Lovebreakers: “The world needs bands and guitar music more than ever”

With Green Day’s seal of approval and a sound that embraces “timeless” rock’n’roll, Lovebreakers are ready to, well, break. K! meets the Birmingham punks to talk new album Wonder, supporting their heroes, and winning everyone over…

Lovebreakers: “The world needs bands and guitar music more than ever”
Emily Carter

It’s hard to think of a band who’ve had a better week than Lovebreakers. In fact, it’s probably been one of the greatest of their career so far. And certainly a whole lot more exciting than anything the rest of us have done. Because not only did the rising punks celebrate the release of brilliant second album Wonder, they did so in the presence of their hero, Billie Joe Armstrong. Twice.

“It all feels like it’s come together, in terms of the timing,” grins frontman Jack Perry, catching his breath at home in Birmingham, in the midst of a couple of sold-out support slots with the Green Day frontman and his side-project The Coverups (not to mention surprise appearances from actual Courtney Love). Taking to the stage at London’s The Garage and 100 Club before certified rock royalty surely can’t be the easiest task in the world, but winning people over is already second nature to the four-piece – completed by bassist Christian O’Reilly, guitarist David Robinson and drummer Nathan Smith.

“As an up-and-coming band, that’s our goal,” Jack nods. “We’ve got that Green Day influence, and the crowd got it straight away – they warmed to us quite quick, and we felt like the energy in the room was really good.”

“London has a bit of a reputation for being ‘too cool for school’,” adds Christian with a laugh. “Being from Birmingham, it is a different world. But everyone was really nice. We’ve played London a few times and it’s been a bit standoffish – you have to be the hippest thing in town for people to give you the time of day. Whereas I feel like Green Day fans – and being Green Day fans ourselves – they want to have a good time. They’re open-minded, and they just recognise good rock’n’roll music.”

While Lovebreakers’ connection with Green Day goes back decades in terms of their own personal journeys (“The first time I saw them was in Nottingham in 2002… they changed my life!”), a more tangible relationship was formed several years ago, when Christian was on the road in the U.S. with his previous band. A stop at the legendary 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California brought him to one Chris Dugan – a member of The Coverups, and an audio engineer with credits on everything from American Idiot to this year’s Saviors.

“He came out to see us play, and we kept in touch,” explains Christian. “I’d always send him demos of everything I was involved in, and when Lovebreakers started, we recorded our first record out in California. He didn’t work on that record but he came and hung out, and made some really great memories with us. He’s been a really big champion of the band.”

“He’s such a nice guy,” agrees Jack. “And he’s all about the music. He came into the studio and listened to a couple of songs that we were tracking at the time, and gave us some guidance and advice.”

So, who better to call than Lovebreakers for these London gigs? Or rather, who better to send an excited late-night text to…

“Because of the time difference, I’m lying in bed and this message comes through from Chris and he’s like, ‘Are you guys available on these dates?’” grins Christian. “I couldn’t say yes quick enough. But as you can imagine that night I didn’t sleep. I texted Jack and the lads – I was like, ‘Guys, we’re playing with Billie Joe and The Coverups!’ and everyone was like, ‘What the hell?!’”

As anyone who was lucky enough to be in attendance will tell you, Lovebreakers’ brand of classic-but-modern-sounding punk rock also seamlessly aligns itself with the headliners’ setlist. Indeed, with Billie Joe and co. tearing through covers of everyone from The Clash to The Ramones, it’s also like going through a playlist of what Jack and Christian themselves are obsessed with.

Tom Petty, The Replacements, Rancid…” begins the bassist, reeling off a list of some of his particular favourites. “And Social Distortion – who we’ve toured with. I like the newer punk bands, as well. But stuff like Tom Petty and Green Day and The Replacements grab me the most.”

“Also, something that influences me is just what sounds good on an acoustic guitar,” picks up Jack, “because that’s the way I write our songs. I’ll get them 80/90 per cent down on an acoustic, and once I’m happy, I’ll take it to the guys and then we’ll make it into a Lovebreakers song. I just love that ’70s stuff that you can listen to today and it still sounds great – it doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a tin can!”

Unsurprisingly, Jack’s lyrics follow the same through-line, keeping things timeless, relatable and real – but also trying to see the good side where possible.

“When we did our first record, Primary Colours, it was a lot of social commentary,” the frontman says. “But then my natural character, I guess, is to make a good thing out of a bad thing. As a writer, you want to get your point across, and it seems quite negative in my lyrics but it’s not (laughs). There’s always some kind of redemption towards the end of the song – I get to the bridge and I’m like, ‘I’ve got to put a positive spin on it.’ As human beings we all go through bad points and shit times in our lives, but then you need something to keep you going. And I think that’s our ethos, really: people come to our shows to feel good.”

Wonder itself is an album that makes you feel good, too. Opening with the title-track, it hears Jack captivatingly waiting for the birth of his daughter, singing, ‘It makes me wonder / I want to hold you and see you / I’ve got your number / You’ve got my blood.’

“That’s the most personal song for me,” he says. “When I wrote it, my partner was about seven months pregnant at the time with our daughter. It’s black and white, and if you listen to the lyrics you can work it out. And there’s little clips in there where I actually recorded some of her toys and that’s on the record. In the second verse I recorded Lulu laughing, which is in there. Every time I listen to it, my baby girl’s on it, so it just makes me skip a heartbeat.”

Elsewhere, there’s massive crowd-pleaser Spark, which has already become a firm favourite live.

“If I was an outsider listening, it’s everything I like in a song, with a big chorus, it’s got horns, and it sort of sounds Oasis-y, as well!” enthuses Christian. “I always say that song is like a punk rock Oasis. It sounds punk, but it’s got that big, Glastonbury, on-your-friend’s-shoulders sing-along chorus.”

Really, though, it all sounds huge – and that’s thanks in part to Chris Dugan’s magical touch, having chipped away on it remotely after the band recorded the album in Watford back in 2022.

“He was really keen to get involved with the mixing,” says Jack. “He did one mix and we were like, ‘Jesus Christ, this is next-level.’ And then he ended up mixing the whole record for us, and I can’t thank him enough, man, because we’re so happy with it. He’s got that understanding of guitar music and getting the most out of the song. He understands the genre so well, and pushes the bits where they need to be pushed. I know every band says they’re proud of their record, but it sounds so great and polished, and it’s got loads of energy.”

With such a knack for writing great songs, and the superb addition of Chris’ expert touch, Lovebreakers can feel a wave of momentum with them right now. And they’re not only doing it for themselves – they’re doing this for the good of rock’n’roll, too.

“I think the world needs guitar music and bands more than ever,” says Christian. “And Wonder is a record that sounds timeless. If you like good, catchy songs, then it’s the perfect record for you (laughs).”

Having been sat on the album for a little while now, they’ve already got “four or five” new songs in the works, and aim to be back in the studio again soon. Though Christian says the whole band are “musos” who still love vinyl and full albums, they’re realistic about how attention spans have changed, and so going forwards they’re looking at releasing “a consistent batch of singles” that might one day make up another record or EP.

Beyond that, they’ve a return to London in May, and a slot at 2000trees in July. And then the hope is to just tour, tour, tour.

“We want to get out as much as we can, and play to the audiences that want to let loose and listen to Lovebreakers, you know?!” concludes Jack. “After this week we’ve got so much gratitude with how it’s all fallen into place, and we just want to build the band as much as possible.”

Wonder is out now via Gunner Records (EU) and Wiretap Records (U.S.). Lovebreakers headline Grace in London on May 31, and play 2000trees in July.

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