The Love Me Nots: Big In France
The French version of Rolling Stone magazine cannot get enough of Phoenix's own Love Me Nots. The mag ran a massive feature on the garage rock band in this month's issue, which you can read in translated form on the jump. The mag seems to relish comparing the band's sound to earlier acts, like the Pretenders, which I will stay silent about lest I raise more hackles from people urging me to "go back to Ohio!"
THE LOVE ME NOTS GARAGE BAND
Two girls! Two guys! An organ! Boots!
Led by the seductive Nicole Laurenne, The Love Me Nots sign on with Upsidedown Insideout, a third album of sparkling garage pop. In the middle of their American tour, Nicole and guitarist and co-songwriter Michael Walker respond to Rolling Stone's questions. By Alain Guivrion. It has been a long time since we've heard a "girl-rock" record as exciting as this one. The Donnas? Forget it. No, concerning The Love Me Nots, one would have to reach way up to The Pretenders, to the mighty Ms. Hynde - but with a Farfisa sounding like an old Attractions record instead of Chrissie's famous Telecaster.
It is difficult not to draw the parallel with Hynde's group, with such atomic tunes as Take Pity and Not That Kind Of Girl, respectively the eight and tenth tracks on The Love Me Nots' third record. You just have to hear the furious stampede, racing like a roller coaster, the furious guitars throwing electric showers of sparks, and the blazing the voice of Nicole Laurenne, the singer, organist, and lyricist-composer all at once. Laurenne seems to reign supreme over the quartet...but with an undeniable sex appeal. "Actually, even though I am up front, I don't feel like the leader of this band," she muses, when Rolling Stone reached her between two dates on The Love Me Nots' current American tour.
"We each put all of our hearts into what we do, and if one of us isn't on top of our game, the entire sound of the band is affected." And the analogy with Chrissie Hynde? "She and I sing in about the same register, a little lower than most female singers, I imagine. So I feel a connection with her. I think we write about similar subjects, reflections on people we've met or places we've gone. If I could write and sing one song as well as she does, I think I would pack up and consider my job done...We saw The Pretenders live recently and they are truly amazing."
A few months ago, Rolling Stone was very enthusiastic about the second album (which arrived at our french office through obscure underground networks) by this original garage rock combo from Arizona that seemed to be be tuned into the right side of the sixties. This impression was confirmed during a fantastic, memorable live Paris concert at La Boule Noire - while Little Steven, Boss Springsteen's favorite Soprano, who included one of their titles in his compilation The Coolest Songs In The World.
Nicole: "Our show at La Boule Noire will always be one of our favorite memories. It was the first time we played in Paris. The crowd was totally into our set. They were even singing along with me. We sold more records that night than at any other show before. Afterwards, we spent the rest of the night wandering through the streets of Montmartre, shocked by how well we were treated there."
In the fall of 2009, The Love Me Nots (Nicole, Michael, bassist Kyle Rose Stokes and a new drummer, Bob Hoag) returned with Upsidedown Insideout, recorded once again by Detroit producer Jim Diamond, well-known for his collaborations with The White Stripes and The Von Bondies.
"I have a really good time with The Love Me Nots in the studio," Diamond recently said in a Phoenix newspaper. "We recorded all of our albums in less than five days each, and each time we are amazed by the results he gets," continues Michael, the band's magnificent guitarist, who co-writes the band's songs with Nicole and does the artwork on all of their record covers. "Jim is a sweet guy too, never critical or intimidating," continues Walker.
"It definitely adds to the good vibes of the recordings. You always play better when you're having a good time." Slightly more pop than its predecessor, Upsidedown Insideout raises the bar and brings together twelve catchy, immediately classic songs that all sound like potential hit singles - Karen (Get Yourself Out), He's What I Want. Nowadays, this is rare enough for us to emphasize. It is also a record that those in their forties will listen to in a loop on their old stereos while their kids rush to load it onto their iPods. But The Love Me Nots clearly haven't sold their soul to the devil and remain faithful to that garage spirit upon which they forged their reputation.
Michael: "I grew up with sixties garage, rhythm and blues, and soul. But obviously, we don't really fit into the true sixties garage scene. Our guitar sounds are heavier, more aggressive, and there are fewer vocal harmonies. But the biggest influence on our band is still The Sonics."
Nicole: "We like to think that we take the best of old sixties garage and add something else, a little punk, a little rock, but always with respect for our garage roots." It may seem far-fetched, but certain vocal tendencies recall Shocking Blue, the Dutch group that who created a huge buzz in '69 with the mega-hit Venus.
"It's funny that you mention that," declares Nicole. "Because when were were making this album, Jim Diamond kept mentioning that exact group and it had to be in the back of our minds when we were recording this album. I love the Shocking Blue singer's voice (Mariska Veres). Shocking Blue and Jefferson Airplane are definitely two bands that give me a lot of vocal inspiration." - Alain Guivron, Rolling Stone, Dec 2009. Translation by Nicolas Auzias.