If there’s a certain thematic similarity between Loverman’s debut video for the song “Blue Blood Baby” — premiering exclusively below — and the 1985 clip for Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” it’s not at all coincidental.
“We were really inspired by that video,” acknowledges northern California singer and songwriter Sasha Papadin, who recently launched Loverman as a more rootsy counterpart to the harder rock he played in bands such as 1955. The parallels are clear; Both videos portray their protagonists as honest working stiffs beguiled by unattainable, mostly faceless beauties — in Papadin’s case a clearly wealthy woman he chauffeurs to a club where he joins the band before shepherding her back home.
“The woman is largely symbolic,” explains Papadin, son of the late Russian poet and activist Valentin Papadin. “You don’t see the woman’s face very clearly, ever. Her character in the song is very much about the an American dream as this untouchable kind of seductress and how we all kind of court this seductress figure who becomes more and more unattainable. Looking at the Springsteen video, there’s so much of that in there and that was 30 years ago. And here we are now, struggling in the same way. I have a day job (in a Sonoma wood shop). I’m a struggling musician, finding myself in a similar state of mind I would assume he was in when he came up with that concept.
“So I figured, ‘Cool, let’s just pay homage to it and make it obvious’.”
“Blue Blood Baby” offers a first taste of Loverman, a trio whose debut album Wings of Desire — the title is an homage to Wim Wender’s 1987 film — comes out Nov. 13. Papadin, guitarist Jake Studer and drummer Kieran Maloney have been playing music together off and on for about 10 years, and the “moodier, loungier project” sees the frontman moving to piano rather than guitar.
Life circumstances, according to Papadin, led to the stylistic sea change. “There was kind of a crazy period a couple years ago where I lost my father and Kieran lost his mother and three other friends all lost parents in close to three months,” Papadin explains. “There was this really intense facing of mortality and it spurred this period of self-reflection, and I found I couldn’t go back to working in the rock ‘n’ roll genre. I wanted to do something that was mellower and more introspective and moodier. So I put my guitar aside and started locking myself in my studio and writing extensively on the piano to try to bring out some of these deeper themes.”
But, Papain adds, he worked hard to make sure the songs on Wings of Desire were not “too morose. I was drawing on things like boss nova and Fela Kuti and things like that; Even though the style of music is different, it’s the way they’re able to bring out these heavier themes of death and darkness and still keep your toe tapping and keep the energy up. I think that’s important.
“We’ve kind of found a sound that really works for the content of my songwriting and feels really great live, too.”
Loverman will start doing that Nov. 9, when it begins a residency at the El Verano Inn in Sonoma, where parts of the “Blue Blood Baby” video were filmed. And though Loverman is his vehicle, Papadin hopes to establish a band identity for the trio.
“I’m toying with the image of being singular at times but also more of a band — that’s why I didn’t put it under my own name,” he explains. “I wanted the Loverman moniker so it appears in a singular way but it could also kind of have this mysterious identity that could be either me or a group. That gives me more room to work under that umbrella.”