Completing a project and being faced with the final product can provoke many reactions; like writing the last word of a dissertation, finishing school for summer or finally walking away from an old work building. It can be relieving, exciting, bittersweet. The same goes for the completion of a record. Whether it be a band’s debut album, or what an artist might consider to be their definitive work, there’s no predicting what emotions might be stirred. That’s something that Mariel Loveland, of Candy Hearts, had to deal with just a week ago.
"After lugging a bunch of heavy vinyl boxes up five flights of stairs, listening to the record was completely rewarding in a different way," begins the frontwoman of the the New York / New Jersey trio, just a day after their album hit shelves on the other side of the Atlantic. "It didn't really feel real to me before. I sort of felt like, cool, I made this thing with my friends, and I've waited two years for this moment - everything I've done in almost the last two years was for this moment - but it felt sort of empty. It kind of felt like New Year's Eve when the clock hits midnight and you're like, "Happy new year! Okay, well, now what? It's only midnight, and I can't go to bed that early." The second I tore open the vinyl boxes, looked at the packaging and played the record for the first time, I felt completely different. I felt really overwhelmed, like I couldn't believe we made this thing together and that I managed to fit my life so perfectly into 12 inches of cardboard and plastic. I feel really lucky."
Loveland isn't being coy; the band's sophomore album 'All The Ways You Let Me Down' may be dripping in sunshine, and perfectly engineered to soundtrack summers from here to Timbuktu, but it is, in essence, a distillation of their collective lives over the past few years. "I definitely took a completely natural approach to writing this record," she assures. "A lot has happened to me in the past two years since our last release - more than I really thought would. I've toured more than ever before, which puts you into this kind of strange mindset of constantly reflecting on your life while you stare out a window. I find a lot of inspiration in that. It also leads you to meet a ton of people and navigate through those awesome new relationships that develop when you're traveling or the kind of relationships that struggle while you're away. I've gained a lot new friends, fallen in what I think is love, felt used and lost, watched friends pass away or walk out of my life, and met people I now consider family. It's just a whole lot.
"I think the only song I intentionally wrote was 'The Dream's Not Dead' because we had one of the toughest, most emotional weeks we've ever had on tour, and I was really taking it much harder than the guys. Somewhere around dawn on an overnight drive, I was deliriously sleepy, and thought what the hell are we doing? Why am I letting people push me and my friends down when we work really hard and have everything to look forward to? I needed to kick myself in the ass and reassure myself that life is what you make it, so make it the best."
The concept of laying herself bare on the page isn't a new one for Loveland. In fact, it's been her motto from the start. "When I started a band, I vowed to be honest in my lyrics. I know when I was growing up, I found solace in artists that really shared their life, or at least sounded like it. When I was upset, I could turn on a Bright Eyes record and lament with him. When I was happy, I could listen to Death Cab and celebrate falling in love for the first time or when I was uncertain and just straight up lost, I could listen to the Weakerthans tell me these beautiful stories about finding comfort in that uncertainty. I thought the best way for me to do that for someone else and pay if forward would be to just write about my life as honestly as possible. I hope that maybe I can do for someone what all those bands did for me.
"It is always a challenge to be personal," she continues, "I think it's mainly because the specific details of each character that help bring them to life in a song, completely blow up my spot in real life. I just cross my fingers that the people I choose to write sassy songs about don't get offended or don't listen to our record because they'll definitely know it's about them and I mostly don't tell the people I write about how I feel. If I could tell them how I feel, we'd probably be talking about it rather than me sitting in my room obsessing in a song. I also always worry about my parents really reading into songs as being much more risqué than I intended. We had a song about driving without a seatbelt and when my mom heard it she called me to yell at me for having driven in a car without a seatbelt. The thing is, I used that line as a metaphor. I'm actually terrified to not wear a seatbelt!"
Their sophomore record wasn't just about exploring the past. It also marked a host of firsts for the trio, with some happening to be more of a challenge than others. "This is the first time I've ever written a record where there was a real deadline and expectations set in place," Loveland explains. "I think shutting out the world is essential for me. I can write and not finish 100 songs that all come to me on a whim, but without having a deadline and telling myself "Alright, I have two months, and I'm not leaving this room until this is done" I'll never finish the record. I also think the isolation really helps me creatively. I spend days not leaving my apartment reflecting on myself, the things that have happened to me, if my life ended up where I thought it would be, and why I am the way I am. At a certain point it does drive me a little insane because I have a tendency to self deprecate, and it definitely doesn't seem like a healthy way to work now that I'm saying it out loud, but when I write a record I want it to be everything I have. I want to be able to go deep enough to pull out even the worst, most hidden parts of myself, along with the good stuff that's easy to show everyone. I can't do that if I don't drive myself a little nuts in the process - but of course having fun with my friends and family also helps give me things to write about as well."
As for the outcome of the album itself, Mariel's intentions are as honest as her lyrics. "I just want my audience to be able to relate to our record. It can be a real lonely place out there but half the fun of growing up is figuring out how amazing it is to feel that vast array of confusing emotions - whether it's positive or negative." That's not all. "Also, I hope it just makes people happy when they're driving to the beach or stuck in rush hour traffic." Just remember to wear your seatbelt.
Taken from the new DIY Weekly, available to download for iPhone, iPad and Android or read online now. Candy Hearts' new album 'All The Ways You Let Me Down' is out now via Bridge 9 / Violently Happy.