Sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell have been making music together since they were 3 and 4 years old, back when they studied classical violin. Now, the sisters have swapped the strings for electric guitars and formed a duo known as Larkin Poe, a name that belonged to a great, great grandfather way down the family tree (yes, they are descendants of the Edgar Allen Poe). Here, Megan Lovell tells us about the making of their personal sophomore album, RESKINNED, and how Elvis Costello helped launch their career—and how he still plays a role in their life.
Cliché: You have a very unique, fearless sound. What first got you into the roots rock n’ roll scene? Do you have any particular musical influences?
Megan Lovell: Our musical journey has been long and winding so far! We started out as classically trained violinists and pianists at 3 and 4 years old, but our dad was a huge rock n’ roll fan, so we also grew up listening to and soaking up the rock classics: Pink Floyd, Jack White, Fleetwood Mac, the Allman Brothers, and the Eagles, to name a few. In our teens, we put down the violins, picked up guitars, and immersed ourselves in roots music that is, lucky for us, very prevalent in the South where we were raised. Americana, blues, and bluegrass was our life all through our teens. Becoming songwriters is what really began to shape our sound. We’ve always enjoyed experimenting with a lot of different genres of music, but now with all the raw electric guitar and grungy slide guitar, we’ve returned to our first love of rock n’ roll. We’ve landed on roots rock n’ roll; it’s gritty and dirty without losing our roots.
Tell us a little about your sophomore album, RESKINNED. What do you hope is the listener’s takeaway from this piece of work as a whole?
RESKINNED had an odd way of coming about. Last summer, we were touring Europe in support of our debut album KIN and Universal Europe came out to one of our shows and expressed interest in bringing KIN onto the Universal roster. We were really excited, but, since KIN was already a year old at that point, we wanted to revamp the record to show how much we had grown since recording KIN. Touring and playing big stages like Glastonbury changes you, and in our case we’ve been getting edgier, more rock n’ roll, heavier. Universal was super supportive, and last fall we wrote and recorded five brand new songs and remixed our favorites from KIN into RESKINNED. We’re really proud of the way it turned out, and it feels great to be putting out material that’s incredibly fresh to us, too… We are very passionate about music and are always pushing ourselves to be bigger, edgier, better singers, players, and performers, and we hope people can hear that change within RESKINNED.
In what way is RESKINNED different from your earlier album and EPs?
We started touring when we were 15 and 16 years old and as we have grown and changed as people, our music has grown and changed just as drastically. Even while singing bluegrass ballads in our teens, we harbored a secret love of rock n’ roll and our guitars were just itching to be plugged in. Of all our albums, RESKINNED demonstrates this change in us. It’s the most honest reflection of us as musicians and as people.
Which songs on the album are the most meaningful to you? Did a specific event or experience inspire them?
The songs on RESKINNED are much more vulnerable and personal than anything we’ve written before. The songs about heartbreak are, sadly, written from a true place… They say songwriters sometimes sabotage themselves emotionally for songwriting material; could that be true? What I find the most interesting are the songs that ask bigger questions, like “Blunt” and “When God Closes A Door.” These lyrics are inspired by some of the terrible atrocities that have happened across the world lately. Why are these events happening and how can we affect positive change when it’s so easy to feel nothing but cynicism? Lyrics are a way of starting discussions within us.
Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
I love performing “Trouble in Mind” live. It’s got saucy lyrics that are fun to sing in homage to the South, strong harmonies, and a bouncy feel that really gets the audience going. We love to see people dancing when we play… And as a bonus, we just performed “Trouble in Mind” on Conan O’Brien, which was amazing, so now I have a flashback to playing my favorite late night TV show every time we perform that song. Incredible memory!
What was it like working with talented producers like Chris Seefried, Justin Warfield, and Wax LTD on the album?
We’ve been lucky to work with some of the most talented people within the music business, and the producers of RESKINNED are definitely inspirations. We feel very thankful that they were supportive of our musical direction and didn’t try to change us. We can be pretty stubborn and headstrong about our music, but these folks stuck it out with us. All of the producers had really different production styles and ways of recording, but we feel the album came out with a surprisingly cohesive feel.
You have performed with and opened for Elvis Costello countless times since you first joined him spontaneously on stage in 2007. Looking back, did you think that moment would have such an impact on your career? In what ways has Elvis Costello helped you grow since then, if so?
When we joined him onstage for the 2007 Merlefest All-Star Jam, we had absolutely no idea this mysterious person, Elvis Costello, would have such a profound impact on our lives! How lucky and amazing that tiny, insignificant moments can have such a big effect… We’ve seen that over and over in our career. Elvis Costello has been a big champion for us; he’s had us out to play with him regularly over the years and there’s really nothing like watching a true rockstar in action up close and personal. You won’t meet a more knowledgeable, passionate, upstanding person than E.C.
What is one of your favorite memories while on tour?
One of my favorite memories lately was getting a call from T Bone Burnett asking us to come to the House of Blues Studios in Nashville, TN to record with Steven Tyler. We met T Bone Burnett through Elvis Costello after he asked us to come in and record on The New Basement Tapes session in L.A.—a wonderful recording; if you haven’t heard it, check it out. After we got the call, Rebecca and I were looking at each other like, “Steven Tyler? Is this seriously happening? Yes.” They brought us in to record on a track that needed some extra instrumentation and we ended up writing the intro riff to the song. Both Steven Tyler and T Bone were warm and welcoming to us… All in all it was a wonderful day, a wonderful memory.
Who else would you love to tour with someday?
We have so many musical heroes that we’d love to tour with… Jack White, Dolly Parton, Pink Floyd, Derek Trucks, Paul Simon, Alabama Shakes… The list could go on forever. We also opened for Queen in May, which was a huge honor!
Every year we’re able to say “this has been our biggest year yet” and 2016 is shaping up to be no different. We’re excited to be touring with Elvis Costello in May and playing some huge European and UK summer festivals in May and June. We’re also so pumped to have RESKINNED released and being played at radio and plan to tour in support of the album the rest of the year. Most of all, we know we’re gonna meet tons of the coolest fans ever and that’s what touring is all about.
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BY MEGAN PORTORREAL
Larkin Poe Open Up About Their New Album ‘RESKINNED’: Photographed by Aaron Schorch