Lucky Soul
Interview by Clive Drew
“Talent and graft will out.”

Lucky Soul are London’s best or worst kept secret depending on who you are. The Greenwich six-piece put out their releases on their very own Ruffa Lane label, played the first event at the O2 arena and continue to perform countless stand-alone shows at the capital’s most exclusive venues.

The band are in the new studio over the winter period recording a follow-up to debut effort The Great Unwanted. Guitarist and mainman Andrew Laidlaw promises a “classic moody second album – gritty, more intense and focused’ but still assures us there’ll be plenty of pop songs. If new opener ‘Up In Flames’ is anything to go by then we’re in for a proper treat.

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

CD: 'My Brittle Heart' and 'Lips Are Unhappy' are perfect examples of bittersweet pop - songs that you listen to if you’ve been dumped and before you have a night on the town. What are the key things you look for in a song? How do the majority of LS's songs come about?

AL: Well that was always the idea. I think if you ask anyone what their favourite song is; it's probably got a miserable undercurrent! Everybody gets down so if your song connects with someone that way and make them dance at the same time you're on to a winner. (hums Ultravox). I could go on about emotional axis of melody chord structure but don't want to be a muso bore so I'll just say it's got to have SOUL and that covers most bases. It must also have a great melody, avoid cliché and
not go on too long.

Most LS songs start with some snatch of melody to which I attach some depressing lyrics and weird chords that I don't know the name of. Then I'll take it to the band who punish me with their superior musical skills and teach the song to walk on its own two feet.

Cultura Pop, Madrid

CD: Which is your personal Lucky Soul song?

AL: Hmm, which one of your children do you like the best? At the moment it's 'Woah Billy' but you won't have heard that yet so let's go for 'Baby I’m Broke' because people go quiet when we play it.

CD: Who are Lucky Soul's key influences? How would you say the sound of the songs written for the second album differ from those on The Great Unwanted?

AL: The Holy Trinity of Stax / Smiths / Stones is a good start. I'd say the new songs are generally more gritty, intense and focused. Lyrically it's darker and as a band we've grown a few muscles, we're really on the money. There's still plenty of pop songs though, just a bit more edge... Classic moody second album!

CD: Who are your heroes, musically and otherwise?

AL: Today it's Burt Bacharach, Butch Cassidy, Edgar 'Jones' Jones, Mavis Staples, James Jamerson, Daniel Johnston, Nile Rodgers, Modigliani, Sylvia Plath, Murray Hewitt, James 'Good Times' Slater and Fernando Torres. Oh and Batman.

Proud Galleries, London

CD: I believe yourself and Nat formed the band after moving down to London from Liverpool? How long ago was this and what was the inspiration behind the idea of setting up Ruffa Lane?

AL: Well Ruffa Lane was set up by me and my friend and entrepreneur Nick Woodhead back when LS was embryonic. We knew we had something good but weren't quite sure what to do with it so we approached my old drummer Nathaniel who was then working at an evil major label to help out with
both drums and industry know-how. We decided to all move to London, where the streets are paved with gold disks and the rest is history, including Nat who's not in the band anymore. He is however at the helm of the label steering us bravely into 2009 with our label mates: Grantura, Montt Mardie and Napoleon. Chocks away!

CD: In a time where there are arguably no truly 'independent' bands left in the mainstream, would you say that releasing your own records is the way forward for bands?

AL: I think in these dark financial times, it's fast becoming a necessity.

Now if you're techno-savvy can release music with practically no cost to yourself whereas in the past you would have to beat least have to scrape a few hundred quid together for a vinyl pressing. The industry is in a very transitional stage at the moment and I think artistically it's very healthy and liberating. You've still got to dance with the devil if you want maximum exposure though. Some people want that some people don't. At least now there are more options.

CD: Do you feel an affinity with any other modern bands? For example Camera Obscura, Napoleon, The Loves?

AL: Napoleon are brilliant and very good friends and label from Sweden, you'll be hearing a lot from them next year and they believe too, brother but we operate in our own space as far as I'm concerned, I've spent too long as an outsider to change that.

Webster Hall, New York

CD: I remember you introducing ‘The GreatUnwanted’ in Cardiff as "being both of those things" - do you feel that you perhaps don't receive the recognition you deserve in this country?

AL: Yeah, but talent and graft will out.

CD: What was the best show you can remember playing and going to as a punter?

AL: My favourite gig is probably The Flaming Lips at T in the Park circa The Soft Bulletin: all the excitement of what would later become the massive stage show but without the budget and with more urgency. Really spell binding. I saw them at the Albert Hall a couple of years back and it was
nowhere near as good as the cheap version

The best LS one we've done is a toss up between a sweaty rock club in Bologna, Italy, a sweaty 100 Club and a less sweaty but more intense show in Joe's Pub, New York. I'll go for New York because everything that could go wrong, went wrong (illness, malfunction) but we tried our hardest and came through the other side much stronger and the support from the punters was very touching.

CD: You've been working on the follow up to your debut over the past few months - have you started recording? When do you expect to release it?

AL: We go into the studio in December so I'd better finish writing pretty sharpish. The big comeback single should be out in February and it will be unarguably fantastic.

CD: What are Lucky Soul's plans for 2009? Will you tour at all or just continue to play fewer, but more select gigs?

AL: Well, we'll have an album to promote so I'm expecting to be everywhere. I'd like us to get a bit further round the UK this time and back to The States again and we've not been to France yet, or South America. In fact there's many countries that I'd dearly love to visit, including Yorkshire.

CD: Finally, what's the name of the song you've been starting recent shows with? Bit of a Motown stomper with the chorus line "what you gonna do when it all goes up in flames?" Great tune!

AL: Thanks, it's really fun to play. Predictably it's called "Up in Flames" but I might add some brackets. There’s not enough (brackets in pop)
these days.

Joe's Pub, New York

Andrew’s Top Five of 2008:

Grantura - In Dreams And Other Stories
Fantastic songs, amazing harmonies and precision playing. A must for Americana fans.

MGMT - Oracaular Spectacular
Sounds like a modern Rolling Stones to me which is just fine

Jim Ford - Sounds Of Our Time (Re-Issue)
The exact point where country meets soul from mercurial talent.

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
It's beautiful, end of story.

Scott Walker - Scott 3
I know this wasn't released this year but I've listened to it so much it has to go in. The arrangements are some of the most emotive you'll ever gear.

Clive Drew

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?