Photo: Sean Hendry
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune often come flying seemingly out of nowhere in your late 20s/early 30s.
It’s a scenario that singer/songwriter, Laurie Luke, has endured and ultimately turned into a creative force on his forthcoming debut EP, Way Back When. The first taste, a single called Rainbow Bomb, is released this week.
The EP paints not only paints a very complete portrait in terms of theme, but also in musicality, the majority of which comes from Laurie himself. It’s no surprise really, as he bonded with music at an early age…
“The earliest thing I can remember is when I was 6 and we were on a family holiday in Kalbarri, having dinner at the pub. There was a band playing, two guys and a drum machine and one of them was blind, he played tambourine and sang and the other played guitar. They must’ve seen me jiving away in the corner and they called me up. I got to play the tambourine on Mustang Sally and I thought, ‘this… is pretty good’.”
At home it wasn’t much different. Laurie’s father was a big music fan and all sorts of classic rock was always playing. They had sleepovers at school where the kids could bring a treasured possession from home. Laurie’s friend brought in an older brother’s guitar, a red Strat copy, and played Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun. “I was just knocked out,” Laurie says. It kicked off a lifelong relationship with the guitar.
Like so many, Laurie was thrilled and inspired by Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, but as a teen growing up in the ‘90s the likes of Silverchair, Offspring, Nirvana, Tool and of course, Soundgarden, would bear heavy influence. He hung out surfing with an older crew in the northern Perth suburb of Mindarie, which at that time was bushland around a marina.
Emus ran around dusty roads. It was a fun-rough-and-tumble-teenage-life sans police or security guards. “It was Mad Max,” Laurie laughs. But as time went on and high school finished it was music that gave him focus. He formed
SOMA – a heavy, angry, politically-driven prog-rock outfit.
When that band finished he made his first forays into serious home recording, before forming Heavy Love, an outfit that was a positive, polar opposite of SOMA and toured around WA before parting ways. Laurie by this point, was recording entire albums at home that were mixed, mastered and stored away. He estimates he has five album’s worth of unreleased material, of a diversity of genres.
During this time Laurie was raising a young family at home, and had come to the end of a long marriage. Through that personal turbulence he again turned his time and intensity into music, but on a release that would actually see the light of day. Way Back When is both the EP and the experience.
“The EP is…” he pauses, “word for word, you know? It is what it is. It’s like a document of what happened from day-to-day.”
The songs evoke the saga. Byron Bay recalls an interstate move which had been a getaway plan that didn’t work out. When the ‘out’ doesn’t work out and you have to go back in is the background to Concrete Jungleland – whereupon the writer is finds himself at square one.
The single, Rainbow Bomb, meanwhile, reaches to a different place. “My son did a painting, different colours from the middle out to the end of the page, he said it was called ‘Rainbow Bomb’. I was like, ‘aww, you’re a genius’ (laughs).” Laurie wrote it into a piece of music he already had bubbling and the lyrics are stream-of-consciousness.
Seventeen is a story of looking back. “The story of the Mad Max days,” Laurie notes, “doing stuff and being too young to do it.” The suite of songs ends with the brass intro of Losing My Fear, which features some socio-political commentary. It’s a return to earlier ways, but an end to the EP’s tale of life lived and dealt with.
Across five tracks Way Back When displays prog-rock intent played with hard rock feeling and edge-driven dynamics. Laurie self-produced the EP, which was mixed by Matthew Cockill.
“We chased the rabbit down so many paths to complete this EP,” Laurie says. "’I have an idea’, I would say for the 100th time on the fifth ‘final mix’ of the third version of a song, and Matt would power on and make it happen. The man has patience and a genuine gift and passion for music.”
Laurie Luke’s debut single is released on May 25, with the Way Back When EP to follow in August.