The Nashville, TN-based (by way of Washington State) quintet the Lonely H have been together for well over a decade, starting out when all of the members were high school teens. Back in June, the band released their self-titled fourth full-length album, and the material on the album sonically speaking owes a great debt to the great rock ‘n’ roll of the 70s – think of Tom Petty, Bob Seeger,Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones (probably Sticky Fingers-era Stones really), the Allman Brothers and a contemporary band, Truth and Salvage Company among others. To complete a warmly familiar sound, reminiscent of 70s AM radio rock, the band also enlisted the help of the Rolling Stones’s saxophonist Bobby Keys and others.
Seemingly fitting for a road trip or a summer Sunday afternoon over multiple beers, the material despite it’s cozy country twang actually covers bluesier territory – thematically about half the album deals with crushing heartbreak and painfully dysfunctional relationships in a way that’s very modern. Other songs are more straightforward and seemingly “traditional” rockers.
I recently spoke to the Lonely H’s Mark Fredson about the new album, and several other subjects in an interview that manages to show Fredson’s surreal and at times sardonic humor throughout; but he does offer some serious advice to artists trying to make it. Check it out below.
WRH: How did you get into music? And when did you know that music was the only thing you wanted to do?
Mark Fredson: I didn’t know that music is what I really wanted to do until about a month ago when songs started pouring out of me like piss. I had no choice but to write and write and write. I’ve written more than 30 songs in the past month. All the best work of my life. Now I know I need to do music. I always had a heavy inclination towards music before but now there’s really no other option but to see this through.
WRH: Who are your influences?
WRH: Who are you listening to right now?
MF:Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes. That’s exactly how a band should sound.
WRH: How the band meet?
MF: We grew up in an underwater paradise off the coast of Washington. We all have gills and need to spend at least 3 hours submerged in water every da in order to survive. There was nothing to do in Paradise other than play music about how much we longed to live a normal life like the land creatures we watched on our TV’s. Trying to sing underwater is really hard. But I think I got it figured out.
WRH: How did you come up with the band name?
MF: We all had a collective heroin habit in 8th grade. We had to cut it out in order to get the good grades our parents expected of us in high school. Music was a positive alternative.
WRH: You’ve collaborated with the likes of the Rolling Stones’ Bobby Keys and others on the new album. How did that come about? And how was it working with him?
MF: He was very sweaty. We comped the shit out of his solo. He just couldn’t get the rhythm on that end part of the solo. He cost $600 dollars for a 30 second solo. I wish I had that $600 dollars now. I’d buy new tires for my town and country.
WRH: Many of the love songs on the album describe highly dysfunctional relationships. The relationship at the heart of “Love Her Anyway” sounds abusive. “When You Don’t Call Me” describes a guy who’s in a relationship with a woman who’s playing games with him – she goes out on the town, never seems to call, and as far as he knows, there could be someone else. “Move On, Alright” has its protagonist attempting to move on from a relationship that has ended. What’s the inspiration behind those songs? How much of those songs are based on real life experiences?
MF: I wrote “Love Her Anyways” before I was even with that girl. I ended up being with her for 3 years. I already knew how it was going to be before I did it. And I did it anyways and it really fucked me up. I went three years of my life selling myself short. But it’s really my fault in the end. I create my own reality.
WRH: When do you know when you have a finished song?
MF: When I listen back to the demo and say to myself: “that sounds like a fucking song, Mark."
WRH: What advice would you give to artists trying to make a name for themselves?
MF: Just make sure you write good songs and you sing them well. Play them out as much as you can. Everything will fall in place if you put the songs first.