written by Maria Arroyo
A few days ago I had the chance to do an in-person interview with Ash Kernen, the lead singer of Lovecartel, and Will Brown, who also plays Lovecartel, but is premiering his solo single release tonight at Ortliebs.
I first met Kernen at last year’s Millennium Music Conference in Harrisburg where he was a panelist for the music industry careers discussion. I caught up with him later and we’ve kept in contact since, but this would be my first time meeting Will, so I was super excited!
Kernen dove right in and started telling me about the making of Lovecartel.
Kernen: “We started in 2013 and the original band that essentially became Lovecartel, was Narco Loco. After a while, the band dissipated, but Anthony (former brother-in-law) and I stuck around which is now known as Lovecartel…We released our debut album, Battle Scars, in 2013 and that was primarily done with me, Anthony, and some session cats… we put out some singles in 2015 and 2016. This past year we were sitting on a bunch of records and we wanted to revamp.”
Lovecartel includes Kernen on vocals and guitar, Phillips also playing guitar, and more recently, Dan (or Drago) fills in for bass and Will on drums. Dan was only supposed to fill in temporarily, but he really took to their sound and songs and has been made a permanent member of the band.
Since Kernen and Brown have been friends for a while, they made some of the same connections. Through one of those mutual friends, they linked up, and Brown became a part of Lovecartel. Kernen says that “Will is just as badass on the drums as he is on guitar.”
“Fast forward to this past year…” as Kernen begins to explain their time as a band. “We wanted to get back out there, so we went back to the studio and put out this EP, Sayonara Till Tomorrow… A holdover EP as a reminder to people that HEY we’re still here! We knew it was a solid body of work, but there was so much more to put out there.”
As the interview continued, Kernen talked more about the process of their new musical direction and how they see their future shaping up in the new year.
“Our bread and butter are analog, four-piece, guitar-driven, and forward indie rock,” Kernen began. “The rock sound has so much more that can be done with it. We really want to push the sound of rock. We started moving into some electronic production with some hip-hop and trap influences, while still keeping that core analog guitar sound that we are known for.”
He hinted at some new material that has yet to be released so please stay tuned for it!
That Music Mag: So listening to Sayonara Till Tomorrow and some of your other singles, it feels like you don’t really stay in just one genre. What would you classify yourself as?
Kernen: “So I think to our core, we’ve always been a rock band, but we can move in and out of lanes,” he explains. “The ability to move in and out of those lanes is exactly what Lovecartel is all about. I think our new music is probably best described as high impact and alt-electro. The high impact is an homage to what we do live, and the alt-electro is this new direction that we are taking.”
TMM: And this new direction, do you think you’re taking a different approach to it musically because you think you’ve done all you can do with your initial sound?
Kernen: “Well, I think people are going to be surprised. I’ve always been a fan of stretching, trying and growing as an artist and with the advent of technology, there’s just so much more that you can do. We still have our indie side in the fact that we are independent of a label, and everything we record is still through an analog channel to keep that grit behind our music that people know us for.”
TMM: So what’s the plan for 2020 for you guys?
Kernen: “We are rebuilding and restarting to see where things go. This will be the first show of the new year, so we are trying to build local buzz and possibly span out regionally. Maybe bring on a synth or keys player because I do think we have something to offer.”
When we wrapped up with Lovecartel, I finally got to talk with the infamous multi-instrumentalist, Will Brown, who has played with a bunch of different bands, works as a session player and continues his solo career. He is basically living every musicians’ dream: He eats, sleeps, and breathes music. Tonight’s show will debut his single release and will be sharing the stage with Lovecartel and another band out of Brooklyn called The Big Easy.
Being as established as he is now, I wanted to know what drove him to music in the first place.
Brown: “I started playing drums at a really early age and I’ve always been playing in bands. When I started writing my own shit, I went to record my stuff in a recording studio. I loved being in the studio, but I didn’t like the way the song sounded, and eventually said ‘fuck it’ and started recording in my bedroom. I put out an EP almost a year ago and have put out a few singles since then.”
Kernen did not shy away from humble bragging about his drummer. He says that Brown is “redefining traditional boundaries.”
TMM: Do you see yourself moving in a different direction with your upcoming music?
Brown: “Like Ash, I’m trying to incorporate electronic things but with more of a DIY feel to it, like a sound that is purposely less produced. I want it to sound like your in the fucking room with me.”
He continued sharing his intimate experiences with bedroom recording, and with the company of a very important furry friend.
Brown stated, “I record everything at the house and I play every instrument on the recording… This single’s probably the poppiest song of them all, but still with that lo-fi vibe.”
TMM: So you’ve got your hand in a ton of different projects. How do you find time for your own music and personal life?
Brown: “My free time or relaxing time is doing this shit… If there’s a guitar in the room, I’m playing it and it takes the place of time with Netflix or TV shows, which is why my turnover is super quick because I do it all in my bedroom. I also have a dog, Barny, which is also very important to note. He’s in almost every video I post to my Instagram for different beats I create.”
TMM: So same question for you Will, what’s your plan for 2020?
Brown: “2020? Definitely another EP in the future. I’ll release the single and then the EP and then maybe just keep releasing singles from the new album. I feel like you can’t put out one album every four years and expect people to give a shit.”
so you have to be constantly putting shit out. Do I have to constantly be like HEY HEY remember me? I’m still here!
Brown added, “I’m also trying to do more projects where I bring other musicians over to my house and record their music for them… with Barny of course.”
Being able to sit down with these two was such a pleasure. We probably sat and talked for close to two hours about everything from their personal lives and accomplishments to everything music-related.
If you’re in town, come out to Ortliebs and see these two badass musicians show Philly a good time!