I think everything in life is a little bit of a love/hate relationship," says Preston Lovinggood, lead singer of Wild Sweet Orange, a Birmingham four-piece that was named Alabama's "Band You Need to Hear, Like, Now" in the Boston Phoenix's recent, fully addictive "50 Bands, 50 States" exercise.
"We have to figure out where we want to take this thing," he says. "We all believe in truth. So, the whole idea is really to search for that truth and how it doesn't look like the search we grew up to believe."
Lovinggood is talking from the road in Omaha, Neb., a recent stop on their tour supporting the debut full-length record, We Have Cause to Be Uneasy, a blend of indie and alt-country from the Bright Eyes school of rock. It's an effort dripping with the young band's many influences, from the blasphemously Elliott Smith—recalling song title "Either/Or," which could've been a solid B-side from The Bends, to "Tilt," with its Townshend taps that suddenly burst into lush piano blankets.
Lovinggood, fighting off a cold, recalls the harsh weather that battered them throughout their last tour and remembers the Florida leg as a much-needed energy replenishment.
Their Orlando show, in February 2008, "was the one show that didn't blur together on the tour. That is one of my favorite shows ever," says Lovinggood with genuine enthusiasm. "You spend a lot of time in silence and then you're put on this platform. Getting thrown out on the road … I don't really know if we were prepared for that."
Uneasy is an outing firmly rooted in the band's Southern upbringing, despite several overseas sounds finding their way into
Their most telling down-home giveaway, however, is also one they're desperate to get away from: religion. Uneasy overflows with the kind of ecclesiastical speech that comes effortlessly to anyone with a conservative background. "God, I try to shine/But the cross seems so high tonight/And glory I can't find," Lovinggood pleads on "Tilt." On album opener "Ten Dead Dogs," he reflects, "I spoke in tongues and took all my clothes off/Oh my God, is this really what you want?" The most glaring example of their inspiration was omitted from the album proper, the rollicking folk of "Wrestle With God," from their previous EP. "I wrestle with God/All night long in my head/And as hard as I try/Can't forget what Jesus said," sings Lovinggood. Again and again, they talk of angels, prayers unanswered and the search for spirituality, but Lovinggood remains coy.
"We are not a Christian band at all. As far as, ‘Is anybody in the band Christian?,' that's a very personal question," he says, adding that they are "trying to get very, very far away from that question. I just want to enjoy the sunset without having to think of all these things."
"I think it's more about figuring out all of the reasons we do have to be happy, but also feeling uneasy at the same time," says Lovinggood. "Kind of how, in life, if there is anything great there is also something dark. … `Our songs are` coming out of a place where words mean something again."firstname.lastname@example.org