Later this week, alt-country singer/songwriter Lydia Loveless kicks off their first tour behind their sixth studio album, Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again, which dropped this September on their previous home, Bloodshot Records (previous LP, 2020’s Daughter, was released via their own Honey, You’re Gonna Be Late Records), and was called by American Songwriter, “One of the most powerful, moving and musically sophisticated offerings in a career that is clearly still growing despite, or perhaps because of, any self-doubts.” The album documents Loveless’ struggles with booze and depression, breakup with longtime boyfriend, and move back to Columbus, Ohio (where their career began), after an extended stay in North Carolina. The tour begins on Black Friday, in Lydia’s current neck of the woods, at Empty Bottle in Chicago (The following night will have them playing Natalie’s Grandview in Columbus.), and includes a stop at our very own Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday, November 30th. I recently got a chance to chat with Lydia Loveless about the new album, playing live, and a few of their other favorite things.
Izzy Cihak: You released Nothing’s Gonna Stand In My Way Again a few months ago. Have you had any favorite reactions to it?
Lydia Loveless: Lots of people are saying certain songs make them cry. Probably sick, but I always love that! And I’m getting so many compliments on the lyrics from my songwriting buds. That means more to me than most things.
Izzy: How do you feel like the album compares to previous releases, in terms of sound, aim, and just the process of writing and recording it?
Lydia: This was the most solitary writing process of my life. Even more solitary than Daughter, which was written in my closet in North Carolina after I moved away from my entire band! I was still bouncing ideas with them for that record, at least, but with this one I had recently broken up with my long-term partner and I was couch surfing, and I just didn’t really want anyone to hear what I was writing because it felt so damn depressing. I didn’t share a lot even with Todd, my guitar player, who is usually my artistic confidante.
Izzy: I love the whole album, but I especially love “Song About You,” which has been in ultra-heavy rotation in my apartment. How did that particular track come about?
Lydia: I was on tour, and I had — well, have had for years — an enormous crush on a fellow musician. I guess my breakup just blew that crush wide open. It sounds like it’s about the demise of my relationship, but it’s 100% about being on tour and just slobbering in love with this muse I’ve had for ages. It just fell out of me, and I thought it was so corny, but my friend Michelle Sullivan said, “Record that right now!”
Izzy: You’re about to kick off two headlining runs, with about two weeks of dates through November and December, and then about three weeks of dates in January and February. Are there any shows you’re especially excited about?
Lydia: All of it, honestly. This is our first full-band headlining tour in absolute ages! Everyone is in a good place with each other, and I just feel like anything is possible right now. That’s cheesy as hell, but I just can’t wait to play these songs for people. Nashville is exciting because that’s where we made the record.
Izzy: You’ve played Philly a number of times over the years, with numerous shows at MilkBoy and World Café Live, in addition to shows at Union Transfer, Underground Arts, and Brooklyn Bowl. Do you have any favorite memories of the city, whether from onstage, or around town?
Lydia: One of my favorite memories of all time is going to Philly for NYE with my ex. We went to The Menzingers’ New Year’s party and the next day we were all walking around the chaos that is Philly at that time, and this enormous hulking man was passed out on the sidewalk. He had to be like 7 feet tall and his tiny girlfriend was begging him to get up. I walked up to her and asked if she needed help and this man opened his eyes, looked at me, and said, “Fuck off!” in his Philly accent, then passed right back out. We all died laughing. I guess, in hindsight, that’s a terrible story.
Izzy: Do you have a particular favorite type of venue or setting to play? You somewhat regularly play both barrooms and listening rooms (in addition to nightclubs), which tend to create very different types of environments.
Lydia: It really just depends on the setup. If I’m alone, I’ve gotten to a point where I’ll play anywhere and feel good. Bedrooms or arenas, not that I’ve ever played an arena. But with the band, it’s gotta be a rock club, that feels the best.
Izzy: What can be expected of the live show when you play Johnny Brenda’s on November 30th? It’s definitely my favorite room in the city.
Lydia: We’ll be playing the new album, of course, but we’re playing old stuff we haven’t played in ages. We have a new rhythm section. This version of the band is quite high energy and old school Loveless, for sure.
Izzy: You’re gonna be playing these dates with Reese McHenry, who I also dig. How did the two of you get hooked up? Were you previously a fan of her music?
Lydia: She was the first friend I made when I moved to North Carolina. We are best friends. We talk on the phone for hours a day. I’ve wanted to tour with her forever. She’s so incredible.
Izzy: Considering how much time you’ve spent on the road over the years, I’m curious if you’ve developed any particularly significant touring rituals, whether things you always make a point to check out, or just things that you do to try to stay balanced and maintain your sanity while always on the go?
Lydia: I wish, but every tour is different. The drives are longer or shorter, or there are more or less people around you. My favorite thing I have to do is eat something good. If I don’t get a good meal, I’m going to be in a bad mood. I take walks whenever I can because I have to get away from people for my own sanity and theirs. I’m a very annoying person. I try to make as much space as I can these days. And I absolutely have to have my Forensic Files — my guitar players know this, and they put it on for me when they’re done with their sports updates. It’s incredibly touching.
Izzy: Not to detract from your own music but, considering we’re coming to the year’s end, I’m curious if you’ve had any favorite music of 2023?
Lydia: The Weakness by Ruston Kelly blew my mind. I’m also fully obsessed with Chappell Roan’s record, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess.
Izzy: Finally, you have a really fucking amazing sense of fashion. What does that draw inspiration from? Do you have any particularly significant “style icons?”
Lydia: Thank you. That means a lot to me. Goldie Hawn and Jane Fonda are big inspo. Any of the absurd ‘90s country fashion is very present in my closet — and it’s funny how that style is pervasive now. I’m also really inspired by dance wear, as a former dancer. I like dressing like I could pop into a ballet class. Forever inspired by male writers of the ‘70s, like I’m gonna spend my day smoking in bed with a typewriter.
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