After years of experience in the music scene since 2003, seasoned artist Jay Luke decided to launch his solo career and release his debut record “It’s About Time” in 2017 which was followed up by “Vandalized Memories” in 2019 and “Alone In The Crowd” in 2021. On August 19th, 2022, Luke dropped his latest rocking single “You’ll Never Beat The Addiction” and we were lucky enough to chat with him about it and his career too, let’s get into it.
- I’m always curious when talking to seasoned musicians like yourself about influences and beginnings, who introduced you to the world of heavy metal? And what was your first instrument?
The world of heavy metal was introduced to me in my preteen years. I was the youngest kid that grew up on a street of older kids who were all discovering the era of Cliff Burton Metallica and Dave Mustaine’s first efforts as Megadeth in real time so it would be around ’86 or ’87 if I were to throw a date out there. The impact those two bands had on me at a young age as most people of the time was pretty enormous. There were a lot of other bands at the time I recall like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Venom and Slayer but none at that time made as much of an impact on me as Metallica and Megadeth for me as a kid.
My first instrument I played was drums. I got a good deal through a friend of my father’s on a classic kit. I was obsessed with the drum sounds of Alex Van Halen, Phil Rudd, and Peter Criss initially. But eventually guitar would become the instrument I chose as my main weapon of choice shortly thereafter. This would have been around the time I was 8 or 9 years old. If I were to say when I started to take playing an instrument with complete focus and drive it would have been at the age of 14 years old.
- You’ve tried so hard with your bands to release an album before deciding to go solo, what were the common obstacles and hardships you faced along the way?
I have said it many times that being in a band is like being married to 3 or 4 other people. Sometimes it goes great and other times there is a lot of bickering, disagreements and conflicts of direction. I was of the belief that if the band I am in is to record an album we should have that lineup to play that album live or at least have some consistency with members. With my band The MESS we had such great songs and we were always unlucky with at least one member not fitting with us whether it was due to sound, chemical substances, or sometimes just a lack of dedication. It’s a hard life, it is not something I can go into halfheartedly or else what’s the point? And I found that there are not a ton of likeminded people with that idea. So obstacles in a band are very numerous. I guess the top 3 reasons are pretty straightforward. Relationships, addictions, and dedication seem to be the big reasons that took me so long to get a recording out with a band and made me basically go it alone as a solo artist.
- You’ve worked with a number of guests on your records, which was the most interesting collaboration? Are you planning any further exciting ones?
With the collaborations I have been involved in it is tough to choose a favorite but i will say for me the most interesting one was with a guitarist I admired named Adam Bomb. When I was around 18 yrs old the lead singer of my favorite band Hanoi Rocks named Michael Monroe released this really cool album called “Whatcha Want” I think I listened to it a million times and the strange part was that the guitarist on the album was named Pink Gibson who I have never heard of. What I didn’t know was that he used the name because of some contract issue and it was really Adam Bomb so he instead chose the name by using the color and model of his guitar, a pink Gibson Les Paul. So for many years I never knew about this and one day our paths finally crossed where we got to talking and it blew my mind. This guitarist I looked up to was the very guy I became friends with out of the blue. I think the world is a lot smaller than we portray it. Since then we have hung out pretty often and one day he said “Hey, are you doing anything? You wanna grab some lunch?” and I told “I would love to but I am tracking a song at the studio.” He then asked if he could swing by, cause he was bored and of course I asked if he’d like to play some lead on the song “Bukowski” which he did and it turned out to be amazing. Working with Carl Canedy who drummed with Manowar, The Rods, and also worked with Anthrax was also a great experience. He performed on a song I’d written about a friend of mine that passed away who was a very big fan of Carl’s named Walter Prez. Carl graciously accepted when I asked if he would play and how much he meant to my friend. The song was called “One For Walt” and having him play just fit like a glove for what I was aiming for. These guys made recording my debut album such a wonderful excperience, I cannot say enough good about them.
- How would you describe your sound? And how did it progress throughout your 3 released records so far?
This is always the hardest question I suppose. I like to keep all sound or genres open with my music. When I get my guitar I may run in a metal direction, I could go in an acoustic direction, a punk direction, or just something different altogether. As much as I love certain artists that are known for one thing like AC/DC or The Ramones they end up pigeonholed into that one particular sound which they are ok with but I would find that to be a limitation where you can’t branch out into different styles. Artists like David Bowie, Prince, and Hanoi Rocks appealed to me so much because they couldn’t be tagged for one type of sound. They constantly evolved or switched directions without compromising themselves. That sense of freedom was something as an artist that I was very attracted to. With my releases I think each album progresses in different ways. The first album was a mix of songs that I built up over time and they followed no particular style. It was kind of the collection of songs I wrote over a period that didn’t fit into the bands I was playing in. The second album took on a more conceptual path that while the music for each song was still different to each other the lyrics and themes fit a story of sorts. I had gone through a lot of changes at that point and like a diary I think that really showed a personal side of what I was dealing with. Finally the last record I put out was probably my most diverse with songs and style. I let no genre be off the table when I was writing. I used a lot of different tunings and explored different instruments and sounds. It really has no science or formula but it feels like a continual evolution with what I have done so far.
- How usually does your writing process go?
The best way I can describe it is spontaneous. Inspiration hits at weird times and weird places. I have often pulled over to the side of the road when I am driving to write down a lyric that just kind of pops into your head and I will know if I don’t write it down in that instant I will lose it. I have also found that while I can be playing a song live that I have played a bunch of times an idea can creep up out of nowhere and I will have to pull out my phone or have someone record a riff or part I come up with. I really have no one formula on how I write. Sometimes the music comes first, sometimes the lyrics. I think if the song comes together in whatever manor it does, that is all that matters. The adventure from a song starting to it finishing is the most enjoyable part seeing the way it may stay right on track or may take on so many different paths to the finish line is what it is all about.
- Can you tell us the story behind “You Can’t Beat The Addiction”? What influenced its writing?
The older I get the more I notice certain things that I may not have paid attention to previously. All of humanity has their vices. Some people like sweets, some like gambling, others food, sex, or drugs, etc. In 2022 moderation of anything is almost nonexistant.
The one vice I feel that is noticed the most, perhaps due to my profession or what not is the addiction to drugs. I see so many friends or people I knew that have fallen into the trap of having a few drinks to letting the drinks have them or those that use the needle turning out to be the ones that the needle is using. It is sad, very sad to attend funerals of people that had such a long life ahead of them but instead surrendered their souls to a dopeman that took everything from them. It is merciless and I wrote this song from the point of view of the substance or addiction itself that watches the addict come crawling back no matter what the situation. The way heroin or whatever drug it may be turns a functioning coherent human being into a zombie is astounding, yet it happens everyday in millions of places. I wrote the song as an observer and a cautionary tale if you will.
- Which song would you pick off your catalog to recommend to someone who wants to get into your music?
I think this is a question I may have a different answer to depending on the day, but as of today I think a really killer track that has some great metal sounding riffs and leads with a classic vibe about it called “The Light Of Night” off of my second album. It has a lot of great hooks and some really double edged lyrics that embody a lot of my style. Fun fact about it is the title was inspired by the actress Betty White. She mentioned that when a television show is pitched to a station to be picked up for syndication it was a waiting game to see if it would live to see the light of night. I found that to be a great idea for a lyric.
- What are your plans for 2023? Shall we expect an upcoming full-length or some live performances?
Yes I am already halfway through the recording of my 4th album right now. I am anticipating a release in early 2023 as well as releases from the two other bands I perform in called Reach For The Sky and The Stones Of Atlantis. Live performances seem to be neverending for me, I am usually playing a gig once or twice a week somewhere. I get restless sitting around and I find I am more at home onstage than I am at my house.
Thanks for your time Jay, wishing you the best.