A little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll

Ohio’s Lydia Loveless returns for Bunbury Music Festival

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Lydia Loveless released her second album, Somewhere Else in Februrary 2014; photo: Patrick Crawford/Blackletter

Music festivals have become a rite of passage for music lovers. They offer fans a chance to not only see the bands and artists already known, but the ability to venture outside of their comfort zone to find new musical obsessions.

While historic shows like Woodstock in 1969 have become legendary and mythical over the years, the modern North American festival has much more in common with its European counterparts. Multi-day events carried out on multiple stages with dozens of artists have become the norm, and it seems each year brings new players to the game.

This year marks the third year for Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival. Festivities in 2014 include more than 80 bands performing on six stages. The lineup includes both local favorites (Heartless Bastards, Foxy Shazam, Black Owls) and some bona fide heavyweights (Flaming Lips, Fall Out Boy, Empire of the Sun, Paramore, Young the Giant).

One artist seems primed to straddle both.

Lydia Loveless hails from Columbus, Ohio. At the ripe age of 23, she has established herself as a true force to be reckoned with. The Bloodshot Records artist followed 2011’s Indestructible Machine with this year’s Somewhere Else. Rolling Stone and Spin magazines have named her as an artist to watch.

She recently sat down with us to talk about the new album, playing festivals and the trouble with genres.


How did you approach songwriting for this album? Did you go into the studio with a blank slate or were the songs road-tested beforehand?

I toured on them for a while because I like to test songs out that way to see if it’s even worth recording them. It’s definitely been better now that people have it, they can sing along. It’s really exciting because it felt like it took forever to get it out. – Lydia Loveless


Are there any tracks that have pleasantly surprised you since the album’s been out?

I’ve been really happy with the fact that people like the song “Head,” because I think there were some reservations about it. – LL


Since you live in Columbus, I imagine you’ve been to Cincinnati a lot. What’s been your experience been like in the city?

It was sort of my home away from home when I was a teenager. I made my first album there and I have a lot of friends down there. I always really enjoy going there. We’re definitely well-received there and it’s always a good time. – LL


Do you do anything differently for a festival set?

We try to do things differently every night. I kind of like that I never really know what to expect out of our shows, even when I’m playing them. You should always keep people on their toes. –LL


What is the festival experience like for a musician? Do you get to see much music or is it strictly a business trip?

If I can, that’s always great. Sometimes you don’t have time or it’s a huge clusterfuck. For the most part, I enjoy them because people that normally wouldn’t get to see you will be there. You can sort of gauge what your crowd would be if there were thousands of more people there. – LL


Compared to your first album, was the process of recording this album any different?

It was kind of the same because we did it at the same studio as the one before, but it was kind of a totally different band. I had a new drummer and a new guitar/steel player. It was the same producer – Joe Viers – that I worked with on the last one. It took a little longer because I polished it up a bit more. I wanted to put more effort into this time. I tend to be like, “I just want to get it over with.” I definitely put more thought into this one. – LL


Earlier, you said you like to road test songs. Were there any that popped up spontaneously?

I think I always do this. I like, throw together a song at the last minute that ends up being the title track. So, I did that again. I definitely threw together some songs within the month before we went in. There were some I had lying around, but I guess it’s just having a deadline that makes me more creative, possibly. – LL


You’ve kind of been tagged as this alt-country artist. Do you feel like that description is apt or do those types of labels annoy you?

The only time it really comes up and does irritate me is when I get called a “honky tonk country singer” and people show and are like “that wasn’t very good” or “that was too loud.” I mean, I guess I could see how I could be called alt-country, but when I’m describing it to people, I just call it rock ‘n’ roll – which I guess isn’t very descriptive – but there’s so many little genres that it’s just kind of irritating at this point. I don’t even know what half of it is. – LL

The Bunbury Music Festival will take place from July 11-13 at Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove, 705 E. Pete Rose Way in Cincinnati. Single day passes are available for $65; a three-day pass costs $145. For more information and a complete lineup and schedule, please visit bunburyfestival.com.


Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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