Retro and Future Talk with Livingmore

Had they gotten their start about 20 years ago, Livingmore would surely have been sharing the stages of the TLA and the Trocadero with the likes of Morningwood, Shiny...

Had they gotten their start about 20 years ago, Livingmore would surely have been sharing the stages of the TLA and the Trocadero with the likes of Morningwood, Shiny Toy Guns, and Kill Hannah during my college years.   The LA quartet kick out sassy and sparkly post-punk jams whose swagger matches that of frontwoman Alex Moore’s wardrobe, which would have been equally at-home in Max’s Kansas City or Studio 54.

Last month Livingmore released Take Me, their sophomore LP, which has already received praise from the likes of PopMatters and American Songwriter.  I recently got a chance to chat with founding members Alex Moore and Spencer Livingston, who tell me that their sound is equally indebted to ’60s rock and the alternative rock happening around the turn of the century.  “Musically, I feel like we take from a lot of different little corners.  We really like The Kinks and The Everly Brothers and The Rolling Stones, that classic songwriting, but we were also influenced a lot by the early 2000s.  We were kind of kids of the ’90s and early 2000s, so we like stuff like Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand and Alex really likes Garbage,” says Spencer.  “I really like power punk pop, bands like The Sounds and The Scissor Sisters, and then Beck… ’90s Beck!” adds Alex.

Take Me is the follow-up to 2018’s OK To Land, the band’s debut LP.  And while their latest sounds like a natural evolution, the band tells me that the process was far more collaborative this time around.  “We (Alex and Spencer) wrote a lot of our first album on acoustic guitars and then arranged them later,” says Spencer, but goes on to say that Mike [Schadel, drums and keys] and Rodrigo [Moreno, bass] had a lot more to do with the creative process of Take Me, which was produced and recorded in Livingmore’s own studio.  “We’ve always intended this band to be more of a rock band, a bigger sound, even though we started out writing as a duo on acoustic guitars,” says Spencer.

The album’s opening track and first single, “Sharp,” is a dance anthem that Culture Collide says, “is sure to remind listeners of the heydays of disco just as much as it is a snapshot of modern indie.”  The track is the band’s ode to fashion and how it serves as an expression of identity, so I don’t hesitate to ask Alex and Spencer what it is that inspires their particular duds.  “I always go through different phases… I love a lot of one-piece bodysuits and I love vinyl stuff, but I also love T-shirts.  You can do a lot with them, like the casual-mixed-with-glam-alternative thing,” Alex tells me, before explaining that a lot of it is inspired by, “a lot of ’80s women in music… and then people like Shirley Manson and Debbie Harry, rock goddesses.”  Spencer, on the other hand, tells me that a lot of his more simplistic style is inspired by a handful of ’60s icons.

“I’ve always gravitated toward Brian Jones.  We’re not really full-on mod, but a hint of that.  I always loved how Pete Townshend dressed when he was younger.  And I always thought that Andy Warhol looked cool, like that real simple mod thing.”

When I ask what the future holds for Livingmore, Spencer tells me that it’s basically all about touring at this point.  And while apparently things are coming together outside of the US a little more quickly, he assures me that we will get to see the band in the relatively near future.

“We’re looking forward to playing shows.  We are gonna go to Europe next year.  Around May of next year we’re starting to get some tour dates and festival stuff over there.  Overseas we’ve been getting a little more action, for some reason… Sometime next year we wanna get to the East Coast; we’ve definitely been getting requests [laughs].  And things seem to be opening up exponentially at the moment, so if something comes up later this year, we’re ready to go!”

Alex goes on to say that, although the pandemic didn’t technically affect their touring and recording schedule, the aftermath has made it not only a bit tricky to get themselves back on track, but also to keep up with what their fans are thinking.

“Right before the pandemic our plan was to record an album and not do shows, or at least not more than a couple.  But now, it’s like we have an album and we’re ready, but the venues are just catching up on rescheduled shows from last spring, so it’s like, ‘What do we do now?’  But we wanna get these songs out… This is just such a different experience because before, you would release and album and then you go out that weekend and see how people react to it, but now it’s like, we released all this stuff, but we’re still indoors a lot, so we don’t know what people think yet.  But who knows?  Maybe they’ll know all the words…”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.