by Ari Roth
The Cold And Lovely is the project of Meghan Toohey, formerly of The Weepies, and Nicole Fiorentino, formerly of Veruca Salt and The Smashing Pumpkins. Together, they craft gorgeously psychedelic, dream pop-influenced songs that stand apart from the rest of their many projects. I sat down to talk to the band in advance of the rerelease of last year’s Ellis Bell EP, this time with additionally songs. Both members were warm and friendly, as we discussed their creative process, discovering shoegaze, exciting current bands, and their new material.
Although they are better known as session players and musicians in larger bands, The Cold And Lovely is a much more independent project, and Toohey says that “I’m basically doing everything myself, with the exception of the bass, which is where Nicole comes in.” Along with a drummer – occasionally Patty Schemel from Hole – the duo create a lush, sonically rich sound in their home studio in Los Angeles.
LA turns out to be the key factor that initially brought the two of them together, and Fiorentino describes their initial meeting as a result of living in the same city and running in the same musical circles. After their initial connection, Fiorentino discovered the “amazing” songs Toohey had been writing, recalling that “I heard her demos and I was like, ‘what are you doing? You really need to get these out and get these going, we need to start recording, and just put a project together,’ because I felt like the music needed to be heard.”
On the road, the duo is abetted on drums by Dani Buncher (a Pennsylvania native) of the band TeamMate, and together they have been touring throughout the past few years. Tonight, The Cold and Lovely comes to Philadelphia to play at Kung Fu Necktie.
Speaking about the new material, and particular new single “Radio”, Toohey is confident that they signal a step forward for the band, pointing towards their future material. “I think they fit in really well with the rest of the songs, but I also think that it’s sonically at a next level for us. We’re about to get into recording a new EP, and I think that “Radio” is a good idea of where the band is going. From the beginning, on our first record, we didn’t really find our sound, and I feel like Ellis Bell is basically a next level of the band, a 2.0. and then there’s going to be a 3.0 Cold And Lovely on the new album that we’re recording.”
The EP also features “Oh My Love”, a song originally recorded for the band’s 2012 debut album, here rerecorded so that it finally matches “the way we had originally heard it” but that they were unable to initially realize in the studio. Finally, and intriguingly, the EP will feature a remix from Dan Konopka, better known as the drummer for the acclaimed rock band OK Go. Although the girls profess to not generally be fans of remixes, they say that Konopka “knocked it out of the park,” and that “he just gets our music.”
The band has explicitly referenced shoegaze and dreamy early indie rock when talking about their music, and I asked them to recount their memories of first discovering this sound as it was being created in the late 80s and early 90s. Toohey vividly recounts her first encounter with the genre, telling me that “my brother had a band in Boston in the 90s that were signed to Warner Brothers, and they got a tour van, and I went out with them in their tour van, and they were playing Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, and I just remembered being like ‘what is this? This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard!’ So then I just really dove into that style of music, and of course being high school and being in college in the 90s, it was definitely such a great time for that style of music.”
Fiorentino, on the other hand, was initially (and remains) enamored by The Cure in high school, a band who she describes as “my favorite band, has always been and will always be. They opened up doors for me, but I really didn’t start listening to My Bloody Valentine and Lush and Slowdive and all those bands until college.”
We discussed the serendipity of the band gaining momentum as bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive are reforming, and both expressed excitement and awe at having seen My Bloody Valentine in particular perform at last year’s FYF Fest, despite the set being plagued by the band’s notorious sound problems due to the extremely high volumes. They also met My Bloody Valentine’s bassist Debbie Googe, an experience which they described as “surreal,” and they both dream of one day touring with the legendary shoegaze group.
Although these classic bands from the 80s and 90s certainly inform The Cold And Lovely’s sound, both girls are effusive when I ask them about new bands that they love. The two of them cite St. Vincent (who they “worship” as “a genius, and a monster guitar player”), Silversun Pickups, Beach House, Tame Impala, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Tegan and Sara, Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, London Grammar, and M83, along with new music by older and more established acts like PJ Harvey, Radiohead, and Fiorentino’s former band Veruca Salt. Both of them express genuine excitement about modern music, telling me that “there’s so many great bands right now, it’s pretty overwhelming.”
Despite their packed schedule, Fiorentino and Toohey are also finding time to work on a number of other projects, including Fiorentino collaborating with London band The Microdance, Toohey doing production work, and even the two of them playing guitar and bass on a recent iPhone commercial, featuring a cover of The Pixies’ “Gigantic.” Looking into the future, the band is excited about expanding the Cold And Lovely project, recording the next EP and touring both the East and West Coasts, as well as a planned tour of Europe and Mexico in 2015. Until then, the band hopes to meet its goal for their pledge campaign so that they can continue to produce new music. The future looks bright for this band, and their next endeavors are sure to be exciting.