Vicky Hamilton knows talent when she sees it. She ought to, since she launched the careers of Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, and Poison. She also did A&R for Geffen Records during their heyday, helped June Carter Cash produce an album, and she even represented famous painters such as Ron English among many other things. She also recently released a book called Appetite for Dysfunction detailing the events of her very interesting life.
Once again, her instincts about music are correct. Her new label Dark Spark Music has started working with Lovely World, a young, articulate and talented group with that fresh spark that can be hard to find. The bastard love child of Led Zeppelin, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, the Beatles and (dare I say it) Guns n’ Roses, Lovely World takes the old and turns it into something entirely new. It’s no wonder Hamilton agreed to help manage the band, which consists of two brothers, 22-year-old vocalist and guitarist Landon Rojas and 21-year-old drummer Cade Rojas, as well as 21-year-old guitarist Cameron Smith and 23-year-old bassist Michael Gilbert.
Playing like seasoned pros on their first West Coast tour, we caught up with Lovely World at their performance at the Viper Room in West Hollywood and their show at Harvelle’s Blues Club in Santa Monica and discussed how far they’ve come in such a short amount of time and what the future holds. We also talked about the sarcasm behind the band’s name, the myth of Southern hospitality, drunk frat guys, and getting rock star training from the expert, Hamilton.
Hamilton discovered Lovely World in July 2019, when they brought their show to Memphis for the SpringBoard Music Festival, an event that brings emerging artists and music industry professionals together. She knew right away they had talent, “Well, they played SpringBoard in Memphis and before I went, I had looked at all the bands that were playing, and I had decided in my mind that they were my band. And then I started like stalking them at SpringBoard and I saw them go down this alley with their skateboards and I ran down there and I was like, ‘Hey, I’m Vicky Hamilton’ and they’re all standing there with their arms folded while I’m talking to them. And I was like, ‘wow, that’s going over like a lead balloon.’ But they had decided I was their person too, and although for some reason I kind of freaked them out in the alley, it all came together.”
Smith responds, “We thought we freaked her out in the alley! Yeah, we looked like super sketchy. We looked like bums, like we looked like terrifying, honestly. We did not look good at that moment. ”
On their first West Coast tour, Hamilton put the band through a crash course on Rock Stardom 101. Landon Rojas describes, “Our show aspect was completely different at the beginning of the tour than like it is at the end now. So, I feel like we’ve been tweaking things. We’d never been on tour before, so having a bunch of shows back to back to back is really helpful because you can play a show and if you fuck up, you know you can learn from that and on the next one you go forward. You know, tweak shit and then do better, always critiquing.” Smith adds, “It’s good having Vicky too cause she’s honest. So, it’d be like, ‘Vicky, what’d we do wrong and shit.’ She got on me one time. We had one really rough show and she had an intervention. But we’re all learning. Like the first thing Vicky said to me when we sat down is ‘you look like a 13-year-old boy.’ I was like, oh shit. Okay. Maybe I need to work on something.” Cade Roja adds, “She told me I dressed like an alcoholic. It was Cameron’s shirt though,” the laugh. The band certainly has come a long way in a short time. Their set is tight, their music is solid, and their interaction with the audience makes them seem like old pros on stage.
With a name like Lovely World, and the band members with such fresh young faces, one might think their music is all sunshine and rainbows. But, it’s actually quite the opposite. Landon Rojas explains, “It’s a very cynical name. We’re cynical people.” Smith adds, “and it’s not really that lovely of a world. We could have called ourselves Deadly Planet for all I care, but that’s a little too up front.” The band does deal with some dark subject matter in their music.
Their latest single, debuting on February 14th, 2020, is called Edge of Time and is about a girl who survived poverty and prostitution through the love and care of a childhood friend. The song is heavy, rocking and in-your-face, but also oddly uplifting with the lyrics: “I’ll shield you the fire, through the flames, and smoke/ I’ll hold you like a baby so your soul doesn’t choke/ I would lose everything just to let you know/ That it’s going to be alright.”
Edge of Time was produced by Rick Parker, a longtime friend of Hamilton’s. Parker is an artist and producer who has worked with Lord Huron, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Dandy Warhols among others. The band discusses what the experience working with him was like. Landon Rojas describes, “Parker was like, ‘Hey, let us be creative.’ And he would throw out ideas and stuff. It was super a creative atmosphere. I got to play all these vintage guitars and Cameron played on these awesome guitars and we were taking pictures of everything.” Smith interjects, “Yeah, I was like filming everything I played on. Like, one was a ‘63 Les Paul and then like this old Marshall cabinet from like the ‘50s. It was insane. It’s like a once in a lifetime opportunity to play something like that.”
Like many new artists, Lovely World has no plans for a full album release. Landon Rojas explains that they are focusing on singles right now because “people don’t really listen to full albums anymore. I think albums are obsolete now. I think it’s all singles and if you’re going to record singles, we should just record them and just release them, every two weeks, a or every month or so. And you can kind of frame them all how you want, so then you can switch it up and experiment and stuff which is cool. And people aren’t going to expect anything, you know? So, you can do whatever you want. “
If we start from the very beginning, Lovely World formed a few years ago in a small town in South Carolina. Cade Rojas tells the story: Apparently, the two brothers and Smith have “been playing together since the beginning of high school really, since 10th grade. But, we haven’t really felt like a band until Michael came along six or seven months ago. Then it’s kind of felt like more complete with a bass player. And we had something, since we never really had a bass player. It’s always been us three and we’ve been trying to find a fourth person. And then having someone who loves music just as much as we do, and someone who just knows music inside it’s a big, big help.”
As the band began playing near their hometown, they became the favorite of a frat house, for a very hilarious reason. Landon Rojas explains, “Well, we don’t really play in our hometown because there’s no music venues or anything, but we have kind of a home turf though. We had to play an hour away in this city called Clemson. We’d play these fraternity shows and stuff just for income and we played this one fraternity over and over again until they kind of knew our songs. And it was about the third time we played there, these dudes were all like grabbing their dicks and yelling ‘balls’ at us and I thought they were insulting us, but they actually wanted us to play a song called Bones. But they thought it was ‘balls.’ So, honestly at first I was like ‘fuck you.’ And then they’re like, ‘no, dude, don’t you have a song called balls?’ I said, ‘Oh shit man.’ But it was funny too, because in the chorus they all just went with it anyways and yelled ‘Balls.’ Now, when we play that song, I feel like I have to pronounce ‘bones’ so hard.” Smith adds, “There’s a video of them singing ‘balls,’ which sounds just so funny.”
Being from the South, one might assume that they are nice quiet Southern boys, but it turns out, according to them, Southern hospitality is a bit of a myth. Smith proclaims, “The hospitality is a lie. People are just as mean down South as anywhere else unless you’re in a restaurant, then it’s a little different and they’re all sweet. ‘What can I get you sweetheart?’” he mimics.
They have also enlisted the talents of a local film maker from their hometown on their video for Do You Feel the Sun. Landon Rojas says, “we’ve grown up all throughout high school with this kid who was also doing film. So, he’s from our hometown and is actually our age. So, as we’ve gotten better, he’s gotten a lot better, so we keep shooting music videos with him. He is like a one man crew. He’s insane. He’s good. He did all that in that video. Rich Bec, we have to plug his name. He’s an unbelievable videographer.”
Lovely World’s draws inspiration from myriad artists, Landon Rojas explains, “Well, we’ve all got different influences. I’m influenced by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Doors. I love a bunch of old music. Mike digs Arctic Monkeys.” Smith chimes in, “I really like nineties, like grunge to modern rock. I mean, obviously there’s also Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, like the major influences and I’m also influenced by Slash on the guitar. But um, I like Alice in Chains a lot. They’re heavy, but like grunge sound. I loved grunge. Landon Rojas jumps in, “You made us hate Alice in Chains. You’d play the same song every time we’d get in the van, the first song that we play is one of theirs. So, he’d play it every time. We’d start the van and then be like, ‘Oh my God, turn that shit off.’ What you hear could be the best song ever, but if you hear the same song 10 days in a row, you’re going to hate it regardless.” The song was God Smack by the way.
Look for Lovely World music on all social media platforms, or as the band put it, “eBay, Craigslist, Tinder, wherever you want to pick it up …” they joke. But, really they are on Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Hamilton is also putting on a showcase on April 9th, 2020 in New York City at The Cutting Room of her Dark Spark artists including Lovely World, and she is currently in the process of booking Lovely World an East Coast tour. Personally, here at Screamer, we are early awaiting them joining a tour with the Struts (hint, hint).