Add The Fling to that select circle of bands — like Megafaun and Gomez — which alternate lead singers. The Long Beach, California, retro-gazing quintet landed a record deal with Dangerbird after self-releasing their debut, When The Madhouses Appear.
Last fall The Fling — brothers Dustin Lovelis (guitar) and Graham Lovelis (bass) with Justin Ivey (drums), Justin Roeland (wurlitzer, guitar) and Joel Bond (keys, guitar) — released an EP, What I've Seen, on their new label and they've also landed syncs on TV shows like "Parenthood" and "Revenge."
Although they're off the road for the moment, last month The Fling toured with Heartless Bastards and they recently paid a visit to The Alternate Side for a live session. Below, check out the interview and performances of "Dogpile" and the double-barrelled "Seeds/Teeth":
Josh Briseno: Your songs kind of all harmonize and your lyrics are very honest and hard-hitting. Is it hard to balance the power and sound you all bring to the band with the harmonies you all do?
Dustin Lovelis: No. It just comes naturally. We write 60s inspired pop songs sometimes and then we have Justin [Ivey] beating the crap out of the drums. So it happens naturally.
Josh: I read that the band name comes from your dad’s band name, The Fling. Is that something that’s always been a part of your upbringing? Music?
Dustin: Yeah. Graham and I are brothers and our dad has been playing music since I can remember and was playing music before he had me. I was the reason he couldn’t play anymore.
Josh: Growing up in Long Beach, the music scene that exists there is very rich and there’s a lot of things going on there. You all left the area and went to L.A. a little bit. What was that like?
Dustin: It’s good. We spent a little bit of time in LA but we all still live in Long Beach. It’s been good going on tour, seeing the country and checking out other places.
Graham Lovelis: There’s really nowhere else to play in Long Beach anyway. There’s only one venue and it’s a rockabilly venue. It’s great, but you can only do it a couple of times.
Josh: That’s sort of a two for one. Y’all bring that together. Two songs.
Dustin: We had two short songs and we mash them up.
Josh: This new EP just came out and I know you’ve been touring in support of your debut record, When the Madhouses Appear, so was this EP something you all put together on the road?
Dustin: Yes, that’s kind of how it happened. We have a bunch of songs and we were going to put together an EP of songs we didn’t think would necessarily fit into an album. They just ended up turning out really good. We’re really happy with it.
Graham: We were driving home from the last tour and [we were listening] to demos and said, let’s just choose a tracklisting. Songs we had even [learned yet]. We picked seven and went for it and finished them in the studio which is a first for us. But it’s fun to do it like that.
Josh: This EP turned out really great and I know it came out of you signing with Dangerbird. Before that, what was it like being a band and trying to balance your day jobs?
Dustin: Oh, we’re rich now (laughs). It’s the same thing. After they bought us a couple of cars it was easier to get around (laughs).
Graham: It’s still hard.
Dustin: You don’t really make money. It’s just help to get the music out there and they do a great job of that. Money is a whole other thing.
Graham: Madhouses took a year to record, just because we’d work for a week, do a ten-hour session, and then work. And then go on tour. It took so long to record. So that was one benefit; being able to record an EP in one week.
Dustin: They have a studio at Dangerbird so we’re allowed to use that to record.
Graham: There’s a place called The Boat which Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers bought out and fired everybody from. But it was a really cool place on Hyperion and Silver Lake, an old Christian broadcast radio [studio] and it had really high ceilings. I’d met a friend of ours, Alyssa, at a party and she ended up being an engineer there. So we ended up recording [the first album] there over the course of a year.
Josh: Most of your songs have this Americana flair to them but you add in a psychedelic and Southern rock edge at times. Was this the type of music you grew up listening to?
Dustin: I don’t know. Graham and I grew up on a lot of oldies stations.
Graham: The Mamas and Papas, things like that. Just classic rock.
Dustin: I don’t even really like Southern rock, to be honest.
Graham: Everybody says Americana. Maybe on the first record. I’m not sure about the next one. We listened to a lot of 90s stuff when we were teenagers, like Green Day, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog.
Josh: I also read that some of your lyric writing comes from Townes Van Zandt and artists like that?
Dustin: Yeah, I went through a really big Townes Van Zandt phase when we were on tour a few years ago. We were listening to it on the van constantly, so I’m sure that came across.
Josh: In the music industry there is an acknowledgment of an Americana revival. Do you see yourselves in any capacity with that kind of movement?
Graham: We wrote [that first record] around 2009, so we were way ahead of the curve. We had some friends in [Americana] bands and were were listening to a lot of that stuff at the time. It’s who we’re with in the studio and what have around us. This time, we just had guitars and we’ve been working out songs live more. So naturally, there’s fewer songwriter elements.
Dustin: I think a lot of the first album was writing sort of a simple-ish folk song and then .. make it weird. Somehow it became Southern rock (laughs).