(photo L to R: Pete Mason, The McLovins -- Jason Ott, Jake Huffman, and Jeff Howard)
I had the opportunity on a crisp autumn day to sit down with Jake Huffman‚ Jason Ott‚ and Jeff Howard‚ and discuss the finer points of their music‚ writing‚ the whirlwind year they have had since being discovered via YouTube for a video they made covering Phish's "You Enjoy Myself." The video spread like wildfire over message boards‚ most notably by Phantasytour.com. It was the people on the boards that gave them their name as well, The McLovins.
In talking with the guys‚ I found them to be mature beyond the high school age they are (Jake is 16‚ Jason is 16‚ and Jeff is 15)‚ and able to speak volumes of where they think this musical journey may take them.
What is the process and inspiration by which you write songs?
Jake Huffman: We'll come to practice with an idea or two‚ and then we'll play the parts we have for it‚ and the rest of practice will be dedicated to getting all the parts put together. We each write our own parts‚ and let it all come together in practice.
Jason Ott: I think a lot of times it's what we're listening to‚ like if Jeff is listening to the Disco Biscuits or something‚ then he'll bring an idea that is in the style‚ like I was listening to Victor Wooten one day‚ and I brought that slap-bass style to the mix.
Jake: We try to branch out and not just play one style‚ per se‚ because we kinda want our albums to have a little bit of everything on them
Jeff Howard: And all the different music that we're listening to at the time will help us create a McLovins song
Jake: It's not like we will copy their style‚ we all have our own sound‚ it's like we infuse our style with theirs.

What was the impact of the book The Phantom Tollbooth (written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer) on your relationship with each other‚ and the production of the album Conundrum?
Jake: Definitely after learning that The Phantom Tollbooth was our favorite book‚ we got really excited over it.
Jeff: I think as friends‚ it made for a closer friendship. We love playing this music together.
Jake: We're like brothers now. We're making music together‚ and like getting a good response‚ we're definitely brothers.

What gear do you use?

Jake: I love Yamaha‚ which is what I have. I'm not sure that's what I'll be playing on for the rest of my life‚ but pretty much all of my gear is Yamaha.
Jeff: I use Fender amps and guitars‚ and Boss pedals. This guy in Collinsville is making me a guitar.
Jason: I prefer Carvin basses.
Is there a brand you prefer or hope to play in the future?
Jason: I always wanted to play on Jaco Pastorius' bass. [laughs]
Jake: I think as of right now I love my gear‚ so I'm not sure what to buy next.
Jeff: In the future‚ I'd really like to have a really big‚ expansive pedal board‚ with all kinds of pedals. And maybe a hollow-body guitar like the guy is making me. Maybe a Telecaster guitar.

Any opinion on the music industry and how the recent advent of technology has changed the way by which bands grow in popularity and develop a large fan base?
Jake: It's definitely big‚ like with us‚ the Internet is a huge way to find bands and new music. It used to be like you'd see a band and really have to travel for them. I mean‚ my iPod is full of new music just from bands I wouldn't have known about if it wasn't for the Internet.
Jeff: And there are so many talented musicians out there that can make themselves known.
What was the initial reaction on your end when fans started getting in touch with you -- what were your first thoughts/inclinations about it?
Jake: I actually wasn't sure if it was OK‚ because everyone at school says "Oh don't talk to strangers over the Internet' [laughs] and all that stuff. I think it was harder for my parents to get used to than me‚ but it's really cool getting people‚ you know‚ writing to you saying they love the stuff‚ and then it's really cool to finally meet them at shows and see them in person.