ROCKWiRED NOTES: LUKAS ROSSi
he first time I spoke with LUKAS ROSSI in 2008 the world was in the midst of the Great Recession. I was out of a job and doing all I could to make this ROCKWIRED thing work out. ROSSI was going through some changes in his life as well. A couple of years earlier, the ultimate rock n roll dream came true for the Canadian rocker when he competed in the reality contest series ROCKSTAR SUPERNOVA and won the prize - the lead singer spot for the titular supergroup comprised of TOMMY LEE (MOTLEY CRUE), JASON NEWSTED (METALLICA) and GILBY CLARK (GUNS N' ROSES). Following his victory, ROSSI saw the world through SUPERNOVA's tour of North America, Australia and New Zealand. For reasons that I can't quite remember, SUPERNOVA came to an end and ROSSI took the experience, ran with it and has maintained a solo career ever since. His FREDDIE MERCURY meets JEFF BUCKLEY howl has been put to fine use on his signature brand of blistering hard rock over the past decade. Now, in the throes of a global pandemic, LUKAS ROSSI has re-emerged with a sound marked by pop hooks and a sunnier outlook on life. Hey, if the guy can pull it off in times marked by political divisiveness, masks and a rising death toll, more power to him. However, ROSSI handles his shift in sound with both zeal and know-how. ROSSI's new album SUMMERTIME is a milestone in the artist's unpredictable career and could earn the season rocker even broader appeal. He is already on the right track with the titular single and its music video featuring appearances from the likes of TOMMY LEE, members of P.O.D. and TIFFANY. ROCKWIRED had a chance to catch up with LUKAS over the phone from his studio in Nashville. Here is how the interview went.
It's surprising to hear that you are based out of Nashville now. What inspired the move from Canada to Nashville?
I've been back and forth between here and Canada for about four years now. I've got family here and I've got my own studio here that I work out of. These days I'm really family oriented and life is a lot less glitzy and glamorous and less crazy. It's been good for quite a long time now. It's great having my own studio in this town. If you want something done right you've got to do it yourself.
How easy or difficult was it to get established in a town like Nashville. The stock and trade there is country music. How have you managed to stand out in the crowd?
It's been pretty hard, but it's just as hard anywhere else where you've got to prove what you've got as a music maker and artist. You've really got to be pro-active. When you're working for yourself you've got no choice but to put yourself out there. Specifically here in Nashville, it is hard to get into certain genres because here you've got songwriting teams that people depend on so someone coming onto the scene isn't going to have it all that easy. You've really got to prove yourself and I have learned alot by living here. A lot of the music that comes out of this town has this really pristine production qualty to it and that is something that I have really come to respect here.
It seems to me like you are in the seat behind the recording console more than ever before. Describe how easy or difficult it is to switch gears from artist to producer and then back again?
That is a very good question. There is a lot of slipping back and forth from being an artist to being a producer. When you are recording a song there is a lot of stepping outside of your self that you have to do. There is this whole technical side to being a producer that can be overwhelming and there was a time when I kind of scoffed at that whole thing. Now I have this tremendous respect for what goes on behind the recording console. It is also helpful to get feedback from other people.
CHECK OUT THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR SUMMERTiME!!!
And now I'm finally getting to the release of your new album SUMMERTIME. Now that it's out there for people to hear, how do you feel about the finished work?
I think that it is our duty as musicians to be ourselves and with this record I was probably more myself. I worked on this album for a long time and I waited for a year to put it out. I had thought about waiting a little bit longer but what was I going to tell my fans? That they had to wait more? Of course the album has now been released at the most tumultuous time possible and with that I figured that I would try to deliver an album that was more happy and less angry.
And I've got to point out that this album is certainly a departure from the gritty rock music people are used to hearing from you.
Yes, I love it. I've got not no one to blame for it but myself.
So far what kind of reactions have you been able to gauge from the release of the album and the single?
I havent heard anything negative so that's been good. People identify me with a particular sound and with this album I kind of wanted to stretch my wings creatively. I think it's important to try new things and to not let yourself stagnate. If you get too comfortable with something you are never going to grow. With this album I thought it was important to grow and to test my limitations as a singer and a songwriter.
What inspired this sonic switch in sound?
I think the need to want evolve inspired the album but at the same time, I don't want my fans and people thinking that I've abandoned hard rock entirely. In fact, the next single that I'm going to be releasing is going to be a rock anthem. I think that it is important not to alienate people but you can't do the same thing over and over again. When you are on a long road trip you are going to make a bunch of stops along the way and those stops add to the journey. I also feel like I needed a change of mood. When I looked back at my musical catalog and output up until now I would say that a lot of the music was very moody and dark but I'm not always a moody and dark person. I can be sunny sometimes so I think this album represents a broader look at who I am as a person.
And I've got to tip myhat to on the music video for SUMMERTIME. You got everybody to show up from your pal TOMMY LEE to P.O.D. and TIFFANY. Talk about how you were able to get everyone together for the video.
Getting the video together in the editing room was really quite hard. It was just really hard to edit but when the thing finally came together it just brought tears to my eyes. We were able to get all of these guest stars in the video and I was so grateful. Everyone who made an appearance in that video was a person who deeply affected my life. They were all friends and it wasn't one of those situations where I was told to speak to their managers first. Everyone who came to the shoot was there because they wanted to be there. No managers were needed. It was like the world's greatest zoom call.
From the album, what other songs have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
I would have to say the song HIGHER BRIDGES which was written for my nine year old. Because he's nine, he is probably too young to understand the sentiment behind the song. And the song has some cuss words, so maybe when he grows older he will appreciate the song. It is basically an ode to him. It's all about how I've jumped off of higher bridges and that I've been through worse all so that he doesn't have to. It is my way of telling him that I love him. Some of the other songs that I'm excited to get people to hear are FOOLISH and JUST LIKE HIGH SCHOOL. This album kind of sums up my life from ten years old to present and it is stuff that I have never addressed before in my more rock stuff.
You can't bring up anything these days without bringing up COVID-19. How are you, as a musician, coping with all of this especially when you consider what the pandemic has done to the music industry?
It's funny to me how COVID-19 has kept us apart from one another becasue of all of the social distancing but the beauty of the whole thing is that as a society we are closer now than we ever were before this whole thing started. We communicate with each other more. People are talking with each other online and reaching out. Before COVID-19 we were all running around like the Rabbit from ALICE IN WONDERLAND going, "I'm late for an important date!", but now people are finding ways to come together and be safe. No man is an island. We can't be apart but we've got to stay safe. I haven't been able to tour at all but I've done some live shows through STAGEIT.COM and the response to those shows was unbelievably amazing and what is really cool is that fans of mine are meeting each other through STAGEIT.COM and becoming friends. THe fanbase has turned into more a community.
What is the big idea behind the album? What would you like for someone to come away with after they hear it?
I just want people to smile and feel good. It's so easy to be brought down by the pandemic and thinking that it's never going to end but it is going to end one day. As long as I have a mic in my hand I'm going to try to put out as much love back into the world as I possibly can. That's my job. I don't have time for negativity.
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