@roxipowellLuke Wade comes from a family filled with creative talent, so it's no wonder he turned to a life of music. But he was not always so sure of his path, and for a while studied economics, astronomy, and physics. Music, for him, is a way to share his stories and knowledge with his fans. If you go to his website, excerpts of his songs are available to listen, and you can judge for yourself the profound nature of his lyrical choices. His newest album, "The River," is set to release on March 21st, and will have release shows around the country, so fans can enjoy buying a physical copy of the CD. As with all CDs, the inner sleeve/pamphlet will contain pictures of Luke Wade and The Civilians, along with song titles and musical credits. There's just something about holding a finished product in your hand, and knowing that someone's heart went in to making it possible. We had the unique opportunity to talk with Luke about his new album, and what this would mean for his career moving forward.
PW: I saw that you had economy and astronomy in your background, and I wondered if that influenced your music at all?I don't know if it influenced it so much as it's part of the same process that got me to the point where I'm making music. My parents were pretty unconventional people--my dad was going to be a Priest, and then he wasn't going to be a Priest, and then he got into the Eastern Buddihsm--and I guess by the time I was in high school, it made it's way into all facts of life. So we didn't go to traditional Western doctors. And I was Mr. Science Guy, and one of the Chinese doctors diagnosed me as needing to find a god. I was like the dude from Nacho Libre--"I believe in science"--and so it was just that pursuit of my truth. To take science to the point where I could kind of figure out what it could do for me. And I realized that my truth was understanding my relationship to other people and my relationship with myself. So it built the foundation and that perspective that I use to create art.
PW: Very cool! That kind of builds on my next question. I noticed that a lot of your songs build on a bigger message--focusing on one thing, and having that be a metaphor for something bigger. Would you say that that's what your newest album, "The River," is going to be about--discovering how individuality can better the whole?Yeah, I guess the individuality comes from how I like to shine a light, or magnify a small idea and kind of take it and make it part of the whole picture. Or take a small thing and show people how it's a big thing. Explicitly, my journey while I was writing these songs was--in my late twenties--whenever your life currency turns from being what your potential is to who you are. That was a really tough transition for me. It was understanding that whenever you stop getting taller, and there's not another grade to go to, no one is going to tell you the next level. So growing up and getting better becomes completely your opinion and your discretion, and it becomes a lot of hard work. And so all these songs were me grappling with things in my own personal way--like understanding what it means to be a musician. Away from your home and your family, and kind of reconciling that for myself, and understanding that relationships can't last forever. "The River" is about the inevitability of leaving people behind, and finding the beauty in having somewhere to go. All the songs explore different aspects of that part of your life.
PW: That's awesome! I like that a lot! Would you say there is a song that has influenced you--that has helped you grow as an artist?Absolutely! From a writing perspective--the first person who impacted me as a song writer was Martin Sexton. I love Dave Matthews, but that was all about the lyrical aspect, and I wasn't really into that so much at that point. So Martin Sexton was a street musician that got discovered in Boston--or maybe West Hampton--and got picked up by Atlantic. It's very personal, and it illustrates to me the connection, that you can say anything as long as you know how to express it. If you can do it in an honest, personal way, you can write new kinds of songs and interesting songs. And so I really love the idea of artist-specific content, and creating that for yourself.
PW: So tell me about some of your other talents and how they've worked their way into your music.It's tough to know what your talents are. When I was younger, I used to think that what defined a person was the collection of their party tricks, and so I got really good at the pogo stick. But that has nothing to do with my music. I have a hard time compartmentalizing the things that make me who I am, so really anything that is a talent is something that I've made part of the whole--being the best person I can be. So it's hard for me to say that I'm good at being still and conceptualizing all of the perspectives in a scenario. That's the thing that I'm really talented at, and reading people. That's a part of my art--it's hard to think of them as being separate. What I say is: I'm not a singer, I'm not a songwriter, I'm a musician. I try to be the best version of myself. And if there's one talent I've developed, it's being able to fail gracefully in front of people. To do whatever I'm doing in an honest enough way--good or bad--to where people feel like they're watching themselves fail, so they forgive you.
PW: So getting that connection with the audience and making them feel like they're part of the process?Yeah. People are naturally wanting to be the center of attention--or maybe it's just part of our society. It's varying degrees. What I've found is, generally, if you want anyone to listen to you, you have to convince them that you are a better version of them at that particular moment. And that has been what my conscience has been telling me, recently--it's become something I'm aware of. But I think I kind of inherently knew. So I think that's my talent: to try something new, to come up short, and to be forgiven by my fans and my audience.
PW: If you could pick one hero, who would they be and why?Somebody brave. I'm going to use a general kind of person who's my hero, and then give you some examples. The kind of person that is my hero is a guy like Paul Newman or Clint Eastwood. People that, even into their twilight years, never stop living life and creating their art, because it's something that expresses who they are. Clint Eastwood, in his late 80s, is still directing movies, still making amazing movies, and still commenting on life; and Paul Newman, who was a race car driver in the 70s, created a charitable legacy for himself that'll last for generations. He's made almost a billion dollars for different charities. Those are the kind of people that are my heroes: who never give up on making life and the world just a little bit better. And my parents are both that kind of person.
PW: What is one thing you hope people will take away from your new album? What's the overall message?Connection. I want someone, everyone, to have a moment where they can feel just a little bit less alone. Where they can feel like they're a little bit more proud and happy--that they're part of a species that can feel a certain way about things. I'm open to hit with everybody somewhere, and connect with them and make them feel a little less alone.
PW: I was listening to one of your songs, "That Damn Machine," and it resonated with me as a response to the technological age. Do you think technology has enhanced or diminished our ability to connect with music, and to other people through music?It's just making everything different. i think that we're like little baby things that are trying to figure out how to walk. It's not that things are worse, it's just that things are different. We're just getting used to it. The children today, by the time they're our age, they're going to want vinyl. They're going to want polaroid cameras. They're going to want tangible things because it's something that they never had. And they're going to react in a negative direction to being online. I think this next generation, this very underestimated generation, will do better than us. Music specifically, I think people of my generation have a very unique opportunity to be the people who create the models that will allow technology to work with us. And I think it's going to turn everything on its head, and it's bad for the current model of music, but it will be good once the dust settles.
PW: Do you have a favorite venue that you like to play? I noticed you have a lot of concerts in Texas, in local places.I do. I don't want to alienate anyone. I love playing Live Oaks in Forth Worth, it's a listening room; and I love playing Eddie's Attic in Atlanta, it's the same kind of thing where they have spent time cultivating a listening environment to where everything is warm. You don't have to spend half of your show connecting with people. You start out and they're ready for what your performance is. There are more that are amazing in different ways, but those are two that just really cultivate that kind of atmosphere that I enjoy.
PW: So this next album has been in the works for a while, and that things take time to cook--time to simmer. What made you know that it was done, or done enough to be released?It was more about getting everything to the place where the album that was going to be released was going to matter. It was about taking my career to the next place. I didn't want to release it until my career was ready for the next album. Because then people could care, and really get excited about it. That was the thing: putting money together, putting the right band together, the right staff, getting the right art direction for the design, and getting my body and my health to the right point. So that was kind of my mindset. As a younger man, I was very impatient for everything, and I wanted everything right now. This was my opportunity to really exercise my restraint and do everything at the right time.
PW: To kind of slow things down and to appreciate them?Yeah, and allow my fans the opportunity to be ready. To be in the right place to appreciate it.
PW: What is your favorite song to play, either on this album or one of your previous albums?In every show, it's my opportunity to really get people. "Vince" is a song where I try to really make people feel like they're the person singing the song. I mean, it's how I make people cry--it's that part of the show. And I love it, I love watching people connect with it in a certain way where they're just letting things go--where they're tearing up and totally engaged.
PW: That song that resonates with everyone in the audience, not just a few people?Yeah. Wade's "The River" has been completely funded by his Kickstarter campaign, bringing his fans closer together in their efforts to make the album possible. If you can't wait for his newest album, check out his website! You can also find Luke on ReverbNation, SoundCloud, YouTube, and Twitter!
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