The Road to CukoRakko: Atticus Kelly of McLovins May 12, 2016 10:59
Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL. We recently caught up with Atticus Kelly (keyboards/vocals) of McLovins, one the most promising young bands touring the country.
Inspired by an eclectic mix of influences like The Meters, The Band and The Flaming Lips, members Jason Ott, Jake Huffman, Justin Berger, and Atticus Kelly combine their songwriting skills with extended improvisations and instrumental ingenuity.
Taking a page from their jam band forefathers, McLovins always try to keep their audiences guessing at what’s to come. Their eclectic setlists and individual musical personas define the band’s live shows. Hailing from Hartford, Connecticut, McLovins have appeared at Gathering of The Vibes, Mountain Jam, The Peach Festival, and the legendary Nateva Music Festival, as well as many acclaimed venues across the country. They have also performed with some of the most influential artists on the scene, including Buddy Guy, George Porter, Jr., Robert Randolph, and Oteil Burbridge.
Recently the band cut an album with Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award winning producer Bill Sherman in New York City’s East Village. The album was released this October and the band is currently on tour. The band continues to evolve, bringing their distinctive, jam-rock productions across the country. Every tour brings a unique energy.
McLovins are set to play CukoRakko at 8:30 PM CST on Saturday night.
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
While McLovins has been a nationally touring band for many years, the band's touring schedule has gone to another level since you guys finished college last year. How has the vigorous touring helped shape this band over the past year?
Atticus: The only way to create chemistry between musicians (musically and interpersonally) is to spend time together playing and hanging out. In 2015, we toured for six months out of the year. We have never sounded better than we do right now. I hope I can say that every year going forward as our tour schedule becomes more rigorous.
The band released a 12-track self-titled album last October, making for the fifth full length McLovins album. You obviously make a point to build on this material through improvisation with each show. Are certain songs more structured for free range jamming than others? What is your general approach towards improvisation?
Atticus: Yes. The “free range” jamming is hard to pull off unless everything is just right, and we don’t have many songs where we do that. A good example would be “Shivers” from Beautiful Lights. There are two jam sections in that song: one short, and one slightly longer. In the second jam, shit gets real and you have to be creative and also improvise something that fits the tone of the song. It can be a challenge. The next closest example would be Birthday, where we are trying to create something evocative and nostalgic for Justin to play over. That one is always a little different. I think I speak for the band when I say I particularly enjoy the funk jams (D.M.T, Gold, Run Like Hell). Those always get the party started and the rhythm sections always locks right in.
Watch McLovins perform "Buildin' It Up" at Toads Place in New Haven, CT here:
We're coming up on CukoRakko, one of Alabama's young, growing music festivals. Horse Pens 40 is often referred to as "the best secret in Alabama," with a vast amount of history and natural beauty. What does it mean to you guys to get back to Alabama and join the CukoRakko family?
Atticus: We’re always excited to break into a new market and meet new people, especially in a place like Alabama, where live music is such a focus for people. The scene there is alive with enthusiastic concertgoers who are willing to listen deeper. They’re the kind of fans that are in it for the long game, just like us, and are equally excited to see where this all goes. The south is one of our favorite places to play for this reason, and we are super pumped to be joining the family.
CukoRakko will give you guys an opportunity to play in front of many music fans who might be seeing McLovins for the first time. How would you best describe what the crowd at Horse Pens can expect from you guys on Saturday night?
Atticus: They can expect four dudes who spend WAY too much time together to play some funky, soulful music with great lyrics and tasteful jamming, as well as some playful rapport concerning out bassist, the fantastic Mr. Jason Ott.
Watch an "Atticus Fact" with special guest Robert Randolph here:
Watch the "Jersey Shore Atticus Fact" here:
You have become a bit of a celebrity with the recent video features known as "Atticus Facts". Definitely a creative way to let your fans know not only where McLovins are playing, but also learn something new about each city. Where does this vast amount of knowledge come from?
Atticus: Unfortunately, I am not as knowledgeable as I seem. Many of the facts are misinformation with a surrealist bent. If you watch from the beginning of the facts to the latest season, you will see that we have gone from stating a piece of misinformation (“Tonight we’re in Albany, the final resting place of John Wilkes Booth”) to all out insanity (the Jersey Shore fact). We’ve also made a point to include musicians that we’re performing with to add some flavor. Like the Robert Randolph fact that he absolutely crushed. Going forward things are going to get a lot weirder.
The countless amount of miles on the road allows you guys to get to know each other like no one else can. Is there anything you can share about each of your fellow band mates that people might not be aware of?
Atticus: Yes. They are all insane. But seriously, you learn a lot about each other (and yourself) when you spend this much time together. You learn about accountability in a group like this, and I’m just happy to have the chance to grow and do what I love with some of my best friends.