Fred Love lives by the phrase “DIY for life!” It’s served him well over the last few months. Like all of us, he and his family are getting by as best they can, and now Love has documented his experiences on his new EP “Nine Days.”
A resident of Ames, Love has released music both as a solo artist and as a member of The Colt Walkers. He’s also been one of the organizers of the Maximum Ames Music Festival in recent years.
Love had planned to record new music with a band this year, but those plans were put on indefinite hold due to the pandemic. He and his wife both continue to work from home, while homeschooling their two children.
Love seized the moment and wrote three new songs, each directly addressing the pandemic’s effects on his family. In the spirit of the DIY ethos, he recorded the songs in his basement, along with two of his older tunes. The result is the “Nine Days” EP. Fred Love spoke to IPR about the circumstances surrounding this new release.
How has the global pandemic affected your family? What adjustments did you have to make?
“We're lucky in that both my wife and I have been able to work from home throughout the pandemic. I work as a communications specialist at Iowa State University, and she's an elementary school teacher.
“Homeschooling has been, maybe, the biggest challenge for us. My wife and I both had to work from home while also taking care of the kids, and we're all just stuck in the house and often getting on each other's last nerves. My wife's a teacher, which is helpful to a great extent, but she also had to provide materials and guidance for her entire class, which stretched her pretty thin. We came up with a loose schedule for my son to follow with time allotted to reading, writing and math. But we tried not to overburden him in an already stressful and weird situation. We also tried to make sure we made time for everyone to take care of their mental health.
“Work, music and family stuff ate up the vast majority of my time. But, after everyone else in the house goes to bed, I usually squeeze in an episode of Star Trek before I turn in.”
What music-related plans did you have for this year, and what are you doing instead?
“As with pretty much all musicians, I had to cancel a bunch of gigs. Instead, I've been doing a livestreamed concert series called the Social Distance Hayride on my Facebook page every Saturday at 4 p.m."
Tell us more about the writing and recording of the “Nine Days” EP.
“Three of the songs came directly out of the pandemic: ‘All To Myself,’ ’Wapsie Crescent Moon,’ and ‘Nine Days.’
The other two songs, ‘How My Life Was Saved’ and ‘The Fifth of April,’ were written previously, but I'd never recorded them before. I thought that both of those songs could fit on the EP, and I could do them justice without having my full band available to record.
“My lyrical approach when writing the new songs was to tap into my feelings as a result of the pandemic, without making the songs so specific that people might have a hard time relating to them once life returns to normal. So none of the songs mention COVID-19, or coronavirus, or the word ‘pandemic.’ I tried to treat the pandemic as a metaphor for the big challenges and crises we all face at various points in our lives, and then I tried to explore the anxieties, doubts and hopes that I was feeling within that context. If I did my job right, I hope anyone who has to face up to a big, scary challenge can find something of themselves in these songs.
“I recorded the songs in my basement with the Yamaha powered mixer I use for live gigs, plugged into the Garageband software on my laptop. The only things you hear on the songs are my guitars and vocals. Part of the challenge was writing and selecting songs for the project that can work without drums, bass or keys (since I don't know how to play or record any of those instruments). I tried to make sure each song sounds complete, even though it's just one guy with two microphones, a couple guitars and an amp.”
One song that stood out was “The Fifth Of April,” and the line “They say it’s spring but it sure don’t feel like it.”
“I actually wrote ‘The Fifth Of April’ a couple years ago, after reading about opioid addiction in rural communities. For various reasons, I never got around to recording the song, but as the concept for this EP came together in my mind, that song really seemed to fit. Putting the song in the context of the EP will probably elicit a very different response than the one I anticipated when I wrote the song. On the other hand, I'm of the firm belief that a listener's interpretation of lyrics is often just as valid as the artist's intentions. The ability of the listener to apply their own experiences and understanding to a song is part of the real magic of music.”
"Nine Days" is available now at Fred Love's Bandcamp page and on most streaming services.