Looking for Lucas explode with passionate energy on debut EP ‘High Wire’, blending Britpop and indie rock into a raw, finessed, and intoxicating tempest of sound.
Oasis may not have reunited this year, but a new Mancunian voice has caught our attention – one by the name of Johnny Lucas, who emerged in 2018 with his band Looking for Lucas. Based in Nashville, the formidable trio of Lucas, bassist Chris Amond and drummer Dave Dombrowski craft a dynamic blend of raw hard rock with strong Britpop influences and textures. Their sound is simultaneously nostalgic and fresh as they pull from the past while trailblazing their own path, which has already had its share of turbulence and tension.
Looking for Lucas’ long-awaited, highly anticipated debut EP High Wire finally released on November 16, 2018 via Ten Ten Music. This followed several single releases during the first half of 2018, as well as an important name change.
“We were originally called LUCAS but there are too many other acts, bands, and solo artists that have LUCAS in their name,” Johnny Lucas tells Atwood Magazine. “So this made it impossible for people to find us online and on Spotify, and I remember having a meeting in the office and people were saying, “everyone’s looking for lucas but they can’t find you.” This had been going on now for a few months and we’d already had a few singles released that were gathering steam. So I just blurted out, “Let’s change the name to Looking For Lucas?” Then the room silenced and people started saying that it was a good idea! That’s the first time I’ve ever actually had a positive reaction from a band name that I’ve come up with! So we made the change and it feels like it was definitely the right thing to do. It also means more now, because there’s a story behind it.”
“Looking for Lucas” is fun; it inspires a journey, or some sort of mission. It feels right for an indie rock/pop band with a youthful glow and boundless energy. Of course, as important as it is to find the right band name, nothing compares to their actual music.
High Wire‘s five passion-fueled tracks tell tales of struggle and desire through catchy, exciting music that will get stuck in your head for months. Opener “Anne Marie” is a raw flirtation full of hard rock charm; its verses are as catchy as its propellant chorus. The explosive “High Wire,” a song that highlights Johnny Lucas’ troubles getting a Work Visa, speaks to a universal feeling of perseverance and overcoming obstacles: “You won’t catch me looking over my shoulder,” the vicious lead singer belts, “Juggling with fire ’til I see smoulders, and I won’t look down – the ground is far away, ’cause I’m on the fire.” Power rises throughout this intoxicating chorus as Looking for Lucas take us on a musical roller-coaster.
The band show their diversity on the Britpop-savvy “Attention,” which struts its stuff with clever lyricism and vigor, and the poetically poignant ballad “Reverse,” a beautifully bittersweet burst of longing and tenderness with a moving video to match:
It doesn’t get any better
Killing ghosts from the past
Just you and me right now
Is all we need to make history disappear
So just let me put my arms around you now
I’ll just hold you but I’ll never hold you down
This is your song that I’m humming
Drowning sirens far away
So kiss the lonely from our lips right now
And just let me put my arms around you now
I’ll just hold you but I’ll never hold you down
I was going down I woulda hit the ground
But you got there 1st now I’m falling in reverse
Woaah now I’m falling in reverse
Woaah now I’m falling in reverse
Looking for Lucas close their incredible entrance with “Got It Together,” a fiery and assertive close that find the band in a good place. Sometimes the grass is greener — so long as you remember that “no one’s got it together.” We’re all just figuring things out, one step at a time. All things considered, this is a more-than-fitting message to end Looking for Lucas’ first offering – one that has finally seen the light of day, despite all the false starts, hiccups and hangups along the way.
This is the beginning of something very special. Looking for Lucas are raw, yet polished; explosive, yet controlled. The band own the airwaves with dramatic intensity and pristine finesse, heralding a new generation of Britpop-influenced rock full of wit, buoyancy, and allure. Experience their full record via the below stream, and peek inside Looking for Lucas’ High Wire EP with Atwood Magazine as Johnny Lucas goes track-by-track through the songs off this sterling, raucaus debut!
Stream: ‘High Wire’ – Looking for Lucas
:: Inside High Wire ::
GOT IT TOGETHER
Got It Together – This song was written by me and was inspired by a few relationships I’ve had where the common story line goes like this: At the start things are great as you’re in the honeymoon phase and you’re very smitten. Then after 6 months or so usually you both get busy and then the relationship needs “real work” to keep the romance going. Then the next final stage is realizing that there’s not anything in common any longer to keep things alive and it’s just not worth it! Ha all wrapped up in a happy melody:) I wanted to write something so loud and proud to start with which then kind of sets it up for a fail.
High Wire the title track sums it up best with the opening line, “Is the answer up in the sky?” There have been so many coincidences when it comes to people and opportunities, here in Nashville, that it’s hard to believe there isn’t something up there tying it all together. The journey of getting here was by not a smooth one by any stretch of the imagination and it took a lot to hang in there and trust that it was all going to work out. I was stuck in the UK for 5 months unable to enter the country because my visa process got held up and there was nothing I could do, my hands were completely tied. Plus all the money I’d spent on flights and visa fees was lost so I was nearly out of the game completely! But I thought if I can just see this through and be patient, that amazing things were going to happen in Nashville.
Thankfully my managers and publishers stepped forward and pushed doors to get me, and as soon as I got here that’s when amazing things started to happen! I’ve been writing more songs than I’ve ever written in my life with great writers like Desmond Child (Livin On A Prayer, Dude Looks Like A Lady), Roger Cook (Long Woman In A Black Dress, I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing) and jammed with Jo Brown who even had the Beatles open up for him back in the day! High Wire definitely captures those difficult emotions of moving here whilst taking it all in and thinking wow this is an exciting journey! “I won’t look down the ground it far away, coz I walk the high wire everyday.”
The song starts off in a contemplative way “futures talking doesn’t matter what it says” (that was me being all reflective and pensive on the day of the write) then Lincoln played that D chord after 15secs that just took it somewhere else as if a girl had just swiped in there and suddenly she’s the focus. It wasn’t until the 2nd draft of the lyrics with Ronell’s idea of Destiny coming to play. I was going to just leave it at Anne Marie but I’m so glad it gets turned back round to a more contemplative destiny meaning at the chorus held over that A7 chord then crashing into the Sitar afterwards makes it sound like a real explosion of ideas are on the plate.
Anne Marie expresses the tensions between really falling for a girl and constantly getting pulled away by music whether physically (tour) or withdrawing emotionally because I feel like I have to give my all to art.
When I first started writing songs, it became so clear that this was going to be my life, passion and vehicle for everything that I felt. Once that switch flips there’s no turning it off, it’s the reason why a lot of my relationships have struggled in the past because I’ve always put music first. I’ve missed birthdays, holidays and dates because of shows and tours so my past girlfriends had to try to come to terms with the fact that I’m already in a love affair with music.
Although this song is a bouncy upbeat one, it really explores how difficult it is to strike that balance between devoting everything to your career and having a happy, sustainable relationship. I’m sure I’ve come across as emotionally unavailable because I’m wired to pour my heart, soul and energy into my music. What I fear the most is allowing something or someone to deter focus and momentum away from my art and career. My deep rooted love of making music puts me in an almost hyper-protective stance where I’m *terrified (too harsh *unable *determined * to not let anything stand in the way.
Reverse was the last song written in the previous Ten Ten Publishing Office building in Music Row where so many hits have been written. Myself, Ronell Coburn and Bryan Tewell were determined to make this a soul jerker as at that time so much was going on. When we thought of the hook a poster of the Beatles fell off the wall so we took that as a sign and it led us to the whole falling imagery thing. Reverse is a song about being given a second chance, no matter how low or heartbroken you feel, you just never know who you might meet to make that spark happen again. It’s definitely about that scary euphoria you get when falling in love but almost being elevated and seeing life in a brand new way through the help of that person. “Killing ghosts from the past” is a line about fear that builds up from a previous relationship that ended, but then watching your worry melt away because you’ve met the right person. Also when you have a good relationship in your life it breaks your fall because that person is there to act as a buffer for any hardships you may have, ideally there to restore you.
We first played the song in a venue in Franklin and that was when our producer Lincoln Parish became adamant that this was the most powerful song to go on the EP. He even got the Cage The Elephant string quartet to play on it which was such a great experience. There’s something about seeing live string one of your songs that just makes you get emotional! I hope to move people with this, but in a good way. One that makes you come out the other end believing that you can be severely heartbroken but still meet “the one” or, maybe you already have “the one” in which case light a couple of candles and pour a glass of wine coz it’s cozy time baby!
I actually wrote the chorus for this song on a Kayak in New Zealand when I was getting swept out to sea whilst trying to attract the attention of my buddies. They couldn’t see me or hear me so I had to paddle furiously against the tide and while I was paddling I got the chorus melody in my head and made sure I remembered it! But the lyrics are heavily sarcastic and go through some of the inner tribulations and insecurities of what often happens when I’m in the spotlight.
I think this is the song with the most British sense of humor because us Brits tend to be a bit apologetic and are self deprecating in our own unique and sarcastic way!
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📸 © Elisabeth Donaldson