The Love Language’s Stuart McLamb insists he doesn’t seek chaos for art’s sake — it just seems to find him. “It’s funny how that works,” he says over cigarettes and coffee at a java joint in his band’s hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. “I’ll have these periods where just nothing is in my head. Then it’s like a phoenix, coming out under stress. There’s got to be easier ways to get the wheels turning.”
But it’s from that chaos that the Love Language arose. In 2006, McLamb was kicked out of his former band, garage rockers the Capulets, after he broke into their practice space in a drunken stupor to teach a girl to play drums and ended up trashing some gear. After a painful breakup with his girlfriend, his downward spiral culminated in a drinking binge of epic proportions. “When I came to, I was in a friend’s apartment in handcuffs with my ankles bound, not knowing how I got there,” says McLamb, 28. “That was a pretty ugly night, but it was also a turning point.”
McLamb retreated to his parents’ house and started recording what would become his debut, The Love Language (Bladen County), a casually stunning work of one-man-band lo-fi indie pop. McLamb’s songs — a mix of moody piano ballads and bouncy guitar rock — are aching love letters to his ex that combine the emotional directness of Big Star with the raw immediacy of Guided by Voices.
The seven-piece live lineup for the Love Language (which includes two former members of the Capulets) came together after Ivan Howard of fellow Carolina rockers the Rosebuds heard McLamb’s songs on MySpace and sent a message: “I really dig the tunes. I’d love to have y’all open for us.” (“The ‘y’all’ was ironic because there was no band,” McLamb says.)
Now he plans on recording his next album with the full group but still without any studio slickness. “I’m a real lo-fi junkie,” he says. “I like the [Band’s] Big Pink philosophy — you should have a dog on the floor of a basement while you’re recording. That’s where the best stuffhappens.”
LISTEN: The Love Language, “Lalita” (DOWNLOAD MP3)