Jay Luke has been performing and writing music since 2003. Playing in bands such as The MESS, Sorrowsun, and ReachForTheSky he has honed his craft and paid his dues in the live circuit.
He has performed gigs with Duff McKagan of Guns N Roses, W.A.S.P., Metal Church, To/Die/For from Finland, Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, and Richie Ramone of The Ramones to name a few.
After much frustration in getting the right line up secured to release an album with his first two bands, he decided to take the studio time he had left to record the songs he wrote to work on his solo career. Jay talks to us about not wasting time with regrets, finding an upside in the pandemic and his creative process.
What first got you into music?
I was one of the first generations of kids raised on MTV. Believe it or not, they used to play nothing but music for a long time. Now it's all about Teen Pregnancy shows or whatnot. But when I was a kid I needed no babysitter I sat in front of the television and fell in love with music. Seeing artists I still love now like Van Halen, The Stones, and so many others made me realize I didn't want to be an astronaut, didn't want to be a sports star but when I grew up I wanted to be a musician. And that drive and urge just never left me since the earliest days. Tell us about your single Killing Time...what inspired the message behind this?
The whole inspiration to write Killing Time came to me when I heard some news I wanted to share with a friend, and almost as if I forgot that friend had died earlier in the year. I guess we all have these times or moments when you forget that the people you are so used to being in your life are gone. It has no time limit because even when it may be years you still feel somewhere inside of your brain that they are still there. So when this particular moment happened I quickly grabbed my pen and started writing "You think that you're just killing time until you realize it's killing you" Now unless I use a Ouija board I can't speak to these friends I have lost and it hurts. As the pandemic hit and as we all grow a bit older we realize our mortality and that we don't get forever. The whole trouble is in thinking we will always have tomorrow. The song in a nutshell is about not realizing what you had until it is gone and that time is so short, life is so short that we shouldn't waste a moment of it on "what if's" regret lasts so much longer.
How did you end up performing with Duff Mckagan of Guns N' Roses, and Joey Belladonna of Anthrax?
My band was lining up some really cool gigs and I was always on the look for shows with people I looked up to. Once a club owner had suggested we perform with Steven Adler (original drummer of Guns N Roses) which we declined as he was rather notorious for his substance abuse derailing his tour at the time. Then a while later the word came about that Duff McKagan was touring and that was one I couldn't resist. Duff is rock solid and hands down one of the best dudes in the music business. I mean when I was a kid GNR was the biggest band on the planet so to be able to perform with him was an epic time in my life. Even better was the fact that he was so down to earth, no ego whatsoever. Joey Belladonna of Anthrax was almost an identical story. A different club owner said he was looking to do some shows outside of Anthrax where he typically just sings and with his own band he plays drums and does incredible rock covers which surprised a lot of us. So we ended up opening up for his group Chief Big Way and again I have nothing but good things to say about him, class act.
It's been a weird year for everyone, but have there been any highlights for you?
2020 was a twilight zone year for everyone. Not living the lives we have been so used to made us all lose our minds in all kinds of ways. I started the year with about 50 gigs booked and barely ended up doing any. But as far as highlights I initially wanted to have my 3rd solo album "Alone In The Crowd" released last year. Due to the pandemic, halfway through recording the world closed down on all of us so I couldn't finish but I did manage to release a single called "Trapped In Your Cell" that went on to 60,000 + streams and became the most successful thing I have released to date. I reached such a bigger audience ironically without performing anywhere but occasionally from my basement doing live streams on Facebook. So it is odd to say during one of the worst years for so many I managed to find my biggest success. I tried to think outside the box and ended up with a bunch of radio, tv, and web show appearances. So I was grateful things ended up going good musically in a year when so much else went wrong.
What is your creative process like?
For me, there is no set formula or magic rule I follow. Inspiration seems to hit me and many others at odd times. I find when I am doing the most boring things an idea blindsides me out of nowhere. If I am driving I will have to pull over and write it down or else it will disappear as fast as it came. Songs are always different in how they are created. Sometimes it is a guitar riff you have that you build on and add words to. Sometimes you sit down and write everything all at the same time with a guitar in your hands and a notebook. And then there are other times when I will go through all the ideas I have and assemble them like a jigsaw puzzle building lyrics from post-it notes and chords I have had in my mind. I like that there's no one way or structure, I find it keeps things exciting and fresh.
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
I could think of so many artists I wish I could play with but I would have to say The Rolling Stones. They have been known as the world's greatest rock n roll band since the 1960s and here they are almost 60 years later. They are just simply amazing to me.
Is there anything you wish someone could have told you when you started out?
Well, I think there are a million misconceptions about being a musician. Especially in this day and age. People still assume you get rich, buy new cars, date supermodels. And that may have happened in the not so distant past but those days are gone in the streaming world. I did get a royalty check that I paid a bill with and I felt like a millionaire. So I wish someone would have just told me what I have had to teach myself, and that is that you have to love what you're doing, you will have to face extremely hard times on the road, and that the good times don't last forever so cherish every one. These lessons keep you grounded and don't let you fall into any traps. You have to know you are doing things because it is in your blood, not because you want to impress a girl or that you are going to strike it rich. That is what I think everyone needs to keep in mind and be aware of before dedicating their life to music. Give us your top 10 favourite tracks you are listening to now !
The Show Must Go On by Queen
I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses
Until I get You by Hanoi Rocks
Too Much Blood by The Rolling Stones
High Hopes by Pink Floyd
Thursdays Child by David Bowie
The Man Who Cheated Death by Ginger Wildheart
In My Darkest Hour by Megadeth
New Town Velocity by Johnny Marr
Forgotten Years by Midnight Oil
What have you got lined up next?
At the moment I just released a new single "Killing Time" on Jan. 25th and am working on doing promotions for the new album slated for a March 1st release entitled "Alone In The Crowd"
Is there anything else you would like people to know about you and your music?
I just want people to listen and find my stuff wherever they watch or listen to music I try to keep up and update things as often as possible. I am not an artist that writes about things I don't feel so what you hear is always the real deal. I once heard someone say that in life there is one thing that can never be taken back or replaced, and that is the way you made someone feel. So whenever someone tells me a song of mine connected with them or got them through a hard time, to me, that is what I consider success. Because as a huge music fan I know more often than not a song or album saved me more than an actual human being could.