This month Austin Lucas is travelling the highways and byways of Australia’s east coast for the first time for the ‘Young Troubadour Tour’.
Having raised his profile on the road with Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown tour, the troubadour-packed Revival tour, and in support of Pennsylvania’s Langhorne Slim, Austin has also bolstered a loyal grassroots following with appearances at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Canada’s Sled Island Festival, Florida’s Harvest of Hope, and several successful European tours. Folk music is for the common folk, and Lucas delivers, often ending his shows playing on the floor amid the crowd.
Variously described as country/bluegrass with some classic rock and roll, Austin often finds himself in the ears of folk punk, alternative country, alt folk and alternative rock fans.
‘Honestly, everyone seems to hear something vaguely similar but nobody can agree on what to categorise it as,’ says Austin, whose fan base is strongest in Europe, specifically Finland of all places. ‘I don’t know exactly why, but my Finnish friend once told me that the reason was because Finnish people understand my sadness.’
Raised in the backwoods country of Monroe County, Indiana, Austin Lucas was born into a folk and bluegrass lineage – a genetic muso, dad Bob Lucas, is an accomplished musician and performer in his own right and at whose knee Austin learned to harmonise before learning to read.
Is it hard following in your father’s footsteps?
Not particularly. No more than it would be to follow if he were a carpenter or military man. Music is the family business and it comes naturally.
Do you play together often?
As often as possible.
Does he ‘help’ with you music?
He’s helped me record on numerous records and even produced a few as well.
Have you become more critical of his talent now that you are you own man?
Not at all. I’ve come to admire it ever more greatly over the years.
Is he more critical of you?
Much less so as my skill level has gone up. I think that’s fairly normal. We’ve become peers over the years of musical collaboration. I’d say that we both just have an incredible amount of mutual respect for one another.
Have you found the redemption your bio speaks of?
I’m not sure if I’ve ever been on any kind of quest for redemption. More like a quest for perfection/imperfection as well as an increase of songwriting skill and musical ability.
Since your debut album in 2006, you have released a lot of recordings – are you addicted to the studio?
I wouldn’t say that I’m addicted but I do love making records.
What has been the highlight and low point of the last 12 months?
My high point and my low point are the same thing. I got divorced this year. Horrible, horrible experience but also very cathartic and it led to a very productive period. Crazy fucking life change, though.
What are you working on now?
Just finished tracking my new album, Stay Reckless, and now on to mixing.
When did you start working on the new album?
I went in with Mark Nevers in his studio in Nashville at the beginning of December 2012. We spent two weeks tracking the record. Mark will mix the record in Feb and we are hoping to have it out in early summer 2013.
What is your favourite track from the new album?
My favorite track is probably a song called Different shade of red. It’s a really stereotypical 70s-sounding country song. It almost sounds patriotic but, if you listen to the words, it’s actually a song about being proud of being from a family that is from the radical left. Plus, we put this great phase guitar on the track. Tickles me to have it sound so much like a Waylon Jennings or Bocephus song.
Is this recording different from previous albums?
Absolutely. It was made as a band record with Glossary, rather than its being just my showing up with a batch of songs and piecing together musicians to make the record. I rehearsed with Glossary and got everything together so that it gelled pretty much before we went into the studio. It was awesome to make a record like that again. It had been too long since I’d done that.
Just lots and lots of touring and hopefully the release of my new album. I’m hitting SXSW in Austin, Texas in March [no he is not named after the city] then heading to Europe in April with Glossary as my backing band and hopefully for US touring after that. Plus planning my next Australia trip. I’d love to see more of this amazing country.
Who are you listening to now?
Mostly Glossary, who were my backing band on this new album. Aside from that, I’m listening to a lot of PJ Bond and Jamie Hay because I’m on tour with them and hearing them every night. But I’m not complaining!
Austin will play two gigs locally, the first on Thursday at The Wasp Factory in Lismore and on Friday at an all-ages show at The Shed in Byron Bay.