Since their inception in late 2017, alternative rock newcomers Lochaven have made a name for themselves as a formidable and highly acclaimed live prospect, playing their high energy, heartfelt and melodic rock to venues across Michigan. Their debut album Change is Upon Us is out now and tells the tale of a group of disenfranchised misfits, who attempt to do something about the unjust society in which they’ve grown up. On the way to confront the leaders that have betrayed them, the album’s narrator finds – and then loses – love and realizes the best way to affect real change is to look in the mirror, discover one’s own sense of compassion, inner peace and understanding.
I got the chance to talk to the band – made up of Gabriel Toth (Vocals/Bass), Jake Fultz (Guitar) and PJ Twork (Drums) – about how they came together originally, what it means for them for their debut album to finally be out, their new single “The Promised Land” and so much more. Keep reading to see what they had to say!
For those who might not have ever heard of y’all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how it culminated into what it is now?
We had been playing together in various bands since 2014, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2017 that Lochaven would take shape. Around that time, Gabe and Jake were working on writing some songs together. Once we realized we had something special on our hands, we reached out to PJ to see if he’d be interested in coming on board. He dug what he heard, and just like that, Lochaven was born.
Where did the name Lochaven come from?
Lochaven is the name of a road that I take to get to band practice. I thought that it sounded rad and that it would make a good band name, so I made the suggestion to the guys, and everybody liked it.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music. So if you had to describe the music you make without using genre names, how would you describe it?
We definitely want to make music that we personally enjoy. We would never do something or write something that we’re not into just because we think it would appeal to more people. So staying true to ourselves is really important. And if we can do that while also making music that speaks to other people, and makes them feel like they can relate to what’s going on in the songs, then all the better.
Kind of going off of that, who are some of your musical influences as a group?
In terms of bands that we’re collectively inspired by, Led Zeppelin, Journey, and Soundgarden come to mind. We definitely all dig more modern music, too, but it’s just that the waters get a little bit murkier there when it comes to collective influence. For example, Gabe is really into blink-182, Jake is into twenty one pilots, and PJ is into JEFF The Brotherhood.
Let’s talk about your debut album, Change is Upon Us. What does it mean to you guys for this project to finally be coming out?
It’s been a long journey to finally get the point of releasing a full-length LP, that’s for sure. This is something that’s been in the works in one way or another for years. One could even argue that our work towards the album predates Lochaven, since some of the record’s songs (like “Against All Odds” and “Can’t Stop Looking at the Fire”) were at least partially written before Lochaven was even a thing. All that said, it’s a great feeling to finally be sharing so much music with everyone.
What was the recording process like for it? How long did it take for this to come together from start to finish?
The recording process was pretty smooth overall. We booked essentially the whole month of August with the incredibly talented Matt Dalton over at Rock Hill Sound in Rochester Hills, MI. We were able to record just about everything we needed to in that time frame, with only a little bit of extra work bleeding over into September. After that, we spent some time revising and editing the mixes, and not long afterwards, we had an album on our hands.
I love the new single “The Promised Land”. What inspired this song?
Back in the Fall of 2017, when we were writing some of the music that would become Lochaven songs, I felt like we were missing a really anthemic, “stadium rock” type of song. So I told Jake what I was thinking, and he came back with that killer guitar part, which I instantly dug. From there, we got to work on fleshing out the song.
What was the songwriting process like for this song specifically?
The guitar part sounded like it called for some very open and honest lyrics, so I essentially just put pen to paper on how I was feeling during that period in my life, which resulted in lyrics that conveyed uncertainty, but also optimism. In terms of the vocal melody, I had a few different ideas bouncing around in my head for the chorus, but they all required changing the key, which Jake was pretty adamant against. Then one day, when I was just messing around on my guitar trying to come up with something for the song, the chorus hit me like a lightning bolt. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Something I’ve always been curious with songwriting is how topics come to mind. Did you know what you wanted to write about going into the song session that birthed “The Promised Land” or did it just come about organically once you were in the session?
Well, there wasn’t really just one session when it came to writing the song; it was sort of formed in parts over time. In terms of when we knew what the song would be about, though, I knew it was going to be some sort of ballad the minute that I heard Jake’s guitar part. I wasn’t really feeling a love ballad vibe from it, though, so I thought I’d make the lyrics just an autobiographical take on the trials and tribulations of life.
Was there any major changes made to “The Promised Land” once you guys got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
We had already recorded “The Promised Land” once before elsewhere, so we were re-recording it this time around. Therefore, we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do with the song, and there weren’t really any major changes to it once we were in the studio. The only somewhat major change to the song that happened around the time of recording was that, a little while before we went in to the studio, I changed the lyrics and vocal melody of the pre-chorus. Aside from that, recording the song was pretty straightforward.
You guys are still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
We definitely want to keep releasing music. Ever since the start of Lochaven, it felt like everything we did as a band was leading up to the creation of this album. And now that we’ve got the record out, we get to start from scratch and start creating totally new music again, so that’s exciting. Plus, we have the power of hindsight to know what worked for us and what didn’t in creating Change is Upon Us, so there will likely be less trial and error in the creative process for our next release, whatever that may be. It’d also be pretty rad to go on tour eventually. So ultimately, the goal is just to keep making music that we enjoy, and hopefully have it impact as many people as possible.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
For PJ, it’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. For Jake, it’s the Lydian mode. For Gabe, it’s mindfulness.