Love Zombies have just completed a whirlwind UK co-headline tour with The Amorettes, and lead vocalist Hollis Mahady talks about that and more.
The Los Angeles-based Love Zombies recently released their debut album Passionfruit via a Pledge Music campaign. The album was produced by Allain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures) and also features Allain’s former bandmate Joey Castillo on drums. Love Zombies will release the first single from their latest offering titled “Birthday” on October 28th. The album is pencilled in for a full release in 2017.
National Rock Review recently caught up with the band’s lead vocalist, Hollis Mahady whilst on tour in Newcastle to talk about Passionfruit, the challenges associated with using crowd-funding projects like Pledge Music, touring with Hey Hello! and the band’s plans for the future.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, we really appreciate it.
Hollis: Of course.
NRR: You’ve just handed me a copy of your new album Passionfruit. Could you tell us a little bit about the album and the inspiration behind it?
Hollis: Well first of all, it’s a Pledge album. So to everyone who raised the money, thank you pledgers. They really were awesome. Seriously it seems cheesy, but they made our whole dreams come true.
We were at a point where we didn’t know what we were going to do, because everything is so expensive to record and we were just broke. But people were still asking us, we want to buy your album, do you have an album? We were like we don’t and we don’t have any more money to record anything. We can do demos and stuff.
So we were like we will do a Pledge album, it wasn’t someone else’s idea, we were just like what a way to live, why not? It just totally surpassed our expectations, we hit over 100%, we got to 184%. You know so it was like woah. So because of that we were able to go and do our album.
Passionfruit, the name of the album comes from an analogy of this garden we’ve been growing for like flowers. Passionfruit is actually a flower, I didn’t even know that it was a fruit at first you know. You know the fruits of our labour, the whole just analogy, I’ve always felt like my whole life we’ve been waiting for this. It just takes so long, many years to find who you are as an artist and the band mates and then to find the money, so in that whole time, you are growing.
Fruits you can see them growing but they are just not ready, you know it’s like I’m so fucking hungry, it’s like a ripe banana it’s still green it’s not gonna taste good but it’s getting there, so that’s kind of the whole thing with Passionfruit.
NRR: Obviously you mentioned there about the Pledge campaign. Would you choose that method of crowd-funding again for future projects do you think?
Hollis: You know, yeah I might, I really enjoyed doing it. I would say it was a little bit tricky because during the process we were in the UK and moved back to America, so I learned a lot, I would maybe do it again. It’s just the shipping, you learn as you go like some things are not worth it.
Actually, our CDs as we speak are being held at customs, we might have to pay tax. The Pledge offers were really good, and it really ran smoothly, then all of these other things happened. It’s really fulfilling to do it like that. I mean just having fans pay for it and you get to be creative. I make a lot of the merchandise, so I was really really busy with it, but it was doing what I love. I would do it again, it was a lot of work but I would do it again.
NRR: For those who didn’t Pledge (shame on them) when and how can everybody else get their hands on the album?
Hollis: Yes, because the Pledge is down right now. Really at the moment to come out to one of these shows on the tour, we have physical CDs. All of the Pledgers have the downloads, their CDs are trapped in the mail, but we will get them. We are going to be re-releasing it for real. We are working on who is going to distribute it and put it out and that’s going to be in 2017.
So until then “Birthday” is our single and that’s out and they can go on TuneCore, we are setting that up, I don’t know if it’s setup yet, but they can buy the single. So really this album was just for the pledgers because it turned out a lot better than we thought there are some people who are really excited about it, we want to do a proper release. So really they have to come out to a show, it’s the only way they are going to get it.
NRR: I read that Allain Johannes produced the album as well, who is very cool I’m a big fan of his work with Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures. I was just wondering what was it like working with Allain and what did he bring to the table?
Hollis: It was awesome, he brought so much, he’s an amazing guitar player. He really just got us. I think that’s why he agreed to do it, because he heard we are pretty raw. He’s kind of a grungey guy, he brought in Joey from Queens of the Stone Age to play drums, Joey Castillo.
NRR: He’s one of my favourite drummers.
Hollis: Did you know he’s on the there?
NRR: No. He’s so powerful if you listen to the Queens of the Stone Age stuff, it’s almost as if he comes through the drum kit, it’s so powerful.
Hollis: Totally, everyone who hears it says wow good drummer. We are like that’s Joey Castillo on our album. Yeah, so Allain brought him in, he said I know the perfect person for this and we were like great, awesome. He just kept it really raw.
Myself and Davy sing our vocals together, he’s not the kind that really uses auto-tune or program stuff, it was all very real. It was a good choice.
NRR: What’s your favourite track off the album and why?
Hollis: One of my favourite songs is “Backwords World”, I always go to it. It’s just different, I really love the lyrics and it’s one of the songs that I just feel so strongly about right now, that in the world that there are a lot of things backwards, but I don’t know if it’s always been like that I’ve only been alive how many years. I just think things are going south, I don’t know I’m trying to be positive but it’s not, and it’s saying it’s ok you don’t have to hurry along, it’s ok. You will hear the song and so that’s probably why, and Allain he did a really cool instrumental in the middle.
NRR: So the band was formed by yourself and Davy in 2014. The rest of the guys that you’ve got with you are they all new as well?
Hollis: The only new one is Rex, he’s the guitarist. In the very beginning Love Zombies, it’s like that with any band, you kind of have to try people and see who works. Some people their personalities don’t work or their work ethic wasn’t right, it just didn’t work.
So with the second lineup, we still have the same drummer and the same bass player as last year and the last couple of tours. So the only new person is Rex.
NRR: Are you currently based in L.A. or in London or are you splitting your time between them both?
Hollis: We are kind of in both right now. I had to go back because mainly my visa did run out and like anything it’s money and that kind of stuff. So I had to go back and I could only take Davy really with me.
So we are kind of back and forth, I’m pretty much based over there more permanently. But right now people don’t even know us in America yet. Hopefully, we will become both a UK and U.S. band.
NRR: The last time I saw you play in Newcastle you were fronting Hey Hello! opening for The Wildhearts. I was just wondering what was that experience like and I know you left the band pretty suddenly, what was your reason for leaving the band?
Hollis: It was good, I mean Hey Hello! was an amazing experience. I don’t think a lot of people maybe realised that I had started Love Zombies and we had two years of a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it before Ginger came along with the big Cadillac of things.
I’m here with my band still so, I tried to make it work, and there was a time where I was ready and willing to go and put Love Zombies on the back burner for a little bit. I was willing to do that and then I made a lot of sacrifices. We went to Japan and we had a whole tour booked and you know there were things happening and he had to cancel it and because that happened there were things that happened to me, I had to go home.
There’s a lot behind the stories that you don’t see and I don’t want to really comment too much about what people write in the press and things that aren’t true and stuff. I like to just leave it at it was a great experience and I still have a lot of respect for Ginger. I had a great time with the band. I think they were awesome people and they are awesome musicians. Even as things turned out how they did I wouldn’t trade any of it because it brought us here.
The thing is I started Love Zombies and my heart was there and it always has been and I tried to do both. I kind of wish I could have cloned myself because they really wanted 100% of me and I just couldn’t. My heart was still …even though things were kind of falling apart with Love Zombies and we didn’t have the money, we didn’t have the support, we didn’t have the record label I couldn’t leave my baby behind. They deserved someone who could be full-time and I couldn’t live here either so it was tough.
NRR: I noticed you were also doing some stripped back shows in Hollywood what was that like? Did you have to rework the songs to perform them in that kind of environment?
Hollis: It’s weird because we have so many of the songs that you don’t hear on here. Davy and I, we write so much, we are always writing and I play the piano as well. So to do acoustic things we just played a lot of the songs that aren’t even on the album, that work better acoustically with some piano.
It’s different but it kind of translates some of them and then the other ones that didn’t translate we didn’t play them. We just said let’s try this song we have, a new song called “Two Sides”. We did a pledge album for some of the people who pledged they bought songs and we did some of those. So it’s totally different but I enjoy it as well. So it’s better, you really hear the words and you can hear the songs and experience with the band it’s kind of like a big frantic thing.
NRR: So what else do you have in store for the rest of this year and into 2017?
Hollis: So what we are deciding now is like kind of a proper plan for Love Zombies. Like the last three years were kind of leading up to this I think. Like I said, this was just released to the pledgers, because people are really happy with it and they want to give it a good release, like a proper way, they have plans so the album will see the light of day, so we are just kind of seeing that.
We are going to do some videos, we are going to record a live video “Birthday” at the London show. We are going to put some singles out on the radio and stuff and hopefully just more touring. We are really just looking to keep playing now that we have the album in the UK and in the US, so we want to just keep going and going live.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us we really appreciate it.
Hollis: No problem.
The Love Zombies latest single, “Birthday”, is available for preorder on Amazon, and due out 28 October.