I had the pleasure of conducting a phone interview with Mark and Joe of Love Me Electric. I just want to thank them for taking the time to answer some questions. I also want to thank their manager Frank for filming the interview on their end and for providing the footage for me when my shitty recorder fell through.
Would you introduce yourselves and what you do in the band?
Joe: Yeah, I’m Joe Nicorata and I play rhythm guitar, do back-up vocals a little bit, and write a lot of songs.
Mark: I’m Mark Follenweider. I do it all on guitar for Love Me Electric.
M: Yeah. [laughs]
So what’s the history of Love Me Electric? How’d you guys come about?
J: Well, Bob, Dan and I have been playing together since I was like a freshman or sophomore in high-school, so for about six years, under a different band name that I’m probably going to keep unmentioned. We basically got together, played in my garage for a long time, and recorded six or seven times at these tiny studios. Then we had another guy Jim with us. He’s now a guitar tech for us and just kinda hangs out, and fills in for Mark a lot. Then we added Mark to the band and around December we decided to change the name, add Matt as our keyboard player, and go to Gravity [Studios] and spend our life savings trying to record a solid EP there. Mark, you got anything? I think that’s pretty much it.
M: Yeah, that’s pretty much the jist of it. I probably came in two years ago and we were still in the old band. Ever since we came in, we pretty much started working really hard, started to take the band more serious, and started really working on the songs. And then we went into Gravity Studios recorded an EP there where we used pretty much all of our money and a lot of hard work went into that. So now we’re kind of “sitting”. We’ve got Medicine and Magic out, which is that EP. And right now the band is working hard on a bunch of new demos and songs, which I have to tell you sound great. They really sound a lot better than our older stuff. A lot of people have already heard two of them, and I think when the whole finished project comes out it’s really gonna surprise a lot of people.
I guess I’ll bring your old band name up since some readers were asking about it. If I’m not mistaken, it was Public Affairs.
M: Yeah that’s it.
Just out of curiosity, why’d you guys drop that name?
J: I just didn’t like it.
M: Well, I think dropping it signified a new direction we were going in. Kind of an end of playing around at local coffee houses and the start of “You know, let’s take this seriously.”
J: It was a new band.
M: Yeah it was the birth of a new band, pretty much.
J: I mean, it was the same number [of us] with one more person added, but it was just a new direction. And besides the fact that the name was conceived at a high-school lunch table, eating bosco sticks and trying to come up with the best idea for a band name, it just was a real quick thing we came up with a long time ago. Not that the way we came up with ‘Love Me Electric’ was any better, but it just didn’t fit the band anymore and we just decided to move past it.
You mentioned the way ‘Love Me Electric’ came about wasn’t any better than coming up with ‘Public Affairs’. So how did the name ‘Love Me Electric’ come about? What’s the story behind that?
J: We had been taking for like a month about changing the name. No one really took it seriously, though. One day we were at practice and I think we did really bad that day.
M: Yeah, it was a pretty brutal practice and we’re like let’s just toss the towel in for the day. We just started talking about band names and just goofing around.
J: We were just putting words together kind of.
M: And we’re like, “Nah, nah, nah”
J: I think I muttered ‘Love Me Electric’ as I went to go take a piss or something. And I came back and there was like five minutes of dead silence and my brother, the singer, turns to me and said something like, “What’d you say when you walked out?” And I’m like, “Love Me Electric”. I really don’t know where I got it from. And Bob got all optimistic on us and I think it just stuck.
M: Yeah, we all just started talking about it. We really fell in love with the name. We just all loved it.
Alright, alright. So what would you two say is the band’s biggest influence?
J: I don’t think I have one influence. I don’t think any of use just has one. I know with Mark its Circa Survive.
J: That influences him for guitar stuff. I mean, not necessarily our music but they’re still a big influence. Blink-182 has obviously been a long-time favorite of mine. I’ve got a collection of every Blink single, album, UK import; everything they’ve put out in my basement and I worship it. I pretty much have listened to Blink forever, and New Found Glory. What else Mark?
M: I think for me, when I first started playing guitar, I was obsessed with the band Rufio. I’m sure a lot of people were. I pretty much played them day in and day out. And old Starting Line, too. You can really see a Rufio sound on guitar on all of our newer songs. You can kinda see it on the EP a little bit. But, I think that style stuck with me just from playing it at a younger age with just trying to pick up the instrument. Yeah, that’s a major influence for me. I just love the aggressive pop-punk sound, you know.
Now you guys are located in Chicago, which I have to say houses some of the best bands in the country and is definitely an indie-rock and pop-punk staple in the Midwest. Being from that area, what’s your opinion on the whole 'scene' nowadays?
J: I kinda feel strongly about the whole topic of the scene just because I think people that feel like they’re a part of it seem to associate more with an image than belief or sound. For example, I was pulling up to a show once and I was listening to Underoath’s “Define the Great Line”. There was a bunch of girls sitting outside and I had my windows down. Pulled up and got out of the car. And these girls were like, “You’re listening to Underoath? You don’t dress like somebody who would listen to Underoath.” And that just took me by surprise. I’d never heard anybody that would associate image with sound so much. But that’s what I see a lot of people do in the scene.
M: Yeah. I gotta say though, considering all the bands we’ve been playing with this last like year…I mean some great bands. Every band has sort of a different style and you could really see all of them with all of us well. We play with some really great bands every single show. That’s all I gotta say about them.
J: It’s great that there’s groups of people that are really loyal to certain things, but at the same time I think there’s a lot of negative things like these stereotypical images of what the scene kids look like and what they do and where they go. And I guess that’s why we’re different because none of us conform to anything in particular. We just do what we like to do and whoever wants to listen should listen and whoever wants to hate should hate. So be it, you know.
So Mark was talking about some of the other bands in and around your area. What bands, specifically unsigned, are you guys digging right now?
J: I love Dear Noel. Dear Noel is probably one of my favorite bands. I know they’re unsigned and they just recently went full band from being two guys in acoustic and they’re just fucking great. Then there’s The Spotlight, we’ve been playing with them for a while and we’re actually going to be doing a little tour with them in June and we’re really looking forward to finally hang out and be on the road with those guys. I don’t know if they’re unsigned, they might be signed by now, but their new CD is amazing. There’s the lead singer of Lucky Boys Confusion’s new band, Shock Stars. Some other great bands like The Advisory, Fireworks, and The Morning Light.
Now, all of you guys are in college currently. I can only imagine what that must be like to juggle both school and a band. But exactly how bad is it in particular for Love Me Electric?
M: I can tell ya – it’s pretty difficult. I have a few friends around here and they’re in their own local bands, most of the guys being in the same area. And these guys get together at least three days a week and they’re popping out songs left and right which I’m so jealous of because we don’t have an opportunity too. It’s really hard because a few of us are in the Chicago area, but Dan is all the way in Milwaukee. We definitely have a really hard time getting together. The only time we’re really in contact is to call or hang out once a week, because you know, it’s pretty rough. I feel we’ve done a great job with the time we’ve had. It seems that we always get back, every week or two weeks, and we at least try to get a practice in. Shows, when we have one we usually practice the day before. Even on our own, like me and Joe will get together and make up for lost time. Bring our acoustics into each other’s apartments and just write. It has obviously taken its toll on us, but we’re going ahead.
J: We have no reason to ever stop doing what we’re doing because it’s a hobby still. It’s always been a hobby, it’s always going to be a hobby. Yet, someday our hobby could become a full time profession. Hopefully we’ll be touring someday all over the place. But it’s a hobby and we do have to take school seriously, but we get together when we can. Long distance relationships; they’re hard Marky.
Being unsigned right now, you guys are obviously still seeking label support. But taking a sidestep from that, what is your general opinion on record labels and were does Love Me Electric stand with them at this point?
J: I don’t necessarily have an opinion on record labels. I think they can either make or break a band. I mean, some are very good to their bands and do a lot of promotion; really work when putting out a release for a band instead of just distributing it. Some really do a lot of work for their bands and some don’t. Not to name any names, but there’s some labels that are very selfish. We are obviously unsigned and at this point I could care less. Like, I would really love to get signed if we could. But it doesn’t bother me if we get signed or not because we’re doing amazing without it. We have an amazing manager that does everything for us. We’re making it without a label right now and if we get signed, we get signed. If we don’t, we don’t.
So, just recently you guys opened for Lucky Boys Confusion. That’s obviously a big deal for any band. How did that go?
M: I gotta tell you – it was a blast. It was just a great day. I woke up and was just so excited. When I got there, it was just such a great feeling like, “We could definitely get used to this.” Everyone from Lucky Boys -- just great guys. The place was packed up and we got on that stage, there with some of my best friends. I thought we played a great show for everyone. The crowd loved it. It was just a great time
J: Yeah, it was wild. Lucky Boys was awesome live, as usual. They were just amazing. In a way it was a chance of a lifetime but I hope it’s not the only chance.
M: Yeah, like I said, I could definitely get used to playing the House of Blues more often.
J: Just going to look at the walls of the bathroom, reading Saosin’s little thing they wrote on there. It was the “2004 Tuners and Condoms Tour: Two Things We Never Use”. That’s what they wrote on there; funny as shit.
In terms of playing with some other pretty big bands, LME has quite a list. You guys have played with Cartel, All Time Low, Park, etc, etc. What’s been the most memorable?
J: Honestly, All Time Low. Personally, I loved All Time Low and This Providence. But yeah, All Time Low – that show was nuts. It was at this coffee place Bean Counters in Indiana. That was just an amazing night. We played right before them and we finished out the night by them covering “Dammit” with me playing guitar in place of their lead guitarist. Basically, the entire crowd rushed onto the stage. It was like a riot in there. The owners were panicking. It was great. We walked out of there so happy because I love All Time Low and literally getting to play with them was just a great time. I think all the other guys really enjoyed themselves. What about you, Mark?
M: Again, for me, I’d have to say playing with Lucky Boys at the House of Blues. And over at school, my roommates obsess over these guys – they’re just an amazing band. Just playing with a band you listen to every night was great and they were great guys. It was a great show overall.
J: Definitely. Both shows were just amazing.
Speaking of shows, a user submitted question for you two. Any bizarre stories you’d like to share that happened backstage or onstage?
J: Yeah, I think we both have a couple.
M: First off, this happened at Mojo’s Coffeehouse. The band was playing; we had a pretty good show going. We were on our last song, “I’ll Count to Four”. I turn around and all of a sudden Frank, our manager, was dressed up as a chicken. Some guy was dressed up as a carrot.
J: My little brother.
M: And somebody else was dressed up as a horse and they were just dancing onstage. The crowd loved it. It was the most random thing I’ve ever seen.
J: Yeah, who has poultry and produce running around on the fucking stage?
M: The chicken had a Bear’s jersey on. That was when they were in the playoffs. It was just so random, but it was a good time.
There are actually pictures of that on your Myspace, right?
J: Yeah, you can find them on there. Then there was the lead singer of Lucky Boys, Stubhy, ran through our dressing room butt naked at the House of Blues show. That was a little bizarre. Funny as hell, though.
M: Great guy.
J: Yeah. There’s always a little something. Usually there’s some kind of outburst or fight. Usually the shows are pretty out of control.
I’ve got a user submitted question here directed specifically at you, Mark. If you had a chance to join any band which would you choose?
M: Alright. I gotta say I’m a really big Red Hot Chili Peppers fan. Those guys are just some of the greatest musicians that have ever been around. Just everything that they’ve accomplished and done through the years, personally and musically – I would definitely play with them.
J: He’s wearing a Chili Peppers shirt right now.
M: One of the best bands. Can’t say enough about them.
Chicago is obviously home to, you know, a ton of pop-punk bands and the like. Love Me Electric being roped into that category. How would you guys differentiate yourselves from everyone else?
J: I guess my feelings on the whole thing has always been if we’re different, we’re different. If we’re not, we are still having fun. There’s bands we sound like. There’s bands that sound like us. We have out little niche; fast pop-punk with a synth. I mean, I guess there’s a ton of other bands that would fall into the same category, but I can’t really self reflect on how our genre or style is different from other bands. But, I know what I like to listen too and I know we sound similar to those bands. Even if I did self reflect, I could definitely hear something different about us.
M: Yeah, I mean, we’re aggressive pop-punk. There is that something. You can’t really pinpoint it out. We do have synth like Motion City Soundtrack and some other bands, but there is something if you listen to us that separates us from the pack. The way I look at it, we’re still evolving in to where we want to be musically.
J: I think I know what it is. I think it’s the fact that we just have fun. There’s so many other bands that we hang out with and see take themselves really, really seriously. Some of these guys come to these shows and they’re very uptight, not having any fun. Very business-like, which is good but they’re taking themselves way too seriously and they’re not having as much fun anymore. I will never ever let that happen to us because its gotta always stay fun for me.
So you guys came out with two new demos just recently, which I have to say sound fantastic. When can the fans expect to hear some more new material?
M: Well, as of now we’re writing a number of new songs. We’re working on recording two more new demos, which I have to tell you, again, are sounding better than the last ones. I feel great about these songs. Thing is, we don’t have anything planned out on releasing any new material as of now. But I’m sure that’ll change down the line.
J: We are going to put up an MP3 of Frank screaming like a pterodactyl for thirty seconds straight, but I don’t consider that Love Me Electric. We’re gonna try to demo two songs in the basement starting this week and then see if we can mix them a little bit better over at our friend George’s studio. Hopefully, if we have enough money, by the end of the summer we’re going to hit up Gravity Studios for a twenty day session and try to knock out seven to eight songs for our next EP. So it just depends on how well the demos go really. Right now I don’t think I’m going to want to put them on the internet judging by how terrible I am with a mixing board.
Though you guys are still a relatively young band, you’re quite ahead of the game. So what advice would you give to some fledgling bands out there?
J: Have fun. Be somewhat serious about it; you gotta practice, you gotta work hard. Don’t try to be someone you’re not and just promote like hell. If you’re lucky you’ll have an amazing best friend that’ll work for you guys and help out a lot.
M: I gotta say one thing, too. Like many other things in life, when things aren’t looking good with the band – just keep chugging at it. Keep going. Things can only go up. It’s just a matter of what Joe said: have fun and keep working at it.
Hell, I knew you were all in college and that's bad enough, but I had no idea Dan was all the way in Milwaukee... That's just amazing that you're all able to not only keep going but still enjoy it too.
Wish I could've made it to the HOB show, but work just decided to ignore my request for the day off. That and I'm stuck working six days a week right now. Hopefully that'll settle down after the 4th. It BETTER, anyway.
As for Frank screaming like a pteradactyl, I think we can do without that. I know someone whose regular speaking voice sounds like that. It's not pretty.