INTERVIEW: Blacktop Queen chats touring, new album and how Blacktop Queen came to be!
October has been wild thus far and was a huge kick off to even more to come in these last few months of 2019. It feels like every band ever is on tour and more bands come out into the airwaves every day. You have to put in so much more effort as a band these days to really stand out. Make a connection with your fans, create content and one that truly gets the former, is LA’s Blacktop Queen. The band just finished out their first tour as the new alignment opening for fellow LA guys lovelytheband who have had an insane year. Lovelytheband made it a point to take out fellow LA acts for the length of the run and Blacktop Queen is taking full advantage of that exposure.
In my interview with Evan Ambrose and Nate Lotz of the band, we chatted how the band progressed to the state it’s in now, their plans for the future and the surprise album that came out just a week after our interview. With 2019 around the corner, it’s sure to be a big year for the band so keep your ears peeled!
You just joined this tour yesterday. With Half the Animal being in the spot before that. I know it’s been a lot of LA bands going out on some of the dates each, maybe how has it been? You only started last night but maybe the vibe of this tour. They’re from LA, Lovelytheband, bringing out pretty much only other acts from LA. How was last night and maybe hopes for these dates?
Evan Ambrose: Because there was a pre-existing friendship with Lovely, it’s an easier segue into the tour. Because you’re already friends, day one, you’re joking around. Shooting the shit, catching up. But as far as the shows, the way the fans have been, they’ve been so cool. At these size shows, you get a lot more of music fans who want to investigate. They want to see something new also. I know growing up, when I would be going to venues this small, I wanted to know the opener. I wanted to research who was in what band, and who was doing what. I feel like we get that comment a lot. Fans coming up to us at the merch table being like, ‘I listened to you before. I love that song or that song. I saw that you were here with this person or this person’. A lot of research, like real music fan research.
No it makes sense! Obviously I saw a bunch of people buying the hats, people were already wearing them in the crowd before you even went on so clearly people liked the band.
Nate Lotz: Yeah, it feels cool. Especially since this is our first proper tour. So it feels good, you know.
Then like you mentioned before, these past few months you’ve put out the three songs. Only the three songs are available but obviously you’ve worked with each other before. You’re both hired songwriters, you’re signed to a publishing company. So when did you start developing Blacktop Queen? When did you leave the garage rock vibes, when did you start forming this version or this Blacktop Queen? When did it start coming to mind?
NL: Joshua Tree, probably.
EA: We met up, I was in a band and at one point my drummer fell through. We got connected with Nate, that’s how we met, and then later on he called me and was like ‘I want to start a band’. So we got together and just kind of vibed out, wanted to see where it goes and we just instantly connected. Personality, writing, direction, everything. Went to Joshua Tree and were just locked in basically into a room and just wrote for days. Just started writing, working. Basically wrote multiple songs that we played tonight and ever since then, we’ve just been going.
NL: There was a little bit of a stutter though to it. The band is a couple years old but it’s also only six months old.
Yeah when you look online, it’s only the three songs. Blacktop Queen, as it is now, is only a few months old.
NL: Totally. We put out music and it was reacted to really well in the Los Angeles music scene. And because of that, we got involved with a publishing company and signed a deal. And got kind of properly put into the music industry. Which I think we sort of feel without saying anything negative was maybe a little to our artistic detriment. Because I don’t think we knew how to steer the ship anymore. We were looking to others. It’s just weird, when you try to make songs and you’re thinking will somebody else approve? At this company. It’s not the greatest place to make music so the reason we had to re-launch the band. Blacktop Queen was ready to launch and then in Joshua Tree, we listened to this music. It was sort of made for other people, for our management and publishing company. And we just had this super real moment late at night where we were like…do we like our band? Like do I even like my own band? Like high school Nate, deep down, would I think we sucked? And we kind of asked ourselves that and we were like dude we don’t even like the band. So that’s when in Joshua Tree, we made everything that is what you heard tonight. And what is online. That kind of explains why we’ve been around for a long time but just now are giving birth to the whole thing. Music birth.
Maybe how has that been? Obviously you’ve worked together in the past, written for other people, or presented songs for other people. When it comes to these new songs, when it comes to an EP when it comes or when it comes to an album when it comes out?
NL: Next week.
Next week? Sorry I didn’t realize.
NL: No we haven’t posted about it yet.
EA: Yeah we haven’t said anything.
That’s fun though. I think that’s a great way to do it. You see really big acts just do surprise album releases and just be like ‘here’s a new album’. So that’s probably something that has been in the works for you for a while. Maybe when it comes to the writing, now that it’s the two of you writing together, do you each bring your own ideas? Do you each lead songs or do you work everything out together?
EA: It’s usually a mix I would say. Like normally someone has an idea that we’ll bring to the table and say is this worth going for? And if we both like it. It’s very democratic. We make sure that we both love it. We try not to strong arm anything. Being like ‘This is going to work! You got to like this.’ We’ve both got to get behind it so when we play it live, we’re excited. Sometimes we write stuff together, sometimes we bring in ideas and then we work them out together. Kind of whenever inspiration strikes, we’re working on it. So there’s no specific way. Songs are weird that way. They come out of nowhere sometimes. So you got to catch it, bring it in and be like what do you think? Kind of showing yourself nude. Being like ‘Hi I’m here, do you like it?’ We’re both in the same headspace, we’re both in the same mindset. We get each other. So most of the time, when we bring an idea to each other, we both know, ‘alright he’s going to like this.’ It’s good, but we make sure we’re hard on ourselves though. We don’t let any BS pass. We make sure that it’s good.
Keep each other in check.
EA: Absolutely, we have to.
Checks and balances. Then I believe you’re doing about ten dates of this tour, the rest of it really. So maybe some focuses or hopes. Obviously that’s huge, putting out the first full release for the band, but maybe some focuses for these next few months? I’m sure you can’t say much.
EA: I would say even this tour, well the big focus for us, is making sure that we really connect with people. Because we’re such a new band so for us it’s making sure we go out to the merch table as much as we can, meet as many people as we can. If there’s a person looking at you but they’re nervous, making sure you walk over to them and being like ‘I know you’re trying to say hey but you don’t know what to say’. Making sure you break the ice. We really want to develop fans from the ground up. So I think it’s just being really intentional about that. Then also, we just want to push the music. Find who it connects with and then give them love and give them more music. Reach out to them so right now fans are everything. We just want to develop a network of people who dig it. So that’s it and then touring. Next year, we’d love to be touring just all year. So more tours, more fans, more music. We just want this to be the start of a waterfall. So more and more, at least that’s my opinion.
NL: I echo that.
EA: He ditto’s it.