This weekend's concert marks the first time the three Loveless sisters have shared a bill in nearly a decade - and the first time the four siblings have ever performed as part of the same lineup. To mark the occasion, the foursome filled Alive in on the experience of coming up Loveless.
Growing up on a farm in rural Coshocton County, siblings Eleanor Sinacola, Jessica Wabbit, Lydia Loveless and Nate Ankrom were often forced to find more creative ways to entertain themselves.
"Most drive-through towns there's usually a stop sign or a stoplight; we lived in a town that didn't even have a stop sign," said Ankrom, 23, who drums in the metal band Shores of Elysium, which will perform alongside Lydia Loveless, 24, the Girls! (Wabbit, 28) and Dead Girlfriends (Sinacola, 33) at a free, Alive-sponsored family reunion concert outdoors at Columbus Commons on Sunday, Aug. 30. "All we had was a restaurant, a strip club, a church and like two houses."
And, thankfully, their imaginations.
In a laugh-filled mid-August interview at an Italian Village bar, the four siblings recounted carefree days spent tromping through the woods to Billy Goat Ravine (so named because an uprooted tree resembled the horned critter), crafting homemade zip-lines (an ill-informed decision that left a young Ankrom dangling from a tree branch by the back of his T-shirt) and, most importantly, writing and recording silly little songs, like a curse-laden rewrite of "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt," a practice that eventually led to the 2004 formation of the sisters' short-lived and still-celebrated band Carson Drew.
This weekend's concert marks the first time the three sisters have shared a bill in nearly a decade - and the first time the four siblings have ever performed as part of the same lineup. To mark the occasion, the foursome filled Alive in on the experience of coming up Loveless.
Did you have family reunions growing up?
Eleanor: We used to when we were kids.
Jessica: They're trying to bring them back. We had these giant reunions where, honestly, I didn't know anyone. They'd be like, "This is your third cousin!" It was a huge Italian/Catholic family with so many kids. It was pretty crazy.
Eleanor: Growing up, if a kid had a birthday party everybody came.
Jessica: Every aunt, every uncle.
Eleanor: I don't think anybody does that in real life, but that's what our family did. "Someone's turning 13! The whole family's coming out!"
Did the four of you get along well as kids?
Jessica: We were inseparable.
Nate: Better then than now.
Eleanor: Yeah, right. Shut the fuck up.
Jessica: It changed a little bit when …
Eleanor: … when Jessica hit puberty and started hating everybody.
Jessica: And all I wanted to do was sit on the floor and listen to Tori Amos and cry.
Eleanor: I listened to Tori Amos! You listened to Savage Garden.
Jessica: I did both.
Eleanor: We all got along really well. I had my own room, but I remember Jessica and I would always fall asleep in the same bed.
Jessica: Lydia and Nathan weren't separate people. They were Lydiaandnathan, an unstoppable hurricane of madness destroying everything! When [they] reached about the age of 2 and 4, we used to call [their] naptime the hallelujah hour and during the hallelujah hour, I would sit and do my schoolwork and [Eleanor] would read and Mom would do whatever.
Eleanor: Get to not be insane for a minute?
Jessica: Then we would hear - and it was always Lydia first - them sneaking down the stairs. But you couldn't really sneak on our stairs because it was this old farmhouse and they were like (makes loud creaking sounds). We'd be like, "It's only been 45 minutes. Nooooo!"
Lydia: I also had a trick where I'd try to go take a nap, and I'd come back like this (squints as though half asleep) two minutes later like, "Oh, I'm still waking up." My mom would be like, "Get back in bed!"
I was the oldest of three, so I was always stuck being the responsible one. Eleanor, did you get forced into that roll as the oldest child?
Eleanor: Oh, yeah.
Jessica: She made breakfast. We were waking her up in the morning, like, "Ellie! What's for breakfast?" She was the only one who had her own room.
Eleanor: And I begged to have a lock on it! However, there was a closet you could crawl through from [Jessica and Lydia's] room to get in, so I was never alone!
Lydia: And our big thing was scaring the shit out of people, so [the closet] was awesome for that.
Eleanor: We called it the secret passage, but actually it's just a closet. It was full of clothes and you could hide so well. You'd just climb in there and put your feet inside a pair of shoes and put the hanging stuff in front of you and just stand there. You could play Hide and Seek and you wouldn't be found for hours.
Lydia: Hide and Seek was the worst game. As a kid you'd be hiding so long you'd literally think everyone had run off, and you'd come out and be like, "You guys are jerks!" And they'd be like, "We couldn't find you!"
Jessica: I remember one time someone folded themselves up into the ladder that went up to the attic [while playing Hide and Seek].
Nate: Me, probably. That was my room. It was a storage space, but when I got old enough to have my own room we remodeled part of it. It was really creepy, by the way. Remember that blue travel suitcase [stored in the attic]? I remember clear as day when I woke up from this terrible nightmare and there was this little gremlin thing on top of [the suitcase] laughing, and I ran down the stairs and puked everywhere.
Lydia: I remember you telling this story.
Nate: I was probably 4 [years old], but it was real. As real as I'm sitting here right now.
Lydia: You probably had a fever and hallucinated!
Nate: Or that house was haunted, and it was a real gremlin.
Was music as constant in the house as people might imagine?
Eleanor: Yeah. Our dad wrote songs and played the piano. We all played the piano.
Lydia: Jessica was the melodramatic teen, and she also had a piano at her disposal. Me and Nathan would be hanging out playing and - I will never forget this - she had this song she was writing and the ending was, (sings dramatically) "Ah, ahh, ahh, AHHHHHH!" Nathan and I laughed for 20 minutes. You could always tell when Jessica was in a bad mood. She had this one song; I forget what it was…
Lydia: And she'd mess up and go, "AARRRRGGGH!" and like slam on [the piano] and walk away.
Nate: And I was just somewhere in a field, shooting an animal.
Lydia: We won't talk about what I was doing. Probably writing in my journal about how no one understood me.
Nate: We had these little tape recorders, and Lydia and I used to walk around and just record everything.
Eleanor: Jess and I would have our tapes of skits we would write together. What was it, the two hillbillies?
Jessica: That was the psychotic country music station we made up. (Sings) "I was going down the road to hell/ To get my cat/ I was gonna exchange it for a dog." Then, what was it? (Sings) "The demon liquor had too hard a hold on me!"
Eleanor: I was playing the guitar and we were just making up all these stupid songs. Then we'd do a commercial break and be like, "Here's a message from our sponsors, 'Bananas are good!' And we're back with another tune!"
Could you tell me a bit about the beginnings of Carson Drew? How did it shift from writing these joke songs to taking the music more seriously?
Jessica: One day [Eleanor and I] were going to write a movie, and we decided we needed to write a soundtrack, too. So [Eleanor] played guitar, and she wrote the lick to this song called "Under the Table." I started singing over it and wrote these silly lyrics that don't mean anything, but it was catchy and it worked. It just kind of fell together because someone deejayed my dad's bar and left their entire CD book behind, and in that book was a Ramones CD. I listened to it and was like, "That's what I want to do, but how do I do that with a keyboard? I can't." So [Eleanor] played guitar and we would write together. Lydia was going to be a dancer and a writer - forget about it - but she was there, and we were like, "We need a bassist; learn to play this."
Lydia: I had moved to a new dance studio … and I was like, "I want to take this more seriously and I want to go to North Carolina School of the Arts because they have a really good dance program." But now I'm also in a band, and I'd always wanted to play music. I remember one day I went to the studio and was like, "Well, I have a show on the same day as dress rehearsal," and [the instructor] was like, "You're really lucky we have two dress rehearsals, Lydia, or else your butt would be out of here!" And I was like, "Oh, well too bad my parents are paying you money to have me here." I stopped dancing after that.
The band came to an end around 2007, roughly three years after it started. Had it just run its course?
Jessica: We had a lot of big plans to do a bigger tour … but it didn't pan out because [Lydia] started to become more focused on [solo material]. And that's great, because her shit is great. It was really blowing me away. Plus me and [Eleanor] weren't getting along. At the end of it nobody was having fun. It was too serious, like, "Where are we going to take this?" That's what happens with bands, but we're family, and we're really close. It's different for us because we can't fight; I don't have anywhere to go without my sisters.
Lydia: It's all a part of growing up. When most people are teenagers they're not making these big, adult decisions about life or where their career is going. For me, it was part of that natural evolution of being a human being.
Jessica: It had to go the way that it did, and I don't feel bad about it. We were three teenage girls in a band with our dad … and it was kind of exhausting. I think it was just time to go and do our own thing.