All the Right Regrets
Photography by: Myles Boisen
Loretta Lynch is “Americana Noir.” It’s a little tear in your beer, a little knife in the back, a twist of rusty barbed wire wrapped around an earnest heart. Lush three-part harmonies, raucous surf-tinged guitar burnish Country-Folk-Blues originals, and y’all-ternative takes on 80’s punk and classic Standards. The band hails from “EastBaynia,” where one town flows into the next along the east side of the San Francisco Bay. They’re a quintet fronted by a female trio (none named Loretta) who sing in three-part harmony, trading leads, and instruments, backed by electric guitar and drums.
“Home Fires,” the band’s latest full-length, critically acclaimed album, explores the decay of domestic life: loss and regret, bitterness and revenge, earthy humor, sweetness, and occasional spasms of optimism. Loretta has played venues all over the San Francisco Bay Area, including the historic Great American Music Hall and Slim’s nightclubs; Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse; England’s Glastonbury Music Festival; at the Sleep Train and Shoreline Amphitheatres opening for Alabama; and more than once on the nationally-syndicated “West Coast Live” radio show. Loretta Lynch was named on NPR’s ‘Marketplace’ site as one of the “Great Pop Music Artists of Today.”
It’s a little bit front stoop, a little bit backwoods; it’s the art motel on a long stretch of highway… it’s Loretta Lynch!
Loretta Lynch INTERVIEW
IRIE. Take us back to the beginning of Loretta Lynch. How did you get together as a band?
LORETTA LYNCH. Hello, IRIE, and thanks for this opportunity to share about Loretta! All five of us have been in many different projects over the years, and Val was the conduit to getting us together, first in our various living rooms with former guitar player Joe Rut. We immediately clicked – both musically by virtue of our harmonies and mutual love of cooking. Our early rehearsals often involved gourmet feasts! We jumped right into the gigging world and even did a short UK tour, playing England’s Glastonbury festival. Soon after, Joe decided he wanted to focus on his own songs, and happily, Dan, with his own rich history of playing in Bay area bands, was available to contribute his own expert and unique surf-infused and more guitar sound. Nathan, a colleague of Val’s with a trained background in professional jazz and other ensembles, initially joined us for our first cd release, and the fit was so good all around that he happily joined us permanently.
IRIE. Where did the name Loretta Lynch come from?
LORETTA LYNCH. We’re a little Loretta Lynn and a little film director David Lynch. We have often celebrated darker themes in our music; songs with tinges of revenge and bitterness and regret, but also beauty and joy – and humor. Big on the humor. It’s a balm in this bizarre, polarized, and frightening political, environmental, and social landscape.
IRIE. Who were some of the musical influences that helped inspire your original sound?
LORETTA LYNCH. Oh, boy – another thing that unites us is a love for a spectrum of music. From classical to punk, bluegrass to jazz, reggae, and pop (OK, some pop). The well-known, the obscure. We love Johnny Cash and Bach, Billie Holliday and Llasa de Sela, X, Freakwater and Prince, Nick Cave, and Lizzo. Las Hermanas Mendoza. So many more. We are also so lucky to be part of the rich Bay area scene, where you can find hugely innovative groups who don’t really fit into a particular genre.
IRIE. How would you describe the Loretta Lynch sound?
LORETTA LYNCH. Hah! Americana Noir. A little backwoods, a little front porch … a little tear in your beer, a little knife in the back … a twist of rusty barbed wire wrapped around an earnest heart. While we definitely explore the decay of domestic life with its loss and regret, bitterness, and revenge, we serve it up with a healthy serving of earthy humor, sweetness, and occasional spasms of optimism.
IRIE. Can you take us through your creative process when creating new music? Is it a band effort, or do certain members have key roles in the creative process?
LORETTA LYNCH. All three vocalists have written the majority of our original songs, and it’s definitely a group process. Often organic. Whoever brings the song in might have some harmonies in mind, or maybe not. There might be a prescribed “feel,” although equally as often, we surprise and delight each other with our various takes on things – ideas that the songwriter might not have originally thought of.
IRIE. Where do you get your inspiration for your songs? Is it essential that each song has a significant meaning behind it?
LORETTA LYNCH. Some songs are definitely inspired by events, politics, and life, big and small. There are a few “FU” songs – writing can be a great outlet for rage! Life is so full of complexities, and the songs are a great way to convey these. Parenthood and both its joys and the wistful remembrance of what it was like beforehand, wondering whether a particular decision was wise … there is an unending landscape that informs our songs. Beauty, anger, sorrow – and also a hefty dose of silliness. Can’t forget that.
IRIE. When composing a track, how do you know when a song is complete, where nothing needs to be added or taken away?
LORETTA LYNCH. Again, our group aesthetic is very similar as a band, although we bring in a spectrum of talents, tastes, and flavors. And open – we are all interested in experimenting and melding styles. Trying new things. We all tend to agree when they work and when they don’t. That’s part of the magic of this band and likely why we have been together as long as we have. As a group, rehearsing itself is fun. There have been plenty of moments where each of us has commented after running a song that we recognized just how rewarding it was in the moment.
IRIE. Is there a track from your discography that resonates with you most? If so, why?
LORETTA LYNCH. Not sure if there is a “most,” or if there is, it changes frequently. I am sure that as individuals, we have favorites, but when it comes down to deciding what we will play, it’s often the venue and audience that help us narrow down our set lists.
IRIE. What is the meaning behind the title of your new EP, ‘All the Right Regrets’?
LORETTA LYNCH. Can’t imagine that anyone gets through life without a few regrets. And it’s better to regret the things you did than the things you didn’t do.
IRIE. What do you hope first-time listeners take with them from listening to ‘All the Right Regrets’ or previous Loretta Lynch releases?
LORETTA LYNCH. As with all the music we make, we hope that people find something to connect with, perhaps something that inspires them, something that moves their minds, heart, or body. Or it just makes them laugh!
IRIE. What’s next for Loretta Lynch? Are you planning to tour or play local clubs in support of the new EP? If so, where can we see you play?
LORETTA LYNCH. We’ll be playing out soon in the greater Bay Area – you can stay tuned by visiting lorettalynch.com and joining our old-school email mailing list.
IRIE. Is there anything you would like to share with the IRIE audience?
LORETTA LYNCH. Playing music is a balm, and sharing it is medicinal. Here’s to keeping independent music alive and well!