Interview conducted by William Nesbitt with Ciaran Megahey and Brendan McGarvey of Loveproof during December 2017 via a series of e-mails
Loveproof is the project of instrumentalist Brendan McGarvey and vocalist Ciaran Megahey who first collaborated musically in high school in 1996. Getting back together in 2013, they started reconnecting and working on music. Neon Blood Volume One, their debut album, came out on December 5, 2017.
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William: What does the phrase Loveproof mean? Any connection to My Bloody Valentines’s Loveless?
Ciaran: It is actually inspired by Loveless. When Brendan first approached me about writing some songs together, he said he wanted to make music that combined Guided by Voices, Joy Division, and My Bloody Valentine. In terms of what it means, it can be either “proof of love”—if you’re an optimist—or it can mean “being incapable of giving or receiving love”—if you’re a pessimist.
William: What’s the origin of Loveproof as a band?
Ciaran: Brendan and I first met in high school back in 1992. Our first band together was called Spilled and we started playing together in our senior year. It was really exciting being in a band for the first time. That’s how I first got the music bug. I remember us sneaking some beers before playing in front of our high school. That band only lasted about two years or so before dissolving. We kind of drifted apart doing our own thing musically in the ensuing years but we ran into each other on the street in 2013 while I was on my way to an open mic night. Brendan came to watch my set and we eventually started talking about making some music together. So we started collaborating through email. He would send me music and I would layer the vocals on top.
William: Your main band is The Autumn Stones. How is Loveproof similar to The Autumn Stones? How is Loveproof different from The Autumn Stones?
Ciaran: Interestingly enough Loveproof sparked a change in how The Autumn Stones writing process works. The Autumn Stones did two albums in which I was the sole songwriter. It was very empowering as an artist to do all of the writing but also a lot of pressure. I’m glad I had the opportunity to work that way but working with Brendan taught me a lesson in songwriting efficiency. I finally understood why so many of the greatest bands were based on songwriting duos like Morrissey-Marr, Lennon-McCartney, McCulloch-Sargeant, etc. I immediately noticed that the ratio of good songs to weak ones was much better when writing with a partner than writing alone. I think part of this is division of labor. Splitting the songwriting duties in half allows each of us to bring only our best skills to the table. I also think that there is a natural inclination to want to match the quality of what your partner has done. I later convinced The Autumn Stones to bring in another member who could co-write with me to bring some of that efficiency to The Autumn Stones. It has transformed us for the better I think.
I think the main differences between the two projects are style and tempo. Brendan brings some electronic and dub elements to Loveproof whereas The Stones have more of a jangly indie pop feel. Loveproof’s tempos tend to be a lot slower giving the music a more cerebral and meditative vibe.
William: Is your singing different for Loveproof compared to The Autumn Stones?
Ciaran: I suppose it is. It is not something I was really conscious of at the time of recording but I do actually remember Brendan pointing out that my vocals sound different later on in the recording sessions compared to the beginning. We started writing and recording in 2013. The songs on Neon Blood Volume One are all fairly recent compositions though. The older stuff will likely be on Volume Two. I think my voice just adapted to the music. The compositions started to get more cerebral and atmospheric and I think my vocal style just followed suit.
William: Who are Loveproof’s musical influences?
Brendan: Joy Division, Guided by Voices, and My Bloody Valentine are three huge influences. I also drew a lot from ’80s synth pop like The Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, and New Order. The dub influences come from the classic dub masters—King Tubby and Lee Perry.
William: The words heart and love appear multiple times throughout the album. And a lot of the songs seem like they are about relationships, or a relationship. Is there a larger backstory informing this album?
Ciaran: I would say the lyrics are all fictional but drawn from my own life and also the wider cultural landscape. “Sister Moonlight” does actually touch on relationships and the difficulty of finding something that sticks. In our digital era there are so many options when it comes to dating. Dating apps seem to give people the impressions that we are all easily set aside for someone else because the next attractive person is just a swipe away. The song expresses a deep yearning for something more substantial and long lasting. If there is a running theme that ties all the songs together I would say it is trying to cut through all of the high tech illusions, be it fake news or fake dates. The narrators are searching for truth and transcendence.
William: On that note, a lot of these songs address themselves to an unnamed “you.” Is the “you” the same throughout the album? Who is “you?”
Ciaran: It varies from song to song. In “Sister Moonlight” the narrator is searching for love. In “Post” the narrator is history or the past. In “The Lowdown” the narrator is truth. No particular real life person is being addressed. My songs are often about abstract ideas rather than people. I personify those ideas to help make them relatable and for dramatic effect. I like to leave lots of room for the listener to make of them what they wish and to make them their own.
William: What’s your favorite track off of Neon Blood Volume One and why?
Brendan: I really like our second single “Post.” I try to approach songwriting very organically, start with some basic ideas and be open to where it leads me. In many cases the final product sounds different than the original idea in my head and that can be very exciting. This is exactly what happened with “Post,” it took on a life of its own and became one of our strongest songs and a shining synthesis of our different musical influences. I also find the lyrics perfectly suited to the ideas the music expresses.
William: Will there be a Neon Blood Volume Two?
Brendan: Definitely. It will be a sequel, both musically and lyrically. When we started plans to put an album together, we had a lot of material to work with many songs in various degrees of completion. We picked ten songs and started working, but we knew that more or less, we had two albums worth of material. I suppose that happens when you take years to flesh out your sound. We decided the album would need a sequel. It’s a grand idea, but it’s also an honest one as both albums represent similar ideas and themes, and originate from the same period of songwriting.
William: Please finish this sentence. If I weren’t playing music with Loveproof, I’d be . . .
Brendan: Making different music. It’s in our blood. Loveproof actually started from two ex-band mates running into each other and discovering they were still completely immersed in creating music. It was not a teenage fad for us, but a lifelong passion. For me personally, a big part of why I wanted to create Loveproof was to produce and mix original music, so if I wasn’t doing Loveproof it would be another project I would be obsessing over while locked in my home studio for hours on end.