Interview: Lukas Nelson talks about his new album, returning to the UK for C2C, releasing an album with his dad and more

Lukas Nelson is fast becoming a favourite artist of mine. His music is a fine blend of all the music I loved growing up and the music I listen to now. Lukas has his own style sonically making it hard to categorise his sound but his rocky edge and country twang delivers a style so very worth listening to that for me, his self titled album with his band Lukas Nelson and Promise of The Real is definitely one of my favourites of 2017.

Lukas has also recently released an album with his father Willie Nelson and brother Micah Nelson Willie Nelson and The Boys: Willie’s Stash Volume 2 which is also very noteworthy and our review can be found here

Lukas and Promise of The Real were in London last month for a show and made their mark with raving reviews pouring out all over media platforms. Lukas and his band will return to the UK in March to be part of C2C Festival and I for one cannot wait.

I caught up with Lukas to discuss his album, C2C and many other things

I hope you enjoy!

Hannah Compton

 

Hi Lukas, how are you?

Hi, I am great how are you?

Not too bad.

Welcome to the UK – is this your first time here?

No, I have been here a bunch now.

Could you please introduce yourself and the style of your music?

Hi, I am Lukas from Lukas Nelson and Promise of The Real. The style of our music some people call Country music, others call it Rock and Roll and others call it Americana. It’s interesting when it comes to defining music or what you’re going to call it as an artist, because no one really wants to be called anything. In fact, artists like me – and I know a bunch of them who are like me – are trying to do new things by creating something new, so as to not necessarily be a part of any specific genre like Country or rock and roll. The idea of falling under a category is more for writers, you know? I try to ask them politely to come up with their own version of what they want to call my music so that I don’t have to worry about it.

It is hard in general these days to pin a genre to any artist.

That’s true. There are some musicians who play Country music and they grow up playing Country music and that’s what they do. They create music that falls within that genre very cleanly, but then you have other artists who play the blues or reggae music, who would fall easily into any genre and would be happy to say they are a Country musician or whatever – but I don’t necessarily fall under any category.

Introduce us to Promise Of The Real and the idea behind the name.

So the name, to me, has a lot of meaning. It first of all is a mantra; every time I look at it, it reminds me of why I started the band, which was to be able to create my art in an authentic way, authentic to the moment, not influenced very much by what we were talking about earlier- by trend, or the idea that I might have to fit a certain mould with my art. It reminds me that I need to stay true to who I am in a world that could quite easily pull you into many directions, based on the trend of the times. The band name itself came from a Neil Young song called Walk On. My drummer and I met at a Neil Young concert and we started the band together soon after that, based on our love for Neil, really. His song Walk On is from his record On The Beach and it goes ‘Some get stoned, Some get strange, Sooner or later it all gets real’. So that’s the promise of the real – sooner or later it all gets real. Seven or eight years later we were Neil Young’s band as well so that’s a nice full circle turn of events there.

Tell us about your current album, because I have fallen in love with it. How has the response been for it so far?

It has been pretty universally liked I think by most people; I would say that most people who have listened to it really like it. I mean, I like it haha!

Me too!

I am proud of it and I think it will be a lasting message from my artistic perspective. I am already working in the next one.

Oh, brilliant!

A lot of the songs feature Lucius – who are Lucius? Should we go check out their music?

Oh yeah, they are incredible, they are really incredible. Right now they are on tour with Roger Walters as background singers, but they really have a lot to offer as a band themselves.

Stefani Germanotta aka Lady Gaga also lends her vocals on the album. How did that come to be – I read you met on the set of the remake of A Star Is Born?

Yes, we were heavily involved as a band on that one. We are acting in it as well as being a band. I wrote five or six songs for that movie with her and also on my own as well, but my main job was consulting Bradley on how to act like a rock star, haha! He saw me at the Desert Trip, which was a show we played with Neil Young, opening for Paul McCartney and alongside the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Who and Roger Walters – and that’s where I met Lucius, too. Through that, the ‘A Star Is Born’ opportunity came along, Lucius came along and then indirectly Gaga came along into my life. She is a very good friend of mine and she loved a few of my songs we were working on the record at the time, so she came and sang on them, as you know. It just became an extension of our musical family through that concert.

You are currently over here to play The Borderline and then some shows across Europe. Is this the first time that you have played there?

I have never played Europe as a band before.

You will have a great time, as European audiences are the best!

That’s what I hear, that’s what I hear.

I am so gutted to miss this show, but I have booked time off for C2C and cannot express enough my delight to see your name being added in the C2C bill. Please tell me you will do more than just the Spotlight stage?

Yes, I think I am doing more than just the Spotlight stage, that’s what I have been told.

 

I am addicted to Just Outside Of Austin – please tell me a bit of the story behind the song.

Oh, thanks. Somewhat an autobiographical song, I wrote it remembering a time when I was kind of hanging with this woman that I was with. I was considering marrying her and we were riding our horses on our property just outside of Austin where I live. We have a bunch of acreage out there with some horses and some land, so that is kind of where it was. I am not with that person anymore but it was definitely a snap shot of that time.

It is a beautiful song.

You got to perform with Eddie Vedder from my all time favourite band Pearl Jam, who I have loved since I was about eleven – when the album Ten came out. What was it like to play on stage with him? Why the song Just Breathe?

My dad and I covered their song Just Breathe and I played with Eddie Vedder at The Bridge School one time, after we had already done it with dad. That song means a lot to me and I heard it and brought it to dad and he loved it. I knew he would, because the lyrics really are kind of all him, you know? Then the performance with Eddie came about, which was really nice.

I have recently argued that Pearl Jam songs can be rearranged as Country, as their songwriting tells stories; it’s clever and genius.

Sure, yeah, well it’s a lot of storytelling – and Eddie has a distinctive voice. He could sing Country music if he wanted to; he would be a pretty good Country singer, actually.

 

You have a very close family relationship personally and musically. Willie Nelson and The Boys, which you recorded with your dad and brother Micah, has just been released. Tell us a bit about that?

We recorded those songs a while ago, then I kind of re-sang them close to six months ago now. My brother did such a great job and it was a real special moment being with my brother and my dad in the studio and I am very proud of it. I can’t wait to see how people react to it.

Did you ever dabble in other genre bands growing up?

Oh yes, yes absolutely, as I listened to so many different types of music, all across the board, which is why it is hard for me to define myself. I think the only reason people really want to put me in the Country world now is because of my father, but if I had my choice I would call myself Rock and Roll.

Tell us quickly about working and touring with Neil Young. We spoke of that briefly earlier, but tell us a bit more, as he has been a massive supporter of your music. What was he like as a mentor?

He is an incredible mentor and the best mentor you could hope for in life. He is an incredible musician and a master of his art. I have learned so much just being around him, you absorb so much from him as a musician. Being on stage, there are little subtle things that are almost indescribable – like just the focus on detail that he has – which are hopefully rubbing off on us.

I do hope you do more than the Spotlight stage, perhaps an after party. Are you bringing the whole band with you?

Yes, for sure.

Will you find it easy picking three songs for the Spotlight stage?

Oh, it is pretty easy, not too hard.

Thank you so much for talking to me today, I cannot wait to see you at C2C

Thank you so much, talk to you then.

Purchase Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real here

 

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