INTERVIEW: Best Ex explains fear of aliens despite UFO merch

Mariel Loveland of Best Ex drops the band's video for 'See You Again' on Monday, Aug. 28. (Photo by Mariel Loveland)

Mariel Loveland of Best Ex drops the band's video for 'See You Again' on Monday, Aug. 28. (Photo by Mariel Loveland)

Pop-punk acts aren't afraid to rock UFO imagery on their shirts, but for Best Ex (the band formerly known as Candy Hearts) the fear of aliens may actually exist.  Front woman Mariel Loveland has used UFO/ space designs on merchandise in the past, and her intrigue into outer space is also met with some trepidation. 

Loveland dropped Best Ex's "Ice Cream Anti-Social" EP this summer, which showed the band grown into a smarter, indie-pop sound, and the adorably nostalgic  video for new single "See You Again" was released this week as well.

Loveland, a longtime admirer from afar of aliens, recently weighed in on the band's new direction, why so many pop-punk bands use UFOs thematically on shirts, and what really creeps her out about the unknown.

Q:  You've used alien imagery in merchandise designs before. What was your inspiration to do so, and what interests you about UFOs?

LOVELAND: "As much as I don't want to admit it;  I'm actually terrified of aliens and UFOs. I truly believe if they're even a stitch as messed up as humans are, we're going to be toast the second they decide to come on down and mess stuff up. I'm hoping they're higher beings who don't believe in war though, and leave us alone to destroy ourselves. I think it's so interesting imagining what kind of things could be out there on other planets. Like, they just discovered a whole solar system with a bunch of planets in the hospitable zone from the star they orbit around. I start to feel overwhelmed just thinking about how big the universe may be. None of it makes sense to me. We can't possibly be alone. Why is it all here? Why is it so big?That being said, I put aliens on our merch because I like what they represent. They definitely represent the feeling of being an outsider. Also, they remind me a lot of accessories and clothes I got from Limited Too when I was a kid, and I love remembering the years where I wore braces and butterfly clips."

Q:UFO-themed merch seems to be a common thing in pop-punk. Why do you think that is?

Merchandise like this 'rad idea' shirt from Candy Hearts is common in the pop-punk t-shirt field. (Handout)

Merchandise like this 'rad idea' shirt from Candy Hearts is common in the pop-punk t-shirt field. (Handout)

LOVELAND:"I think people are biting it from early '00s grunge/pop culture. Lisa Frank had an iconic alien character that I drew on basically everything, though I'm guessing since pop-punk is largely a bunch of 20-something dudes; they're not drawing inspiration from a character on rainbow-colored trapper keepers."

Q: The band re-branded to Best Ex, with more of a pop leaning. What triggered this progression in style? 

LOVELAND: "I hate to call it re-branding because it's as much of a new thing as it is an old thing and the idea of 're-branding' seems gross to me, like it was some calculated move to make money. I'd be lying if I said this progression in style wasn't always there. It definitely more closely represents the kind of music I listen to. I definitely, over the last two years, thought a lot about what I wanted to do in my life, how I could quell my anxiety and still be the kind of musician I really felt like I was deep down without abandoning the other parts of myself and my project. I woke up one morning and decided to go for it -- to break down a lot of the walls I was hiding behind and have turn over this honest, new leaf."

Q:A lot of the songs off EP started off acoustic. How did you adapt them to have more of an electronic/dance-y feel?

LOVELAND: "Actually, all of our songs ever started off acoustic! That's just how I write -- always alone in my bedroom (hence the album name'Ice Cream Anti Social'). This time, instead of immediately bringing it to our drummer and hashing out fast beats, I decided to play with a synth and the top line to try and create something more laid-back and dance-y."

Q:You wrote more songs that were left off "Ice Cream Anti-Social." When do you think those will be released?

LOVELAND: "That's always so tough for me because I go through 1,000 phases of thinking maybe these songs should never be heard by the world or maybe these songs are fantastic and the world has to hear them. Right now, I'm working on new material and seeing how it fits with the stuff I've already done. So, we'll see!"

-By MIKE DAMANTE