Keeps the wheel’s spinning though.
How has the reception to your latest album been? Would you say you have learned a lot since your 2015 release “Dimensions” that made the process of recording/promoting of “Been Hit Before” easier?
It’s been really great. It’s my favorite release so far and it seems other people feel the same way. I am just really glad to have it out there and shared. I am in a constant state of learning and letting go. Hopefully the music will find it’s way to more people’s ears. If not, I’m satisfied with where things are now.