5 Questions With: Lowmello
On his latest EP, The Albuquerque-based musician dives into themes of redemption and revelation.
Today we’re talking with Albuquerque-based musician Abel John, who performs as Lowmello
A lot of artists wear their hearts on their sleeves. Multi-instrumentalist Abel John put his into his latest EP.
Released via Santa Fe, NM-based Mama Mañana Records, That Sweet Breath is a fantastic blend of introspection and revelation. In an era of only showing our best selves and performative nonsense, John's willingness to lay bare his story of redemption is a refreshing change.
The record revolves around themes of loss, tricky relationships, and redemption- it’s navigating a heavier ground than his previous work. But the majority of the songs sound joyous. That dichotomy makes for a compelling listen.
Opener "Red Lipstick" paints a vivid sonic landscape setting up the next track, “Fool.” That song tells the (very real) story of John's brush with the law following his arrest for drunk driving. Most people might've tried to sweep that under the rug. John chose to turn it into a hard-charging life lesson taught with scuzzy guitar and a killer bass groove (seriously, listen to this with good headphones). He also used that event as a catalyst to focus on who he wanted to be and where he wanted to go.
That's followed by the synth-fueled "26," which will remind you of early 80's bands like Asia and Alphaville while you sing along to the chorus.
"Andrew" recalls his problematic relationship with his brother and the struggles he's going through. Again John's sincerity and empathy shine through, carried on a wave of catchy hooks and melody.
The album's closer and title track, "That Sweet Breath," ends things on a high note. It's expansive and feels, well, like an exhale. The sort of breath you take after you've put in the work, take a minute to take it all in and find yourself smiling just a little.
When you've done it right, it can be beautiful.
I recently caught up with Abel via email. Our chat has been lightly edited for clarity/flow.
Can you fill in a little bit of your backstory? Walk us through what made you get started playing. Are there any other bands that you are/were involved in?
I grew up in Riverside, CA, listening to a lot of radio with my brother, mom, and uncle. Collectively I was exposed to mostly alternative rock, oldies, and classic rock.
I started getting into playing because my uncle at the time worked for Fender in Corona, CA. He always had guitars lying around his house. I must've been around 11 or 12 when I asked if I could play one of them. He plugged a black Stratocaster into a music man amp with a tremolo pedal. That was the day I knew the guitar was something I could use to express myself and get lost in.
I had a few bands when I was younger, but nothing like what I’m doing now with Lowmello. Before Lowmello, I had a band with my cousin called Shopping Cart Club that lasted a few years. I am currently also playing bass with Jimmy Climbs.
I can hear quite a few influences on the latest EP. Who would you include here?
The Strokes, Mac DeMarco, Tame Impala, The Black Keys, Tennis, and Arctic Monkeys, to name a few.
Just to piggyback on that a little, you describe your sound as “creamy indie rock.” What would you want someone to take away from that?
I would assume most people like creamy flavors incorporated into their lives. I want my music to deliver that same nostalgic but refreshing experience as well. Kinda like if ice cream was a genre of music.
“Fool” talks about your arrest for drunk driving and how that catalyzes a need for change in your life. Have you received any feedback from listeners about that? If so, how has the reaction been?
Yes! I have received a lot of positive feedback. Most recently from another ABQ musician who goes by Naekwon. He told me about how he played a show down in Southern New Mexico and was drinking quite a bit that night. When he got in his car to head back home, “Fool” started playing, making him reconsider drinking and driving. He booked a room in town and drove home in the morning! It made me feel very proud of him and of my message.
With the music video for that song, I wanted to convey how serious of a problem it really is. Many folks out here still think it’s okay, but I’d like to remind everyone that your luck will eventually run out.
Albuquerque (and NM in general) might be unfamiliar territory for many music fans. Can you fill in some color on what the local scene is like? What have we all been missing out on?
The current music scene is exploding with many different styles and genres! Lots of artists are collaborating, and everyone is playing in everyone's bands. Sometimes it's actually an issue because I am out a drummer or bassist sometimes because he's playing another gig with a friend’s band. But I’m glad people are out there putting on shows and enjoying live music.
There is so much talent here in New Mexico, and I like to think we are the final frontier. Everywhere around NM has been conquered. This gives us a great opportunity to show the rest of the country who we are. In my opinion, the pandemic really pushed people to create. To just do something, big or small.
What’s next? Back to the studio? Out on the road? What’s the rest of 2023 look like for you?
A little bit of both. I’d like to go out and play the songs off ‘That Sweet Breath,” and at the same time, I’m ready to start writing and recording the next one. The next one will be a follow-up full-length record to 2020’s Big Bang Boomerang.
We are planning some dates in California for the summer and a few local shows here in New Mexico. I also want to collaborate with more artists. Up until this point, my music has all been written and performed by me on the recordings. I’d like to change that up and let others play and record their parts. We’ll see where the music takes me.
1. Describe your music style in one sentence.
Creamy indie rock with sprinkles of psychedelia.
2. What music was playing in your house(s) growing up?
90/2000s alternative rock and oldies, mostly.
3. What are you listening to these days?
La Femme, The Arcs, Lana Del Rey, Beach House, Homebody
4. What are your 5 Desert Island Discs?
The Beatles- White Album
The Strokes- Is This It
Tame Impala- Lonerism
Oasis- (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
Arctic Monkeys- Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
5. If you could collaborate with any artist/band, who would it be?
If I had to pick one, it would be Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. I feel like we could create something beyond my wildest dreams. He is a big part of why I write and play all the instruments in my music.
I was inspired to play, write, and record my own music when I learned that he, alongside Mac Demarco, does the same. It’s a very difficult process but very rewarding when it’s complete. Most of the time, I enjoy the struggle of doing everything myself. It makes me feel like it is my creation, magic, and gift to the world.
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Lowmello- That Sweet Breath, 2023
(Click the record to listen on your platform of choice)
To connect with Lowmello and buy his music, please go to the following:
Thanks to Lowmello for stopping by, and thank you for being here,