Interview with LUKE YEOWARD (formerly lead singer for KING CANNONS)
After a successful career as the frontman of much loved rock act King Cannons, 2017 sees Luke Yeoward back in full swing as an independent artist. Luke has launched his solo career with a successful crowdfunding campaign that enabled him to create his debut album Ghosts. Here is his chat with Amnplify’s Sarah.
Hi, how are you doing?
I’m good thanks, how are you?
How do you feel your musical style has evolved since leaving King Cannons?
It’s progressed a little a bit, like anything that happens with time and age. When I started King Cannons it was tail end of playing punk rock. King Cannons was really the birth of something that enabled us to have a bit more flexibility. It removed a lot of song writing boundaries. What I do now is a continuation of the King Cannons spirit. We feel the importance of having a punk rock backbone, but also having some integrity and soulfuness in the music I make. The music I make really just progresses with time, perspective and experience and I think you can really hear that in the songs. It’s a pretty natural thing, it just happens. The more time you spend, the more time you travel and the more different types of music you absorb just end up having an effect the way your music sounds.
What was the song writing process like for Ghosts? I know you recorded it in a pretty short amount of time overseas, did you go in with any ideas or was it all done over there?
It was put together through the fanbase as a crowdfunding campaign based on an idea that I had. I had no songs prepared or studio time booked. I just wanted to travel, write and record as I went and leave everything up for chance and serendipity and things like that to create a really honest album that was a documentation of the journey. It was really exciting, stressful, fun and hard and all of the combination of things. I had maybe a couple of chords in my head before I left, but I had no songs fully executed or fully realised. This album was really a credit to the people who believed in me enough and helped me pull it off and fund it.
I said look, ‘I have a crazy idea, just give a chance’, and went and wrote and recorded a whole album. It was pretty fucking nuts, just talking, writing every day, calling up favours, cause LA is a pretty big city. Just creating humble, simple, vintage sounds. Anyone that knows what I do will understand the mash up of influences on the album. It was right up there as one of the coolest things I’ve ever done creatively.
What did you use for the vintage recording and why did you do it?
People are only using digital, and I think that to make really great electronic music takes a lot of time and effort with the arrangements, and no disrespect to that, but with my music it lends itself in the polar opposite direction and having to commit to an arrangement, having to execute that arrangement live without fucking it up and having faith in the song as it is and once it’s recorded onto tape means you really have to cut out the bullshit and just use the stuff integral to the quality of the songs. It can be stressful and it takes more time, but we’re using an 8 track console and an 8 track tape, vintage, guitars, organs, drumkit and keyboards. If you can imagine that in the middle of summer in California, in a garage, that’s what it was. It was intense and awesome. For me, it’s my favourite way to record now, and I’ve done a lot of studio time and if I can simplify it completely and use analogue recording methods it allows me to make my music sound the way I want it to. You can make pop, punk, anything using this old school sound and it makes it sound like an old record which is what I wanted.
What’s your favourite song off the new album and why?
That’s a really hard question… My favourite would be Cool Water. It’s a really heavy dread roots reggae track, it was the first one we recorded and it really set the bar for the album. When I hear the organ part come in it takes me straight back to the start of the recording process. Cool Water is about reinvigorating, rebirth, cleansing and all that uplifting stuff, so it’ll always have my heart.
Speaking of reggae, there’s a pretty big reggae influence in a fair few songs on Ghosts, has any particular band inspired that or have you been interested in incorporating more reggae into your sound for a while?
It’s interesting you should say that, actually. When King Cannons first started out, about 75% of what we played was reggae stuff. But when we moved to Australia and got singed by EMI, we leaned more towards then punk and hard rock side of things. The stuff that they presented us with and the path we went down leaned more and more towards punk and hard rock. Nobody actually got to hear that Jamaican influence unless they saw us live. Reggae’s really been a big part of my life for the last 15 years and anyone who knows that, knows that it’s a no brainer. Reggae is pretty much all I listen to so it was quite normal for me to put that in there. I can totally see why people would think ‘how the fuck does reggae work into this?’, because the music presented to the Australian audience has been way more punk and hard rock focused but it definitely fits into my sound. I get that bands have to keep their sounds and their brands but I don’t give a fuck because I love so much stuff and I’m not afraid to incorporate the stuff I love into my music to create the sound I want. I’m not trying to adhere to any trends or expectations, I just make the music I think sounds good and that’s how I think you’ve got to do it, if you don’t love your own music, it’s hard to present that to anybody else.
What was working with Chris Cheney (from The Living End) like?
It was awesome. Chris is an old friend, I toured with The Living End and King Cannons supported them years ago. My punk band, the 131’s toured them recently. We’ve spent a lot of time on the road together and when I told him I was coming over he was really happy about it. He even had a couple of ideas floating around and we ended up writing a song and recording it for the album. It’s pretty amazing. I was like a 12 year old kid listening to Rancid, The Living End and the Ramones and stuff and now the people that I look up to have a mutual respect for me and I get the chance to work with some of the people that inspired me as a young artist and it’s just incredible.
Where’s your favourite place to play live?
That’s a tough one. I like going back to New Zealand and playing. I love the Power Station in Auckland. I dunno, whenever I go back there it always feels so good to go home. It’ll always be one of my favourite places to play.
Are you planning on touring Australia and New Zealand for Ghosts or are you going to stick to just a couple of shows?
We’re going to Auckland to play album launch, and we have a launch planned in Melbourne with a backing band as well. That’s it for now though, not sure if we’re going to be able to do a full tour soon. Touring is expensive, you’ve gotta hire gear, and hire a band and I can’t afford to do that at the moment. I’ve got to do the right thing by my band and by my family and I can’t expect them to do everything for nothing. I’d love to do it, and we’ll get there, it’s just not the right time at the moment.
Finally, did you have a band for the album or did you record most of the tracks yourself? I noticed in the video for ‘Ghosts’ you were playing the drums and the keyboards as well as guitar and was wondering if you did it all on your own.
For some of the tracks I played a lot of the instruments. Scott Abels played the drums, because he’s an actual drummer but I played the drums in the video. I did do the guitars, vocals, bass, recording, and keyboards on the track ‘Ghosts’ though. I was a pretty strong contributor to a lot of the music on the album. But there was also a lot of tracks J Bonner, Jason Castillo and Chris Cheney on guitar. There were a lot of different people who contributed, but the bulk of it was me. It kept me really busy. I enjoyed it, but it was a little bit of a mountain to climb.
ALBUM LAUNCH DATES
May 20 | Whammy Bar | Auckland (Solo)
May 27 | The Toff | Melbourne (With his band The Half Way)