Intestinal fortitude goes a long way in the music business. Singer-guitarist Michael Ferentino and his Love in Reverse band mates could write a book about it.
The Toms River, N.J., rock trio finished its second Reprise album, “Words Become Worms,” more than a year ago, but for a variety of reasons, the release date was moved six times. The album finally arrived in stores last week and not a moment too soon.
“This has been long overdue,” Ferentino said recently. “A lot of things changed at Warner and we wondered who would stay and who would leave. So we’ve been sitting here waiting a year for it to come out. It was real monotonous, but we just kept working and did some other records. There were periods of ‘Why do they keep doing this?,’ but it turns out that they really got behind the band in the long run.”
Why not? The first single, “Load of Motivation,” is a melodic firestorm of guitars and driving beats in the truest Killing Joke-Nine Inch Nails sense. Elsewhere, Ferentino, bassist-keyboardist Andres Karu and drummer Dave Halpern stretched rock’s boundaries on experimental songs cut in their new 32-track studio.
“The last record (1996’s ‘I Was Here’) was pretty mellow, with some heavy stuff on it, but it was like a guitar, bass and drums record,” Ferentino said. “It was very British pop influenced and took a lot of chances, musically. But what I wanted to do on the next record was take a lot of chances production-wise. This time we got to produce it ourselves, so I wanted to create all these ethereal sounds, pop songs mixed with ambient soundscapes. It was going to be a diverse record but still have a little dark edge that we’ve always had, along with an optimistic pop side.”
Everyone involved knew “Load of Motivation” would be the single, but Ferentino said he and his band mates weren’t happy with their version, so they called in producer John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails, Gravity Kills) to help out. He gave it a jolt of energy and urgency.
Having their own studio was a godsend, Ferentino said, because they no longer had to worry about anyone else’s money or a producer’s schedule. They would work on the tracks daily from 8 at night till well into the morning.
“At the time, I had been experimenting with a lot of different drugs,” Ferentino said, “and now I’ve put it behind me, but during that record, I think a lot of it was influenced by drugs. A lot of times, we’d go in there and record something and I’d get really stoned, come back in and we’d be playing the tape back and I’d say, ‘Why don’t I try something else here, because my mind was really getting spaced out.’ I don’t think I went a whole day straight recording that record.
“I’m not somebody that advocates doing anything that doesn’t feel natural. I have written straight since that record and it’s some of my best stuff ever. It’s not something you necessarily need, but it was something I was going through at the time. Instead of looking at it negatively, I look at what positive came out of it.”
Love in Reverse’s story may sound familiar. Several years ago, the band was the subject of ABC-TV’s “Turning Point,” which chronicled its rise from being an unknown to signing a major-label deal. Their debut, “I Was Here,” was produced by Grammy winner Russ Titelman, and it led to high-profile road stints with Stabbing Westward, Gravity Kills, Republica and Holy Barbarians.
And now comes “Words Becomes Worms.” Ferentino is relieved that it’s out, at last.
“I think we’re going to slowly get to the right audience, people who will get into this band,” he said. “It’s the kind of music that either you’re going to love it or hate it. I don’t think it’s going to be ‘the next thing.’ I’ve never expected it to be, because that’s not what we’re all about.
“If by chance it somehow sold a million records, I would be pleasantly surprised, of course, but that was never my goal. It was always a slow climb. I would like to be respected for my music, and I’d like to keep doing it.”