On tour with the Lovely Eggs:
‘When we became parents, people thought it would be the end of the band, but we just fitted more seats in our van’
The Lovely Eggs have just finished a sell out show to hundreds of loyal fans at London’s Scala. Singer and guitarist Holly Ross has cajoled the crowd with her witty northern banter as well as her psychedelic punk chords, with husband and drummer, David Blackwell chipping in from across the stage. Backstage after the gig the couple relax with cans of lager and chat to their mates, while they pack up the van ready for the next leg of their tour. They’ll then head back to the hotel. But at some point the rock and roll lifestyle will transmute into family life. Five-year-old son Arlo is on tour with them – in fact the tour has been booked to coincide with his school’s half term.
The rock and roll lifestyle is not one usually considered suitable for children. But Holly and David are blazing a trail – refusing to allow having a family and being musicians get in the way of each other.
Back at their studio in Lancaster where they live the couple are in a rush to get their work done in time for Arlo’s school disco. David is disassembling his drum kit with the speed and dexterity of the world’s fastest Rubik’s Cube player in a bid get done in time for Arlo’s gig. “If you’re in a band, you’re supposed to live the rock and roll lifestyle and when you become parents you’re supposed to be the opposite – be dead sensible,” Holly says as she moves a guitar from the chaos of the recording studio. “But we just wanted to be in a band and have the craic and have a baby and a family life at the same time. Why shouldn’t we do both?” ‘That’s what our DIY ethos is all about. We’re swimming upstream’ The Lovely Eggs formed in 2006, playing their first gig in New York City, and returning to the UK to start playing a flurry of nationwide shows as their music hit the airwaves. Their recently released fifth album, This is Eggland, produced by renowned producer Dave Fridmann was named as one of HMV’s albums of the year. Iggy Pop, the godfather of Punk, is a fan and regularly plays them on his BBC Six Music show. The band also recently completed a session with Six Music DJ Marc Riley – their eighth for the station And they have just finished the latest in three sell-out tours this year for a growing army of fans. At the heart of the band’s ethos is a northern working class ethic of doing things their own way and making their own success – and not letting people tell them what to do. “In the early days of the Lovely Eggs, we were holding down two jobs. We decided to take a leap of faith and do the band full time,” says Holly. “It’s about knowing where you want to go and finding a way to make it happen. That’s what our DIY ethos is all about. We’re swimming upstream. “And if you want to have a baby, that’s a real personal choice and you should be able to do that and still be in a band.”
‘Some parents dread half term. That’s when we go on tour’.
(Photo’s: Jon Super)
Holly is at pains to point out that it’s not “100% straitlaced” now they have a child. “We like a drink and to stay out. But it’s no different from a normal night out. That’s why we have a baby sitter with us,” she says. “People thought when we had a son that it would be the end of the band, but our first thought was to get more seats fitted in our van so we could take our boy on tour,” David adds. “It was just the beginning for us.“ When the band go on tour, they take Arlo along in their Fiat Scudo, which has had three extra seats fitted by a mechanic in Morecambe. He went to his first festival when he was three-months-old. “We turn every negative into a positive,” Holly says. “When we had our baby it was, oh once he starts school that will be the end of the band. But we use it to structure our tour schedule.” “My mum used to come with us,” she adds. “She was so funny. She liked the idea of going on tour. She thought it was exciting, but we were only going to Derby. After two nights, it was like she had been on tour for a year. She was exhausted. “But if she hadn’t been with us, it would have been so hard. We only started using baby sitters on tour when Arlo started to talk. Being on tour with Arlo has benefits the whole family. Close friends including the poet Sally Jenkinson now act as babysitters. A family photograph shows a smiling Arlo waving from the window of the tour van in Brighton. “It’s great,” adds David, “because it means that it isn’t just centered on us. It’s all about Arlo. During the day we’ll spend time doing the stuff he wants to do. We will go to museums and parks. Whatever we do in the day is totally focused on him. Then, when he’s gone to bed, we go out and do the band thing. “He’s learning stuff when we’re on the road. He knows about different cities and he’s been to America. We went to Niagara Falls when we were recording our album and when he sees it on Go Jetters, he says, ‘I’ve been there’. “He’s having experiences that we didn’t have as a kids. It isn’t because we’re well off or come from a wealthy background – it’s thanks to the band. It’s great for him and he loves it.” Holly adds: “Arlo’s obsessed with dinosaurs. When we played in London, we all went to the Natural History Museum and then went for a day out to a dinosaur park in Milton Keynes. “Some parents might dread half-term and the summer holidays, but that’s when we go on tour.” “It’s a different kind of life, but we chose it and we love it.”
‘We’re prepared to work hard for the life we want’
(Photo’s: Jon Super)
But how does parenthood fit with being in a band? “We’re really prepared to accept the flaws and realise that nothing is going to be perfect,” Holly says. “We’re the world’s quickest sound-checkers now because when Arlo was a baby, I didn’t want to be away from him for too long. If we can’t get sound-checked in half an hour, then tough. We just accept it and roll with it. Our sound engineer knows that. “It isn’t an easy route,” Holly adds as she steps out of the studio door on route to Alro’s school. “There’s no one else doing this. It’s hard work, but we’re prepared to work hard for the life that we want. That’s not to say that other parents aren’t doing it right. It’s all about doing whatever is right for you. “I hate the idea of following the patterns of everyone who’s lived before you. It’s so dull. It doesn’t mean that new ground can’t be forged. You only get one life so you should do the things you love doing. When you have a child they join your world. Isn’t it great to welcome a child into a world that is fun, and different and exciting? “I’ve got to make sure I get Arlo to his disco,” she adds. “He won’t want to miss his light sticks.”
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