Hey, you guys know Miss Lonelyheart have gotten back together by now, right? Right. But did you know they are set to take the Cafe Nola Designated Music Space on Friday night along with The Furr and Unholy Sights? Well, you do now. We recently caught up with Andy Stout from the band to get the story about how they broke up and came back together, what some changes in the music scene are between when they first started and how it is now, and, of course, what the future looks like for the Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, rock outfit. The fun is set to begin at 9:30 Friday night. You’ll check it out, right?
You guys took a hiatus/broke up for a bit. What happened?
Miss Lonelyheart formed in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, circa 1994, and played hundreds of shows throughout the Mid-Atlantic, started a label, and put out several releases from ourselves and other bands. Sometime around 2000, our guitar player Mike moved to Philly. We continued to play as a three-piece, released an album that way, played a couple hundred more shows all across the country, and did a couple nearly-month-long tours. At some point along the way everyone just got too busy with other things and some health problems came along. I went to grad school. Our guitar player Dan was in multiple bands and we all lived in different towns an hour away from each other. I think it was 2004 when we stopped because it just became too difficult to pull off and people were starting to have other priorities (work, school, family, etc.).
Conversely, why did you guys decide to get back together/start writing again/play out?
Creativity is life and this is all good for everyone involved. Those are the two main reasons we ended up back together. In 2014, the four of us noticed that we were all living in the general area again and missed playing out. Life was slightly less busy and we decided to get together and jam. From there, we did a 10 day tour around the Mid-Atlantic playing some key clubs in the region, and it was a great success. After the tour, we were sort of amazed at how well everything had come back together. It was like we had never stopped playing. Touring and writing are very different of course, so the next hard part was figuring out how to write music together again. We now have almost enough new material for a brand new full-length.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the local music scene between the time you guys started and now?
There are more places to play locally now for sure. In general though, we started as a band just as the Internet was becoming a thing. So, we are from the age of Xerox ‘zines and DIY all-ages shows and everything being word of mouth. That still goes on, but the Internet, digital music, downloads – that’s all new since we started and it has completely changed everything, both locally and globally. One of the strange things in getting back together was realizing that the way we used to do things has been replaced by a new paradigm, some of it better and some worse. Locally, there are just more bands, venues and more people into this sort of thing, it seems. Though, Frederick did use to have a great quarterly music ‘zine called, Shredding Material, that existed from the ’80s to early 2000s or so. We don’t seem to have a local publication dedicated to underground music here anymore, but I don’t know how many people still even read magazines. So maybe that’s just not a thing and it’s all online.
Along those same lines, what’s your perception of the local music scene in Frederick currently?
I’ve been coming to see bands in Frederick since 1986. I once saw Fugazi play at the Weinberg Theatre downtown circa 1989 (awesome show by the way; Miss Lonelyheart also played with them in Hagerstown in the early 2000s). There have always been bands around. The Skeptics and the Voodoo Love Gods in the 1980s and ’90s, and lots of hardcore and metal bands over the years. I moved to Frederick in 1994. I honestly think that the last five years or so has perhaps been the brightest time in the local music scene in my memory. The youth culture seems strong here. Several original bands with a great variety of sounds, several venues to play at, several very supportive record stores downtown, and a supportive network of things like Frederick Playlist, etc. are all great. The city still needs a seedy hole-in-the-wall rock club that has original music seven days a week, but maybe someday.
Who are some of your major influences and why?
Dan and I are a bit older than Mike and J. We cut our teeth at D.C. hardcore shows in the 1980s, seeing bands like the Circle Jerks and Government Issue in 300 person capacity clubs. It was the soundtrack of our youth. Mike and J are influenced by that stuff as well, but they are more early ’90s indie rock kids who were into Pavement and the like (they are going to kill me for that description of them by the way), and of course all of that independent underground music over the last several decades has sort of coalesced into whatever the underground/independent music scene is today, with its amazing diversity of groups and sounds. Major influences for the band’s sound as a whole would be bands like: The Replacements, Husker Du, Mission of Burma, Fugazi, Superchunk, Guided By Voices, Jawbox and the like. None of which sounds alike, or like us per say, but all of whom operated in that same space and were inspirational to us at various points along the way, both in their music and in how they conducted themselves.
Can you give us names of some bands we need to check out that we maybe haven’t seen yet?
If you can find the 20 song debut album by The Braille Drivers from Morgantown, West Virginia – it is an underground classic that came out to rave reviews circa 2000. We released it on our label Molecular Laboratories which is distributed by Dischord Direct. Also, J Marinelli’s Angry One Man Band (J was in Braille Drivers) out of Lexington, Kentucky, and his other band, The Elsinores. Locally, Bishops are great. Good Wolfe from Morgantown. Soccer Team from Washington D.C. is awesome. I also really like Dot-Dash from D.C.
Who are you listening to the most these days?
These days our band members listen to everything from honky-tonk to thrash metal. I listen to a lot of underground “classics” so to speak and I get on these kicks. Recently, I got on a DB’s kick. I listen to a lot of jazz also. Guided By Voices is always playing somewhere in the background, it seems. The two CDs on my desk at the moment are “My War” by Black Flag and the Jam-20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection, which appears to be a best-of CD.
Where are some of your favorite places to play and why?
Our No. 1 favorite place to play is The 123 in Morgantown. The house PA system is from the AC/DC Fly on the Wall tour. We’ve played more shows on that stage than any other, we love everyone there and they are always good to us. A lot of underground rock and roll history took place within those walls. Black Cat in D.C. is great, and also the Cake Shop in New York City. Anything in Cleveland. We love Cleveland.
What’s next for you guys? Are you in it for the long haul, or is this reunion-ish circumstance only short-term?
The plan is to rock until there is no more rock. We did the 10 day tour in 2014, got busy writing in 2015 and we’ll put out a new 7-inch three-song EP this summer. We are also culling through hundreds of tapes from the last 20 years and we may release a CD of demos, live cuts, covers and alternate versions of songs. We may also combine that as part of a “complete discography” of some type. We are still working on that and not sure what exact form it will take. We are also working towards a new full-length that we hope to release in early- to mid-2017. We’re just happy to be here and taking it as it comes.
Do you have any regrets about anything music-related in your life?
Hmmm. I would have liked to open up for Mission of Burma and Superchunk and we’ve never done that. That’s not really a regret though; it’s just something that would have been cool that never happened. I probably need to practice more and may regret at times that I don’t. We should probably try to schmooze people and do more “free downloads” or “listening parties” or whatever the hell bands do these days (seems like a lot of bands now spend more time promoting themselves than they do creating stuff). That’s just not us. We’ve always been 100 percent DIY (out of necessity). We write our own songs, put out our own music, book our own shows, etc. Considering we originated out of the cultural void that is south central Pennsylvania, it’s kind of amazing we ever even existed in the first place and did all that we did, let alone that we are now getting a second chance to do it again. We’ve never been out to “make it” or whatever that is all about. We’ve always just done this because this is what we do.
And, of course, what can we expect from the show at Cafe Nola?
From us you can expect a set of original, non-gentrified independent rock anthems that don’t sound like anything else in town with nearly half the set in new material, all of it being made by four guys in their early to mid 40s that should probably be home fussing over their mortgage or 401k, but choose rock and roll instead.