The Cold and Lovely Go From Smashing Pumpkins to Jamming on Their Own Ideas
It's not everyday a feral plebeian such as myself gets to talk to a Smashing Pumpkin. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to chat with SP bassist Nicole Fiorentino, who along with singer-songwriter Meghan Toohey, makes up the core of Los Angeles-based indie band the Cold and Lovely. Known for simmering and moody verses that yield to equally simmering, yet catchy hooks, the Cold and Lovely will be playing at Alex's Bar on Thursday.
Nicole Fiorentino (left) and Meghan Tooohey (right) are the Cold and Lovely
Chances are good that even if you haven't heard of this project, you've heard their music. The band's 2012 self-titled album netted the single "Paper and Gun," a darkly catchy number whose stormy sound is offset by an infectiously catchy, tinkling piano. The tune caught the attention of the Hollywood machine and has since graced the soundtracks of Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars. But with a need to produce constant content to satisfy the fickle attention spans of today's music fans, the Cold and Lovely have taken little time to smell the roses. During our conversation I found myself in the presence of two hard working musicians who know all too well the endurance and tenacity required to succeed in the modern music world, even with the benefit of having ties to rock royalty.
OC Weekly (Brandon Ferguson): You guys have a lot of projects you work on. How did this one come to be?
Meghan Toohey: Nicole and I had known each other for a couple years just from being in auditions in Los Angeles. We used to constantly run into each other. The more we worked together I started playing her my own songs and she was like 'why are you not playing your own stuff? These songs are great.' She ended up motivating me to start recording things, then I asked her if she wanted to play bass in the band.
Do you find being a hired gun is less satisfying than writing and producing your own material?
MT: [Being a hired gun] is more satisfying for your bank account (laughs). They're both equally frustrating and satisfying for different reasons. It becomes more of a job for sure when you're not doing your own thing, but the experiences you can have as a touring musician--as I'm sure Nicole will tell you with the Pumpkins--she's travelled all over the world. I've toured all over the world with the bands I've played in. It's pretty amazing to do that and get paid for it.
Nicole Fiorentino: It's extremely rewarding when you're in a situation when you're getting paid and you love the music.
You guys have said before that it's hard to break a new band in the US. Where in the world is it easier?
MT: It's way easier in places like the UK or South America or even Australia. The people it seems are way more receptive to new music and they listen when you play which is kind of rare in the States I must say.
NF: Yeah I think people [here] are kind of bored and entitled--but not everywhere obviously.
MT: There's a lot of flavor of the month [in the States] and you can get ostracized. Take Coldplay for instance. Coldplay has become vilified because they're a great band, they've had success. Now people are like 'uh, you're lame because you're into Coldplay.' It's upsetting. And things move so quickly and attention spans are so small. It's really hard when you've got a new thing and it goes out on Youtube and 10 minutes later people are like 'what else is new?' They don't realize it costs thousands and thousands of dollars as an independent artist to make these bands.
NF: You literally have to have content constantly.
It seems that's the way media is moving across the board, toward this model of constant content.
MT: That's why we've moved on to this idea of recording EPs; because no one's going to listen to more than five or six songs anyway. A lot of my favorite records came about with me popping it in, listening all the way through and being 'I'm not sure,' then by the fifth or sixth listen I think 'ok yeah, I get this now.' I feel like that doesn't happen as much anymore.