Unsung Melody recently had the opportunity to speak with J. Loren Wince, vocalist of Hurt, about his new project with Michael Roberts, Arco’s Angel. The lengthy conversation covered a variety of topics. He spoke at length about the recording of Arco’s Angel’s debut album Life’s Love Loss. I’ve since had the chance to purchase my copy of the album, you can read my thoughts on the album here.
Give us a little insight into your thoughts on the Arco’s Angel project.
I think this is something really good. Even though I definitely can say I put my hardest into anything I have done as far as anything that anybody has ever heard from Hurt. This is a different kind of putting myself into any kind of freedom as far as a writing perspective.
How did the project come together?
The biography is pretty much verbatim what happened. Michael was writing this music, and didn’t have a voice or lyrics yet. I was challenged to do minimal rearrangement over something that he was passionate about and believed in. We got to be creative together. There is a pool of thought out there that everybody pulls from. It’s kind of weird because you can not be near a radio and you’ll write a song, and simultaneously, somebody else will write a similar song. It’s not like you were influenced subconsciously. This happens to me a lot with the Deftones. Michael and I tapped into that, and I thought it was a really cool thing. We got to do some writing that wasn’t necessarily about things that I completely know about. It was more like short story kind of writing. I’m a fan of short story authors, and I think some of it shows through that. It’s kind of talking around the subject and at the same time I have the ability to talk directly in a narrative mind for the first time. The topics are extremely varied on the album.
Were the songs written quickly?
Some of these songs took three or four revisions. I start off with an idea, and I’d come to him and say “I know this sounds crazy, but this is the vibe I’m getting,” and write him a short story and hand it to him. He’d say “Okay, I can feel that vibe.” Then we would kind of make it fit the music because these thoughts start to come out to us. We were definitely working together on it. It was really good to be in that kind of environment. With Hurt, we’re very focused on being pure, being true. We’re scared to go off path because somebody can detect any kind of insincerity in something that honest, and that spoken. At the same time, that kind of result leads to a certain insincerity because you don’t get to explore certain aspects of things that you think about; Your imagination and what-ifs. I thought it was a really fantastic process working with Michael.
There will be obvious similarities between Arco’s Angel and Hurt, but are there many deviations?
Obviously, our first love is Hurt. That’s what fans expect from us, but at the same time, we don’t just punch out a little punch-card at the end of the day and say “Hey, we’re done making music.” Arco’s Angel was kind of inevitable. It was just what we chose to put our time towards when we’re not writing other tunes. We all have a bunch of tunes that may never see the light of day, but with these, we thought that everybody can understand. They really are pretty deep. It was never designed for a “verse chorus verse” rock radio kind of thing. I was very surprised, last night two stations added it. A couple more will today. This wasn’t something we were really trying to push. I didn’t expect anyone to get it. It was just something that came from the soul, came from the heart, and Arco’s was the best thing to do.
Your lyrics are usually pretty dark. Is that a theme that continues in this project?
I have to admit that I’m a pessimist. I mean, come on. Would you expect anyone coming from a band named Hurt to be that optimistic? But, at the same time, there is a part of me that believes that people will see through the bullshit. In the same way, we got to do production techniques that we didn’t get to do on The Crux. I’m singing on these beautiful, nice microphones and using recording techniques that are typically used in pop. It’s so strange that I was shying away from that in Hurt. In Hurt, we’re up in the forefront, doing something you may hear on the radio. This material is so far removed, I wasn’t worried about sounding similar to any of that. The biggest surprise to me is that a couple of people got back to me and said “This sounds like Hurt.” I’m like, “Wow! I don’t know what to tell you.” A completely different dude wrote all the music, and all I did was write the lyrics and melodies. I understand that it’s my voice, and a lot of people think my voice is very indicative. But at the same time I think it’s a very small amount of time that you can listen through and realize that it is something else. If I had to liken it to something, it would be like saying that Temple of the Dog sounds like Soundgarden or Pearl Jam, but it doesn’t. Once you get the album, you’re like “No.”
On Life’s Love Loss, it displays one of the darkest songs I’ve written. In fact, the darkest song I’ve written since Rapture. It was so disturbing that when I wrote it, that everybody in the entire household kept having mental breakdowns. I’m not saying that in a light way. People had to leave the house, they were begging us to stop the recording of it. In fact, the middle bridge of the song, we had to keep the takes we had because we couldn’t keep going. It was disturbing everybody. It was sort of like the audio version of “Poltergeist.” I know it sounds bizarre, but you had to be there. It was really, truly troubling. That song was “The Rose”, and it was bothering everybody around us. Apparently it touched a nerve of that little pool we talked about, like reaching into the sky for ‘artist-land.’ That place had been floating in a lot of people’s heads, and it was a little too close to home for them. I’m not shitting you! I wouldn’t shit you! I could not continue doing it. I broke down a few times. Michael could not record for a while. He had to take a break. Our roommate upstairs, who will remain nameless, could not take it. It lead to some really weird times. This was coinciding with The Crux, that was already putting pressure on my band. It was just a really weird vibe going on in the house, and it lasted the week that it took to record it. Every time we would go back to touch it up, it would get creepier and creepier and we just couldn’t do it.
You teamed up with Jay Rushing, a friend of the site and owner of Tunelab.Com. He’s helping release the digital end of things. How did that whole situation come about?
I’ve known Jay Rushing for a couple of years. He tried to work hand in hand with bands a lot of time, and in doing so, he discovered the true motives behind what the bands are really trying to accomplish. I can’t speak for him, but I know he loves music, and he’s very open minded to music of all sorts. I know that he loved our music, and he was over doing an interview with us about The Crux, very early on. He showed interest and somewhere along the lines of the process, he gave us some ideas. He was like, “Hey, if you want to put it out this way, I’ll be willing to help you.” He didn’t want anything from us, just trying to help. That sounds too good to be true in the first place. A little further down the line, and mind you, this was three years in production for Arco’s Angel. We talked to him and asked if he was still doing these things. And he said he was disgusted after talking to a lot of bands and learning what their real prerogative is, and he just didn’t want to do it anymore. He looked at us and said, “But you guys aren’t those guys, so yeah, let’s do it!”
Thanks again to J. Loren for giving Unsung Melody the time to sit down and talk about this record! It’s always a pleasure!
Sneak Peak of “Life’s Love Loss”: