A little over a year ago, Loved Ones guitarist/frontman Dave Hause had no clear view of how the future was going to shake down. In December 2006, founding bassist Mike "Spider" Cotterman departed after a grueling tour to support the Loved Ones' debut full-length album, Keep Your Heart.
With the Punk/Rock trio pared to a duo, Hause was relying on Explosions bassist Chris Gonzalez to round out the lineup and help the band fulfill its tour obligations (Explosions guitarist Dave Walsh provided second guitar to flesh out the live sound).
Hause needn't have worried. While still in the midst of the Keep Your Heart tour, Explosion vocalist Matt Hock announced that the band was breaking up and the Loved Ones' touring members suddenly became permanent fixtures.
"We went out to the West Coast and did a short tour with Dave and Chris and asked them to join the band, and they of course said yes," Hause says. "We did a cross-Canadian tour and some American dates on the way back and then we just got right into writing. It was pretty seamless and we worked hard at it. I think it's galvanized the live show, and I think we're better writing-wise, too. Now we've got three songwriters and it's changed the face of the band."
After a support slot for NOFX and a headlining tour, both in Europe, the Loved Ones returned home to Philadelphia and began work on their sophomore full-length, Build & Burn. With no tours looming and plenty of time to spend in the studio, Build & Burn developed at a leisurely pace.
"It was nice to be home. This was the longest stretch of not touring that we've ever had in the band," Hause says. "We're getting ready to gear back up."
With the band resting comfortably and augmented to a quartet, the album came together more quickly and differently than their earlier releases. Although Hause started off in the Hardcore scene, his Loved Ones work has been a fascinating mix of Punk energy and Classic Rock anthemics. Produced by the Bouncing Souls' Pete Steinkopf and Bryan Kienlen, Build & Burn is a further expansion of that genre crunching, with the Hold Steady's Franz Nicolay providing keyboards and various other instruments on the album. Nicolay's keyboard touches have necessitated yet another addition to the lineup.
"On this tour, we're bringing my sister Missy out to play those parts ... we're excited to bring some class up onstage," Hause says, laughing. "We've always conceived the Loved Ones as a Rock band and keyboards are a big part of that. They've sort of come back in Rock bands in the last couple years, but not so much in Punk bands. We're sort of somewhere between those two genres, I guess. That's what people write about us. We just think we're a band."
Between the additions of Gonzalez and Walsh, the encouragement of Steinkopf and Kienlen, the musical presence of Nicolay and Hold Steady guitarist Tad Kubler (who solos magnificently on the Americana Punk rattler "Louisiana") and the engineering work of Bob Strakele (who did the last Hold Steady album), Hause felt completely at ease in trying new sonic directions for Build & Burn.
"It was very family oriented and very organic and a lot of fun to make," Hause says. "Some of the places where we took chances on this record, and you could get scared and be afraid to do those kinds of things, but the environment that we cultivate allowed us to do whatever we wanted creatively and not be stuck in the confines of ¨Oh, this is your second record and you've got to make a record like the last one.' "
Although Hause's Classic Rock influences have never been far from the surface of the Loved Ones' sonic profile, they're even more prevalent on Build & Burn. If Bruce Springsteen had spent time hanging out at CBGBs instead of the Stone Pony, he could easily have written "The Bridge," Build & Burn's dramatic centerpiece.
"As fans of music and musicians, Mike and I talked about that when we formed the band," Hause says. "We were raised on the Beatles and the Stones and all kinds of older Classic Rock. And a lot of our favorite Punk bands were the Clash and the Replacements, bands who were more on the Rock side of things.
"What felt natural was to write from this perspective of music you heard as a kid, and what I listened to was Bruce Springsteen and Dire Straits. A lot of bands get caught in this box of, 'Oh, we're this kind of band,' and it's not anything we ever want to get caught in. The Punk thing is sometimes a real shackle and we're not interested in necessarily obeying anyone's rules and that's what makes us who we are. I like music and we play music. Why not make it as musical as we can?"
THE LOVED ONES play the Poison Room Friday with The Gaslight Anthem, The Arrivals and HiFi Handgrenades. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.