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Interviewed by
Natalie Finnigan
Monday 21st May, 2012 11:13AM

Auckland two-piece Luckless are on the edge of their seats as the release date of their debut album creeps ever closer.  Due out on Friday (25th May), we caught up with lead singer/songwriter Ivy Rossiter for a bit of background on the album and it's creation...

You're due to release your debut album at the end of the week - what can we expect?

The album itself shows we spent 18 months working to bring it to this point. We spent a full 12 months recording it on and off which let the songs develop gradually and we worked on the production and instrumentation until we were happy with it. The live show is much more raw and stripped back than the record, but I'm really proud we've managed to make an album that I feel is a very complete piece of work.

Does it have an overarching theme, or is it a reflection of everything you've done up until now?

I've spent a few years of bleeding off songs that I wrote early on and getting down to work that I am ultimately more proud of, and comfortable to present to people, so I'm very happy that this isn't everything we've done up until now.

I feel I have a long way to go with songwriting as a craft, and there is a lot more I would like to explore within it, but overall I think this album is a good illustration of what we've been doing as Luckless over the past year.

I think that as Luckless, our music is generally quite consistent in tone and ideas, even if the sound of the songs varies from one to the other, so while there isn't a 'theme' or 'concept' for the album, I think it hangs together well.

What sound did you want to achieve production wise and how did you go about creating it?

I didn't want the songs to lack anything, but I didn't want them to be overblown either. It was a delicate balance of adding the things I thought would add to the atmosphere and ambiance appropriate to each song, and stripping out the things that weren't working. It isn't a live album by any stretch of the imagination - we started with drums and worked our way up, layer by layer, with our very-patient Audio Engineer Jordan Stone at Roundhead Studios. We were able to grab half-days here and there in the studio, and would go in and add guitars, bass, vocals, gradually until we had found the sound we were looking for.

Who have you worked with on the album?

Our engineer, Jordan Stone, has pretty much held the album together right from the start, when we first started talking to him about the record. He slaved away on it for months, and we definitely could not have done it without him. Working with someone that professional, with all the experience he has (he recorded Wilco The Album, Crowded House, Liam Finn and lots of others) meant that we could absolutely hand over anything we were unsure about and let his experience guide what we were doing.

For the physical package, we worked with Graphic Designer Aimee Carruthers of Paper Cut Design - she came up with the concept of creating a hand-made letter-pressed package, which I think really justifies the amount of work we put into the musical side of things. Shona Gow at Magpie Press, who did the letter-pressing, was willing to take a punt on a kind of project that she had never tackled before, so we were very lucky with the amount of patience and assistance she was able to give us.

Are you happy with it?

After 18 months of work I'd feel awful if we weren't happy with it! We took our time to get the whole thing right, and even though it's a bit of a shock that now the release is upon us, I don't think we've cut any corners, which makes me very happy. I am looking forward to setting it free into the world though, so that I can move on and work on some new material.

How are you feeling about the release?

I feel a little apprehensive - I'm quite aware that our album doesn't sound like other bands out in the local industry and in the 'scene' at the moment, and I'm unsure of who will connect with the sound. I'm sure there'll be people out there that will hate it - but I'm hopeful we'll be able to find people that identify with what we do as well.

How do you and Will work together?

It's a strange kind of relationship, when there's only two of you in a band! We manage to work together constructively because we bring a lot of different ideas, and baggage, to the table. I usually work out the beginnings of the song, with a riff, some lyrics and whatnot and then bring the songs to Will. They morph quite significantly while we work them out together - Will often brings a rhythmic idea or groove to the song that hadn't occurred to me in the initial writing stages, and when he starts singing everything starts to glue together.

Are you both full-time musicians or do you have other work on the side?

We definitely don't make any money from our music! We both have work on the side, and Will studies at university, so we're very busy. I play in another band, and Will plays in two or three other bands at any given time, so it's a juggling act, but I think it's one that pays off well. I think that's why it took us so long to finish the record, but that definitely made the record better.

Who are your major musical influences?

It's very cliched to say that our musical influences are diverse, but there's really no other way to describe it. A lot of my early music-loving days were spent in the Kings Arms listening to punk rock. I loved bands like At The Drive In and Refused - the way that they took an aggressive, bare-basics genre like punk and expanded it and developed it to being something far more complex and musically interesting. The more immediate influences are bands like Mazzy Star, PJ Harvey, Sparklehorse, St Vincent, The Veils, Warpaint - bands that have a real emotional thread running through their music, but who still make something musically sophisticated and challenging to listen to. I keep discovering bands that I feel a real affinity with, which makes me hopeful that our music may find an audience out there somewhere.

How does the song writing process start for you?

Usually I start with a line, a riff, a tiny fragment of an idea, and then spin it out and spin it out into something like a song. The initial idea barely exists by the time I get to the end of a song - it's just a jumping off point - the song ends up being about something entirely different to what I originally imagined. I like to craft the songs for a while before I let them out into the wild - I don't like presenting something that might only be half-baked. I want to be sure I've finished work on a song before I let other people criticize it.

I assume you are going to tour the album - any confirmed dates yet?

We have a release show on May 24th, in Auckland, which we're really excited about. We're happy to be celebrating our release at The Wine Cellar - they've supported us so much through our lifespan as a band that we feel a real affinity with the place, and real gratitude to Rohan Evans, who runs the venue.

We've just finished confirming the dates for the rest of the tour. In addition to our release show, we'll be playing a bunch of shows with Bond Street Bridge in June. We went on tour with BSB last year and had a really good time, and we have the advantage of being able to fit all of us and our gear into one vehicle without too much discomfort, so it's a good match.

22 June - The Moorings, Wellington
23 June - The Free House, Nelson
24 June - Dharma Bums Club, Wairau Vallue
25 June - Donovan's Store, Okarito
26 June - Cooks Saddle, Fox Glacier
27 June - Theatrette, Oamaru
28 June - The National, Dunedin
29 June - The Brewery, Christchurch
30 June - The Darkroom, Christchurch
1 July - Le Cafe, Picton

What's on the cards after the tour?

I really want to be writing - the recording and then the logistics of releasing this record have taken so many months that I am looking forward to working on some new material. There might be a bit of a reshape of what Luckless is after the tour - but I'm not quite sure what form that will take. I want the material and the band to continue to grow and evolve, and hopefully the future holds positive changes.


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