An Interview With… The Luka State

They’ve headlined a Canadian festival, got the support of numerous radio stations and magazines, racked up more YouTube views than you can possibly imagine, and they’ve done it all without a record label. Cheshire’s The Luka State have already had an immense year of success and are looking to top it off with their latest slice of anthemic indie, new single ‘Bring This All Together’ at the end of the month. Ahead of the single’s release we talked to frontman Conrad Ellis about their rise to fame, making it on your own and more.

Hello Conrad, how are things in The Luka State camp right now?

Bit mental right now, but in a good way like! We’ve been so busy for the last two months doing a new video in Amsterdam, gigging in Canada and we’re just wrapping up our European tour at the end of this week. What a way to end the year.

Can you tell us a bit about how you got together? What made you first want to start The Luka State?

The Luka State was started by the bassist Sam and I back in 2012. We’d been playing together for almost 10 years as friends and felt that it was time to make a change and do this seriously.

When you first got together, what were the biggest influences on your sound?

We’ve always loved British rock’n’roll. From The Beatles to The Who and on to The Jam. They’re still big influences on us but now we look up to the big stadium bands with their big stadium sounds. We treat every gig like Wembley!

Have those influences changed at all or have you been staying true to your musical roots?

We’ve always stayed true to our roots. Other bands come and go and our van’s playlist is always full of new music, but we always keep one foot in the past.

You were discovered by Jim de Whalley – son of the legendary Chas de Whalley. How did that come about? Where did he first see you?

Ha! He’ll love seeing that question! We were playing in The Cavern Club years ago and he was doing the live sound for us. He seemed like an alright guy, but we did play a little hard to get at the start. Glad we ended up working together though.

What’s changed since he discovered you? What’s different about your life as a band?

It’s actually been great working with Jim. He’s a producer as well as a manager so he’s been able to help us unlock new musical avenues that we just didn’t think were possible. He’s been very supportive of our experimentation.

Tell us a bit about your new single ‘Bring This All Together.’ What’s the inspiration behind that track?

Love. It’s all about love. When you love someone so much that you will do absolutely anything to make it work. But that’s just what I think. It’s different for everyone. To you it could be about working hard and achieving your goal. Never giving up.

The single mix was done by Tarek Musa from Spring King – how did you get him on board?

Email. It’s amazing who you can reach out to if they like your music. We dropped his manager a line and even though he was working to complete the Spring King record at the time, he managed to fit us in. Lovely bloke.

The Luka State Conrad Ellis live in Spain BW 2 (c) Project Records 2015

“it feels great to be a part of this new movement of artists who stick two fingers up to the traditional business models of the industry”

What do you think working with Tarek added to the single mix?

It’s brilliant. So much energy. Really raw. It’s a lot closer to how we sound live than the original mix. Doesn’t mean we didn’t like the work Chris Sheldon did on the first mix, we just felt that we could revisit the track with a different goal in mind.

The single is the last track on your debut mini-album The Price of Education. Have you got any plans to release a proper album or longer releases any time in the future?

Now that would be telling wouldn’t it… soooo… you might as well be the first to hear it. We’ve been working on new tracks from pretty much the moment the mini album dropped. There’ll be lots new to hear in 2016. Promise.

You’ve already headlined a festival, Canadian Indie Week; how was that experience for you?

That was amazing. We were invited over as finalists of the Manchester competition. It’s actually our 5th time to Toronto but this time was special. Our Rivoli show with Victoria+Jean was crazy. For 45 minutes a packed room listened in silence. No one dared breathe a word. The cheers we got at the end were humbling.

Aside from that you’ve also got a really impressive 1.2 million views and counting on your YouTube channel and have been played by 6 Music and Kerrang. What does it mean to you to have gained such a strong fanbase in a relatively short amount of time?

It’s crazy to be honest. YouTube is now at 1.9 Million, Spotify at 400,000 plays and we’ve done it all without a record label. Doing it on your own makes you feel really connected to your fans. You realise that you only have a “job” because of them. They owe us nothing and we owe them everything. Now we’ve just gotta take that fanbase and multiply it 100 fold!

Do you ever find it odd that you’ve already headlined a festival and have such a huge following but haven’t signed a big record deal yet?

It’s funny you say that. Back when Sam and I first started playing together we thought you could only do these things with a label backing you, but things have changed so much in the industry. Just look at bands like Spring King. They’re flying the flag for DIY bands right now and it feels great to be a part of this new movement of artists who stick two fingers up to the traditional business models of the industry.

What’s the next step for you after the single is released?

Rest! It’s been a crazy year so we’re looking forward to a break over Christmas, but we already know that we’ve got a busy busy January/ February lined up. At least we’ll get to burn off that Christmas Turkey before spring!

‘Bring This All Together’ comes out on 27th November via Project Records.

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