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An Interview with Louis of BOY HITS CAR

By Alicia Downs

Gathered at the Theatre of the Living Arts in Philadelphia, guitarist Louis from Boy Hits Car sat down to talk about the band's first major release on Wind-Up records. With a video recorded for single "I Am A Cloud" and heavy promotion on MTV2, Boy Hits Car's place in the musical industry is quickly becoming established. 

Formed back in 1993 with all its original members still intact, Boy Hits Car offers a funky, hippy take on life, nurturing a respect toward nature as well as a serious demeanor towards life and their music.

Rough Edge: Let's start with the new album. It marks your first release on a major label. How do you think this project has evolved since the days of your first effort, "My Animal?"

Louis: I'd say that we started to experiment a little more with some different instruments. I think our song arrangements have gotten a little tighter- a little more palatable. We're still capable of writing songs similar to the ones we did in "My Animal" but I think we've included as new facet as well. Even tried as least one more new tuning, too.

Rough Edge: Any one in particular you feel helped push the album up to that next level? 

Louis: I think Cregg's idea to bring in a twelve string acoustic guitar. I think it was a combination of all of us really - just all of our emotions together as brothers helped that really become what it was. In addition, we had some studio people come in and they definitely helped with the vibe and we had a Middle Eastern singer come in and do a little bit of stuff on "Going To India." We also had a percussionist come in and I think all those things helped. 

Rough Edge: How would you describe the conscious sound of the band?

Louis: Consciously we just try to sound like an extension of our emotions really. We don't consciously try to sound like other bands. If anything we consciously try NOT to sound like other bands and even that isn't very conscious either. We just write and if it sounds good we build on it. There's been instances in the past where someone came up with an idea, and we're like 'well that's cool but it sounds too much like another band,' and it gets clipped immediately. We just try to play what we feel and it seems to have an Eastern vibe to it just based on the tuning we came up with a while back.

Rough Edge: Any tracks that you think reflected yourselves or you personally on the album?

Louis: There's a track called "Turning Inward" and that to me has a special place at least during the recording process. It's a heavy song to me, lyrically anyway, but I was going through a really hard time. My dad had just passed away during the recording of that album and that track to me just really stands out as getting in touch with my feelings for him. That one will always have a special place but I love all the songs.

Rough Edge: The album has an underlying theme of a hope despite despair. I know you just spoke of the death of your father but were there any other events that opened up that emotional aspect? 

Louis: Our singer writes all the lyrics and certainly a lot of what's going on in his personal life has been really challenging. As he describes, he talks about love, unity, and the burn of love which he knows well may have a lot to do with the despair you might feel.  But he sings about hope in unity with the community. I can sense that same theme.

Rough Edge: As a band do you have a political agenda?

Louis: No. 

Rough Edge: I know that you cite nature as being a driving inspiration in your music. Was that something you were brought up with or was there a particular event in your life that triggered such enlightenment? 

Louis: I'd certainly say it was where we were raised. We were brought up on the beach and there was mountains behind us and just canyons and creeks. There was so much nature to be found.  

Rough Edge: Did your parents instill that in you?

Louis: It kind of just evolved. My parents would take me to the beach when I was in diapers and I would get to run around the beach so I got an early taste of it in that. Other than that, well, I surf a lot, but other than that where we live there really wasn't much to do.

Rough Edge: There have been quite a lot of Led Zeppelin / Jane's Addiction comparisons. What do you think that Boys Hits Car brings to the table to differentiate yourselves? What separates you?

Louis: (laughs). I would say that I think ... starting with Led Zeppelin, I think that we're not the same because we have heavier elements to our music but for the time that we were around, that may have been considered heavy so it's hard to say. I think our bassist is really melodic. I think in that way we're different. I certainly don't consider myself anywhere near as talented as Jimmy Page. I can say what makes us different from any other band I've ever seen is our live show where we relate to one another.

Rough Edge: Do you ever worry that the comparisons will weigh too heavily and distract?

Louis: I haven't felt that so far and I don't think any of us have. I think more so I'm flattered to be compared with those bands and I have a great deal of respect for them. Part of the reason I think it won't really distract that much is because we don't consciously go out of our way to sound like them it just kind of comes out and that's fine with us.

Rough Edge: You have a video out for "I Am A Cloud" on MTV2. How has the feedback from that been? 

Louis: It's been real positive. People are stoked. I don't know how often its being played. I mean we have been getting a lot of feedback. 

Rough Edge: What image would you say you project from the video? 

Louis: I think our live performance is pretty well represented, so they will get the raw straightforward part of us. I think is will also portray the bond we share as brothers as well as some of the nature aspect of it. There are some scenes from the beach. 

Rough Edge: Dream band to tour with and why?

Louis: Do they have to be alive and still playing?

Rough Edge: Well, its a dream band so I guess it can be whatever you want.

Louis: I think some combination of like one big all star jam with people like Miles Davis, The Doors, maybe throw in some Hendrix, some Zeppelin, some Rage Against the Machine.

Rough Edge: You just got done touring in the UK and that brought a lot of attention. Where do you think you are in the US in terms of breaking that sort of ground?

Louis: I keep hearing that the US market is the biggest and toughest to break and also the best to break because it brings the most success. It's such a huge market. The U.K. seems like we're bigger over there than we are over here. There's also a lot more territory to cover here, you have to go around and around and around. But going over there was just kind of a big windfall. The first time we ever played in the UK there were like five rows of kids in the front that knew all the words to the songs and were singing along. And we were like, "What the hell is going on here?" So, hopefully, we can translate that sort of success over here as well.

Rough Edge: Has the attention inflated your ego any?

Louis: It's flattering but I don't think it has changed us as people at all. I think we try to stay as humble as possible ... 

Rough Edge: How?

Louis: Not taking it too seriously. I mean not taking anything too seriously positive or negative. Try to stay focused on the music. 

Rough Edge: Another association is how involved you are on the web site with the fans. How hard do you think it is going to be to maintain that sort of intimacy as your popularity grows and are you up for the challenge?

Louis: We'll do the best that we can. Its going to be harder and we've already noticed that its harder because we came back from the UK and there was just a pile of e-mails waiting for us. We'll do the best that we can always.

Rough Edge: In the event of huge US success how do you plan to stay true to your roots without becoming another American sell out? 

Louis: I guess, you know, as long as we keep making music we're passionate about and have integrity, and I guess the definition of integrity is a gray area but I guess we just want to stay as close as we can to the fans. I feel like the closer we stay to the fans the better off we'll be 'cause that's where it all starts. 

Rough Edge: Often a band's first major album is filled with all the passion and drive and then they fall into the infamous "sophomore slump." Any plans on how you think you might deal with that pressure? 

Louis: In a way it kind of is our sophomore effort because nobody knows about the first one. I think we'll do well. 

Rough Edge: Six months from now, where are you going to be? 

Louis: I think we'll be growing. I think we'll maintain a steady gain of growth because for our band that's the way it has always been. We've been together for eight years, there have been no overnight success stories here and I don't suspect that its going to change anytime soon.  If it does it will be a bit of a surprise. I think we just have a solid foundation in place and I think we will have a pretty good amount of radio play across the country and I think we'll probably have a few songs toward the next album and probably still be touring.

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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06 Oct 2019 11:48:47 -0400