Photos and article by Jordan Altergott
Hearing Candy Hearts’ music is like looking through a scrapbook of both the good and bad moments. Each time I have seen them live, a feeling of comradery has filled the air. The sense of community that fans of Candy Hearts and first time listeners share during their set seems to be derived from the upbeat pop-punk sound, catchy lyrics, and pumped stage presence. However, this communal atmosphere really begins at the band’s formation in 2010.
In 2010 vocalist Mariel Loveland left her niche of country music and started Candy Hearts to satisfy a yearning for community and musical codependence. As a country artist she didn’t need a team supporting her but instead could tour as solo artist. Loveland explains, “I really wanted to be something that felt like a band”. But as I sit in their van in front of a venue nearly 2,000 miles away from their home, a sense of family manifests the air.
Four years after forming the band just released their sophomore full length, All The Ways You Let Me Down. The new album has rightfully been received very well. The members of Candy Hearts put their heart and soul into this album, which really shines through. Yet, they are not the only people who worked endlessly to get the final product. Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory produced the album and has worked with the band since signing them to his label, Violently Happy. Prior to recording, Loveland came to Gilbert with 20 songs which they narrowed down to 11 tracks. Gilbert’s opinions often contrasted with Loveland’s. She explains how Gilbert got his favorite tracks onto the record through methods of revision and negotiation, “The parts that I didn’t think were strong in the songs I showed him, were actually the parts he liked”. After Gilbert’s feedback and coaching, weaker parts of the album became some of the strongest hooks.
All The Ways You Let Me Down also stands out because of how evident Loveland’s gift with words is in each song. With her background in poetry, lyrics effortlessly play a huge role in Candy Hearts’ image. Even when asked what Loveland wants Candy Hearts to be known for she answers with, “I definitely want to be remembered for the type of lyrics I write”. So she uses her gift with words to bring people together, either relating over a breakup or losing a friend. While doing this, Loveland never tries to hold back details about the situations that inspired the songs because she believes, “Humans are the same. Things happen in the same way they happen to everybody”. It is with that belief that she can unite people while using the songs to find closure.
A great example of the relatability of Loveland’s lyrics as well as her ability to write songs that are still personal to her would be in one of Candy Hearts’ newer tracks “I Miss You.” While the line, “Our love is like a tarnished ring, even when it’s gone it turned my finger green,” seems to just be a simile about a relationship that many listeners could relate to, the line is actually about a ring that Loveland still wears today. “It’s actually this ring,” she explained, playing with the ampersand shaped band around her finger, “My ex got it for me and I like cheap jewelry a lot. Whenever I was on tour and would take it off, I would have the imprint of the ampersand on my finger.”
I asked Loveland what song meant the most to her and after moments of thinking about all the songs on the album and how they all meant a ton to her she finally replied with, “One in particular that stands out that is super meaningful to me is ‘Top Of Our Lungs.’ It’s about a friend I had that passed away. Even though I didn’t know him for very long it was a big thing for me too because it was one of Chad’s close friends and one of my new friends. And I think that song perfectly captured like the last day we had together which I feel was like one of the last days of his life. Everyone thinks it’s like a happy song about partying, but it was. It was like the best day.”
Candy Hearts have come a long way. From being fans of New Found Glory to working alongside Chad Gilbert and from barely acknowledging the Midwest to playing countless shows there, they have evolved. For the reason that Candy Hearts is made up of some of the most dedicated musicians out there, they have a ton of room to grow. With fall tour dates supporting New Found Glory and other yet to be announced tours, Candy Hearts are ready for what the next year brings them. Then, it will be back to writing a new album and putting out more content because for Loveland, she has to be working on the next thing to continue evolving and taking Candy Hearts further, as a band and as a family.