Interview: Luther

bill bodkin lets you in on an exciting new band…

Luther will be your next new favorite band.

It’s a bold statement, but one we’re willing to back. After listening to their record Let’s Get You Somehwere Else, a record backed both in terms of production and label by the iconic N.J. punk outfit The Bouncing Souls, we were immediately struck with an overwhelming and almost indescribable sense of love for this band out of Philly. Their sound harkens back to the early 00s when really good, meaningful rock ‘n’ roll music was being produced, albeit shadowed by the sludgy juggernaut that was nu metal.

Luther’s fresh, immediate, bold and melodic sound has such an infectious energy to it, that if you aren’t in love with this band after listening to them, you probably don’t know what love truly is.

Okay, that was a bit harsh, but you get our point.

This is the type of band you’ve been waiting for, the type of band that for some cosmic reason you want to jump up and scream “Yes! This is the band!” It’s that welcome eureka moment that you’ve been missing from your musical life for quite some time — especially if you’re on those rock ‘n’ roll fans who wander the music wastelands, mouth agape, wondering when your brand of music will move your soul again.

Tomorrow night, October 20, Luther rolls into the famed Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey, so we caught up the Nick, Luther’s singer/guitarist, to talk about the band’s constant touring, Arrested Development and The Bouncing Souls.

Pop-Break: We’ll start with the easiest of questions first. It’s the time honored questions of — tell us about the story behind the name of the band?

Nick: Well, when we first started the band we needed a place to practice. Our old bass player Dan found a squat house in North Philly that had an attached garage that we could practice in. The landlord was this shady Irish dude named Luther that would always pound on the door when we were practicing and try to sell us “crank” and pills. That’s not true.

PB: Your sound is absolutely phenomenal. It’s this beautifully fresh piece of rock ‘n’ roll that I haven’t heard in what seems like eons. Can you talk about how you developed this sound — the influences you drew from and what it is about this sound that you guys love.

Nick: We all have really different tastes in music. There’s a lot of musical ground that we all share; Explosions in the Sky, Death Cab for Cutie, None More Black, Lifetime, Baroness, Jimmy Eat World, but when we’re home I doubt that any of us are listening to the same record at the same time. Our writing process has never been an attempt to sound like any band in particular, or try to sound super obscure or different. I’d like to think we all just do what will compliment the song and keep it interesting for us to play.

PB: The Bouncing Souls are a very big part of your new record. Can you talk about the moment they approached you and said they wanted to sign you to their label and that they wanted to produce your record?

Nick: Greg (bass) has been friends with Kate who manages the Souls and runs Chunksaah for a while. When we first started we played in New York and New Jersey a ton Kate would come and hang out. After a while we all became pretty good friends. So, Kate and I were driving to go see Wilco in New York and she just sorta said “I’d be pleased if I could release one of your records” and it was a little outta left field since I’d just figured she was a show-goer and a bud, but it turned out she loved our band. At that point we had played with the Souls a couple of times and right off the bat all of their dudes got along with all of our dudes, treated us like family right off the bat. So obviously we said “yes! You can totally release our record” and a couple days later Kate told me that she brought it up to Pete and he said he would be really into producing it.

PB: Talk about working with Pete Steinkopf of The Souls in studio — what did he bring to the table for you guys as a producer?

Nick: More than anything, Pete brought patience to the table. We are used to doing things pretty quick and dirty. We recorded our first record in three days. For Let’s Get You Somewhere Else we spent over a month basically living in Asbury and just shutting out everything that wasn’t the record. It was a really intense way to go about it, but Pete is such a relaxed and focused person that a situation that could have been nerve racking and overwhelming turned out to be engrossing and productive. He was super encouraging as well. I lost my voice half way through tracking vocals and was stressing super hard about it. Pete was just like “no worries, let’s take a couple days off, chill and we’ll get it when it’s time,” we’d never been in a situation where it was possible to take a couple days of from recording and just sit on the beach or relax. He was such an essential part of our band for that time period, and honestly, he still is.

PB: You’ve toured with some amazing bands in your short career like The Souls and Hot Water Music. What band have you learned the most from — whether it be about life, the music industry, touring, etc.

Nick: While playing with the Souls and Hot Water Music are things I never thought we’d ever be able to do, the band that has supported us since our first show has been The Menzingers. They’re a great model for how a band should work and they’re just great friends and neighbors. We don’t really have a manager, so whenever we get offered a tour or something that we’re not sure about, we have a laundry list of people who know what they’re doing way more than we do; usually a Menzinger or two are among the first to get a phone call.

PB: What is it about Luther that you feel makes you stand out from all the other bands out there in the scene today?

Nick: That’s a tough question to answer. I think we are probably taller than the average band in the underground rock scene. I’d actually be tempted to put money on that. We’re at a combined height of around 24.5 feet.

What’s the one song off the new record that you would recommend someone’s who’s never heard you before? A song that you feel really captures the essence of Luther. You can put Luther’s music can be used in any television show out there today — what show would you want it to be in and why?

Nick: This is the easiest question ever. I would die a happy person if our music was used in the season of Arrested Development that is in production right now. When we first started I was obsessed with that show, I still am. Sure, that show is funny, but the story line is so unique and complicated.

You guys are known for touring like crazy…so what’s the most insane thing to happen to you on tour?

Nick: Every tour has something happen on it that inevitably becomes something we just can’t stop talking about. It’s really hard to narrow them down, you see, we’re idiots that find almost everything funny in some way. As of recent I’ll say watching our friend Jon from Timeshares get hit in the stomach with a skillet in a roomful of people in Rochester, NY.

And finally, what’s your plans for the rest of 2012?

Nick: We just finished up a Midwest tour with Timeshares and a Canadian tour with The Bouncing Souls and Dave Hause, and we’re in the van right now driving back to Philadelphia to tour down to the Fest in Gainesville. After that we do the west coast and Texas with Smoking Popes. Once we come home from that I think we’re going to chill out for the remainder of the year and take some time to be people for a minute. We’ve basically been on tour since May with a couple weeks off here and there, which is a really long time for any band, especially one that makes little to no money.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites