© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Needtobreathe's Josh Lovelace Branches Out To Children's Music In Solo Debut


Christian rock and children's music now have Josh Lovelace in common. The pianist of the band Needtobreathe has his first solo album, "Young Folk," and says he's been working on it - well, since he became a father. Josh Lovelace joins us from member station WUOT in his hometown, Knoxville, Tenn.

Thanks so much for being with us.

JOSH LOVELACE: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: You call this album kind of an autobiography. Right?

LOVELACE: I do. Yeah, this record is as close to home as you can get. It's a collection of songs that I wrote for my kids. So it is my heart in musical form (laughter).

SIMON: Henry and Margo are your children.


SIMON: And your wife plays the flute?

LOVELACE: She does. She is way more talented than I'll ever be (laughter).

SIMON: Well, let's listen to one of your songs. This one is "It's Okay, Margo."


LOVELACE: (Singing) It's OK, Margo. Don't you cry, Margo. It's OK, Margo. You've been crying for some time, and I love to see you smile. So just dance with me for a while. Go on and turn that frown upside down.

SIMON: Aw, did this song came about - what? - some late night when she wouldn't sleep?

LOVELACE: (Laughter) Yeah. I mean, pretty much. You know, my daughter Margo just turned 1 this last week.

SIMON: Happy birthday.

LOVELACE: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, she's the best. And definitely, you know, was rocking my daughter as she was crying and singing songs and trying to find rhythms and melodies that would, you know, intrigue her or, you know, make her kind of look up at me. And this was one that she - every time we would sing it to her, she would calm down.


LOVELACE: (Singing) Go on and turn that frown upside down. Go on and turn that frown upside down.

SIMON: And without putting you in a difficult position, do these songs have your children's approval?

LOVELACE: You know what? They do. I put every song that I, you know, wrote for them through a filter, and they were the filter. And so there was a lot of songs that I wrote that I thought were catchy and great that they did not respond to.


LOVELACE: Yeah. These songs were all tested and tried. And my kids love them. So...

SIMON: Well, let's hear the song "Blanket."


LOVELACE: (Singing) Going to wrap you up in a blanket, blanket, blanket. Going to wrap you up in a blanket and put you back to bed. Don't be scared. I'm by your side. I won't leave you. Close your eyes.

So this was the first song I wrote for my son. This was written when he was just, you know, brand new to the world. And so we still sing this song to him and to our daughter. And the record's been out now a couple of days. I'm getting a lot of people saying that they're singing this to their kids before they go to bed. And it's just the highest honor to be able to put into words some feelings so a parent can tell their kid or a kid can tell their parent that they love them and that they'll, you know, never leave them.

SIMON: Another song we want to listen to, if we can, and it bears some similarities to what we hear from your band, Needtobreathe. And this is the song, "Your Love Is On My Heart."


LOVELACE: (Singing) You're always on my mind. You're always on my mind. You're with me all the time because you're always on my mind. Oh, you're always on my mind.

SIMON: Do you think these songs - or some of them - have a spiritual message?

LOVELACE: I think probably just because that's such a big part of who I am. I think for any parent they want their kids to live, you know, their best life and to be looking at something hopefully bigger than them. And that could be a spiritual thing. That could be a - wanting to change the world, you know, I think, as a parent. We all want that for our kids. We want our kids to grow up and do something great. For me just personally, sharing music with my kids and with other families - I feel very blessed that I get to do that. So there is a part of me that is all connected, and it is a very special thing.

SIMON: Yeah. One last song, if we could - this one in particular makes me smile. You might even be able to guess what it is.


LOVELACE: (Singing) A bear in the woods ate my underwear. I was swimming at the creek when I left them there. He thought it was a snack someone left to share. Yeah, a bear in the woods ate my underwear.

SIMON: Now I have to ask if this album is autobiographical. That must have been a frightening afternoon for you.

LOVELACE: (Laughter) Well, it's funny. I've sang this song a lot in the last couple of weeks for children. And the first question they always ask is - is that a true story? (Laughter) So it's not. My wife and I were actually on an anniversary trip in the mountains here in Tennessee. And in our cabin, there were signs everywhere that said, do not feed the bears in the woods. And yeah, so I was inspired to write this song. (Laughter) It's a funny song that I would never be able to write again. It kind of wrote itself.

SIMON: Has making this album taught you anything new about family, fatherhood?

LOVELACE: Yeah. You know, this record is a love letter to my kids. In a world where technology is everywhere and you're distracted as a parent and - you know, this record to me, personally, has been a reminder to put my phone down and sit on the floor with my kids and sing songs and play games and just be in their life. And so I hope this record, as it is for me, is a reminder for all families to just get on the floor and sing with your kids because that's when your love really is the loudest.

SIMON: And don't leave your underwear on the rocks.

LOVELACE: That would be - yeah, that's a good piece of advice.

SIMON: (Laughter) Josh Lovelace - new album is "Young Folk."

Thanks so much for being with us, sir.

LOVELACE: No, thank you for having me. It's been fun.


LOVELACE: (Singing) I never saw him coming. I never heard a peep. While I was splish, splish-splashing... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.