Lydia Loveless guitarist's long-in-the-works record, 'Let's Go Get Lost,' may finally see the light of day
For a couple of years now, when people asked singer/guitarist Todd May about his new album, he said the same thing: “I swear, man. It's coming.”
At a certain point, though, May started to doubt his own response. Maybe this record would never make it into the world. Maybe it was cursed.
So in December, before performing at a music festival in Little Rock, Arkansas, he got out an old laptop and burned 15 to 20 copies of the finished album onto CDs, then had his niece draw an anthropomorphic, stick-figure version of a vinyl record shrugging and half-frowning.
“I took that and made that the cover and called it The Little Record that Couldn't,” May said. “That was the bootleg version, and I really thought that might be all that ever happens, so at least it's alive somewhere.”
The album had more auspicious beginnings. May, who also plays guitar with Lydia Loveless and just recently wrapped up a new record with her at the Wilco Loft in Chicago, headed into Joe Viers' Sonic Lounge Studio alongside several of the musicians who played on his previous full-length, Rickenbacker Girls, including Steve McGann on bass, Pat McGann on drums, Loveless bandmate Jay Gasper on pedal steel and Mooncussers/Fort Shame bandmate Jamey Ball on guitar, plus a horn section featuring Bob Ray Starker and David Murphy and violin courtesy his daughter.
While shopping the finished record to potential labels, May got a bite. “I signed a contract with this guy, but shortly after, before any real work had been done on the record, he took a job in Nashville,” May said. “He left and offered me to just rip up the contract and walk away. I didn't know anyone else at that label besides him. I felt like maybe I should walk away. So it sat on the shelf for another year. .. It was maddening. Especially signing the contract and expecting it to be a thing, and then it goes away.”
But now May, who made a name for himself in the '90s fronting cult-favorite alt-country act the Lilybandits (go track down a copy of Shifty's Tavern), is joining up with Shane Sweeney of Two Cow Garage for a solo tour, which kicks off with a house show here in Columbus on Friday, June 7. And the long-rumored album — now titled Let's Go Get Lost — will finally be available, complete with official album artwork, albeit still in DIY fashion on about 100 CDs. May plans to release the music more widely in the future, possibly on vinyl (basically an updated, more promising version of, “I swear, man. It's coming.”)
In the meantime, May continues to play casually with Shane Sweeney and his Lydia Loveless bandmates in local supergroup DEADnettles. The band has been recording in DIY fashion at Gasper's house, though after experiencing years of delay with Let's Go Get Lost, May said he's keeping any DEADnettles release plans flexible and low-key.
“We'll just record these songs at Jay's house for the fun of it and throw them up on SoundCloud or something,” he said. “If we have 10 songs and people are like, ‘Hey, can you put those all together?' we will consider that. But we're not there yet.”