Lloyd United
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Lloyd United

Hoboken, New Jersey, United States | SELF

Hoboken, New Jersey, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Irish Folk: Ukulele player fronts Hoboken band"

How did a ukulele, a Hawaiian-born instrument, get mixed up with traditional Irish sea shanties? Meet Lloyd United.

A self-described “beer-soaked” pop-uke band, Lloyd United is a Hoboken-based Irish-folk outfit that puts the partying back into performances. Their new album is due out in early fall. Called “All Those Lovely Bastards,” might sound like it was recorded live in a friend’s basement, full of “shanties and other drinking songs.” But the lead singer, ukulele player and Hoboken resident Lloyd Gold, said it was anything but thrown together.

“We have a fun, spontaneous sound, so it might seem like the songs were recorded in one take,” he said. “We don’t use [the computer-based recording program] Pro Tools or anything. And I’m picky, so it can take forever.”

“We’ve played on the streets, or in front of thousands.” – Lloyd Gold

The new album is the band’s second full-length endeavor, which Gold promises will sound even more rambunctious when performed in front of an audience. While finishing the album, Gold and his band have been cutting their on-stage chops at local open-mics – a perfect fit for the Irish bars on Hoboken’s First Street.

“You have to put on a great live show,” Gold said. “I’m not going to be staring at my sneakers all night.”

The uke

The Hoboken resident often wears traditional Irish kilts on stage and brandishes a very unconventional electric ukulele. He plays the uke, a smaller four-stringed subset of the guitar family, like a guitar, using various effects and pedals to distort the instrument’s recognizable twangy timbre before rocketing the sound out of an amplifier.

“I transformed my guitar playing style with the ukulele,” he said. The highly rhythmic player likened his style to The Rolling Stone’s guitar player Keith Richards.

“The ukulele has a small neck, so you can really attack the instrument.”

Lloyd United is a five-piece band that includes an accordion, a mandolin, an upright bass, and percussion, although the instrumentation changes depending on the venue – acoustic at local haunts like Northern Soul, 577 First St. in Hoboken, or as a full piece band on tours around the country and the world.

“We’re really designed for everything,” he said. “We’ve played on the streets, or in front of thousands.”

Around the world

In 2009, Lloyd United toured Europe, playing shows in England, Wales, France, and Ireland. The three-week tour was an “amazing experience” for the musician, who said that Paris was one of the highlights of the trip.

“Everyone says the Parisians hate people, especially Americans,” Gold said. “But, I loved the people. They loved us. We were like the next Jerry Lee Lewis.”

The music scene

Originally called My Pocket Zoo, Lloyd United formed in 2000 when Gold moved to Hoboken from Fort Lee.

“People think Hoboken is a cultural wasteland,” he said. “But artists are like the little plants that grow in the cracks in the sidewalk. There’s a great music scene. A bunch of bands all play shows together, and are just trying to survive.”

For Gold, cultivating music and musicians in the mile-square city is a top priority.

“[Many] people just don’t care about music anymore. There are hardly any romantics left.”

Where’d they all go? Lost to technology.

“You see people just sitting on their cell phones all night,” he said. “We’re fighting that 21st century mentality.”

For Gold, great music from the likes of The Beatles would be hard to create today. “John Lennon grew up in Liverpool,” he said. “But what if he had an X-Box and Play Station 3 as a kid?”

When asked if he thought bar patrons in Hoboken were just there to meet members of the opposite sex, Gold had an all-encompassing answer.

“I think you could have it all,” he said. “Get drunk, pick up chicks, and hear some live music. Make a night of it.”

He might just be on to something.

For more information on Lloyd United, go to the band’s website: www.lloydunited.com.

Sean Allocca can be reached at editorial@hudsonreporter.com

Read more: Hudson Reporter - Irish folk Ukulele player fronts Hoboken band
- Hudson Reporter


Their latest effort finds them in typically fine fettle, with supremely bumpin’ funky-wonky melodies diggin’ deep and groovin’ up the proverbial soulful sonic storm, coolly raspy vocals, neatly slow-trudgin’ tempos and chunky boppin’ beats, and more hip, laid-back, casually assured attitude than the law should allow all ensuring that this honey makes for a very satisfying listening experience. - Jersey Beat


Lloyd Gold sings like he's just finished running ten miles. His voice is raspy, cigarette-choked; when it descends to a whisper, you can almost hear the smoke slipping through the wire mesh of the microphone. Backing vocals are glib, oblivious, in tuneful contrast to Gold's bemused croak. There's a moment on "Ukulele Boy Band" when he breaks into a Morrissey impression. It's totally gratuitous, but it always makes me laugh.

[The sound is] Sixties-inspired. The bass parts are wobbly, elastic, hyperactive in places; guitars have a Byrdsy feel to them, and the drum parts come straight from classic soul records. Even the rockabilly-manque "Dreamy Cosmic Doll" is at root a soul song. MPZ effects a calculated chintziness in many places, but when they want to, they can generate a pretty potent sound -- check out the guitar outro on "Starfish", for instance. Whenever it shows up, the ukulele sounds great.

[The] arrangements [have a] judicious use of bizarre samples, a winning playfulness, a sense of humor that pervaded the set without overwhelming it with shtick. The ukulele helps, too -- but so do the copious shakers, bells, and Radio Shack synths. - Tris McCall

"Cultural Exchange Advocate"

The featured act was the always fun Celtic-skiffle-rock-ukulele-fandango that is Lloyd United. Their two sets of music defined their attitude in tunes like 'Kick Your Melancholy in the Balls' and a cover of The Bay City Rollers tune 'Saturday Night'. - Stephen Bailey

"Solaka, the blog"

Tonight I saw Lloyd United, without his band. I liked him. He's a rabble rouser. He plays Irish music. He's not Irish though, and this added an interesting and refreshing twist to the performance.

I bought a lovely handmade t-shirt -- here, I'm holding it up in front of the web cam -- that Lloyd signed for me.

I snuck away before the next band came on. Lloyd's a tough act to follow. - Elizabeth Solaka

"Black River Music & Art Festival 2008"

The last performance I caught was Lloyd United. Wow!! Awesome. Simply Awesome. It was just Lloyd Gold on his electric Ukulele (with Wahwah peddle) and his drummer. These two made more music than any band I saw at the festival. The songs were so energetic and Lloyd pumped up the crowd. He even included a sword fight with an invisible enemy running around the porch and stairs that surrounded him. You have to check out Lloyd United when they come to your town. In the meantime, have a listen by following the link to Lloyd United’s website below. - Will Sickles

"Rock That Uke"

"The World's Greatest Ukulele Boy Band. No brag. Just fact. ('Ukulele Lloyd' Gold is star material!)" - http://rockthatuke.com/

"Pop Vulture"

"Ok, if the New York Dolls ever needed a ukulele player, it would be Lloyd United!! Weilding an electric uke, Lloyd had the crowd right from the get-go. "Your Modern Life" and "George Best" were so full of energy and mojo, and Lloyd was boppin' up & down so hard that you thought he was preparing to blast of into the outer limits. He must have mixed Bosco and Ovaltine with a shot of Yaeger, because this cat was kickin' out he jams on a beautiful upbeat cover of The Stones' "Sway" and his original closer, "Kick Your Melancholy in the Balls." Lloyd was just so funny, cool, and he had everyone clapping along to a few of the songs. It's was just an amazing one-man show!" - Phil Rainone

"Northern Soul offers Hoboken new venue for live music"

The final act of the night, Hoboken locals Lloyd United, features Lloyd Gold on lead vocals and amplified ukulele, Las Vandelay’s Dave Rubyat on accordion and mandolin, and Bruce Bernardo on bass. The band’s unique, high-energy sound fuses psychedelic pop with Irish drinking songs and comedic lyrics, and proved a perfect fit for Northern Soul’s cozy dynamic – loud enough to grab the audience’s attention, but quiet enough for the intimate confines of the room. - NJ.com

"Lloyd United brings the ukulele into the 21st century - and Hoboken"

Mention the lowly ukulele, and you might picture Groucho Marx wooing college girls in some 1930’s comedy, or Tiny Tim tip-toeing through the tulips. But the ukulele has enjoyed a major renaissance in the last few years, with more and more indie bands adding its unique plinking sound to their repertoire. And no one wields a uke quite like Hoboken’s Lloyd Gold.

Performing with his band Lloyd United – with Las Vandelays frontman Dave Ribyat on accordion and mandolin, Riri Hamilton adding Jews harp, baritone uke, and percussion, and Bruce Bernardo minding the bottom end on bass – Gold treats his uke like a cross between Jimi Hendrix’s favorite axe and a weapon of mass destruction. He feeds the ukulele’s tinny sound through an array of effects pedals and amplifiers, adding layers of reverb, wah-wah, and mind-expanding psychedelic noise, set to Gold’s own wacky originals or gonzo reinventions of rock classics. He’ll be bringing his unique sound and perspective to Northern Soul in Hoboken this Thursday, and we wanted you to be prepared. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Lloyd Gold:

Q: You play a number of instruments but you're known for the ukulele. How did you settle on that as your primary instrument, and did it take a lot of fiddling to come up with your sound? I've heard a lot of people play ukulele but they never get the great amplified sound of it that you do.

Lloyd: Ukulele was my first instrument. I started playing when I was about 8 years old. I wanted to play guitar but my school only had ukulele lessons, being we were a bit smaller then. I eventually learned to play the guitar, as well as violin and mandolin. I played guitar somewhat all right - aspiring to be like Keith Richards - and I kept on until one day in a music store, in Virginia I saw an old Martin soprano uke. I felt like Perseus finding a divine weapon bestowed by the Gods. I bought the uke and felt like I found an old lost friend. I basically transferred my hard rhythmic guitar style to the ukulele. I like the short neck of the uke, which allows my fingers to reach a wide range of frets so I can play rhythm and lead licks at the same time. I’m also very much influenced by the Brit-pop bands like Oasis. where there are a lot of open, ringing chords giving them a droning sound. But it’s those Keith Richards suspended chord riffs that I nicked and applied to my uke. The other side of Lloyd United is the Irish drinking songs where I give my uke a droning Celtic feel or I just play my second favorite instrument, the mandolin. As for my live sound. I use a custom souped-up electric Flea soprano ukulele that I plug it into my Vox wah-wah pedal and Trace amp, resulting in a nuclear arsenal in my hands.

Q: A big part of your act is taking familiar rock hits of the past and reworking them to come up with your own take on them. How do you choose a cover, and what kind of process goes into rearranging it until you’re happy?

Lloyd: I choose cover songs where either people can’t believe I get away with it on the ukulele, or it’s a great song that should have been a hit and was overlooked. But a song, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, must be melodic and have a groovy beat that lights up the room.

Q: You've become a regular at Northern Soul and I know you live in Hoboken. People always talk about the "Hoboken music scene" but do you think that's still a reality? Do you sense any sort of community of musicians and fans with so few places to play left in the area (not counting NYC of course)?

Q: I feel Hoboken has a great music scene at least from the musician’s point of view. I can’t speak for the audience. The musicians and bands here in Hoboken stick together and gig together not just locally but out of town. I think the problem today is many that go to bars couldn’t care less for interesting or innovative live music. We are living in the mp3-cellphone-Internet world where many would rather stare at their cell phones then experience the physical world around them. This is also how most people today prefer their music source: Compressed mp3s on their cell phones rather than a kick-ass, thunderous, epic sound of a live band digging deep into their souls and spilling blood from their hearts all over the stage. I think some nights if I lit myself on fire or hung myself on stage, many bar goers would continue their Facebook status updates and not notice. But I don’t want to sound like cynic, I still love playing for the few hopeless romantics in the audience.

Q: One review of your last album read, "if the New York Dolls ever needed a ukulele player, it would be Lloyd United." Seriously, if you could add your ukulele to one band in rock history, who would it be, and why?

Lloyd: It would be Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. Honestly, I love their thick 12-string arpeggios, mellotron, and warped Victorian nursery rhyme settings. Genesis’ old guitarist Steve Hackett is the most unsung guitar hero. He used sustain, volume pedals, and effects like no one before. That cat was finger tapping on guitar in 1971 way before Van Halen. I would love to have added my ukulele to them, finding little gaps of space between their multi-layered prog anthems. The only problem is they were a bit stiff in the partying department. I would have tried to lighten them up with some pints. You might hear Lloyd United from time to time playing Genesis’ “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). Prog-punk uke, baby!

Q: Last year it seemed like every indie band added a glockenspiel; this has been the year of the ukulele. Do you feel like the rest of the world is catching up with you? And do you have any feelings about why the uke is enjoying such a renewed popularity? For years it was pretty much dismissed as a novelty along the lines of the kazoo and Jew's harp, no?

Lloyd: I don’t know if the rest world will ever catch up to me because I don’t know where the hell I am most the time. If you notice, almost every TV commercial lately has ukulele in it. The ukulele is now being taken more seriously. It’s not a just novelty instrument or a1920’s nostalgia trip, but an important member of the string family used in classical, jazz, folk, rock, etc. I like Tiny Tim but enough of the “Tiptoe Through the Tulip” requests. That’s like a guitarist getting, “Dude, play Freebird!” (which I get as well). But it’s no surprise to me that more people are getting turned on to the pure sound of the ukulele. That’s why I love it so much - it has a weak sound but in the right hands it can sound powerful. I think because rock music relied so heavily on the guitar, you figure at some point it may have been stretched to the limit. But making folk or orchestra instruments as lead rock instruments could have endless possibilities in that genre. I hope to hear more in the future. As for the Jew’s harp, the other uke player in Lloyd United, Riri Hamilton, plays a mean one.

Q: Please let us know what you have coming up in the rest of 2010 in terms of shows and any plans to tour or record.

Lloyd: We just got back from playing the Block Island Music Festival, one of our favorite gigs of the year and one we’ve been playing for the last seven years. We are also working on our new album, which I believe captures our rawer live acoustic sound more then our previous works. The working title is All Those Lovely Bastards. Thursday June 17 Lloyd United will be performing at Northern Soul in Hoboken at 10:30 and it looks like we’ll be participating in the Hoboken 4th of July Festival, but we don’t have the full details yet. You can also see Lloyd United live throughout the east coast and we’ll be back on another European tour next year. For more info check out www.lloydunited.com. Cheers!

Northern Soul is located at 557 First Street in Hoboken, near Madison. Lloyd United performs this Thursday, June 17, with Ed & V. Kamentzer, Bern & The Brights, and Rob Nicholas. The show starts at 8:30 pm and admission is free. - NJ.com


Mypocketzoology (LP-2006)
Lord Byron (EP-2008)



One part pop ukulele outfit, one part hooligan prog rock experience and one part beer-soaked Irish drinking song mob, Lloyd United blends unique singing and songwriting talent with a party-til-you-drop attitude that infuses every live performance with more fun than you should be allowed to have in a club. The group brings a melodic sensibility and a unique instrumental take to established rock and pop favorites and deliver original compositions that will have you singing along by the second chorus.