Jay Luke – Interview
Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
JL: As a fan of such an eclectic and diverse amount of music, I would hate to pigeonhole myself in a particular sub-genre. I am a bit of hard rock, metal, punk, glam, acoustic, and indie. But if I were to give a simple answer I would say I am a rock n roll artist.
PD: Tell us a brief history of yourself.
JL: As a performing artist, I have been doing gigs and writing music since 2003. I have done hundreds of gigs in bands such as The MESS, Sorrowsun, The Stones Of Atlantis, and Reach For The Sky. Early on I found immense frustration trying to keep a band lineup together long enough to record an album. One day when I realized that I had studio time still booked and no band left I began my solo career. I found freedom like I never knew existed in holding onto the steering wheel while assembling and arranging my songs. For my first album, I had a bunch of guests come in to play little bits on each tune. Artists from my local scene as well as musicians I have looked up to for a long time. Two notable artists being guitarist Adam Bomb who has recorded with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks, and Carl Canedy the drummer of Manowar & The Rods. That album was called “It’s About Time” and was released in 2018. In 2019 I released my second album “Vandalized Memories” with a more solid lineup and a single called “Keep Your Head Up Kid” which also spawned a music video.
My 2020 has been as chaotic as most performers have been. I had 53 gigs booked and that came to a screeching halt with the pandemic but also was halfway through my 3rd solo album “Alone In The Crowd” before quarantine hit. While waiting for the world to reopen I did end up releasing a single this year on May 27th called “Trapped In Your Cell.” To date, it has become my single biggest hit at 30,000 streams in just over 3 months. I am hoping I can complete my 3rd album this year and get back to the grind I have been used to for so long.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
JL: I can spend all day answering this one but I will try to keep it compact. Keith Richards, Ozzy Osbourne, Prince, David Gilmour, David Bowie, Ronnie James Dio, Andy McCoy, Michael Monroe, Jimmy Page, Duff McKagan. All mainly for their tenacity and contributions to the soundtrack of my life thus far. Other influences in my life in non-musical life are Aleister Crowley, Charles Bukowski, Jim Carroll, Paul Mooney, & George Carlin.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
JL: From the earliest age, I always had two goals in music. One was to make an album, and the other was to make a living from playing music. The world and industry have changed so much these days that the first goal can be achieved in your bedroom and the second one is as elusive to many as finding the Holy Grail. I have been very fortunate in being picked up on so many radio stations and doing well enough on my streams and music videos that I have been able to pay my bills and to me, that is a success. We as musical artists are always fighting losing battles with a ton of obstacles and it is the drive and desire in our hearts that either let us sink or swim. If you lose your fire and do anything half-hearted I think it shows. When you see an artist who is the real deal that doesn’t sing about imaginary things but the real experience I think that really shows compared to someone just posing and faking it. My goal is to basically keep releasing my own music until the grim reaper comes to take my hand.
PD: Who writes your songs? And what are they about?
JL: I write all of my music and lyrics. I find the process of arranging music and writing lyrics to be the single greatest form of therapy. My songs reflect my experiences and observations. They are all snapshots of my life and all personal memories or stories I captured in an audio capsule like a diary of sorts. My songs are about love, loss, anger, sadness, joy, hope, celebrations, beginnings, and eulogies.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
JL: I am a visual artist in addition to being a musician so I handle all the promotions, artwork, and press stuff on my own. Reaching out to my friends in the music world on radio, television, and locally in the clubs, pubs, and basically anywhere that will have me. I have experienced a huge momentum during the pandemic by performing on Live streams, radio, web shows, local television, and my single “Trapped In Your Cell” doing so well globally. Social media platforms are all very important for promotion but it isn’t everything. Networking is still important to do in person by talking to people and really connecting with fans, and peers. The scene is one where you have to be interactive or you can be steamrolled by the continuous changes around us. Adaptation is the key.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
JL: That is a tough question. I miss the days of coming home from the record store and staring into the album cover as if I was being teleported straight into in and submerging myself into the world of the artist by taking the journey through each song with full attention as if the world didn’t exist around me. Today we live in a world where attention spans are so short that barely anyone listens to full albums or can focus long enough on one thing for more than 2 minutes. It is sad but true. The music world is largely based around singles now and the album art which I am still such a massive fan of has become a mere thumbnail and almost an afterthought to the music. On the flip side, I am extremely grateful that if I release new music today it will be available to fans on every part of the planet instantly. It is a totally different kind of life for a musician now as opposed to pre-downloading days. Things were measured by music charts, radio, and MTV. Not one of those things holds the same relevance today. Success is now measured by downloads, likes, and views. I try to just adapt to these things with the same mindset I have always had. If your music is good that is really all that matters, if people connect to your words and you make people feel, that is something they never forget. And whether life ever improves for us as far as a comfortable living I can only keep on keeping on instead of surrendering and rolling over to die.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written? And why?
JL: I think a good song takes the listener somewhere else, makes them feel things they didn’t think they could have, and makes them feel connected to the artist whether they ever meet in person or if it is just through the speaker on a lonely night. The song that embodies all of this for me is the last song Freddie Mercury ever sang with Queen called “The Show Must Go On” I have heard it hundreds of times and I still find myself with tears in my eyes each time. The band rally around their frontman in his final moment as he delivers arguable one of the most emotionally powerful goodbyes ever captured in music. He was reportedly so weak from HIV that Brian May, Queen’s guitarist told him it was ok if he couldn’t stand up to do the vocal. Freddie downed some Vodka and said “I’ll fucking do it darling!” and stood up and in one take left on tape what I consider the greatest track. The song is a look through his life. The highest highs, the success, the fame, and the journey of a man who knows he is about to meet his demise as his band plays magnificently around him knowing that soon enough the show will have to go on without him. The power of that song is something I hope someday I can come anywhere close to in my own music. Knowing his mortality was at stake makes it all the more poignant. I love so many songs but that will be my choice for the best song ever written.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
JL: I think I go through nearly all of them in my music (lol) I suppose my biggest pet peeve is what I touch heavily upon in my latest single “Trapped In Your Cell” and that is our dumbing down in communication because of text messaging. No one uses a phone to talk with their voice anymore and nearly everything can be taken the wrong way. Typos add to the confusion making things worse. I used to be frightened that I had to have to look out for drunk drivers on the highway, now it is being amongst the drivers all looking down into their screens and not into the windshield. We may not have chords on our phones like the olden days but in a way, we have never been more chained to anything like we are to our phones. I can go on all day about it but I don’t want to sound like an elderly cartoon character yelling at young people. I will say that like all things there is good and bad. To some, they are “smartphones” and used as a way to enhance life while others are in a prison “cell” and can’t be bothered to look up and face real life because the life on the screen of the phone’s light is much too interesting.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
JL: I’ll answer this one as a two-part. The proudest moment in my music career playing live was when my band opened up for Duff McKagan of Guns N Roses. As a child, they were the pinnacle of coolness to me. A band so dangerous, so real, so powerful that in a scene that was growing stale they were a live stick of dynamite. I became a fan as most rock n roll fans did when their first album exploded to #1. Fast forward a few decades and that very man I looked up to on the MTV screen is right in front of me talking about our show together and just the nicest guy ever. So many people have egos that can barely fit in a room but Duff was so down to Earth for being in the biggest band in the world at one time. It was an extremely special evening of live music for me, one that I will never forget.
In my recording career, my proudest moment is that earlier this year I had hit 100,000 streams. Amazingly in 3 years, I cracked a massive milestone That was before my single release this May which added another 30,000 streams. So that blows my mind to know my music has hit so many people all over the world. l may not be swimming in cash but I am extremely proud of what my music has done, where it has gone, and who it has reached.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
JL: As I said earlier I was almost halfway done recording my 3rd album “Alone In The Crowd” when the pandemic hit. I fully intended on releasing the album by now so instead I put my single out in May while working on writing new stuff during quarantine and am still hoping to knock the release out before 2021 as long as the studio stays open. I have 6 songs completed and would like to finish up at least two more.
PD: What music do you have available online and where can we buy it from?
JL: My solo catalog “It’s About Time”, “Vandalized Memories” and my latest single “Trapped In Your Cell” can be heard, bought, or seen on just about any platform you favor. Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Youtube, Deezer, I Heart Radio, Pandora, Tidal, Tik Tok, Amazon Music, Shazam ,etc.