How Three Strangers Became Lovelytheband, With 2018's Breakthrough Alt Hit

Mitchy Collins wishes he had a “cool story” behind lovelytheband, the California alt-pop trio he fronts with Jordan Greenwald on guitar and Sam Price on drums. “We joke [that] we went down to Joshua Tree, took a bunch of mushrooms, went on a spiritual journey and then it came to us,” he says, chuckling. In reality, Collins met Greenwald while bar-hopping in Los Angeles in 2016, linking up with Price through Instagram shortly after: “I slid into his DMs, and we got Chinese food,” Collins continues. “Everything was better after the Chinese food.”

Luckily for him, the band has accumulated no shortage of adventures since. In April, they saw smash debut single “broken” top Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart -- a year to the month since its original, independent release -- where it held reign for nine weeks. Since signing to RED MUSIC last June, they’ve shared stages with 5 Seconds of Summer and Vance Joy, performing this summer at Lollapalooza, Hangout Fest and Billboard’s own Hot 100 Fest. Not bad for a brand new group whose members have barely known each other for more than a year, and whose first-ever album, finding it hard to smile, just dropped on Aug. 3.

Lovelytheband first emerged to the public in March 2017 through a handful of posts on Instagram, punctuated by their now-signature red lips logo and a mysterious message: “Welcome to this new adventure.” The trio chose their name partly based on preference, and partly on convenience. Their first choice, Cry Baby, was already under copyright, and Lovely, solo, was already taken as an Instagram handle. “We were like, is lovelytheband taken?” Collins remembers. “It worked out.”

Like their name, the band’s music is infused with similar tongue-in-cheek candidness. While Collins, who is also one-half of indie duo Oh Honey, considers himself a guarded person (“I have the walls of Jericho built around me”), he pushed himself to open up about his mental health struggles on songs like “broken,” which is about shared loneliness. “The making of the album was a big therapy session.” When he first played Price and Greenwald his demo for the track, which appears on both their new album and 2017 EP everything I could never say..., the band’s purpose to bring light to these issues through music suddenly became clear. “Depression and anxiety is something the three of us all felt,” Price adds. “Mitchy’s honesty around that subject is what allows [fans] to connect with [the music].”

Despite their short time knowing each other, the trio -- Collins, 30; Price, 23; and Greenwald 21 -- says their packed touring schedule bonded them for good. Over the phone recently, the three rag on one another constantly (like when Greenwald arrives late because he’d fallen asleep) and finish each other’s sentences like old friends. “On tour, being on top of each other all the time, you learn so much about somebody...” Collins says, while Greenwald jumps in, adding, “Some might say too much.” Like: Price takes the longest out of everyone to get ready. Like: Collins loves wings and Chinese takeout, but he’s not a fan of Thai. The fast friends even share a tattoo of the word “one,” to commemorate their first couple of gigs on the road as a band.

Cara Friedman
lovelytheband photographed on Aug. 8, 2018 at Tramp Stamp Granny’s in Los Angeles.

Now, as the group embarks on their first North American headlining tour, they’re still somewhat bewildered by their sudden fame. The past year has been full of what Collins calls “oh shit” moments: “I went to see Dashboard Confessional play a show, and [Chris Carrabba] was like, ‘I love your band!’” he says. The whirlwind response to their honest, raw sound is inspiring the group to be even more upfront about personal issues with their lyrics. “You can be a new band,” Collins says, “but if people connect with it, you can change their lives overnight.”   

You Should Know: lovelytheband

A version of this article originally appeared in the Aug. 25 issue of Billboard.