As a local songwriter, producer, studio session player and talented guitar slinger for hire, Brian Lovely has played many roles in his 15 plus years in the music business. This week, he steps into the spotlight with his first solo release, Superimpose. Recorded at Lovely's Cincinnati studio, The Beat Parlor, the disc features 12 Pop-rocking originals with contributions from Memphis keyboardist Ross Rice, Nashville drummer Chris Estes and local songwriter/drummer Chris Arduser.
A fixture of the local music scene, Lovely has played the ubiquitous sideman for a whole range of local and national Pop, Rock, Soul and Jazz artists, including '70s rocker Eddie Money, '60s Pop star Lou Christy, vocalist Bill Caffee, the late great Jazz guitarist Cal Collins and local singer/songwriter Greg Mahan.
Add a stint playing bass on tour with Adrian Belew and behind-the-scenes production and writing contributions for Blessid Union Of Souls and TVT Records signee's Pay The Girl, and it's a wonder Lovely had anytime to front his own group, the Flying Underground (with local music veterans Chris Arduser and Dave Ramos), or allocate time in his own studio to finish the disc. Lovely agrees it was a difficult balancing act.
"Most of (my) time was spent producing so many other people that in my free time I was more interested in writing, performing, running or drinking a beer than I was in going back into the studio," he notes. "I was really most interested in writing good songs and that's still what interests me most."
Lovely's songwriting roots run deep. His stepfather was a guitarist, arranger and bandleader; his mother a nightclub singer.
Early musical influences included Bubblegum Pop groups like The Monkees and 1910 Fruitgum Company, but Lovely, who learned his first guitar solo from an Aerosmith record, wanted to be a Rock & Roller.
"I loved The Beatles and Motown but to be honest, I was more of a Stones' kid. Clever didn't interest me — I just wanted it to feel good," he explains.
He hit his stride with his mid-'90s group The Secret, which included local rhythm-masters Teddy Wilburn and CC Thomas, whozm Lovely credits for injecting groove influences into his Rock songwriting.
After a 1994 WOXY Band of the Year win and the group's eponymous debut disc was released, Lovely opened up shop in his basement-cum-studio and set about producing a host of local artists, all the while working on his own songs and sounds in his spare time.
The debut is a rocking slab of rhythm and Pop with Lovely's trademark quirky sonic textures sprinkled throughout and a resulting mix slightly reminiscent of XTC or the rhythmically charged Stiff-era Elvis Costello.
Many of the songs are Lovely standards that he has honed in acoustic settings or gigged out with in the Flying Underground. However, one of Lovely's favorite tracks on the disc, "Blue, Blue Sky," had its origins in the avid runner's morning walking regime following an injury.
"The rhythm of these walks opened up my mind in a way I hadn't experienced in some time. It wasn't as devastating as a hard run so my mind and body just became tuned into an interesting and unique place. It was one of those rare songs that just blew through me slowly enough to capture quickly and easily," he recalls. "So, it's the process as much — if not more — than the finished song that has endeared it to me."
The consummate producer and arranger for many is on his own when it comes to producing his solo material, although he will play rough mixes for his bandmates and looks to wife Cathy for any necessary input.
"Producing yourself can be lonely and tedious, but I try to be as patient and industrious as I can," he acknowledges.
Lovely's most recent project is 9-week old son, Beck. Adding another component to Lovely's busy life and schedule, it's another responsibility that he welcomes with open arms.
"Being a father gives me even more to look forward to when I'm not working. I've no desire to try and describe my feelings (as a father) in song right now. Words just wouldn't seem to cut it," he observes. "The experience is utterly sublime, but who knows what will pop out down the road."
Currently, Lovely plans on out-of-town touring and promotional appearances, plus seeking out radio play, in support of Superimpose. Notwithstanding his many production and personal commitments, he remains dedicated to advancing the ball on his solo project.
"I'm on an all-out campaign to promote the disc," Lovely says. "Out-of-towners and touring are part of that campaign."
However, the busy songwriter/producer/engineer/sideman/father quickly adds, "But only if they make sense."
BRIAN LOVELY will be celebrating the release of his new CD, Superimpose, this Friday at The Barrelhouse Brewery with his band the Flying Underground. The Simpletons follow. Check out brianlovely.com for more information.