Love In Reverse Change Gear With Words

The trio's psychedelic second album gives them a shot of new energy.

For vocalist Michael Ferentino, 28, the latest Love In Reverse album did not come easy.

The journey to making the album took the singer to a place he has not often traveled -- a

dark and brooding place somewhere in the back of his mind.

"Our concentration is aimed toward the music," Ferentino said of the New Jersey rockers'

recently released sophomore effort, Words Become Worms. "We don't care where

it takes us."

In sound, Words Become Worms is a cryptic journey into psychedelia, mixing a

massive range of guitar and vocal effects with synthesized sound clips and samples.

Wrapped within are chunky hooks, beautiful, layered choruses and industrial sounds

reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails. There are also gentle, pulsing beats that evoke Pink

Floyd or Radiohead and even a touch of XTC, strewn with bits and pieces of sonic

memorabilia from sources as disparate as '70s glam and tribal Indian thumping.

"Words is a statement, to a certain degree, to washing all of that negativity out of

your life," Ferentino said. "I got myself all together and went into it with a better attitude."

Ferentino said he composed much of the album while he was on tour and in New

Orleans. Inspired by the Bayou vibe, as he called it, the experience sparked some of the

music and lyrics. Mixing that atmosphere with some of his own personal struggles -- a

bad relationship and a drug problem -- Ferentino gave birth to deeply personal material

such as "Mommy Daddy Baby" and "Night the Witch Came Home."

"The thing I most bring to the table with this band is stuff that's not rock music," Ferentino

said. "I'm into authentic American Indian music, authentic music from India -- I'm into Ravi

Shankar a lot. I use sound as opposed to just writing songs, just making moods and


The 15-track album is richer in sound than Love In Reverse's first Reprise efforts, and

part of the explanation for that lies in the way it was created. As opposed to the four- and

eight-track setup preferred by the band since its formation 10 years ago, this project was

recorded in a studio with a producer.

That's why, when it came time to record Words Become Worms, Ferentino and

fellow bandmates Andres Karu (bass) and Dave Halpern (drums) convened in New

Jersey and laid down plans to construct a new studio.

The result was full creative control -- and a new shot of energy.

"With our own setup, you have your own time to work on it, you have your own

atmosphere to work around," Ferentino explained. "It's more relaxing. It's more inspiring


The band produced the entire album, except for the first single,


of Motivation" (RealAudio excerpt), which was recorded with producer John

Fryer (Nine Inch Nails) at the helm. "We had done a version of 'Load of Motivation' for the

album, and we loved the song -- but we just couldn't get it the way we wanted it,"

Ferentino said. "So Reprise suggested working with John. We got together with him, and

he got us to redo most of the parts. He really got a lot more out of us for the song."

One of the ways Ferentino plans to recreate the mood of the new album on the upcoming

tour is by incorporating some of the stage elements that brought the bandmembers their

early following.

"We're back to the old light-show elements," Ferentino said. "But there's more of an

old-music element going on for us, with more improvisation and parts of songs that will

change from night to night."

Back when they were a trio called Dog, the bandmembers gained attention by posting

some songs on the Internet. A local radio station played the tracks, and, before long, Jon

Zazula, president of Megaforce Records (and the man responsible for guiding metal

bands Metallica and Anthrax in their early days) took them under his wing. Not much

later, they re-christened themselves Love In Reverse, signed to Reprise Records and

toured with Gravity Kills and Republica. They issued a five-song EP, I Was Dog, in

1996 and a full-length album, I Was Here, later that year.

"It's their passion -- they have a tremendous amount of passion for their music," said

Scott Stamper, a New Jersey club owner who's hosted Love In Reverse many times over

the years. "To them, their music is more like an art form."

For all the emphasis on studio craft, Ferentino says that performing live is what excites

him the most. And Stamper says it shows.

"They're an exceptional live act," Stamper said.

In fact, it was as a live act that Love In Reverse first attracted attention -- in the form of a

steady cult-following, drawn as much to the early shows' trippy mix of colored lights, fog

machines and go-go dancers as to the players' musicianship. The band was recently

awarded two Asbury Music Awards in their home state of New Jersey, including Best

Guitarist accolades for Ferentino.

"The excitement and passion Love In Reverse have for their own music is what excited

us about the band," said Zazula, who is still guiding Love In Reverse's career under his

own Crazed Management firm.