Jack Lukeman: “making an album is the most thankless thing you can do”

by James Hendicott
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Jack Lukeman, a.k.a Jack L, is roughly 15 albums into a career that’s seen him rise from little rural stages to the country’s biggest indoor venue. 

With hits like ‘Georgie Boy’ and ‘Open Your Borders’, Lukeman is fresh off the back of a summer of touring, including shows with Sting and Jools Holland, a return he’s described as “fantastic.” 

“Everybody just wants to get on with things now,” he says. “There was a point where we all thought ‘will we get back at all’, so we really have to appreciate it.” 

“The new single ‘Sundogs in the Moonshine’, about Thailand, came about in part because I couldn’t get out. I’ve always done a lot of travelling. That song is a kind of homage to the sun dog, the people who chase the sun, and the Full Moon Parties. They were just an excuse to stay up all night and then party on the beach, and everyone would cheer when the sun came up.” 

“I’ve done so many different styles and types of music, I suppose the albums are always a bit eclectic,” he says. “I’ve another song called the ‘Battle of the Hawthorn Trees’, which is about the resilience of nature as I stare out of the window, and one called ‘I’ve Forgotten’, which is about trying to remember how to socialise with people. I always try to write something that hasn’t been written before, really.” 

Live streams were a big thing for Lukeman during lockdown, gathering a massive audience, but his albums have become further apart, with the last three spaced out by five year gaps between original albums, some cover records landing in between. 

“I tend to do one of my own original albums and then in between a theme kind of thing,” he says. “This time around, I actually have a bunch more songs that will help me get another album of original stuff out pretty quickly.” 

“It’s the most thankless thing you can do to make an album now,” he laughs. “It’s the most avant garde thing you can do, as they’re given away free. It’s like a baker giving away free bread. The best thing is then you can go and play it live, and live is where I survive in the business.” 

“The sets I do are always quite random, except with a beginning and an end,” Lukeman explains. “I have seen videos of songs I did that I can’t remember at all, I don’t remember learning or recording the song. I guess the brain can only remember so much.” 

“I’ve fallen in love with songs like ‘Plastic Jesus’ from ‘Cool Hand Luke’, and I’ll do that in the set because I just love singing it. It’s very changeable.” 

“I’m lucky, I have a multi-octave voice, and I’ve never needed to have a vocal lesson. I start songs by working out the key, and go from there. Having a voice is an adventure in itself, as it changes over time, as you get older. I’m learning how it works, even now, as it goes along.” 

“People always comment on my voice, and it’s still able to hit the notes on the early songs, though maybe if I do five nights in a row, I’ll have to think about the sixth night.” 

“But I worry about everything, down to the smell of the place. It has to look good, feel good, smell good. Once you’re on stage, you have to forget about those things and focus on the music, on enjoying yourself.” 

Jack Lukeman plays his first ever 3Arena headline show on November 25.

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