Meet: Lovely Egg Holly Ross talks albums, Music Co-ops and scratchcards

Photo: Darren Andrews

It’s mid-afternoon as I call Holly Ross, charismatic singer and songwriter for The Lovely Eggs. The phone rings out for a while, and just as I’m about to hang up, a slightly breathless Holly picks up.

“Oh, we’ve just had 1,000 record mailers turn up at our house,” she explains in her dulcet Lancastrian tone, “which was an unexpected arrival! We didn’t expect it to come today, but it’s good. At least it means we can send the record out!”

The record in question is the new single – Nothing/Everything – a new 7” single which is released today (26 April). If you’ve got your hands on one, look forward to your Lovely Eggs scratchcard. I’d love to give you more details on the prizes, but it’s a closely guarded secret.

“Well, it’s a mystery scratchcard, so you won’t find out unless you get one.” Holly tells me.  “You’ll receive a secret message and each one comes with a very special code. The meaning, the significance of the secret code….will be revealed in the fullness of time!”

This is the kind of fun and games that epitomises The Lovely Eggs approach to music. The very definition of alternative, the band was formed in 2006 in Lancaster, and they’re still based in the northern town. Taking a fully DIY approach to their work, they’re still packing and sending records out to their devoted fans, writing, recording and rehearsing on their doorstep, and creating space for the local scene to thrive. 

It allows the band a freedom to create, just as they want, and have a bit of fun along the way. 

“With records, it’s not just the music, you can decide on the art and then we’ve done stupid stuff like with the Mood Wave 7”, we released a limited edition air freshener!”

“You know,” she laughs, “just meaningless shit you don’t have to do!”

Not meaningless though to the fan base, who lap up this personality and engagement, which makes the band so much more than just the music. It comes through in all aspects of their output. I ask about Casey Raymond, who has worked on the cover art for Nothing/Everything and he has a crucial role to play in the whole look and feel of the band.

“Casey’s a friend of ours – we’ve known him for a long time now and he’s done the artwork for the last 3 albums.” Holly says.

You can tell there’s a depth of connection there, as the artwork really sums up the sound, the feeling of a Lovely Eggs track, and this is something that matters to Holly, as they deliver the whole package to their fans.

“That’s important for us, I think, to reflect that in the art. We couldn’t just send it off and just wait for the art to come back. It’s important for us to get it right.”

There’s a tour and a new album on the horizon for the band too. Their 7th studio album, Eggsistentialism, will be released on May 17th before they head out on the road towards the end of that month. This record shows a vulnerability and introspection that’s perhaps not been there previously, at least to this extent. I ask Holly what’s behind that – how has the current state of the world impacted the way they’ve created this record.

“It’s a snapshot, a moment in time” Holly explains. “When we were writing it, we didn’t know any other way to be. I don’t know whether it’s about being honest as a musician or what. If you’re being truthful to yourself, you can’t come home and write about how amazing the world is when that’s not what’s going on in your own world. This album is more like a diary. It’s not to moan about it, it’s just to say that this was the frame of mind we were in at the time.”

The struggles that have underpinned this record stem in no small degree from the fight The Lovely Eggs have taken on to save the Music Co-op in Lancaster. It’s a non-profit rehearsal / recording space that is at the heart of the alternative creative community in Lancaster and has been home to not just the Lovely Eggs, but bands like Tansads and Massive Wagons. Recently closed due to a lack of funding and focus from the council, it has fallen to Holly and David to take up the cause and breathe new life into this important facility. And it’s personal for them.

“I started using the place when I was 15 with my first band,” Holly says. “And that’s where I met David – he worked there. It’s just where loads of independent musicians and beatniks and freaks and alternative people hang out. If that goes, then the heart of alternative culture in Lancaster goes, then everyone’s normal and working 9 to 5 jobs, and there’s no flagship for being different or having an alternative way of life.”

And this matters in so many ways now. I mention that a place like this is important for the future of the industry, for bands to get their foot on the ladder, but for Holly, it goes so much deeper than that. 

“It’s also for people who don’t want to make it in the music industry, it’s the people who hate the day to day, 9 to 5 jobs and want to go there in the evening with a mate to chill out because it’s something that gives them a sense of well-being. You feel like part of something when the Co-op’s open. People don’t use the Co-op to start a career in the music industry, they go because they love music.

“It’s just 4 big rooms where people can make a loud noise, and it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that!”

Thanks to the hard work of Holly and David, it’s looking promising for this important space, with plans to open again this year. It’s been a fight, but it’s vital to keep these kinds of places open around the UK to keep the music and culture alive. 

Back to Eggsistentialism and we chat about the sound, which is in some ways, a departure from where the band have been before. This is driven to some degree by the process that we’ve discussed up to this point – the diary, the recording of how they’re feeling. 

“On other records, we’ve thought more about the sound that we want, you know, we’re interested in exploring this or that sonically. I don’t think we thought about the sound in the same way on this record. It just seemed to pour out and, it’s weird, we just didn’t really think about it. 

“They’re a hotchpotch, in a sense, a collection of songs. Memory Man, came about because David had this riff which was really heavy guitar and was amazing, but he didn’t know what to do with it” Holly explains. “And I came up with this song which sounded a lot more 60s, Syd Barrett style, and I didn’t know what to do with that really. We were in the studio one day and I was like, how about if we change the key of what I’d done and put it against that riff and we were like “Oh my God!” this is really quite interesting!”

“We have tried different things, and they’ve worked. We always like to explore new territory because we don’t want to do again what we’ve done before – it doesn’t scratch a creative itch that we have, you know?”

The conversation turns to the tour, and preparations are well under way. It’s something the band really look forward to.

“We absolutely love touring!” Holly tells me. “It’s like, there’s so much love about it. We just love them because we’re from a small Northern town, and it’s just great to get out, in the nicest possible way. We’ve developed relationships and friendships. It’s great seeing the Leeds crowd, or the crowd in Newcastle are great and oh, the Brighton crowd. In fact, it’s got to the point where we don’t have favourites any more. Every crowd is amazing!”

“They all have their own vibe, their own craic, but we’d say there’s an international vibe with The Lovely Eggs crowd. You could get the Leeds crowd together with the Brighton crowd and they’d get on like a house on fire. There’s just some bonkers people out there and it’s an absolute joy to meet them all!”

There’s a lot to look forward to in terms of the music too. The band are in the rehearsal studio working out the arrangements for the new tracks. 

“When we’re in the studio, we’re like kids in a sweet shop, you know?! We have any instrument at our disposal, and we go for it! But obviously, there’s only me and David live, to perform, so we’ve got to work out how we pull it off. It’s almost like working on the album from scratch again.”

It’s a family affair on the road these days. Holly and David take their son on tour and that means a little bit of extra work and a change from their earlier tours. I’m interested in what Holly can’t live without for the 10 date run around the UK. 

“Oh, that’s a good question! Well, I have to pack for two because even though my little lad is 11, he still needs packing for! I’m taking some Liquid Skin this time, as I ripped my hands to shreds last time. I just pack what anyone would take on holiday! Tour feels like going on holiday – just different clothes, a hairbrush, make up. Nice and simple.”

No extravagant riders then? 

“There might be but we don’t bring them! We don’t get anything complicated or lavish. We like a bit of a booze up but I’m trying to calm it down a bit, especially for 10 days straight. It’s tough though – can you imagine going to Spain on holiday and not drinking for a week?!”

Powered by paracetamol and Berocca perhaps, but there will be a lot to look forward to as the tour kicks off at home, at Lancaster’s Highest Point Festival on May 10th and 11th, then continues all around the UK through the end of May, wrapping up in Manchester on June 1st. 

Holly and David represent an authenticity that the industry needs more of. Honest, forthright (see the section of their website entitled “No Fake Encores”) and passionate, they’ll deliver an experience that will make you remember why we all love music and live performance.

That place where the great, the good, the weird and the wonderful can come together and forget about the 9 to 5.

Welcome to Eggland.

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