Monday, January 18, 2016

Interview with Ethan Luck

There's no question that Ethan Luck expertly harnesses his punk pedigree on his exciting new EP Ethan Luck & The Intruders. You can download the whole thing here on NoiseTrade and there's still time to pre-order the 10" vinyl version from SuperFan Vinyl too! For our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One, we talked with Luck about the recording of his new EP, what it was like to hand over the producer reigns to Paul Moak, and we got him to tell us some of his own favorite band-to-solo artists as well.

NoiseTrade: What do you think are some of the biggest differences and similarities between your new EP Ethan Luck & The Intruders and your previous two solo EPs, Wounds & Fears and Hard Seas?

Ethan Luck: The biggest difference is, it was the first batch of solo songs not recorded at my home studio (My Garage). I recorded these songs at The Smoakstack in Nashville and it was produced by Paul Moak, who owns the studio. Although I’ve recorded in tons of pro studios over the last 19 years, this was a first as a solo artist. Paul and his dudes took these songs to a place WAY above my expectations. It’s my favorite studio in Nashville, hands down.

NT: Your previous solo releases, while including multiple instruments, feel a little more intimate and folksy than your new EP. What made you decide to tackle this one with the bigger “full band” approach?

Luck: On my first two EP’s, I really wanted to include my love of old country music. I wanted to include other instruments I play and just try new ideas. I’m happy with them, although this new one is definitely more “me.” These songs are more a reflection of what I listen to and have been listening to for so many years. Another reason for going the sonic and style route I did was, that’s how my older songs end up sounding live anyway - louder and faster!

NT: As a songwriter, what’s your indicator that lets you know it’s time to get back into the studio to record?

Luck: There’s no actual indicator, other than the songs are where I like them. I’m writing and recording all the time. Once I have a batch of songs I feel good about, I think “Ok, time to record it.” I’m always coming up with different ideas, musically. I have a few instrumental surf songs, ska songs… whatever. I like exploring everything I feel I’m pretty good at. I like getting my music out at fast as possible too. I hate when bands record and the album comes out 8 months later. It’s 2015, you don’t need to do that anymore.

NT: With this being your first time working with an outside producer for your solo work, what was your experience working with Paul Moak?

Luck: My experience was incredible, as I expected. I worked with him before on the last Relient K album. Although that album wasn’t really good, the sounds, environment and experience were amazing. We’ve been friends for a while and it’s been a dream to record my solo stuff in his place. Paul pushes you, knows what he wants next before you finish something. He’s driven and excited. He doesn’t go through the motions just to get it done. He puts his heart and soul into what he works on. I hope to record there again the next time around.

NT: Were there any differences working with a producer for your solo work, as opposed to how it’s been for you working with a producer within the context of a band?

Luck: With a band setting, you do your parts and thats about it. With my old bands, I would record my parts and still hang in the studio because I like that creative environment. With my solo stuff, I’m basically playing everything. So, there’s not much stopping especially at Smoakstack. I’d finish drums, listen back, Paul would hand me a bass, then guitars…etc. Paul did some percussion, BGV’s and O\organ on the EP, so it was cool to take a break here and there. I like doing it that way. It's almost non-stop all day! If I were to use a full band on another release, I hope to do most of it live in the same room.

NT: Being that you’ve had such a prolific career as a band member (The Dingees, Relient K, Demon Hunter, The Supertones) and as a live sideman (Kings of Leon, Lees of Memory), what does having a solo career mean to you personally and do you approach your solo songs any differently than when you are playing someone else’s songs?

Luck: Well, I wouldn't call my solo stuff a “career” by any means, haha! It’s what I would be doing no matter what my actual job is. It means a lot to me though. It's my therapy. I try to keep my heart on my sleeve in regular life and in songs. Sometimes, I feel I can explain myself better in songs. I’ll never stop doing it. In music, I’m mostly attracted to music with substance. I try my best to do the same. I approach what I play with other bands differently, but can still feel connected to it. It’s like listening to your favorite record, there’s a connection. There are songs that I play with Kings Of Leon or The Lees Of Memory that are amazingly beautiful! How can you not feel something? Especially if you’re playing the instrument you love at the same time. And The Lees Of Memory songs? Forget about it, to me, that’s worship music. 100%

NT: Finally, in a previous interview I asked you to list some of your favorite EPs from other artists. This time around, I’d like to know what are some of your favorite formerly-band-to-currently-solo albums from other artists?

Luck: One of my favorites is Jakob Dylan. I always liked the mellow stuff on Wallflowers albums and he does that even better on his solo stuff. Others would be Joe Strummer (RIP), Mike Ness, Rhett Miller, and John Davis.

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