Q&A: The Leylines' Lukas Carrick on Playing for Nudists and the Beat Generation
The Leylines, who took their name from these invisible maps, play rich, thick, rock-infused blues and refer to their sound as New Moon Blues, connecting themselves to myths and nature just as easily as the lines themselves would. Their music sounds like a roll in the hay or a night somewhere smoky -- folky and down-home and tinged with something loungey. They've spent the past few months recording, losing their hard drive, and recording again, all the while playing live as much as possible -- including an upcoming set at the third-annual Naked End of Summer Bash at Loxahatchee Groves. We exchanged emails with howling vocalist Lukas Carrick about the show and a whole slew of other, slightly less personal topics.
New Times: Can you tell me how the Leylines came together as a group? Was anyone working on individual projects before?
Lukas Carrick: I moved back to Lake Worth from Los Angeles after losing my job. I was convinced that I was done with music after several failed attempts of creating bands that would fizzle out after a few months in New York City and L.A. I called a buddy of mine, and he told me about some "jam space" he had with an ex-NFL player. The Packer kicked me out of his studio for singing over their "mood metal" jams. The next day, I went to another friend's recording space. Enter Gerry Gallow. I had known Gerry through mutual friends, so it was sort of like an old reunion. We both agreed we didn't want to be anything like the bands making music around town. We would go to shows and be bored, watching dudes with beards making music out of, like, pots 'n' pans and other "eclectic" instruments. We hooked up a drum machine and began writing our own songs.
This is a very hard town to find like-minded musicians in, but we never gave up our hope or search. I finally met James Romano III, a jazz drum major. We started talking music, bitching a bit about the "Awesome Indie Rock Mecca" that is Lake Worth. Neither of us, like Gerry, were impressed. I told him about the direction we wanted to go, referencing the bands and beat poets of the '60s. When he came to jam, he brought Jade Henderson, a visual artist who dabbles with blues guitar. There was still something missing: the keys. Gerry's father, Skip Paxton, is a Hammond B3 Organ legend in Islamorada. When we heard him play, we knew we needed a warm, vintage organ to accompany the lounge element we were exploring in our sound. Gerry got hammered at a Monotonix show a few weeks later and was offered a ride home by our future keyboardist, Kat Yarbrough, a classically trained multinstrumentalist. Now we're just all working on the metamorphosis.
Are the Beat poets and jazz scene of the time "guiding lights" for the music you guys make? The jazz influence is clear, so tell me about that, plus the influence of the writing.
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What I find inspiring about the Beat Generation is the nonconformity and the
spontaneous creativity. It's true-life, roots writing, much like our songs. We just start jamming on little riffs, have a tight jazz backbeat, and I'll start working on some verses, clearly not knowing where the song is going to go. There has never been a time where we've gone to rehearsal and someone has had a start-to-finish song. It usually just comes from a moment of tossing around key elements, until it's like, "Oh, I think we got something." It's complete experimentation.
Since you mentioned your songwriting process, what are the Leylines up to right now? There are some sample tracks available, but are you working any sort of physical or digital release?
At the moment, it's all kind of up in the air, as far as how and who we want to record this record. A few months back we were in the final stages of mixing our debut EP when we fell victim to a hard drive crash. We lost everything. It was such a time-consuming process; I wasn't getting good vocal takes. So we are leaning toward finding the right engineer with the right equipment and techniques to produce the sound we are looking to achieve. We do know that our release will be a 10'' 180-gram vinyl record, with the ability to download the digital release for free with the purchase of the record. We should have something by the first of the year. And we are constantly updating our web pages with live recordings and samplers. Our main focus right now is to play as many shows as possible -- day or night, rain or shine.
Since you're playing a lot of shows and putting up recordings, do you think what you eventually record will attempt to capture your "live" essence? What do you hope to convey once you do get the right engineer?
We definitely do enjoy captivating people, sort of watching them lose their minds when we're up there doing our thing. It's kind of unreal. For instance, we've had three people cry at our shows. It was like we hit their magic button on the "the way music should make you feel" machine. So, yes, we strive to evoke the emotion and energy of our live shows in our studio album -- just in a stereo recording, minus onstage flaws and whatnot -- the end result being an album you can listen to start to finish, leaving you with words stuck in your head.
Did the people who cried talk to you after the shows?
Yes, they talked a lot -- reminiscing about their childhood memories, seeing
certain bands for the first time. Another lady wept during an improvised jam
where Katherine leads with a flute. It's pretty new to us all. The first time, it was an old "roadie" type. When he approached me crying, my initial reaction was, "Sorry, buddy, was it really that bad?" But he was just genuinely excited.
Is one of your goals to connect to people on an emotional level like that? How do you, yourself, connect to music emotionally?
It's not really "our goal" per se, but it is a great feeling to provoke emotion like that. I personally have seen bands that I guess sort of changed my life, but I also feel that's what music is all about. Anyone who truly loves music has had their arm hairs stand up. The only way to tie an emotional connection to a song for me is to just genuinely like everything about the song. I loathe watching bands that are very good and catchy musically, then their singer is a total snooze, or the chorus is just some ridiculous nonsense.
What resonates with you -- that is, what are you listening to by yourself before you record or play a show?
Good question. We are always listening to this live feed from a radio station based out of New Jersey and NYC called WFMU Ichiban Rock N' Soul. It's 24 hours nonstop, ultra-rare rock and soul music from the late '50s and early '60s. They have it as a free phone app too! But whenever I'm just listening to records, it's typically old blues, particularly Howlin' Wolf, Lightin' Hopkins, Lead Belly, and some occasional Velvet Underground. The modern acts I really dig are Mack Winston and the Reflections, Conspiracy of Owls, the Golden Animals, Daddy Long Legs, and the Black Angels. They are very delightful to my ears.
I wanted to ask you about your relationship with the local scene. I know you used to live in New York. Were you playing music up there? And how do you connect with the South Florida scene? It's getting bigger and more recognized lately, though it's still sort of like a family.
I was playing in New York, but nothing ever came of it. It's a hard place to establish yourself financially and mentally, especially maintaining a band. To be honest, I have not yet developed a "relationship" with the local scene. I think the Leylines are to new to the whole scene of things. We have had more success in other parts of the state. We have only been playing since May and have landed ourselves on some very dope lineups. We are opening for the Bright Light Social Hour in Cocoa at the 321 Local art show, and we just recently did a miniature tour of Florida with another rad band, the Soulbirds. West Palm Beach/Lake Worth is very "clique-y;" we have yet to play with any of the bands that we are always reading about, but I guess it's only a matter of time till we get a show around here that is not a completely mixed bill. In the beginning stages of playing out in South Florida, I have found that you have to play with a lot of cover bands or '90s grunge
revivalists. We would love to play with the more young, hip bands in the area. Given the opportunity, I feel the kids will enjoy the Leylines.
What about the Florida Young Naturists festival you're playing? Will the bands be nude too?
This will be our second time playing for Florida Young Naturists. We played at their annual spring bash. It's out in the middle of nowhere in Loxahatchee, and it's a lot of fun. It's not what people envision when they hear that it's a nudist bash; it's geared toward 18- to 30-year-old nudists. It's a real good party, and there is a chance you might see how we "size up" with one another. I recommend coming out and seeing for yourself; it's a pretty wild scene.
Sum it all up: What's going on for the Leylines right now? What can fans look forward to?
We just recorded an EP that will be available at shows and online. We made some new shirts too. Other than that, we are just continuing to book
shows around the state and are planning a tour of the East Coast up to New York in October.
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