Check out the latest happenings in this interview with powerhouse sister duo, Larkin Poe! Finishing up a stellar year in 2017 with tremendous success and momentum building in their music, we chatted with sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell about the making of their latest music release, Peach, and much more. Check it out!
Hi, Megan and Rebecca! Thank you for taking the time to chat with Guitar Girl Magazine about the latest happenings with your music. Congrats on your new music release Peach! I’ve been listening to all the tracks and can honestly say I’m blown away with it. Your originals are cool and it’s really interesting hearing you add your own signature touch to the cover tunes you incorporated into the new release. For the past year, you’ve been touring and performing intensely. How did you manage to get the downtime to write and record this new release?
Rebecca: Well, for us, touring, is a huge part of our thrust as a band, so we’ve been road dogs since we were 15 and 17. So, sort of being in a constant state of touring is our mode of operation. But, we hadn’t released a record after technically our second album. Though, technically it feels more like a mash-up. We released a record called Kin, then repackaged it with some new songs and released it as Reskinned. Then, it had been about a year and a half to two years since we had released new music. It was starting to affect how effectively we could tour and we were feeling the need to get new music out. So, we pulled back from touring a bit, set time aside to write, and to experiment. And at that time, we were actually able to start pulling thoughts together for Peach.
I understand you actually recorded all the instrumentation on the album.
Rebecca: Yes, we did. This is the first album that we self-produced. And I think that being able to take the reins completely and just manifest what it is that we wanted to do, to make this record, just the two of us, was really freeing. Megan played organ on tracks and I played bass and we would sit in my bedroom on my laptop and program all the drums. You know, any of the ideas we heard in our head, we could take the time and realize that, instead of feeling under the pressure of someone else’s gun. You know, like, I’m the producer, I’m gonna tell you what to do. Instead, we were able to get creative in a totally stress-free way.
Was there a specific recording software that you used for your recording?
Rebecca: We used GarageBand. We ultimately wound up in the studio with a really good buddy of ours. He’s kind of our champion; his name is Roger Alan Nichols and he has a studio that’s outside of Nashville, maybe 20 minutes from where we live. So, we would go over and work with him. But, preproduction for the record was just Megan and me using GarageBand.
That’s really cool that you did all the preproduction on GarageBand and then you had the hook up just minutes away, with Mr. Nichols to finish laying everything down.
Rebecca: Roger mixed the record and I feel very grateful that Megan and I found such a strong partner in him, because he was totally open to us having our fingers in the pot. You know, a lot of mixing engineers would ask that you leave and let them do their thing in privacy. And, that’s just not our speed, in the slightest. So, we were all up in his business the entire time. He was so gracious and accommodating letting us be involved.
How does it work with the writing process with you and your sister? Does one write the lyrical content, while the other commandeers the musical content?
Rebecca: Every which way, I would say. Megan, how would you say?
Megan: Yeah, we approach it in many different ways. Rebecca usually commandeers the lyrics and I’ll help with the music. But, she’s definitely kind of our musical leader in the band. So, she heads it up and I add my finishing touches here and there.
Rebecca: You’re the finesse in everything we do.
“We feel very lucky to have that sort of close sibling bond.”
Is there ever any creative differences between the two of you?
Megan: I feel we’re so lucky that we are on the same page since we’ve been playing music together. We’ve played music together since early childhood, and professionally for over a decade now. We move together so easily while we’re creating. We feel very lucky to have that sort of close sibling bond.
Rebecca: Absolutely. We share very similar musical tastes. Like all my favorite bands are Megan’s favorite bands and what we aspire to create together, we always have a shared vision. We do not take it lightly. We’re very lucky that we do walk in lockstep, you know, nine times out of ten, especially at this point, in our musical relationship. I think at the outset, everyone has to figure out their differences. You and I are just like, you know, two souls split, entwined.
You hear people talk about there being a connection between twins. A twin sister or a twin brother. I get that vibe with you two. You two are so in sync with one another.
Rebecca: We feel the twin connection, even though we aren’t twins. But, in our entire life, we have never spent more than two or three weeks apart. That’s for 28 years. That’s a considerable amount of time to spend with a person. So, all the time, we’ll experience, sitting in the car and will just randomly break into the same song, at the same moment. We look at each other like, that’s so weird. Our minds are working like maybe we saw something out of the window and it triggered something inside our head. Then our brains just went to the same place. It’s very strange.
Megan: What I think is the most fun about having spent the last decade in a band together touring the world is the overlap of shared memory that we have together. All the different references and inside jokes that we’re able to share that seem like total nonsense to any outsider. We have sort of this strong like gang bond. It’s a little ridiculous at times and sort of unnerving. But, at the same time, it really helps us make music effortlessly together.
I’ve been checking out all your music. Your early releases to your most current, and it’s interesting because, when you google your songs, I find that just about all of your songs have a video. Is that something you did strategically, or did you decide that you wanted to have a video for each one of these songs or is that something that your publicist or management was stepping in and saying, hey we want you to do this?
Rebecca: We’ve been signed to different record labels infrequently and periodically throughout the history of Larkin Poe, but predominately we’ve been an independent band. So, that means the buck stops with us. So, pretty much any move that we make in terms of our public appearance or our image online, it’s all done by us. And I think it’s so easy as an artist in the 21st century to feel resentment at the pressures of social media and I think we both go through different phases of just being super annoyed that that’s an element of what an artist needs to do today, is to keep up a YouTube channel and check your Facebook page and respond to that comment and keep tabs on the pulse of your band’s lifeline with the fans. To look at it as a golden opportunity, be able to interface indirectly with people who are consuming your music is something that Megan and I really cherish. And I think that getting on YouTube and making videos for our songs and keeping up with our fans on social media is really important to us. Because those are the people who are supporting you and you know nobody else is going to know the story unless you tell it to them. And often times you know across the internet, it’s really hard to tell a cohesive story and have everybody pick up at the same page and understand the history of a band. Where you come from, where you’re going. You have to work diligently. So, for us, it’s been by sheer brute force. Like every day, doing something on social media, and its become a fun thing for Megan and me.
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I’m definitely getting more of a rock, blues vibe from what you’re writing and performing now. Do you feel that’s the direction, stylistically, your music is heading?
Megan: I think we have in our musical history struggled a bit knowing what we are, because we have done many different things and we can do many different styles of music. So, it’s been a little difficult for us to settle on one thing. We have done everything from bluegrass to hard rock, to country music. And we enjoy all of those kinds of music. And in the past year, we have devoted a lot more time to figure out what are we. What’s our passion and what can we really see ourselves playing for a long time. I do think this year has brought a lot of clarification for us on that front. We really want to pay homage to our roots which are more in roots music. And the source music of the south. So, we want to pay homage to that in our music. That’s the kinda bluesy side of us. We also want to look forward to more contemporary beats and rock music. We’ve listened to so much classic rock. That will always be in our blood. I think the melting of roots, blues music, and rock is where it’s going to be for us for a long time.
Rebecca: Yeah, we’re from Atlanta. So, having spent so much time there, listening to urban music, hip hop, to me, is such a moving force. For me personally, trying to bring the contemporary beats, a hip-hop element, which I think really hasn’t been done with roots, blues music. I do feel this is a solid vein for us. I love singing the blues and I love hearing Megan play slide guitar. It’s really exciting times for us, coming into our own.
In a performance setting, do you prefer playing as a duo or in a full band format?
Rebecca: I would say it all depends on the room. There’s nothing freer than playing, just the two of us. We can pull together and we’re able to effortlessly go anywhere in what we’re playing. Now, if we’re playing a bigger festival, a bigger room, and you want to move people, the way you do that, nine times out of ten, is jarring them with big bass sounds and big ole drums and being able to unleash on top of that, a bass line, is really fun. I love to jam with just Megan and me, if we’re in a small intimate room or just the two of us are making a video.
Do you ever perform at house concerts when you’re traveling around?
Rebecca: We haven’t actually done many. Touring internationally, we’ve played tons of little cubby hole rooms over the years. But, we love doing that kind of stuff. Because you really can find common ground with people in that kind of intimate setting. Certainly receptive to doing more of that down the road.
What’s the biggest festival you’ve performed at?
Megan: We’ve done Glastonbury a couple of times and Bonnaroo festival. Probably, the biggest venue we’ve played in a stadium – opening for Queen once.
What’s the latest, greatest acquisition you’ve added to your gear arsenal?
Rebecca: Well, I would weigh in first. Unfortunately, it’s not something that I have acquired. It’s actually something I’ve borrowed from my boyfriend who’s also a musician. He has a Fender Vibro King amplifier that I’ve become obsessed with. It’s a fairly recently released line of amps by Fender. They’re awesome and I’m definitely in the market for one of them.
Megan: I just got another Rickenbacker from the ‘40s. I love those Panda Rickenbacker lap steels. I just got another one. It actually has a broken pickup. I’m about to replace the pickup with a new guy. Those are just amazing instruments. So, I’m happy to have another one.
I had never heard of that lap steel until I read about you playing one. Do you have difficulty finding them, since Rickenbacker no longer makes that model?
Megan: You have to seek it out. Yes, they don’t make them anymore, specifically, this model that I love which is from the late 1940s. Since the time that I’ve started playing them, I’ve seen the price go way up, and they are getting harder to find.
What is the price, if you find one in good shape?
Megan: In good shape, $1400 to $1500. So, not as bad in comparison to if you were investing in a vintage strat. That could get really expensive. The lap steel still isn’t quite as popular an instrument. But, I feel, they’re gaining speed.
What guitar amplifier and effects are you using?
Rebecca: I play through a volume pedal and a tube screamer and reverb. And, I play through a Fender Vibrolux or a Fender Deluxe sometimes.
Do you have a Fender endorsement?
Rebecca: Yes, we do.
Have you pursued any sync licensing music deals via film and television?
Megan: Actually, over the years, we have secured a few placements for our music. I feel it’s a really cool way for a lot of musician to get their music heard. If you watch the show Lucifer on TV, you heard “John the Revelator” from our recent music release Peach. The song was featured in an episode that was played on the eve of my birthday, on January 29. It’s a neat thing to create music that has cinematic quality.
What was the biggest highlight in 2017 for the both of you?
Rebecca: There were so many. Just starting off 2017, in February, we went out to Los Angeles and took part in a MusiCares event, an organization that supports professional artists and musicians alike. Every year, they hold an event that honors a person of the year. So, 2017 “Person of the Year” was Tom Petty. T Bone Burnett is an amazing producer and we met him through some mutual friends. Elvis Costello and T Bone had bands together in the past. We’ve been buddies with Elvis Costello for years. So, T Bone was aware of us and he was the musical director for the event. He needed some utility musicians in the backup band for the event. So, he called us and said he’d like for us both to come play and sing. We freaked out. And then we learned pretty much every Petty song that existed. We showed up and got to back up Norah Jones, Gary Clark, Jr., Taj Majal, Elle King, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, and George Strait. It was such a special experience for us.
What is your biggest goal, resolution for 2018?
Megan: Continuing the trend with this past year. We’ve been really gaining a lot of fans doing these cover videos. It’s kind of caught people‘s fascination. 2017 was such a special year for us. And going through the year, and then having all these hometown shows we did at the end of 2017, were all sold out. Continuing the trend of 2017 would be awesome.
Rebecca: Yes, I think every artist aspires to continue to spread their message. For us, it’s to make another record this year and continue touring. And we’re really excited, cause Keith Urban has asked us to go out on the road with him for about six months starting off in the summer. So, we’ll be able to see many American fans and we’re actually touring across Canada, too, for the very first time with him. So, I think just continuing doing what it is we’re already doing, which makes us incredibly happy.
Will you be returning to Europe this year?
Rebecca: We hope so. We’ve actually had this conversation many times with bands on a one on one level. We get a lot of mail from our international fans. We’re supposed to go, and then things will fall through. All these different reasons about why, things get pushed on and off the docket. Just trying to explain to people the challenges of being an independent band. Funding the trip internationally. It’s a bit of an attempt and we really hope to. We have our team working very hard trying to make it happen.
So, where is home base? Is it Georgia, or is it Nashville?
Rebecca: Nashville. For about a year and a half now. We love it.
How do you think a musician benefits today from the Internet? What are the pros and cons?
Rebecca: I would say, what are the pros and cons of people in general. And I would say that there is great access that the Internet brings and also great a distraction. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the social media rat race. How many views are we getting? How many comments are we getting? Does it really mean that you’re supposed to steer your destiny by the stars of your social media numbers? But, I would say, there’s also much to be gained, too. We’ve seen it in a direct correlation between how many people are watching and liking our videos and what kind of fans we’re picking up on Facebook and Instagram. And how many people attend our shows. Having content that goes viral is really important for turning people’s heads.
Megan: For us, it has been very helpful. Because we were making those videos and people were leaving positive comments. That’s when we started to think, why don’t we do that, and why don’t we make an album, just the two of us? Why don’t we just produce it and go for it and play all the instruments ourselves? So, I think it gave us a good push in the right direction. And having the people actually telling us, themselves, just one on one, is amazing.
I stumbled across some really good reviews on Amazon. A lot of positive feedback.
Rebecca: We’ve noticed that, too, and we feel very lucky. Within our immediate friends’ group, so many people that we know, are performing artists and they have a social media following and it’s so interesting for us to go and look at our social media compared to other people we know. And the overwhelming, positive response that we do get. We have very much like a Garden of Eden circle within the deep dark web of trolling, utter hate and venom. And then we have these fans that are just awesome and uplifting. We feel very fortunate, making music that seems to attract genuinely nice people.
I really appreciate you guys taking the time to talk with me today. I have just one more question for the both of you. For the up-and-coming starry-eyed artists that are loyal followers of yours, what words or advice would you offer them, as they embark on their musical quest?
Rebecca: I love this question. There’s always a different response. I would say, don’t be a victim in this business. You can’t be a victim in your life, ever. The advice I would offer people is to take control of your own circumstances. If you want to be a singer and a songwriter, then that requires singing and songwriting. If you can pick up a guitar and teach yourself, do that. If you can get a teacher, get a teacher. If you desire to do this, then, do it. It requires you taking baby steps towards that every day. That has become my mantra, for the last, specifically, two years, ever since I started my journey trying to get better at playing lead guitar. You got to show up and you got to show up every day, even if it’s literally five minutes. This is true of any goal you set for yourself. Especially as an artist, conditioning your mind, your fingers, your throat, and your vocal chords to doing it every day. And that has been my biggest rock and resolve the past few years, trying to keep showing up.
How about you, Megan?
Megan: I would say, put yourself in situations that, musically, make you uncomfortable. Play with people who are way better than you, even if it’s the most embarrassing thing that you’ve ever done. And if it’s something that you’re scared of, it’s probably the thing you should go do. Fall on your face a couple of times and that will make you so much better. We’ve been lucky to play with these amazing people throughout our career. It’s really put us out there. Made us embarrassed. Made us uncomfortable. But, we’ve come through it and I think that for me, has pushed me forward, more than anything else.
Official Larkin Poe website: www.larkinpoe.com