Interview with LUTHI
During Rhythm N' Blooms 2018, I was able to sit down with Taylor Ivey, bassist and co-founder of the up-and-coming Nashville band LUTHI. - Michael Z.
CH: How would you sum up yourselves to the uninitiated?
LUTHI: It’s easy. It’s part of our slogan. We call it a “boogie circus”. We’ve been calling it Cumberland funk recently. Dance music. Party vibes. That’s as condensed as it can get.
CH: Yeah in reading your bio I thought this band knows who they are.
LUTHI: It’s one of those things for a long time we didn’t know who we are. We just knew what we liked to do. And the more it focused in on where we’re at now it became very apparent what we’re doing. It’s a party. Everywhere we go it’s weird, and fun, and sweaty. We like to keep it that way.
CH: You have a lot of band members, so how did it evolve to where you’re at now with the band?
LUTHI: Basically we went hey you know what would be cool is if we had a sax player. Or hey there’s two guitar parts on this recording we made. Let’s get somebody else to play the second guitar. We were all very fortunate to be surrounded by incredible musicians that are also our friends, so it wasn’t a “hey we need to go find somebody” it’s a “Amber is a really great singer and sax player. Let’s just see if she’ll do it.”
And things evolved for a little while, and this line-up we’ve had now has been pretty solidified for the last 2 to 3 years. So people came and went and the people that are part of the family stuck around and we’re in it all together at this point.
CH: I’ve enjoyed your few studio recordings you’ve released thus far, but I was especially attracted to your 2017 “Live at the Basement EAST” EP.
LUTHI: That’s really our struggle now because we have so much fun playing live. If people are talking about us that’s what they’re talking about - the live shows. So turning around and trying to put that back on a record has been our fun experiment for the last 6 months or so.
May 11th we’re putting out our first full length record “Stranger”.
CH: How do you develop a song or even a full album as the band?
LUTHI: I’ll preface this by saying LUTHI is so many more people than the 9 people on stage. We’ve got friends that are songwriters, musicians, producers, and song engineers, and a lot of times what will happen is Christian our singer will go sit down with someone and they’ll say “I’ve got this idea” and they’ll sit down and write it and then Christian will come back to me all excited and say “hey check this thing out that we did the other day”. Then we’ll bring that basic idea to the band and develop it from there.
For the most part that’s how that works. Christian is our lead vocalist and main lyricist, and then what we’ll do as a band is add parts or rearrange the song arrangement - flip this and that - to make it sound like the way we want it to sound at the end.
That’s how this whole record came together. Some of these songs Christian wrote, and we’ve either been playing or sitting on or re-working them the past 4, 5, or 6 years. Some of us. And some of them we wrote in the studio while we were working on the album. An idea popped up, we rolled with it, and now those are some of my favorite ones on the new record.
CH: It’s definitely cool you’re able to take advantage of the precious studio time I know bands want, while also work through the songs with your live shows.
LUTHI: We were fortunate that our friend Steve Voss, who produced our new record and also produced the Home Again EP, let us record in his home studio in Denver. So it was a no pressure environment. We cooked, we slept on blow-up mattresses in the studio, so we kind of lived in that environment while we were creating. And it afforded us so much more creativity than we would have gotten had we paid for a block of studio time in Nashville, or elsewhere. So we’re fortunate that that’s how that worked, cause some of these songs would not have existed were it not for us having an open environment like that.
CH: You have a hometown CD release party for Stranger coming up too correct?
LUTHI: We do. We’re playing at Exit/In. We’ve played at Exit/In a number of times before but we’ve never headlined there, so we’re very excited about that. We’ve got some of our friends there too. Spazz Cardigan will open the show. We’re excited. We don’t get to play in Nashville as much anymore, maybe once or twice a year, so this is going to be the big blowout, for at least the first half of the year.
CH: When you started the band were there any goals in mind, or perhaps ones you’re still striving for?
LUTHI: I’ll speak for myself and for Christian on this. He moved to Nashville and moved in with me, as my roommate and him were friends from growing up and we’d never met each other before, but we started working on music together. Before then myself and the rest of the band had played with all kinds of different bands. Cool bands, bad bands, pop bands, country bands, etc. At some point in the last 3 or 4 years our goal was just to do what we wanted to do. Not compromise. Not say hey this should sound like this so that it’ll be on the radio. Not say this is too much musicality here, or that guitar solo’s too long, or that synth is weird. The overreaching goal is just do whatever we want to do. If we keep doing what we want to do and people like it then we’re just going to continue to do that. So in terms of formulating LUTHI, it formulated itself through our lack of wanting to play the game.
CH: I feel for Nashville there’s that whole music machine too, where as a part of the industry in that city you see the highs and lows.
LUTHI: Definitely. We see people that come and try to break into the music industry, and then move away, either because they choose to, or they have to, or cause they can’t afford to be there anymore. We’re fortunate cause a lot of our friends, and the members of this band, are so good at creating and have mastered their instruments so everyone’s still kicking and playing, doing what they want to do, and it just makes me so happy to see and so happy to be part of our LUTHI family all sticking with it even 10 or so years after of moving to Nashville.
CH: I think what’s exciting too is you can be more independent, for some that means going without a label, or breaking out and headlining festivals without any top 40 singles, because they’ve found fans who connect with their music.
LUTHI: We have the internet to thank for that. We’ve seen that change the world, in good ways and bad ways, but as a musician trying to be heard fans can go online and hear exactly what they want to hear and get one thousand options and narrow it down from there. So in terms of being independent, right now we don’t have any support of label support. We’ve got a management team, and a lot of friends who support what we do and are a part of the extended LUTHI team, but mainly we have great fans. Everywhere we go we have great fans. Fans that are singing along and dancing all night. Importantly they’ll tell their friends “hey you’ve gotta check these guys out”, so you don’t necessarily need radio push anymore. At least I don’t think so. It helps sometime but you can’t rely on that anymore.
CH: Since we’re at Rhythm N’ Blooms festival, I wanted to ask if there’s anything you do specifically to approach the festival, or anything you try to make sure to do while at them?
LUTHI: The first thing we do when we get to the festivals is find the coffee, stay awake, find a corner to nap in, and after that there’s so many of us , and on top of all the friends we have at festivals, there’s so many bands that we’re discovering alongside everyone else. Find someone exciting to see then hopefully make your schedule work so you can at least catch a little of their set. That works out for us a lot, cause we’re an up and coming band, so we either play early in the day or really late at night, and that gives us time to do what we need and then check out the headliners and the middle of the bill folks. We love when we get to see them everytime. We run around the festival, pack of 9 of us, like little kids - like 18 year old kids at Bonnarroo for the first time. Running around with our schedules saying “oh we’ve gotta check out this act, maybe we can find 15 minutes for this group”. We’re music fans first and foremost, so we love getting invited to these kinds of things.
CH: I assume with 9 of you too in LUTHI you have different tastes and preferences, so you do split up sometimes and then come back together at the end of the night, or the end of the festival, all wanting to share different recommendations you checked out?
LUTHI: Absolutely. Somebody’s smart enough to make notes on their phone and inevitably we’ll have a long drive and we’ll go through Spotify and listen to everbody’s recording’s. A lot of it’s fun too because being in Nashville there’s a lot of great bands in town, and we end up on festival bills with a lot of our friends. So more than just seeing others music sometimese we get to see friends we wouldn’t see otherwise cause we’re always on the road and they’re always on the road. So instead of going to the bar on Friday, we’ll end up like at Rhythm N’ Blooms catching up in between sets. So that’s half the fun right there.
CH: Is there any final note you’d like to leave for your fans?
LUTHI: We’d like to thank all of our fans for sticking out with us and coming to see us every time we’re in town. The crowds get bigger and bigger, and we welcome everyone to come to the show, but those who came when there were only 15 people at our shows, we know who they are, and we love them, and we’ll know them from here on out.
So join the LUTHI boogie circus, because it’s a good time and because your friends probably told you to already.