Exploding off the stages of Los Angeles, The Rock n Lola powerhouse, Love and a .38 have taken on the wolrd, bringing with them heavy hitting riffs, thunderous beats and addictive lyrics paving the way as Hollywood’s newest rock royalty. With a mix of band mates spreading from Oklahoma, San Francisco and back down to LA, this eclectic group of men blend to mix into this tightly knit music machine that values the creative process and understands the changing world of music.
The band, consisting of Danny Excess, Ryan Hudson, Justin Emord, and Domo Domaraki, are each 100% band at all times and are always involved and responsive to social media fan contact. The constant connection via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc… are just a few ways they find to remind fans how important they are to them.
Ellenwood had the chance to sit down with all of the guys from the band to discuss the early days, the evolution of the music and band, and what can be expected from the them in the next year. If your’re just now hearing of this outstanding band, Let me introduce you to LOVE AND A .38.
How did the band Love and a .38 come about? (Who started the band and how did your current roster get solidified?)
DANNY: A few years ago I moved to Los Angeles from The San Francisco Bay area to try to start a band. I never wanted to be the guy that joined an already established band, I always wanted to be part of the birth and growth of a band so that it could really have that ‘we’re in this together’ unity. I started putting ads out on craigslist, talking to as many people as possible, and contacting people though emails, etc. I met our first guitarist and we started writing. We then started auditioning singers. We probably tried out about 30 singers, none of them were even close to what we wanted. Eventually, Ryan came in and we knew immediately he was our guy, not just because he sounded good, but because he was someone we really liked as a person. Daniel, our original bass player eventually came in and we started playing shows. Not everyone is cut out to make a band their life, and so as a lot of bands do, we had to make some changes. Justin came in on bass and eventually we brought Domo in on guitar whom we’ve admired for a while. I think we all feel that this is THE lineup. So to me, it really begins now. If we go far, it will be because of the four members that we have right now. It took some time to finally get here, but we now have four guys that live and breath music and the band. It really is like a family now. I’m looking forward to what is to come.
RYAN: The band came about the way that most bands come about… we wanted to get laid. Kidding (kind of). Danny and our original guitarist Krishna had met each other and decided to start jamming out some stuff. At the time I was still relatively fresh to L.A. (I’m an Okie) and was actively looking for the right band to get in. If memory serves they sent me a message on Myspace (R.I.P.) and I really liked what I heard. After a few lineup changes, a lot of shows, and even more whiskey… we wound up with Justin and Domo… and I couldn’t be happier. I was actually a fan of Domo’s long before he ever joined the band and had been looking for an excuse to jam with him for years. All’s well that ends well.
JUSTIN: was a fan of the band long before I joined, went to shows and followed them on their social media and at NAMM 2010, I saw Danny and Krishna and we chatted and I asked them if they were looking for a bass player. 3 weeks later I was doing my first show with them in Arizona and so started my misadventures with the band.
DOMO: I’ve been fellow Sunset Strip colleagues with these guys for some time now. They’ve always been a band I loved to see live or play the same bill as as well. I also loved hanging out with them, they’re good company. One night I got a message from Ryan Hudson about taking over the guitar spot and I couldn’t resist.
Where did the band name come from?
RYAN: Its actually a pretty good story. One night, when we first started jamming, Danny and I decided that we wanted to get a drink after rehearsal. We knew of this great little dive bar not far from the rehearsal space, so we head down there. Little did we know… it had gone out of business. So we started looking for the closest building that looks like a bar. Ya know… neon sign… few windows… dude sitting by the door. Luckily there was one right down the street. Perfect. We show our IDs, walk in, and proceed to grab a table next to what appears to be a stage. Not 15 seconds later… the biggest stripper I had ever seen comes storming out on to the stage. She was dancing to “Pony” by Genuwine. I’ll never forget it. As she approached the front of the stage… we noticed she had a revolver in her hand. Then it was on. For the next 3 minutes… that tall drink of Wild Turkey did things to that revolver that would wake General Lee from his grave. When the song ended, as we tried to process what we had just seen, that trademark strip club DJ voice said: Ladies and gentlemen, give it up… for LOVE and her .38!
You describe your band as “Independent”, what does that mean to you and how is that reflective in the music you put out?
RYAN: We’re “Independent” because we refuse to rely on anybody else to further our path as a band. Sure a little help here and there is great… but most people in the industry only care about the bottom line. And they will try to turn you into what THEY think will help that bottom line. FUCK. THAT. We’ve got some really talented cats in this band with a lot of really cool ideas. Not just about music… but about all facets of “bandhood”. This is our lives… and we’re not going to let someone else tell us how to live our lives. So now we handle everything on our own. Writing, recording, booking, press, dance routines, bake sales, synchronized showering. The list goes on and on…
DANNY: We are a very self contained band. We do almost everything ourselves. We record and release our music ourselves, we do our own graphic design, we manage ourselves, we handle all aspects of this band on our own. Its a lot of work and gets very time consuming, but it also means we are not bound to any contracts or stipulations. There are a lot of bands that get burnt out by the music industry. We are trying to get ourselves in a place to where we can do this forever because we did it the way we wanted to do it. We are figuring everything out though trial and error. There are a lot of bands out there that think the end goal is to ‘get signed’ by a major label. Go take a look at any major label roster and see how many bands there are on there that you’ve never heard of. Getting signed means you are NOT independent. Its on the contrary, you are in fact dependent on the decisions and will of a corporation. This can be a good thing, but more often then not its a very bad thing because bands sign without having a ‘DIY’ background and lack the foundation that they need to really have leverage with a label. If they decide to shelve you, they can and will. The artists that allow themselves to even get in this position made a mistake by signing that contract in first place. We take pride in the fact that we get to steer the ship ourselves. We get to make our own decisions and we get to write music that we want to write without worrying about whats going to be a ‘hit’. We have a great relationship with the people that support us, so we write for them. We look at our responses from our direct interaction with our audience, and thats how we know if something either works or doesn’t work.
JUSTIN: Being independent to us means that we write, book shows, get press and release our music all on our own, we don’t have outside help. It’s reflexive in our music because we aren’t trying to hop on whatever fad in on the radio now. We stick to our guns and play the music we want to because it’s what we enjoy.
DOMO: What you see is what you get. All of the music, recording, artwork, social media, shows and everything else is spawned within. It’s truly as independent as you can get save a giant bag of money with no strings attached. We can write and release what we want, when we want. There is no one telling us otherwise. Which is a joy because the old model took to long to get music out in my opinion and people are able to receive the latest from us within a day or two of us finishing a song.
You’re band is extremely prominent in the social media scene (ie: twitter, Facebook, etc…), what is the responses you have received from your fans via these sites and how has it helped the band?
RYAN: Social media is great tool for bands and, unfortunately, not everyone is taking advantage of it. We have fans all over the world, but the farthest away from L.A. that we’ve performed is Texas. That couldn’t have happened for an artist like us 20 years ago. And we know that… so we always try to engage and interact with our fans. They’re the ones that keep this train moving forward, and we want them to know how much we appreciate them.
DANNY: Social media is the best business tool for a band today. Its the link between you and the audience. You almost never hear me say the word ‘fan’ because you really get to know these people, and so they become more than simply a fan, they become friends. We get responses from across the world, and we respond to almost all of them. This is something that a lot of bands don’t do. Sometimes you wonder if an idea will work or not. With social media, you can simply ask your audience and get responses. Its like a big, united community. We received a tweet from someone in the UK yesterday, he that told us that we are his brothers. This is because of the communication that we have, which exists only because of social media. Social media allows relationships that are not bound by distance in any way, which was non existant prior to the social world.
JUSTIN: Social media has definitely helped the band. It helps keep the fans in the loop with what’s going on with us but also the fans develop a personal connection to us because we run the band and our personal social media sites, not someone we hired to do it for us which they seem to enjoy.
DOMO: This is the one way to gain ground and reach out to our audience. People really respond well to hearing back from us personally via social media. Some are even blown away because most bands and artists hire someone outside of the group to run this stuff. It’s a lot of work but its a direct connection to the masses and well worth it.
You are currently promoting the “One single a month” (this being the 4th month correct?), who’s idea was this and what prompted this inspired concept?
RYAN: It kind of just happened. We wanted to put out a single because… well just because we wanted to. The plan after that was to start work on another EP or LP to be put out later this year. But after we got to thinking about it… and seeing how excited people were about hearing new music… we got a little idea light bulb. What is the best way to keep your audience engaged? Content. And for a band, content = music. So why not try to just keep throwing new music out there? It was kind of a bold idea, considering that we had nowhere near 12 months worth of new music ready (and still don’t). But that’s also what makes it kind of exciting. Our fans are going to experience all of the growing pains and revelations that come with writing an album with new members in REAL TIME. And that’s kind of awesome. By the time our April single rolls around… you guys might be listening to a song about some girl who broke my heart that I haven’t even met yet. How cool is that?
DANNY: Albums are virtually dead. Most people buy singles and listen to playlists rather than an entire album. Its not a bad thing, its just how it is today. I hear a lot of artists complaining about this instead of embracing it. We decided we were going to start writing and recording singles because it would keep us constantly writing new songs, and we could gauge the reaction from each one before putting out another one. The single a month for a year was an idea that we thought people might get on board with. The idea was a little scary because its a lot of work. But we thought it would be good for us to write, record and release a new song every month, and so far its been really helping us to step up our game. We hope it gives people something to look forward to.
JUSTIN: The Single a Month idea came just out of circumstance in a situation and then realized that releasing music this way as opposed to an EP or an album would keep the flow of new material going a lot more consistently and also, no track gets overlooked this way because they’re all singles, not just one or two with other music that isn’t highlighted.
DOMO: I wasn’t in the band when this was decided. But why the hell not. We can do it and we want new music out as soon as possible. One song per month I feel is a good frequency to release music to people. It gives them something to look forward to all the time and it’s a goal for us to follow. Also we live in a world where almost everything is instant, which I feel is partly how the album format died.
You’re first music video, “Rock n Lola” was received to 35,000+ views to date, what was your reaction to such an amazing fan response?
RYAN: My reaction was “Thank God we hired such a beautiful girl to be ‘Lola’”. Cuz she probably accounts for half of those views. And if not… she should. She’s way more fun to look at than we are.
DANNY:Its cool for sure. The number of people getting involved in this band is going up tremendously and we could not be more excited. We’re getting ready to do a lot more videos!
JUSTIN: The reaction has been great, I was only in the band maybe a month when we went in to film it and I think we were all a bit overwhelmed with how much the fans enjoyed the video and we can’t thank them enough for sharing it with people and spreading our name.
DOMO: I wasn’t in the band at this time but Hell Yeah and I was one of the 35,000 watching the video.
What are your influences both musically and Non musically? Has being an LA based band influenced the sound of your music?
DANNY: As a band, I’d say now its Aerosmith, Black Keys, AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Muse, etc. Personally, I grew up on a lot of Punk, 60′s garage goth, Synth Pop and New Wave. I’ve always loved The Stooges, Misfits, Sex Pistols, The Animals, Sisters Of Mercy, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Van Morrison, etc. I listen to a lot of different genre’s now, even electronic music such as dub step, Trance and deep house. I think you can and should take influence from everything. I love poster and street artists such as EMEK, Frank Kozik, DKNG, Banksy, Shepard Fairey, etc. I love good lyrics, good film, good music and great art… anything that paints a mental picture and triggers emotion. In the end, I think all great art is something that evokes emotion and thought.
Being in LA means you can see multiple shows, 7 nights per week. You see so many bands that you rally learn what works and and what doesn’t. Its helps you to refine your craft.
RYAN: Anybody who has ever cranked up a Les Paul to 11. I grew up listening to classic and southern rock with my old man. So I’m always going to have a soft spot for that. But for me it’s really hard to pin down my influences, because I’ve never actively tried to sound like anybody. I just write and sing what comes out. Naturally, it is going to be influenced by what I have soaked up over the years… but I never make a conscious effort to sound like somebody else.
JUSTIN: I grew up on a lot of classic rock; Clapton, AC/DC, Led Zep and Queen. It was in my teen years that I started to discover Randy Rhoads-era Ozzy, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses and some harder music which has led to a nice balance of musical styles.
DOMO: I was raised on The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jackson Brown and CCR. I’m fond of so much music. It’s hard to paraphrase. It started for me with Aerosmith. I idolized them growing up. But I’m very drawn to UK bands like Primal Scream, The Verve and Oasis. I also love The Stooges. I think the debut Doors album is one the finest rock albums ever released. I’m really into 80′s new wave and modern electronic music too. Country and folk are another one too. I’ve been into indie rock before it had a name as well. Living life and seeing what I’ve seen of this world also has influenced me quite a bit as well. Living in LA has an influence too and I feel its because LA is a melting pot. I came here originally to find people to play music with, whereas I wasn’t having any luck elsewhere. This is the same story of almost any musician who moves here.
Describe the music scene growing up and how has that influenced you?
DANNY: I grew up in the SanFrancisco Bay area. There is a rich music history there within a lot of different genre’s. You’re exposed to so much. I grew listening to college and pirate radio out of Berkeley and SanFrancisco, and going to legendary clubs like 924 Gilman Street, The Maritime Hall, Slims, The Phoenix Theatre, etc. I basically grew up in the heart of the East Bay Hardcore scene which produced bands like Rancid and AFI. This scene taught me a lot about DIY art and music.
RYAN: By the time I was old enough to REALLY get into music… The SpiceGirls were huge. Then came Limp Bizkit. Then Disturbed. It’s a wonder that I didn’t swear off of music entirely.
JUSTIN: The music scene of my childhood was filled with boy bands and pop stars where Sugar Ray and Limp Bizkit were the rock stars of the time. This led me go back to the 70s and 80s for music because the bands that were big when I grew up didn’t fit what I came to think of as rock stars.
DOMO: I grew up in a cow town just outside of LA County. There really was no scene. Just backyard parties and good ol’ boys. The only time I was able to see a band was when some of the local churches would host christian rock shows. Which sounds lame I know but at the time they had a surprisingly really good indie rock movement. I don’t think it really influenced me more than listening to Aerosmith records in my garage did.
At what point did you decide music was something you wanted to pursue seriously?
RYAN: I still remember the exact moment. I was 14 years old. It was the summer after my freshman year of high school. I had been taking guitar lessons for about a year and they put me in a room to jam with some of the other students on other instruments. The very first chord that I hit with a real “band’, my entire body started tingling. I knew that there was no turning back. I never wanted to lose that feeling. The following year… my GPA plummeted and I was well on my way to lifetime of good music and bad decisions.
DANNY: Going to shows as a kid became magical. There was something that seeing or listening to a band did to me. I loved the idea that you can create something that affects people in a positive way. Thats when I decided I wanted to do that too.
JUSTIN: Around December of 2005, I saw the Trans Siberian Orchestra at Madison Square Garden and that concert made me want to play music for a living. The level of playing as well as performance in that band is absolutely incredible.
DOMO: The first time I truly listened to music made me want to play it. I grew up not super fond of any music except for The Beatles and even that wasn’t a big deal to me. One day when I was probably 12 my older brother was intently listening to music on headphones one day I asked what he was listening to. When he let me listen I got it. For the first time it made sense and it rocked hard. I at that time knew that was gonna be my life.
What was your first attraction to your instrument of choice? How did the so called romance begin? (In regards to vocals, how did you first learn to sing?)
RYAN: I was sort of a singer by default. I first got a guitar because a good friend of mine wanted to start a band, and for some reason he thought I should play rhythm guitar and sing. So that’s what I started learning to do. For the next several years I fancied myself a guitarist who also sang. Then I became a singer who also played guitar. Then once I moved to L.A. nobody wanted me to play guitar anymore. I’m still not sure if that means I’m a good singer… or just a really bad guitar player.
DANNY: Me and some kids in the neighborhood were all trying to learn instruments. Everyone wants to play guitar. Every kid in the neighborhood was learning guitar, including myself. We thought it would be cool to start a band. The only problem is that everyone played guitar. There was an old beat up drum set that this kid found and brought home. So, I started trying to play that. All of the cymbals were broken, and the heads were pretty much made out of duct tape. But, I fell in love with drums. I didn’t realize at the time that drummers don’t get much respect, haha.
JUSTIN: It actually happened for me out of chance. In high school, the bass player in the school band just played off of chord charts and because I had a background on piano, started writing out bass lines for her and then thought to myself, “Why am I writing for SOMEONE ELSE? Screw this, I’M getting a bass and playing my own lines,” The rest is history as they’d say..
DOMO: I wanted to be like my older brother, who played and still plays bass. So I started on bass…but I also wanted to be in a band with my brother which couldn’t work with two bass players. So I decided on guitar and the only attraction at first was trying to get into a band with my brother.
You’ve had the opportunity to share the stages with huge names in the music industry (Black veil Brides, Camp Freddy, Matt and Kim, etc…), tell me your feelings on the experience.
RYAN: In all honesty… who I share the stage with has very little to do with my actual concert experience. I am always honored to be on the stage with such talented and accomplished musicians. And of course am very grateful to be able to play in front of new fans because of it. But my goal is always the same… to be the best thing on that stage. Every time. The bigger and better the other acts… the harder I will work. It’s not even a conscious thing most of the time… I am just very competitive by nature. And a live rock show is a very primal thing. Instincts just take over and you do everything you can to be the Alpha. Who knows if it ever works… but when that curtain drops I always make sure that I left it all out onthat stage.
DANNY:Its a lot of fun. We always focus on being tighter live and putting on a bigger and better show.
JUSTIN: There’s a lot of practice and work that goes into prepping for a show like that but there’s a sense of accomplishment and a hell of a lot of adrenaline which motivates you to perform that much better.
DOMO: It’s awesome! I feel grateful to have shared the bill with big names like this. And this is another way that helps us gain momentum in the music world. For example, years ago an unknown Violent Femmes did a guerrilla acoustic gig in a parking lot to a stadium where The Pretenders were going to perform. Somebody in the management saw this and invited them to open the show that night and that is how they got a record contract.
Is there someone in particular you are hoping to join forces with on tour someday?
DANNY: Out of anyone? Theres so many bands we’d love to tour with. I would love to tour with Muse, Metallica, Foo Fighters, AC/DC, etc. There are just too many.
RYAN: I’d personally love to get on an Aerosmith tour before they hang it up. Steven Tyler is the reason I sing.
JUSTIN: Black Stone Cherry, Slash, Airbourne or Cheap Trick would be cool.
DOMO: Classics like AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Who, Muse, Foo Fighters. Even some new ones like the Black Keys or Cage the Elephant.
You’ve had the opportunity to explode on the stages of “Sunset Strip Music Festival” this past year, what was the experience like? What did you learn from it and how are you applying that to future shows?
RYAN: Sensory overload. The entire SSMF week is such a blur. But in the best way possible. So much great music, so many cool events, so little sleep. And the actual performance was too great for words. It was one of those moments when you feel the energy of an entire room just coursing through your veins. I really don’t know how to describe it to those who haven’t experienced that sort of rush. Basically it’s a 45 minute orgasm. Those are the moments that musicians live for. That make all the other B.S. worth it.
DANNY: SSMF is amazing because its virtually in our backyard. Its amazing to be a part of a festival that takes place in our town, on such an iconic street, and we got to do it at The Roxy which is our favorite venue in the world. On top of that, the lineup was killer. It was an amazing day and week.
JUSTIN: To me, it was the highlight of my career to date. There was a chemistry and confidence between the 4 of us that I have never experienced before and would like to use that show as a benchmark to have all other Love and a .38 shows live up to.
DOMO: This was my first show with Love and a .38 and it was amazing. Great vibe and chemistry. Awesome energy too. I’ve had a taste of the goods and want more of it. I think this drives us to work harder to get to a place where we can do this all the time.
What can we expect from Love and a .38 in the next year? (Do you have tours scheduled? Albums set for release?
DANNY: Tons of new songs, shows and tours. We hit the road for a West Coast tour in November. We are in talks with some bands and tours we might join in 2013 that could be really, really cool. We are looking forward to getting out to Europe and Japan. As Penny Lane said… “Its all happening.”
JUSTIN: More tours, more music and a lot more tambourine.
DOMO: Rock n Roll music and touring. Hopefully some cowbell too.
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