We caught up with Luke Elliot to preview his upcoming show on Thursday, October 12th at Uncommon Ground. The singer-songwriter just returned for his US tour after recording and touring in Europe. We talk about his nomadic tour life, influences, and coming back to the US.
CM: How long have you been back? I read that you were spending some time in Europe.
Luke Elliot: I’ve been back and forth to Europe now for the past two years. I’d say I’ve been home roughly 2 months a year. The rest has been in France, Germany, Norway, Turkey, all over the place.
CM: So I have to be totally honest and I actually hadn’t heard of you until Cory sent your info over but I really enjoyed it. It actually reminds me of something that could probably be on the soundtrack for True Detective or some other show like that.
Luke Elliot: That’s how I signed my last publishing deal. That’s exactly what they said. They said the exact same thing about True Detective.
CM: It definitely has that sound.
Luke Elliot: It has a cinematic, the production has a cinematic quality to it.
CM: With that in mind, how does your live show differ from some of the recorded stuff?
Luke Elliot: Well the live show, it depends. If it’s a solo show, I mean they’re both very energetic, but we play the songs differently all the time, so you know we keep the songs fresh. With the band or with solo shows, we are always changing it up. The record sounds organized in a way you know what I mean, where the live shows are much more raw.
CM: So when you’re touring in the US for the next month or so, is that more of a solo performance or are you bringing a band with you?
Luke Elliot: Well for this tour it’s going to be a full band. We are actually flying in the European band that I’ve been using. So they are going to be at all of these dates with me.
CM: I thought it was going to be solo. So you’ve been writing since you were a kid. Can you tell me a little bit more about how you found your sound and how you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Luke Elliot: Yeah, well when I started writing music, my mom, both my parents started making me take piano lessons and I was always kind of fooling around and creating my own sounds based off of the sheet music that I was playing, so I’d make up my own lyrics or go off and play things in a different key. As far as developing my own sound, that just came naturally after years and year and years of imitating different people. When anybody starts writing songs there’s a lot of imitation that goes on. I kinda developed my own sound, just the better I got to know myself, the more comfortable I got with my writing.
CM: What really draws you to some of these darker sadder topics when you started writing?
Luke Elliot: Well, I never think of it that way. I think other people do that it’s kind of sad or morose or depressing or whatever the hell that is, but I never think of my work that way. As far as what I’m drawn to, they’re just things that I naturally like. I don’t know. I’ve never really given that too much thought, how I choose the things that influence me. They just kind of do.
CM: So who are your influences musically or otherwise?
Luke Elliot: There’s so many you know. Yeah, I mean Elmore James, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, I mean there’s a million, Carter Family. I have an affinity for really old folk and country music and recently I’ve been listening to a lot of that.
CM: Has there been one, maybe one album that has been the most influential for you?
Luke Elliot: I don’t think so. I think it’s been compilations of different things. Bits and pieces of different records.
CM: When you were creating this new album, what was the creative process like?
Luke Elliot: Well for a lot of these songs, I had started a couple years ago and a lot of it really came together with my producer and with this band. So the creative process was going in, kind of laying down the music, writing lyrics over them, changing things. It was really chaotic getting this record together. It was a lot of maneuvering, but I felt like a good portion of these songs were already kind of started before we went into the studio. I had already had ideas for them and then we just lightened them up with a band.
CM: How large of a band is this? How long did you know them before you went in to begin recording with them?
Luke Elliot: This band I knew for maybe 6 months. I didn’t know them at all really. I have a tendency to really change up bands. This one in particular, they were all Norwegian guys and they were recommended to me by different acts I had played with when I was out in Europe, so I didn’t know that well, I just got lucky the guys that we picked.
CM: Are these the same guys who are going to be touring with you now?
Luke Elliot: Some of them are the same. Only one of them is from the record and the other three we’re bringing over. I’ve played with them separately before, but they weren’t in the same band.
CM: So have you played with them altogether yet or are you heading to rehearsal to do that now?
Luke Elliot: No, this will be the first time. Right now I’m just yeah getting all together in the same room.
CM: What’s that process like of playing with all these different people from different bands and making sure everything sticks together once you get on the stage?
Luke Elliot: Well, I know all of these musicians separately and I’ve played with them so there’s a certain amount of confidence in knowing their musicianship but it is different because they’re all going to be in one room together. But with stuff like that you just kind of have to have faith that it will all work out. We’ll rehearse the best we can. Once we get up there we just give it all we’ve got, but I think musically it’s going to be a good fit.
CM: How has life been for you coming back to the US and shuttling back and forth and not living in one set place?
Luke Elliot: You know I was talking to my friend about this the other day and it’s interesting being nomadic. I’ve always been somebody who’s been situated in one place and had a dresser and like a regular life and living out of a suitcase for the past couple years has been really interesting. There have been times when it’s been wonderful and there have been times when it’s extremely tiring. You identify with the place that you’re living in oftentimes. It helps to make up who you are. Traveling around like this has been an interesting situation so I’m very much looking forward to having a place of residence again at some point.
CM: That could be a place where you could draw some inspiration from, I would think.
Luke Elliot: Yeah, you would think that. I think you can draw inspiration from being on the road, but it can take a lot out of you. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and I don’t think anyone really understands that until you go out and do it. Not having a permanent address really takes a toll on you.
CM: Not having one specific place to come to as your sanctuary.
Luke Elliot: But you have to try to find sanctuaries where you can get them you know.
CM: How has that been trying to find those sanctuaries one the road?
Luke Elliot: Some are better than others.
CM: Are you drawn to certain types of places?
Luke Elliot: I mean, I’m drawn to wherever there’s a bed. I can always make a home in a hotel room. I’m comfortable with that, but the interesting thing is crashing on people’s couches that you don’t know and stuff like that. That can get old real quick. Luckily we are past a lot of that phase in Europe. We worked really hard, but in the states, it’s going to be like that for this initial tour. Different rooms, different folks, different hotels, tight buses, that sort of thing. Tight quarters.
CM: What has that been like adjusting to being back in the US after you’ve had success in Europe? What’s it like trying to rebuild back at home?
Luke Elliot: It’s just another place. I try not to put too much thought into it. We did the same thing in Germany, France, everywhere, so it’s close to home. I’m an American, but I try not to put an abnormal amount of pressure on it. I think of it as just another territory we’re going to push through.
CM: It sounds like some of your creative process stems from you being a bit of a storytelling and then starting to play music. Do you have any plans to develop a concept album or a compilation of short stories or do you really view your albums as your stories?
Luke Elliot: You know I think I’m too early on to start thinking of being a man of letters. But writing prose like that but I’ve always thought about writing a book or short stories or getting into doing some kind of film making, bur right now I’m just focusing on making the next record and making as much music as possible. I think often times artists can get very distracted with other things when they should just be focused on the work in front of them. But yeah of course I think about something like that.
CM: Do you have new material in the works right now?
Luke Elliot: There’s a ton of new material in the works. I’m writing constantly. I’m ready to go back into the studio as soon as I possibly can if I can get back in.
CM: Sounds like you have quite a bit of material, enough to get back in there.
Luke Elliot: Yeah, absolutely.
CM: Are you thinking of going back to Europe to record there or spending some time back in New Jersey?
Luke Elliot: We’re not sure where we’re going to record yet. I’ve been talking with my manager about it and the record company. We’re not sure where it’s going to be but I have to make sure I have all the appropriate material when I get in. It’s certainly a possibility that we’ll record back in Europe. I’d like to record it in American though if it’s at all possible. I’d like to get a record done here.
CM: Is that driven more by the producers that are available that you want to work with?
Luke Elliot: I think it’s more driven by just wanting to cut a record in the US. You can always fly producers all over the place, but I would like to draw inspiration from home base if I could.
CM: Any last few thoughts you would like to know about you, about this record, about this tour?
Luke Elliot: Well, it’s going to be a great tour. They will certainly get a flavor of what it’s been like in Europe. It’s going to be a lot of energy. There seems to be a lot of momentum behind it. We’re very very excited to be out there and I’m looking forward to meeting everybody.