Monday, October 15, 2012

10 Questions with Luther

In just a few short years, Philadelphia, PA’s Luther has taken the underground music scene by storm.  The band released their fantastic full-length debut Let’s Get You Somewhere Else earlier this month and it is easily one of the best albums of the year (check out my review here). 

This interview was conducted with guitarist/lead singer Nick Harris via email October 3-11, 2012

For more information on Luther check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, and pages.

Dave:  How did the band get together?  Is there a story behind the name Luther?

Nick Harris:  Well, Greg, Andy and I grew up together, and all ended up moving to Philadelphia and met Phil just from going to shows and parties in Philly. As far as the name goes, our first bass player was named Dan, great dude. He was super late to band practice one day and when he finally showed he said "I got pulled over, and I got out of the ticket because I told the cop that I was on my way to band practice and if he let me go I would name the band after him," and the officer's last name was Luther. That's not true.

Dave:  You released your full-length debut, Let’s Get You Somewhere Else, on Chunksaah Records.  How did you get hooked up with the label?

Nick:  The whole Chunksaah connection came through our friend Kate who runs Chunksaah. Greg (bass) has been friends with Kate for years, and whenever we'd play in New York or New Jersey she would come hang out and see us. We all became fast friends and one day Kate and I were driving to a show in New York and she just said something like "I would be really happy if I could put out one of your records." Until then I didn't even think she liked the band, just was our friend, but she has put so much heart and work into this record that it was really a combined effort to make sure this album came out exactly the way it needed to.

Dave:  How do you think the band has grown or evolved from the writing and recording of the Siblings and Sevens EP to the split with The Copyrights, Grey Area, and The Reveling to the new record?

Nick:  I think that the songs for each release were written in very different mindsets. Obviously, I feel like writing-wise we have grown, but as a band we have started doing a lot more touring than we expected or imagined. This was supposed to be a project that was for fun while we finished degrees, worked jobs, etc. and people started offering us a lot of great opportunities that we just couldn't turn down. I'm really happy with the way we've progressed as a band in every way.

Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Nick:  I'm a big fan of traveling to write. When we were starting to work on initial ideas for Let's Get You Somewhere Else I spent a lot of time in Asbury Park writing. Philadelphia is a fantastic place for us, but it's easy to get distracted. When you sorta hide out somewhere with a guitar it makes a world of difference.

Dave:  What I really like about Let’s Get You Somewhere Else is the mixture of elements from various different styles/genres of underground rock music (i.e. all of the various genres and sub-genres born out of the original punk movement in the 1970s).  Throughout the record I picked up distinct echoes of bands like Dramarama, The Bomb, and Superchunk.  What kind of bands did you come up listening to?  Are there any bands that really inspired you to start playing music?

Nick:  I was born in 1988 so I missed the boat on a ton of the underground bands that I have ended up enjoying as an adult. Growing up I listened to a lot of NOFX, Green Day, The Ramones, The Misfits; your pretty standard middle school gateway bands that led me to bands like Jawbreaker, Lifetime and Hot Water Music. I also grew up in a house where my family really only listened to the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, so I have a lot of favorites that have stemmed from my love of classic songwriters; Nick Drake was huge for me while I was in high school. The band that made me want to go out and buy a guitar was The Electric Shoes; Kevin Arnold's short lived garage band on The Wonder Years.

Dave:  How is the music scene in Philadelphia?

Nick:  Alive. It really has a great community that loves to support local music and especially touring bands. Another great aspect of the Philadelphia scene right now is that if you live there it's pretty impossible to avoid hanging out with the bands you love. In our neighborhood alone there's us, The Holy Mess, The Menzingers, Cayetano and a couple Captain, We're Sinking guys. To simplify it's just a bunch of guys and girls that play in bands and like to hang out. Hard not to be productive in an environment like that.

Dave:  Do you have any favorite cities to play in or bands to play/tour with?

Nick:  This is a tough one. Brooklyn, Chicago, the Quad Cities are all cities that are filled with people we love. San Francisco is a killer time. I personally really enjoy playing in Ohio. There are a lot of people that are going to shows to see new bands and support them. We've never played in Ohio and felt unwelcome. Our favorite bands to tour/play with are Timeshares, The Menzingers, The Bouncing Souls, Glocca Morra, Banquets, PJ Bond, Jesus there's so many. Idiot Kid, Kite Party, Signals Midwest. The Dead to Me guys have been sweethearts to us since day one. We just played a few shows with a band called Weak Teeth from Rhode Island and I sorta fell in love with them, we share a mutual love of quoting "Billy Madison."

Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question.  What are your top 5 favorite bands, albums, movies, television series, books/authors?

Nick:  This is tough. Okay, I'm gonna give you a top 5, but these will always be changing, almost daily. Also these aren't in any order. And I couldn't narrow the bands down to five. Sorry, I'm the worst.

1. House of Leaves
2. Beautiful Boy
3. Galapagos
4. Factotum
5. The Prophet

1. Jawbreaker / Dear You
2. Lifetime / Hello Bastards
3. Bear VS Shark / Terrorhawk
4. Band of Horses / Everything All the Time
5. Guided by Voices / Isolation Drills
6. Hot Water Music / A Flight and a Crash
7. The Hold Steady / Boys and Girls in America
8. The Beach Boys / Pet Sounds
9. Explosions in the Sky / All of a Sudden...
10. The Green Goblyn Project / Secret World of Parasites

1. Apocalypse Now
2. Rushmore
3. Chasing Amy
4. Uncle Buck
5. The Warriors

Television series:
1. Arrested Development
2. Seinfeld
3. The Simpsons
4. Breaking Bad
5. This American Life (I'm counting both the radio show and the television show)

Dave:  What's next for the band?

Nick:  Right now we're focusing on touring a bunch. We just finished up a tour of the Midwest with Timeshares before jumping up to Canada. We tour down to the Fest with Static Radio and the Arteries and then in November we head out to the West Coast with Smoking Popes. We've played an insane amount of shows this year and still don't flat out loathe each other, so we'll probably keep touring until that happens, and then we'll write a record about it and tour on it.

Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Nick:  Just that I spent a solid two hours on that High Fidelity question and am still not happy with my answers. Shit.

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