Candy Hearts is the kind of band that should be blasted out of car speakers on a summertime drive. Technically, I first heard Candy Hearts through my tiny laptop speakers, but the first time I really heard them was the day that their single “Bad Idea” came on shuffle in my car on a sunny day. The song burst out of the sound system, and the fast-paced guitar blended with their fun, truthful lyrics made the sun seem slightly brighter, and my car seem slightly faster.
When I sat down with Candy Hearts front woman Mariel Loveland, we decided to explore a nearby thrift shop. But before going thrifting, Mariel and I discussed her take on feminism, pizza, and working with Newfound Glory’s Chad Gilbert on Candy Hearts’ upcoming album.
How did the band get started?
Well, we became a band in 2010, and we wrote a record with a bunch of demos I had actually written for my senior thesis in college. After that, we played small festivals and weekend tours. We started with the DIY touring, and we found a DIY label called “Kind of Like Records” to release our first full-length. Lisa [Garelick], who runs the label (and ultimately became one of my BFFs), was our manager at one point, and she helped us get on our first bigger tour with Man Overboard. That’s when we really started touring outside of the DIY world. We flew to LA with a week’s notice and recorded our EP [Best Ways to Disappear] with them, and it was really exciting. From there, we’ve just been touring, and we’re coming out with a new record on June 10.
How long have you known that you wanted to be a musician?
When I was younger, I wanted to be an artist (which I guess I am, cause I make most of our t-shirts and our album artwork). But my deal is changing my mind on a whim, even though I plan something completely different for a really long time. So when I was in high school, I built this whole art portfolio and had a scholarship to art college, but I was like, you know what? I don’t want to be an artist, I want to be a writer! And so I went to school for writing. I played music throughout this whole time as an outlet for my writing, cause I was a poet and I feel like people listen to music more [than poetry]. So that’s when I started thinking about it. But it was really after college, when I went touring and released our demos, that I thought, “That would be so cool, I really want to be a musician”. Cause it was a complete lifestyle change for me. I was the kind of person who hated to travel. I never learned where any of the states are, cause I was like, “Why would I ever leave New York and New Jersey?”. Which is completely different from how I am now.
How has growing up in a small town in New Jersey impacted your writing?
I do come from that mindset, and I’ll always remember the way that I grew up. When we were kids, we didn’t have cell phones (well my friends did, I didn’t) [laughs], and we would walk around and loiter places… just really typical suburban stuff. We had nowhere to hang out, and nowhere to really go. And I feel like now, I chose a lifestyle of loitering. Like all we do is loiter in parking lots. And when I’m at home, I stay home. I’m such a homebody. I feel like a lot of songs take place either before the show, loitering in the parking lot when you have nothing to do but find trouble, or sitting in your bedroom, thinking about it. [laughs]
On your upcoming album, All The Ways You Let Me Down, you’re working with Chad Gilbert as well. How was the writing/recording process for this upcoming album different from that of your other albums?
It was actually not different at all. I feel like by now, Chad and I have it down. He’s one of my best friends, and we work really well together. Well, actually, it was a little bit different, because it was our first record where I didn’t write with our old guitarist. So I feel like Chad and I had more creative leeway, cause he’s a little bit stubborn. [laughs] I’ll record the very bare bones of the song on my phone, and I’ll send it to Chad, and he’ll think of his ideas. I’ll bring it to the band, and we’ll play it together. And then we’ll meet up in LA and we’ll mix our ideas. On this one, he really helped me pick… I had so many songs that we had trouble choosing what songs should go on the record.
How many songs did you write in total?
I had 20. I can’t remember if that’s how many I showed him, but I definitely showed him a lot, and we were having a lot of problems choosing. Especially because the way I envision some songs, I’m like, “I don’t think that’s as good as the other ones”, but he’d envision it as the best one, with some completely different idea. That made it a lot easier for both of us to figure out what we wanted.
I loved your Op-Ed for Alternative Press about sexism in music. Would you call yourself a feminist?
Absolutely! I feel like I’m the kind of feminist people think of, the person who gets really angry. Like the bad stereotype of “feminist”.
What do you think about the stigma around calling yourself a “feminist”? I read somewhere that Katy Perry said she wasn’t a feminist.
Well, Katy Perry gets onstage in very little clothes and uses her body to sell her art and express herself, which is awesome. But that makes her a feminist. If she wasn’t, she would just rely on men to tell her what to do. If you’re not a feminist, you’re saying that women should not be equal. I mean, the definition of a feminist is just someone who thinks that women are as equal as men.
And the fact that she’s going out there with her music and doing what she wants to do…
Yeah, she’s a feminist! But maybe she just has a bad image in her head.
Do you think we’re getting closer to gender equality in the music scene?
Yeah, definitely, but slowly. I’ve noticed things changing: more women in bands, more women being respected. Obviously, the media still has a huge problem with the way that they display women, but it is changing a little bit.
What are some steps that should be taken to make the music scene a safer place for women?
I think that women need to stop tearing each other apart, you know? Women and men should allow women to have the same faults as men. Like, a man who can’t sing perfectly, but everyone still loves his band, should allow for women to not be super perfect all the time, or to not have to dress sexy. To dress however the fuck they want! So yeah, to allow women to behave the same way that men behave without faulting them for it.
If you could say one thing to young aspiring female musicians, what would it be?
It’s easier said than done, but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Mostly it’s jealous people. And you’re the boss of yourself, so do whatever you want. You know, with your career. [laughs]
Your “Miles & Interstates” EP included an acoustic version of the song. Though many of your songs are fast-paced, they lend themselves really well to acoustic reimagining. Do you plan on writing/recording more acoustic songs (or versions of songs)?
I was actually playing with the idea of writing a few acoustic songs and releasing them under my name. I don’t wanna say “solo project”, cause I’m so invested in Candy Hearts, but I’ve always wanted to just write a record of acoustic singer-songwriter songs that can be simply recorded, and just be what they are. Candy Hearts puts a huge amount of effort into it, and the recording process is stressful and everything’s perfect, but I’ve always wanted to release the songs in their natural form.
What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on tour (good or bad)?
I mean, I feel like there’s stuff I can’t say [laughs]. The craziest thing so far that I will say is that our van made it across the country and back. Everyone on the tour was talking, behind our backs [laughs], about how we weren’t gonna make it. But all of their shit broke, and ours held up. And ours is the scariest, most dangerous looking van. It’s rusted, taped together, and I don’t think it even locks. It’s really crazy.
As of right now, who is your favorite artist/band?
I’ve been listening to Maria Taylor sooo much on this tour. I don’t know if it’s cause it’s good sleepytime music, or…
I’ve never heard of her!
Oh, she’s a great singer-songwriter with a beautiful voice. She’s a solo artist.
We’ve been listening to the radio a lot, cause our tape deck is broken, like everything in our van. I’m always obsessed with the Weakerthans. Always. Forever. We’ve also been listening to a lot of the Smiths on this tour, cause we all agree on that one.
If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Alright, I read somewhere that if you had to pick one food, and it was the only food you could ever eat, the healthiest thing that you could possibly have, that would satisfy all of the food groups enough to at least maintain life… is pizza.
No way. That’s the healthiest?
Just to sustain life. Literally, if it’s the only thing you can eat, forever. I live off of much worse. [laughs] I mean, I’m sure you’ll have some health problems, but…
That’s really good to know.
I eat very poorly. But pizza seems like… I don’t know. My mom always taught me that it was a full meal.
It’s technically a vegetable, right? Cause it has like… sauce.
Tomato stuff? Yeah!
Is it really easy to get sick off of all the junk food you have to eat on tour?
I don’t get sick at all. I think my body is so accustomed. When I’m at home, I eat like a raccoon, like whatever I can find, cause I’m seriously so lazy. So when we’re on tour, I tend to eat meals that have actual protein, even though everything’s fried. Like literally everything I’ve eaten for the last six weeks has been fried. But I don’t get sick from it.
Maybe you’ve adapted.
I feel like if I suddenly started eating really healthy, I’d get sick from that. [laughs]
Could you tell me about your tattoos?
I have an ampersand that I got when I was on tour, because as a writer, I’ve always connected to the way that punctuation changes what things mean. My favorite form of punctuation is actually a dash, which means “and”. But getting a dash wouldn’t work because it would just be a line, so I got this instead. And then this one [a tiny blue umbrella and rain drops] I got matching with my sister, and it’s because my sister and I have this curse where rain follows us wherever we go. Every birthday, communion, confirmation, graduation… we can never have outdoor weddings. Anything outside. Even tours! It’s terrible.
What is your favorite song that you’ve ever written?
Definitely a song on the new record. There’s this song that I wrote called “The Dream’s Not Dead”, and it’s the second track. I really like that song because it captures the event perfectly of us driving home from tour, overnight from Florida. It took 24 hours to get home, and I think it completely, accurately captures the way me and my friends are.
You recently posted a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Love You More Than Life”. How has this band influenced your sound on the upcoming record?
Neutral Milk Hotel, with their melodies and chord structures, and the fuzziness of some of their songs, has really inspired me. My lyrics make total sense, just like a real story that you can follow, and theirs don’t, but the way that they put things is really beautiful.
Any last words?
Buy our single on iTunes! It’s called I Miss You. You just type it in, right? [laughs] I’ve never bought anything on iTunes, I don’t know how it works!