Livingmore by Joseph Cultice
Photo: Joseph Cultice / Courtesy of the artist

Alt-rockers Livingmore Offer Lively ‘Take’ with New Album and Video (interview + premiere)

Get ready to hear much more from Livingmore, the alternative rock quartet having a few laughs with “Got Me Feelin’ Like” while focusing on the new LP Take Me.

Take Me
Nomad Eel Records
21 May 2021

Spencer Livingston and Alex Moore put their heads, hearts — and parts of their names — together to come up with Livingmore in 2014. The Los Angeles-based indie alternative rockers, who have experienced a few changes in morphing from a duo into a quartet, sound more and more determined to enjoy themselves while trying to make a living. Hard evidence of that attempt can be found on their impressive sophomore full-length album Take Me, which will be released on 21 May, and the music video “Got Me Feelin’ Like”, which premieres exclusively today at PopMatters.

The funny and frisky video for “Got Me Feelin’ Like”, one of the album’s 11 songs written by Livingmore’s two creators, comes from a storyline developed by Moore, the group’s cool, kinetic frontwoman and lead singer who took part in an email interview for this article with Livingston, the lead guitarist. “If we get a few laughs, we will feel accomplished,” exclaims Moore, who sparkles in a star-lit jacket for the video of the tune that should make everyone feel like dancin’.

Check out “Got Me Feelin’ Like” now, then read on to get more details on the video, the song, the album, and the metamorphosis of Livingmore, a band that Moore believes “has grown a lot since its conception” and also includes Mike Schadel (drums/keys) and Rodrigo Moreno (bass).

One of the project’s three directors and co-producer with Livingston, Moore reveals this video “is the first with a storyline that I had a complete vision for right away, but it was also a different kind of collaboration working with the two other directors, Eric Michael Schrader and Kevin T. Miller (The Enclave). I wrote the script, found all of the actors, and chose the locations. The liquor store was a very important part of the vision. I had this imagery of a rhinestone cowboy entering a liquor store ever since we first started working on the song, and it felt very satisfying to see it all come to life.”

Schrader and Miller, who shot and edited the entire video, including Livingmore’s performance segment in December, “really took all of [Moore’s] ideas and made them come to life better than we could have ever imagined,” Livingston states. “It was a very collaborative experience and we plan on working on more projects like this together.”

Weaving a story through the video was what the two filmmakers intended after shooting the band’s part, but “little did they know I already had this quirky idea in mind. I don’t know if this offbeat tale was exactly what they were expecting but they totally got on board to make it happen,” offers Moore. She previously collaborated with Livingston to direct, write and shoot the whimsical music video for “Cocoon”, a song from 2018’s OK To Land, their full-length debut.

“Spencer and I really worked hard planning it all out, and I even designed the cowboy’s costume with hours of gluing rhinestones onto a jacket that we ordered online. ‘If you can’t find something, make it yourself’ has really become the Livingmore motto over the years.”

Photo: Joseph Cultice / Courtesy of the artist

Mixing Reality With Fantasy

Finished this February, when the coronavirus was still wreaking havoc in America and abroad, Livingston found the most challenging part of making the video “was the obvious: COVID”. Everyone from the cast and crew got tested for COVID-19, had their temperatures taken, and were asked to wear masks, including the actors between takes.

“Some of us had already been vaccinated but to keep stress levels down, we took every precaution we could possibly take to make it as safe as possible,” shares Livingston. “This video was filmed very quickly and efficiently, which actually felt really nice. All of the cast and crew really brought their ‘A’ game and we had two very enjoyable days full of creativity and good vibes. It felt really great to get together with some creative people and make a wacky video during a time when we had been deprived of that kind of thing for so long.”

The song, with a sneak preview here today before the single is released on all digital streaming platforms Wednesday (21 April), got its jump-start from Schadel. He showed his bandmates “this electronic loop melody, and pretty instantly the rest of us started carving out our individual parts,” conveys Moore, who shares the same name as the late Texas piano-playing bluesman. “There were some lyrics that changed during the recording process but for the most part it came together by jamming on that loop.

“The vibe gave me this concept of a larger-than-life character entering a liquor store, dancing around and interacting with customers. Someone being the star of their own show, drunk off of their own ego and nothing can ruin their time. The video is very much a direct representation of what the song is lyrically about. I like mixing reality with fantasy. Daydreams are sometimes grander than where we’re actually standing.” 

Got a lot but nothing to say / Trash orbiting my milky way / If I get stuck I’ll wiggle out and stray.

Cast of Characters

Shooting the performance segment at a warehouse space in downtown Los Angeles for a couple of hours and in a nearby Inglewood liquor store they rented on another day, a small group of friends/actors were enlisted for the latter sequence. Among those mentioned by Livingston were:

Talia Cheren, the dream sequence store clerk who is Moore’s best friend from high school: “She is also an actor and filmmaker and we love her very much. Her character is crucial to the story and her work really stands out. Talia has such a positive and creative energy and is an incredibly talented person.”

Moses Meshack (customer #1), who got his wish to be in the video: “He has amazing facial expressions and really contributed to some of the video’s most genuine moments.”

Photo: Joseph Cultice / Courtesy of the artist

Matt Weber, the star of the video as the Rhinestone Cowboy “who we’ve always thought was brilliant and hilarious,” points out Livingston, adding, “When Alex came up with the concept for the video, she actually wrote the part with Matt in mind. We are so happy he liked the idea because we knew he would kill it. He really exceeded all of our expectations and gave us tons of amazing footage to use. He came in fully committed and had everyone on the set laughing the whole time.”

Four other actors — Mario Ponce, Brazzen Lee Radiant, Brian Chandler, and Tiffany Kim — earned roles after answering a Craigslist ad. “They all had very authentic personalities” while being asked to react to Weber’s “strange antics,” according to Livingston. “We are honored that they wanted to join us on our strange little journey making this video.”

Added Moore, who had to bark instructions through two heavy-duty masks between takes, “The whole shoot went really smoothly, largely in part to the organized and efficient way that Eric and Kevin work. … In previous situations, my voice would not have been so strained from over-projecting all day. … We really wanted to make sure this shoot was as safe as possible. I definitely enjoy directing, but credit needs to go to the team on this one. Eric and Kevin are such pros.”

Emerging From the Fog

As Livingmore’s founders and songwriters contributing vocals and guitars on Take Me’s 11 tunes, Moore and Livingston don’t even have to be asked the inevitable question. “For anyone who hasn’t figured it out already, yes, we are in a relationship. I think it’s pretty obvious, but it’s impossible to know how things are perceived by others,” confirms Moore, who croons like Debbie Harry during Blondie’s dream-pop days on the propulsive opener “Sharp” and handily delivers a lively yet lyrically severe “Bummer”.

She and Livingston didn’t know each other while growing up in the San Fernando Valley, but her initial impression of him was a lasting one. “I first saw Spencer playing a solo show in 2013, and I immediately thought, ‘I feel like this guy would get my music,’” Moore recalls. “I could relate to his melodies and the songs he was writing. He had a quirkiness about him, and I connected with it. I said ‘hi’ after his show, and he was very nice.”

They didn’t run into each other again until a year or so later, when she performed some shows as a solo artist that he and some mutual friends attended. “I needed a lead guitarist at one point, and he quickly volunteered,” Moore says of Livingston, who released the introspective solo album Grow in 2013 before providing the driving riffs behind this band’s instrumental clout. “It’s funny because I only had one solo show with him as my guitarist before we decided to form Livingmore together. At that time, we were both in the middle of difficult breakups. We were also both in other bands that were falling apart for a number of different reasons, and we needed to make some changes. It was a very turbulent time in both of our lives, and we helped guide each other through the fog. We truly became best friends. We both needed new starts, and out of the fog came Livingmore. I’ve really never met anyone else as determined,” Moore continues. “We have gone through so much together and are still just as excited as we’ve ever been to make music together, and we never take each other for granted.”

Their musical collaboration began as a duo playing and writing songs on acoustic guitars while showing similar tastes in classic bands like the Beatles and the Kinks. Influences ranged from Modest Mouse, Wilco, and Roy Orbison in the United States to Radiohead, the Hives, and the Cure from across the pond to binational Garbage, with Scottish lead singer Shirley Manson fronting a band with three American musicians. “We played around town like that for about a year, focusing on our songwriting before we started letting other musicians in on our little world,” Moore asserts, and Livingmore released its debut, self-titled EP in 2015.

Livingston explains some of their various methods regarding how the pair’s process works in creating Livingmore’s words and music. “Alex and I write separately sometimes, and we’ll bring each other half-written songs to finish. Sometimes an idea will stem from a guitar bit that I’m writing, and Alex will lay something on top of it, which we then kind of massage into a song. When she gets going on that wavelength, I’ll just try my best to carve out a guitar part that moves around her vocal melody. … Sometimes, one of us will write an entire song, and we’ll help each other improve it. … Recently, Alex wrote a song on piano that I really like that may end up on our next album. …

“There are infinite combinations of so many different ways to write a song. We try to keep an open mind and don’t like to get locked into one way of doing anything. Our process is always evolving, and we are constantly learning.”