Whiskey fueled, hell bent

Whiskey fueled, hell bent

The Loveless bring sinner’s rockabilly to South Park

By Gary Spencer

Photo: The Loveless will perform on Aug. 8 at South Park Tavern

On Twitter, Dayton rock ‘n’ rollers The Loveless bill themselves as “whiskey fueled” and “hell bent.” I couldn’t think of a better introduction to this contemporary psychobilly band that calls the Gem City its home. 

Whether seeing The Loveless – which features Bret Cottongim on lead guitar/vocals, Justin Barbarino on guitar/vocals, Dick Gross on upright bass (because it just ain’t ’billy without the stand-up bass) and Kyle Thirteen on drums – or listening to them at home, there is definitely nothing subtle or nuanced about them. 

This quartet blazes through their songs, firmly rooted in both rockabilly and psychobilly, with the volume of a metal band and the speed of a punk band. Their self-proclaimed brand of “sinner’s rock” are songs full of horror-movie references, drinking, the occult, hot and dangerous women and Satan himself. There’s nothing subtle, sacred or polite about it, and The Loveless and their fans wouldn’t have it any other way. The band has been around for a few years now and has been spreading their sleazy gospel all over Ohio and beyond. They’ve made believers out of everyone within eye- and earshot of their high energy live show. The Loveless continue this crusade this coming Friday with a gig at South Park Tavern, playing songs that will be featured on their upcoming full-length album – due for release in November on Horror Hound Records.

How did The Loveless begin?

It started with a few friends, New Year’s Eve, jamming and attempting to create a high-energy rockabilly outfit. Justin joined in February 2013 and the band started to take a harder sound at that point and gain some traction. Over the past year, there have been some line-up changes –some necessary, some difficult – but that brings us pretty much to the current point. – Bret Cottongim

Kyle Thirteen just joined up with The Loveless on drums. What’s it been like with the new drummer?

One of the biggest things that Kyle brings to the table, besides solid drumming, is his eagerness to get out there and do something with this band. He is a great resource and has many contacts we can tap for just about anything. – BC

Your debut full-length album coming out in November will be on HorrorHound Records. How did you get hooked up with them?

HHR is part of the HorrorHound Magazine and convention crew, and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this awesome new label. They are not only into the same stuff we’re into, but they are great folks and extremely supportive! We hooked up with them after playing their Halloween show last year. A few months after the show, Jessica [Bruewer Hanneman, HorrorHound Records production manager] contacted us and asked us to join the family, and we were so stoked and honored to have been invited to do so! – Justin Barbarino

Let’s talk about rockabilly versus psychobilly. What’s the difference between the two subgenres and which one do you feel most accurately describes the music of The Loveless?

Rockabilly is more country-and-western based, often employing clean guitar tones, upright bass and a mid-tempo beat. Psychobilly in the 1980s was similar, but was played by British and Scandanavian punk kids who adopted the sound but kept the punk look and roots. As its popularity grew, there was an influx of faster and harder sounds being coupled with the old rockabilly style (upright bass and jump-blues-style guitar leads), as well as an increasing horror/sci-fi-themed lyrical content. Typically, the rockabilly label gets applied when someone doesn’t know what to call us, but we also get labeled as a punk band, too. I don’t think it matters, unless we’re being asked to play a retirement home or something! The Loveless is firmly entrenched in the psychobilly realm with our fast songs and distorted guitars. I’m a big fan of punk and metal, so it’s definitely present in our style. Bret’s amazing lead guitar abilities definitely pay homage to rockabilly, though, so there’s still a bit of that in there. – JB 

So, what does the future hold for The Loveless – both in the immediate future and beyond? 

We have started setting up a Midwest tour leading up to our release show in Cincinnati on Nov. 1. Also, we have a slew of shows coming up with bands like Calabrese and The Chop Tops. Big goals for us are hitting the big psychobilly festival in Spain, touring Germany, Austria and the UK, and eventually Japan and Australia. Psychobilly is big in all of these countries and we’ve already started making fans there. We’d also love to play a few of the bigger psychobilly fests in the U.S., like the Ink & Iron festival and Klubfoot USA. – BC 

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers about your upcoming show at South Park Tavern on Aug. 8?

We like to party! If it’s not fun, then we don’t like doing it! I just tell folks that there is probably something that they will find to like in our show. Our live show is a party, plain and simple. – JB

Bring ear plugs and a spare liver, and as always, tell a buddy, bring a friend! – BC

The Loveless will perform Friday, Aug. 8 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Vegas Death Ray and Josh Koster are also on the bill. Doors at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door. For more information, please visit facebook.com/theloveless666.

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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