By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Dance-rock, dance-punk, electroclash—if you're honest, you have to admit that 90 percent of it is about as sexy as a silicone implant. But is this supposed to be dance music for people who can't dance, or by people who can't dance?
"I think No. 2," says singer and guitarist Scott Blonde, with a raucous laugh. "The whole dance-punk, whatever it is, it's definitely paint-by-numbers," he adds. "Eight billion people went and bought Gang of Four for the first time and just wrote 10,000 albums based on that one record, you know?" The Lovemakers, the Oakland-based band Blonde co-fronts with Lisa Light, apparently went out and bought Zeppelin and Prince records instead.
On the new EP, Misery Loves Company, The Lovemakers offer a rocked-out update of vintage Prince and Human League across five singles, each matched with an eccentric video by Victor Solomon. On the title track, Light's Kate Pierson-esque pipes summon up the animalistic sexuality—and light S&M—lurking beneath a surface of bland domesticity, while Blonde takes the lead on "Whine & Dine," his scrawny frame twitching to a beat that borrows from both Oakland's hyphy scene and Beck's Midnite Vultures electro-funk. Then there's the gospel-tinged power ballad "Naturally Lonely," where desperation finds expression, naturally, in a frothy, "Purple Rain" guitar solo.
The new EP aside, where the Lovemakers shine is live—and frequently half-naked. Allegedly booted from their old band for making out during practices, Blonde and Light can get hot and heavy onstage, as hips shake to the booty bass and screaming guitars get thrown into walls. Yet "there's absolutely no choreographed anything ever—there never has been," Blonde insists. "We hit the stage, and God only knows what's going to happen." At one show, "somebody threw a bra onstage. And we told the rest of the crowd they were pussies for not doing it. Before we knew it, the entire stage was covered in underwear."
And that's not the only audience participation the band hopes to elicit: On some level, they'd like fans to legally own the music. After splitting from Interscope following 2005's Times of Romance, the Lovemakers were shopping for a label that "was gonna be into our ideas of not selling music," Blonde says, "which kinda limits your options." They ended up with innovative label Fuzz, part of whose not-selling music strategy is offering fans full access to separate instrument tracks from Misery Loves Company.
"People can actually make their own version of the record, and they could print their own CDs and sell them, if they want," says Blonde. "We're giving up all those rights. And we're going to do it with T-shirts as well." He points to the Grateful Dead as a successful band that allowed fans to tape concerts and make money off the group. "We were on Interscope, we've been around all the big bands, we've seen it. I certainly see no correlation between making money and happiness. We already love what we do."
And that, perhaps, is the true source of the Lovemakers' lovesexy.