The latest release from Lost On The Metro is a gorgeous and tasteful rock record that boasts the aesthetic of late 90's underground rock that pushes an honest and lush sound with layered guitars, full melodies and impactful songs.
The Letters and Landlines album is packed with some tasteful guitar work and addictive and passionately performed vocals all done with an edge that lurks just underneath the skin every time.
You become attached to the songs and some even make you flash memories in your head as the songs paint vivid pictures and vocal harmonies flow through with ease.
There is a slight southern undertone that borders on blues and even Americana rock at times and it just goes to show this band has a knack for songwriting and their ability to genre bend is almost limitless under the rock umbrella.
Track become massive singalongs and the appearance of slide guitars and down home warmth shines through plenty.
These are very much guitar driven songs and the classic rock influence peeks through time to time and it all sort of feels like a live performance.
It makes you want to see Lost On The Metro at a show so you can belt along with the singers powerful pipes.
This record has a purity to it in a way. There is something about it that feels familiar and comfortable. Maybe even nostalgic. You get a great feeling from listening to it all the way through.
It's like the songs know you, and that's not something you come by easily in music.
Any fan of southern rock, alternative rock, and classic rock will fall in love with this record for sure.
With such a wonderful release, we wanted to have a chat with the band to find out where this all came from and where it maybe going from here.
RAG: Okay guys let's start with the Letters and Landlines album. This record has a warm fuzztone to it with hints of Americana at times even. Where did this record come from?
Jill: we have been playing together as a band for about 2.5 years, and we all come from musical backgrounds of sorts. I feel like the album is the result of intensive songwriting and connecting with these two guys on a level that goes beyond words and becomes artistic expression. For me, the feel of the album is from reaching deep into nostalgia and difficult memories, pouring out those thoughts in poetry, and being open to letting these guys see those lyrics and add their own interpretation to the process.
Josh: I think we’re so lucky that Jill writes about 20 poems a day! :)
RAG: Going through the record it almost feels like a concept album of sorts. Is this true?
Jill: it wasn’t planned that way, but each song does seem to carry its own emotional weight with it. I guess if it was a concept album, it would be about feeling emotions in a raw and open way and being ok with feeling the pain and catharsis that comes with connecting with music in some way.
Josh: I love that it basically turned into that. Being our first album we had a lot of songs coming from a lot of different directions. I think it's the result of us deciding out of about 25 songs which ones we loved the most. I’m interested to see what we’ll do with the next album too, we’ve already started and so far it’s looking like another fun musical roller coaster!
RAG: I'm hearing some great variety in songwriting and style on the album. Who are some of your actual biggest musical influences?
Jill: so many!!! I was just listening to U2 a few minutes ago…I listen for lyrics first in a song…I’m drawn to lyrics and if I connect, then I have more patience to listen to the whole song.I like all genres and grew up listening to ABBA, Dolly Parton, Patty Griffin, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Prince…I’ve been listening to Eminem and Macklemore these days…I love their lyrical style. I often say we’ve been percolating in grunge, indie, alternative, rap, etc. for decades.
David : I listen to a huge range of music… but in terms of influencing what I’m looking for when I put together chord progressions, I would say The Strokes. I don’t think the songs end up sounding like The Strokes at all, it’s not that kind of influence. It’s just that listening to them completely upended (in a really good way) my notion of what guitar-based and lyric-based music could be - the guitar interplay, the directions they go in their songs, that sort of thing.
Josh: Growing up, the house always had classic rock & southern rock booming, also a lot of 90s country too. As I got older I got way into folk, blues & jazz. Some of my biggest influences and the reason I picked up the guitar are John Prine, Taj Mahal and BB King--this could become a very long list.
RAG: So tell us, how did this all start for you all?
Jill: it’s kind of a crazy story. David played in a band when he was younger, and I sang a bit when I was younger, but when we got married, life was busy and we just put the music down for a number of years. David was working at a new school a few years ago, and there was a cover band made up of teachers, and they asked if he wanted to play bass with them. That got him back into playing guitar too. The band wanted to sing Pretender by the Foo Fighters, but it was too high for any of them to sing, so David volunteered me to try out. That’s how we started playing together. Then, the lead singer suggested that we all write five songs over the summer and get back together to work them up. David and I wrote maybe 7 songs and nobody else in the band did any writing. Kind of hilarious. Over that summer we discovered that we have a really cool way of writing music together. I bring my poetry to the table, David brings guitar riffs, and we work up a song through this very organic process. We decided to keep going with the songwriting because we felt something special was happening. We left the cover band behind, and we found Josh at the perfect time as lead guitarist, vocalist, and fellow songwriter, and we really write our songs as a team now. We have been together now as a band for 2.5 years or so. We only play one of the songs from that summer. It was good practice for us to learn how to write together!
RAG: What would you say is next for you as a band?
Jill: we are already three songs into preparing our next album. We will take our time, and I really enjoy the process, even with the ups and downs along the way of trying to negotiate meaning and creative expression in this artistic adventure. These guys are my family and it’s one of my favorite times of the week to make music with them.
David: I would really like to get out and start getting gigs. The whole Covid thing is really frustrating right now, thinking about the restrictions on playing live and such. But I remain optimistic. I love seeing how people respond to live music - it’s just something you don’t get a feel for during rehearsal or in the studio. Don’t get me wrong - I love putting together the pieces of our music and practicing / recording, but live performances really round out the picture.
Josh: Agreed! I would love for us to hit the road and just play!
RAG: What are you all doing when you're NOT working on music?
Jill: we work full time and are raising a very active little girl, so that keeps us super busy. I think about poetry all day long, so I jot down ideas throughout the day or night on whatever I can write or type on. Sometimes I write on my hand or arm if I don’t have my phone or a piece of paper nearby. I get a lot of crazy ideas that we never use, but that’s ok. Just part of the process. We take a lot of walks in the woods together too.
David: Work + Family, as Jill mentioned above, are how we mostly spend our time. I read a lot, pick up the guitar and play, listen for things that might sound interesting while I’m messing around on guitar.
Josh: I’m lucky enough to get to do music full time. I’m the sales manager at David’s Guitar Loft here in STL so I run the retail side of things and I also have about 15 students a week that I teach in our lesson studio. Outside of work and practice I love just being at home enjoying a cold beverage with Amy and the dogs.
RAG: With things slowly getting better, will you be planning any live performances?
Jill: We are updating our EPK as we speak, and we really look forward to live shows again. We played a show in the middle of COVID and even though there was a lot of space between people, it still felt kind of creepy to me. I’ll be glad when it feels a lot safer out there.
David: Agreed - I am super eager to get out and play. Probably outside shows for now, where and when possible.
RAG: Who are you all listening to right now?
Jill: I listened to The Cranberries, Duran Duran and AFI today. That’s all I can think of bc long day at work.
David: Oh man, it changes all the time. I’ve been on a Matthew Ryan kick lately - that is one musician I would love to see play live. My daughter’s favorite song is Katy Perry’s “Roar” - that gets a lot of requests on the car ride back from school! Things that came on yesterday that I listened to included Lorde, Bruce Springsteen, Prince.
Josh: For the past couple of years I’ve really been into a lot of jazz guitarists. I love Herb Ellis & Wes Montgomery and their bluesy swingin’ style. Lately, I've been listening to Julain Lage & Bill Frisell, pretty much my modern guitar heroes.
RAG: Not just for this record, but in general, what kind of things inspire you to write?
Jill: Writing poetry is how I cope with anything difficult. My parents had a rough divorce when I was 9-10, and I did not really develop good coping mechanisms to get through the pain of loss. A teacher encouraged me to write my feelings down because I was really suffering from depression for quite some time at that young age. I think she probably saved my life because I started to write down my deepest, darkest anxieties and that was the only way that I expressed sadness or processed despair. I have been writing for decades now and a lot of my poetry was crap, but it has helped me survive, and I slowly got better at writing. I’m not the most amazing poet ever, but I do think I can strip down my own emotions to a very bare, palpable level of pain and then describe that pain using metaphor. It’s cathartic.
David: When teasing out progressions on the guitar, I’m always looking for something that answers the question, “If I’m having a really bad mental health day, what kind of song will see me through it?” And it’s not just a single sound I’m looking for - it’s more of a feel that the song creates. A few that fit into my “...if I could write a song like that…” category are : “Ramshackle Day Parade” by Joe Strummer, “Return to Me” by Matthew Ryan, “Hold On” by Tom Waits, “Song for Zula” by Phosphorescent, “Pontiac” by Travis Meadows. Those songs (and a few others) save me, and move me to continue writing.
Josh: I generally will just pick up the guitar and mess around until I find something a little bluesy, a little moody or introspective. I noodle constantly, so probably 5% of that is worth a dime, but it's so much fun! I also love to look through all my guitar books for a page I skipped over originally or didn’t do much with and turn it into a song or etude for myself or my students.
RAG: This record feels like it was a pretty big undertaking. What kind of advice might you have for other up and coming artists out there?
Jill: Do NOT stop writing. It might take you years to find your groove, your style, your language. I’m still searching. It’s ok to be a late bloomer. I’m a late bloomer in pretty much everything and that’s ok. I’m at a good point in my life where revealing more of myself through lyrics and music isn’t too scary. I’m unapologetically who I am. A GenXer finding her way and still feeling mostly lost.
David: I hear that. I would say, always continue to create, if that is an activity that sustains you. It’s okay to open yourself up, to make yourself vulnerable. That’s how we grow.
Josh: Practice your scales nerds, and try to play musically. The world always needs new original tunes!
RAG: This was an incredibly well done album. Did it come out how you expected? Did it take long to create?