Pieces of the Puzzle
For a brief time, Livingston and Moore worked with stand-up bass player Zander Griffith before “slowly and naturally” moving toward their intended style — alternative rock. They added Schadel and his drums after meeting him during their 2016 acoustic show at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles. Brian Dobbs’ tenure as their second bassist lasted just over a year, then they “quickly hit it off” with Moreno, who has been in the band for three years.
“He is a truly unique player with an amazing energy and has become a very important piece to the Livingmore puzzle,” Moore proclaims.
If anyone in the band is as outgoing as the video’s Rhinestone Cowboy, Livingston’s clear choice is Schadel, who resides in the couple’s Sherman Oaks apartment, where they quarantined the past year. “He has quite a few hidden talents, but I won’t give them all away. … We’ll let him keep some of his mystique,” notes Livingston, who immediately gives one away — coffee-making master. “He roasts his own beans and is an expert at the whole process. He makes some of the best coffee you’ll ever have. We call it Mike’s special blend. He’s like a coffee scientist.”
While Livingston and Moore wrote all the lyrics and melodies for Take Me, they relied on Schadel and Moreno to help arrange the songs. “Mike is definitely a big part of how things end up sounding as far as the production goes,” Livingston divulges. “On a few occasions on this album in particular [including “Got Me Feelin’ Like”], certain things stemmed from loops or riffs that Mike brought to the table, and Alex and I wrote our parts on top. … This whole album was definitely a very collaborative band process. Much more so than our first album.”
Dancing on the Edge
“This one was definitely a roller-coaster ride,” Livingston says of the Take Me recording experience, which began as the global pandemic started attacking in what he calls a “just weird” 2020. Although Livingston and Moore began writing songs for the new album after wrapping up OK To Land, a couple of tunes “weren’t even totally hashed out lyrically until we were in the studio recording them,” he remembers.
“It felt like a really strange apocalyptic time to be recording but since we have our own studio, we weren’t too affected by the lockdown. It was honestly all we could really do at the time,” Livingston explains, mentioning that Livingmore spent every day for a few months at their workplace about five miles from home, either making the album, jamming, or rehearsing. We’d shut our phones off and try to lose ourselves in the music for days on end. It felt like the only way to keep our sanity and we are so incredibly grateful to be able to do that during those days.”
Once tracking was done last April, they relied on “mixing ninja” Josiah Mazzachi and his mastering magic to finish the process, communicating with him through email notes and Zoom meetings. “It was very different than any recording experience we’ve ever had in the past,” Livingston admits. “… [Josiah] was very patient with us and we just love working with him in any fashion, even if it’s over Zoom. One day soon we’ll do it again in person. Now that we are starting to release this new music [lead single “Sharp” dropped on 23 March] and the world is starting to slowly open up again, it kind of feels like a new beginning.”
Describing Take Me in a publicity release as “a dance-your-problems-away album,” Moore provides an elucidation. “That is partially true, but I don’t want to give the impression that it’s a dance album,” she declares. “It does have some of those elements and some of the songs are danceable, but it isn’t a dance album by any means. It is very movable, though. Every song is different.”
So don’t feel guilty about getting down to “Dramatic”, its bouncy beat and juicy hooks providing encouragement along with the line “Hair dye delight you look so right don’t you just feel like dancing” that offsets the preceding words: “Life can be so tragic let’s make it tragic.”
Then there’s “Energy Taken”, a song she indicates “is fueled by a lot of anger and frustration and has a darker feel.” While her breathtaking vocals veer toward a bitter end to reflect the subject’s aggression, heavy metal hands pour gas onto the lyrical flame: “You are not a child you know / It doesn’t matter anymore / You are just a maggot full-grown / And it doesn’t matter anymore.”
“I think finding strength is a key theme that ties a lot of the album together,” Moore maintains. “Sometimes we write songs that come from a place of emotional distress, but they turn into songs that people can dance to and I think we embrace that irony. This album has a lot of that vibe going on and I hope others can relate to it.”
Once Take Me is released, Livingmore will be “ready to go at a moment’s notice” for live shows with fans, according to Moore, though none have been scheduled yet. “The band is well-rehearsed and itching to play but we are still being cautious,” she concludes regarding their status. “Since we’ve had so much time, we’ve actually been writing and recording a follow-up to Take Me but I won’t say too much about that right now since this album isn’t even out yet. Let’s just say that there is a lot more to come, and we enjoy the element of surprise.”
Livingston also sees hope for the future, especially compared to the past year of living dangerously for anyone just trying to survive. “There have definitely been massive setbacks and struggles in all of our lives since the hiatus from normal life, but we aren’t here to dwell on that or complain,” he deduces. “I think we all just want to stay positive and are trying to put our best foot forward right now. We are just thankful to be healthy and thankful that our families and friends are OK, for the most part. There are so many people that we cannot wait to see, things we want to do and places we want to go.”
Whenever that happens for Livingston, Moore, and co., just imagine what crowds might chant while begging for the inevitable encore: “Livingmore, more, more, more …”