The Love Language: My Firsts | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Love Language: My Firsts

Stuart McLamb on His First Kiss, First Time Getting Drunk, and Early Musical Experiences

Oct 07, 2013 Issue #47 - September/October 2013 - MGMT Bookmark and Share

My Firsts is our email interview series where we ask musicians to tell us about their first life experiences, be they early childhood memories (first word, first concert) or their first tastes of being a musician (first band, first tour).

For this My Firsts we talk to The Love Language‘s Stuart McLamb. The North Carolina native is the main creative force behind the band, whose third album, Ruby Red, was released in July by Merge. Read on as McLamb discusses his first kiss, the album his parents wouldn’t let him listen to, and dressing up his dog as a cartoon villain.

First word?

Stuart McLamb: I’m not really sure, to be honest, but my grandmother used to tell this story about passing a Hardee’s with me in the back seat and me pointing at it and saying “hot dog.” I’ll believe that was my first word. I love hot dogs so much.

First pet?

It was an adopted Sheltie we found through some friends of my parents. He was a great dog, but me and my brother Jordan really gave him a hard time. We used to dress him up as Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t down with that.

First broken bone?

For some reason I don’t remember breaking a bone during my childhood. The first one that comes to mind was in college at East Carolina University during a Halloween weekend. I was at a house party with a group of people and some of the guys I was with stole something and ran off without telling me. I was left there stranded and got jumped. I still don’t know what I got hit with, but the doctor said it was most likely some type of metal object or else this dude punched like Tyson. Anyways I broke my “orbital lobe” bone around my eye and it was completely swollen the next day when I woke up. One of my buddies suggested I just go as Glass Joe from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! [video game] for Halloween, but instead I spent the next day in a hospital. I still have metal screws around my eye and it’s slightly numb. The dude that hit me was named Durch or Dorch or some shit. A total asshole, bully name. Payback wasn’t as sweet as it could have been, but some of my buddies threw a bowling ball through his window with some nasty threat letter attached. College.

First person you kissed?

Well, I was smooching pretty early but if you mean Frenching (that felt really funny to type) it was Robin Whitfield. She was my girlfriend for about two weeks in seventh grade. I had it all planned out that I was going to kiss her after our science class we shared together let out. Of course that day our teacher is showing us some type of seaweed and we were asked to taste it and it tasted horrible so I was all worried about my breath. I still went for it but things fell apart pretty soon after that. I always blamed it on the seaweed breath.

First TV show you were obsessed with?

I loved Mr. Wizard’s World. Making volcanoes and rubber band guitars, etc. I also had a book of his called Supermarket Science and would make all kinds of messes around the house. It was education so my folks were supportive.

First record your parents played for you?

I’m not sure what the first one they played me was but my mom has told this story of me being crazy obsessed with Thriller. She said she’d put it on for me and I’d just sit on the floor and stare at the LP cover without blinking. I started to put together a makeshift drum set out of her pots and pans to play along to the record. That wasn’t cool and I remember the record being “off limits” at certain points. I think at one point they had no choice but to hide it from me for like a month.

First album you bought?

I think it was a cassette for New Kids on the Block or maybe [MC Hammer’s] Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em. I remember I went to the mall and bought the cassette single for “I Love Your Smile” by Shanice. I was so into that song. Ha, just listened to it now on YouTube. Still down with the glock hook.

First favorite band?

The first band I remember really having an effect on me was The Smashing Pumpkins. Right around when Siamese Dream came out. I didn’t have an older sibling so I’d find out about cool stuff from my friends who did have them. I think it was my buddy Coburn Murray who played me “Today” for the first time. I’m sure that song will always give fresh ears a rush the first time they hear that wall of guitars come in completely unannounced.

First time you got drunk?

My older cousin Jeff got me and his younger brother David completely hammered when we were in like fifth grade. I’m not sure how old we were exactly but we were really young. All I remember is a bunch of Icehouse and puking on the carpet. Me and David have since then had a pretty good debaucherous run, so thanks for being the enabler, Jeff.

First car you owned?

1987 gold Volkswagen Jetta. Five-speed but third gear didn’t work. It was sold to my dad by one of his good friends and then broke down in like five months. I think it put a strain on their relationship. But I had quite a few “firsts” in it so it’s all good.

First instrument?

My first instrument was my grandfather’s acoustic. It was a Kent from the ‘60s. I used to take it everywhere and I ended up snapping the neck on a camping trip. That guitar means a lot to me and I need to get it fixed up. Thanks for reminding me.

First band you were in?

The first band I was in was around seventh or eighth grade. And we didn’t have a name. It was me and my buddies, Joe McCutcheon, Paul Pettinelli, and James Grieve. Joe was into Metallica and Bob Marley, I don’t really remember what James did but I think he was a better guitarist than me and took the leads. Paul couldn’t play the bass at all but he was still down to just make noise and I think we told him where to put his fingers on most of the songs. He held it down though for sure. The one show we played was at a chaperoned house party with a bunch of middle school punk bands. We were a bunch of stoner hippie kids so they billed us as “Grateful Dead II.” I got in a fistfight with one of the kids that night and we covered “Heroin” by Velvet Underground because it was only two chords. I couldn’t make this shit up.

First recording device?

A Fisher Price tape recorder. I used to record on that all the time. Still have it but the battery place is all corroded.

First time you performed in public?

At my grandparents’ farm in Clinton, NC. Me and my brother put together a performance for the family one Thanksgiving or Christmas. I made a rubber band banjo thing out of a hubcap, rubber bands, nails, and a 2x4. My brother made a drum kit out of some pots and pans and an oil barrel. We set up under a light pole out by the barn and set up chairs for everyone, concert-style. I was probably 10 and he was six. I don’t know if we played other songs or just did “originals.” Unfortunately this happened before people had cameras on phones inside their pockets. I would die to see footage of that.

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s August/September 2013 digital issue.]


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Late Latino
October 11th 2013

Nice interview.
Late Latino

September 17th 2014

I went to middle school with this kid- he didn’t know who the velvet underground was until after college, and there was not a show with a bunch if punk bands, it was a group put together for the middle school talent show and that was the only show they played. This guy is such an idiot.