I was born and brought up in New York City. I was around music my whole life. As a kid of 11 years old I got my first guitar and wouldn’t put it down for hours at a time. Fitting with my obsessive personality I spent the next few years (for better or worse?) trying to learn just about every Led Zeppelin song I could. By the time I was 14 or so, I started going to punk shows at CBGBs and other clubs in New York and started listening to Bad Brains, Fugazi, Cro Mags as well as many others. Soon after I started playing with a popular New York punk/hardcore band called Burn. Still just an early teenager, I managed to get into the High School of Performing Arts (yes the same school as the TV show Fame). I quickly realized that I didn’t really fit in there so after a little over a year I had the chance to go on tour for a few weeks with the band, so I left school for good to go on tour. I guess it was then when I realized that music is all I wanted to do.
Then came drugs. By the time I was 17, I had gotten into heroin as well as other things. And it wasn’t long before my life was consumed with it. The next six years I still played music and had a few bands, but drugs would always get in the way. I had a recording studio with a friend of mine but I ended up selling most of the equipment for drugs. When I was 18, to get off heroin I went to play bass with a friend’s noise rock band: Die 116. They were doing a 3-month tour of Europe in the middle of winter playing mostly squats and punk clubs. I thought maybe that would be a good idea. Well, I stopped doing heroin but I drank the whole tour. What else is there to do when your you’re playing an abandoned bomb shelter 3 stories underground in Norway in the middle of winter? When I got back home it didn’t take much time to pick up drugs again. The next 5 years I spent battling heroin addiction and ended up nearly killing myself…a few times.
Finally, when I was 23, I went into rehab and that’s when my life and music started to grow…. After rehab I started writing and playing more then ever, I quickly remembered how great it felt to play music again and how much it meant to me. I started playing with Sam Siegler (CIV, Rival Schools) and Gerard Garone (Radio 4) and a few other friends. I also started to do live sound at the club Brownies in New York. So I got a chance to see lots of great music around that time. Over the next year and a half, I also traveled a lot, even spending time in Japan, Thailand, Nepal and Burma. Being clean from drugs was a new and amazing thing for me. Soon after I came back, I got a call from Sam saying he had a new band with our friend Walter Schreifels from the band Quicksand. And they needed a guitar player. I went to play with them and soon after we were making a record for Island Records. We were called Rival Schools. In the time we played together we ended up touring all over the world and sharing the stage with everyone from the Strokes and the Beastie Boys and Morrissey! As well as playing some of the greatest festivals in Europe (Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds), SumerSonic in Japan as well as many others. We had also started to receive great press from NME, Q, Kerrang, Alternative Press, and many others; we even had videos on MTV in the UK and in the US. It was an exciting time…
In between touring with Rival Schools, I had managed to write a bunch of songs and put together a band called Cardia. I recorded a record with some friends, doing most of the engineering and mixing myself. Even before the record was out it got attention from people. A DJ at XFM in London (Zane Low) heard some early mixes and ended up playing them on his show, Zane’s now a DJ at radio 1 in London. After the last rival schools tour in Europe the guys in Cardia met me over in London and we did our first UK tour with great success. We ended putting out a record on an indie label called Silverthree Records and, before the record was out, we got booked for the Reading and Leeds festival the following year. Cardia toured with the Delays, Thursday, Dashboard Confessional, One Line Drawing, Sugercult, Jets to Brazil, as well as many others. We got press from Alternative Press (band to watch), kerrang (rising feature), and many others. We even ended up with a song on the FX show The Shield – yes, totally random, I know, don’t ask. We also went back to the UK two more times to tour and did a US tour with Year of the Rabbit. On that tour we ended up getting a lot of national press and college radio play. After touring, I had managed to put together a studio in my home in Brooklyn and recorded another Cardia record over the next few months.
Also I started working on recording other bands as well. I recorded and mixed my old bandmate Walter’s new band, Walking Concert, as well as many others. I also did a lot of guitar work and playing on my friend Johna Matrenga’s band’s record One Line Drawing / The Volunteers Record. I eventually toured with One Line Drawing in the UK and the US. On the US tour, I got a chance to open for him every night as a solo act playing Cardia songs by myself. And as if I wasn’t busy enough, my old drummer Sam introduced me to Gabby Glaser from the band Luscious Jackson. We got along really well so I recorded a record with her that I played guitar on as well as engineered and mixed. Just about a year ago is when the process began on this new record that would end up being my “solo record”.
It started with me having two songs I knew wouldn’t fit in with the band stuff I was doing. Those songs were “Sky To Fall” and “Don’t Let Go”. So I demoed them at home a few times and asked my old Rival Schools bandmate Walter to take a listen to some stuff. He really liked the songs and came with me to a studio one night and hung out and helped me with what would be the recording of “Sky To Fall”. I took it home and added some textures and rough-mixed them and soon realized I had to make a record of this kind of stuff. So over the next 7 or 8 months I would write a song and spend days and nights recording and rerecording. The cool thing about it was I would write a song on an acoustic guitar and just see where it would go; sometimes I would end up with a lush song with mellotrons and pianos and sometimes a song with just a simple acoustic guitar and percussion. With the exception of a few friends, I played and recorded everything on it. I found myself banging on the body of a acoustic guitar to keep rhythm, learning to play harmonica, fumbling my way around the piano, keeping a beat with brushes on a snare drum, writing and playing mellotron lines, coming up with harmonies and string arrangements, playing bass, programming drums.
Every song called for something different and I would often change direction a few times. Also, with this record I ended up writing a lot about parts of myself that I didn’t expect writing about. Whether it be a love song for my wife in “Don’t Let Go” or memories of drug induced insomnia in “Turn Off” to how important music can be in “Hear A Song”. Towards the end of recording the record my wife gave birth to our daughter. The last few songs I recorded for the record were really amazing because I would have my daughter on my shoulder while I recorded vocals or laid down some guitar. If you listen close enough you can hear a baby cry, dogs walking around in the background, computer noise from me recording vocals in the same room. The record is filled with weird elements and accidents that I’ve come to appreciate and love. The next phase is to play live with this record. Since the songs were all recorded without ever actually playing with other people, the options are pretty open. So far, I’ve done two shows with this material: the first one was a sold out show at Joe’s Pub in New York opening for Rob Dickinson from the band Catherine Wheel. And the 2nd show was for CMJ 2005 with a 4-piece band. I asked a good friend of mine who is an amazing musician–Knox Chandler (Psychedelic Furs, Souxsie and the Banshees, David Gahan)–to play guitar and keyboard for that show as well as a few other friends. We rehearsed once for an hour and played a show. It was great.
What I look forward to is being able to play all this material in various formats: by myself or with a full band or just a 2 piece. I like the idea of changing things up and keeping them interesting. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of amazing musicians along the way that I can call up to play with so I’m excited about that! It’s certainly been an interesting story for me: whether it’s been sleeping on the street and being in rehab, touring the world and playing to 50,000 people, getting married and having a child, or staying at home making records. All that experience led to and played a big part in the making of this record. I never could have planned out my life like this. I definitely consider myself a very lucky and grateful person…
Arctic Rodeo releases:
IAN LOVE – “Ian Love” – CD / LP (arr001)