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Interview: Jordan Luck Band 'Who Loves NZ The Most?' 2020 Tour

Interview: Jordan Luck Band 'Who Loves NZ The Most?' 2020 Tour

C.C. / Interview by Finn Johansson / Thursday 30th July, 2020 11:22AM

If you don't know who Jordan Luck is, you probably haven't listened to much music in Aotearoa over the past forty years. The legendary frontman of The Exponents is gearing up for his biggest tour in a decade, playing a mammoth run of hit-packed shows happening all across the nation this coming autumn and winter, right back on track after all the disruptions resulting from Covid-19. Fresh from the release of his student radio chart-topping single 'Six Pack', Pōneke songwriter / multi-media sensation Finn Johansson accepted the challenge of interviewing the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame inductee, co-creator of such singalong kiwi anthems as 'Why Does Love Do This To Me?', 'Victoria', 'Who Loves Who The Most?' and so many more.

You can catch Jordan Luck and his all-star band featuring Bryan Bell (Dead Flowers), Beaver, Rich Mixture and Joe Walsh, playing all the classic Exponents hits plus more including material from Jordan Luck Band's latest album Not Only... But Also in September, October and November, with support from Tāmaki Makaurau's Ekko Park. Scope out the show details below, keep an eye out for new music from Finn Johansson releasing soon, and mark Saturday 15th August in your diary for An Evening With Finn Johansson Plays The Hits!, taking over Meow with a special two hour, double set, no encores extravaganza...

UPDATE 14/09/20: Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Jordan Luck Band's Thames and Waiheke events have been cancelled, and Mt Maunganui's show has been rescheduled to 22nd November...

Jordan Luck Band - 'Who Loves NZ The Most?' 2020 Tour w/ Ekko Park

Saturday 26th September - The Old Stone Butter Factory, Whangarei
Friday 2nd October - Speights Ale House, Timaru [sold out]
Saturday 3rd October - The Good Home Ferrymead, Christchurch
Friday 9th October - Tinwald tavern, Ashburton [sold out]
Saturday 10th October - Paroa Hotel, Greymouth
Thursday 15th October - Mussel inn, Takaka
Friday 16th October - Playhouse Theatre, Nelson
Saturday 17th October - Yard Bar, Blenheim
Thursday 22nd October - Southland Musicians Club, Invercargill
Friday 23rd October - Mornington Tavern, Dunedin [sold out]
Saturday 24th October 
- The Thomas Green, Gore
Sunday 25th October - Oamaru Club, Oamaru
Friday 30th October - Mangawhai Tavern, Mangawhai
Saturday 31st October - The Brownzy, Auckland
Saturday 6th November - Pukekohe Cosmopolitan Club, Pukekohe
Saturday 7th November - San Fran, Wellington
Friday 13th November - Smash Palace, Gisborne [sold out, new date]
Friday 20th November - The Cabana, Napier [sold out, new date]
Saturday 21st November - Waihi Beach Hotel, Waihi Beach [new date]
Sunday 22nd November - Totara St, Mt Maunganui [new date - early show]

Tickets available HERE via UTR 

Finn Johansson: I was just thinking that lockdown would be a strange time for you, because you're not exactly a hermit.

Jordan Luck: Well lockdown didn't turn out to be hermit-ville at all... There were three different whānau that arrived. We also had two self-isolators, an Irish lady and a lad from South Hampton, who got stuck at Christchurch Airport, they were friends of folk up north and they stayed here to do their fortnight, then they stayed on another three days. At one stage there was about seven, as opposed to just two, and there were three dogs as opposed to just one. It was crazy time. So yeah, it was a lot busier weirdly, apart from the gig side of things.

Yeah, definitely. How did that go with you? I got this whole thing, which was 'week six vibes'. I broke my elbow and then I tried to do some virtual reality... that sort of thing. Did it get a bit crazy for you?

It's going to be close to a record break... about three and a half month. That's a record for me, from probably 1977.

That's outrageous. It took a global pandemic...

To silence me!

Have you got a favourite venue you want to go back to?

Fat Luggates [Luggate Pub, one of the oldest pubs in Central Otago] sprung into my head, but I'm not sure that one's one this tour. Cromwell's down that way, that is a crazy town. Oh gosh, Gisborne's fun. Everywhere's fun.

There's so many of those I hadn't heard of.

New Zealand's so lucky. I mean, number one, that we're able to go out and play, have an audience. It's so tough overseas, it is so sad. They're playing football with no audience, there's no gigs. You can't be playing gigs in England, I don't know if you're allowed over ten still. I'm not sure about Australia.

You didn't do any livestreams when you were in isolation?

No... it didn't turn out to be a very creative time. Coming into Level One I've finally sat down and got into some song stuff. Coz honestly it was really hectic during lockdown.

You're writing now. I was wondering, how has what you write about changed over the last 30 plus years?

The think the melodies are still coming really quickly Finn, but the lyrics they take me a lot longer. Mainly coz it's "oh I've said that" or "I've sung that," and I've described the feeling really well actually. [laughs] I don't want to be digging over the same sort of ground. Lyrically, I've been fortuitous enough in the pre-Covid days that I got in some travelling for a change. Over the last few years I did Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico, India, and that's been a real source of inspiration. I don't know what it is about it, but just different things that you've seen.

Having said that, New Zealand has been an inspiration of late. Karamea, been up that way, Moeraki as well down towards Dunedin.

Oh with the boulders?

Yeah that's the one, freaky looking things. Now there's a place outside of Wollongong, just to the south, you've got the exact opposite. You've got these holes, that almost look like the Moeraki Boulders got spat out of that. So I've sort of been doing research on the geology of the rocks. Going "oh well I wonder if they did get spat out?" and either we were closer to Australia back then, they did fly across the Tasman, or some giants are playing marbles.

You'd take the boulders, you put them back in their holes and a big Indiana Jones shit opens up.

Yeah, it could be the go!

That's what I always think. You say that melodies come easy to you, and you don't want to retread any old ground, but doe that mean that lyrics do come to you, you grab them, chuck them in a notebook and then they're there when you have a good melody? When you sit down to write?

Of recent times, the lyrics have come post-melody. Sometimes they do come together, but of recent times it's more like... a bit of craft going on with the lyric thing. Especially with the last album, Not Only... But Also, the Jordan Luck Band one, they're basically all collaborations. I didn't really write the chords, I couldn't play the songs actually. They were kind of group efforts. I'd be singing to recordings, playing them over and over and over, rather than picking up the guitar. I've never actually learnt, I think about six or seven songs, so I wouldn't know how to play them.

That was tricky, but then again, I love the challenge. Coz all of a sudden you get this sequence of chords. I might have gone "hi guys could you play this chord here instead?" but generally I enjoyed the chords I was given. And then I'd create the melody and put the words to it.

If you're in the the mindset of you need to be shaken up – you go overseas and you're getting shaken up with your songwriting - it must be a bit of a luxury as well. Also to have it in your own head.

Bryan Bell, he's a pop writer. Y'know, Dead Flowers and stuff. And of course Joe's writing with Ekko Park. Between them they come up with these really good riffs.

What's your favourite one to play off Not Only... But Also?

One of the best ones – essentially it came together, me singing gobbledygook over Bryan's chords, that was 'Under The Mercury Moon'. It's an AC/DC-ish, Cult-ish riff sort of thing. Initially I was singing something about the, y'know the Marquee Moon? That Television album. And thinking of Tom Verlaine. Further down the track it came into science fiction almost... because there is no moon of Mercury. I'm going "what's this all about Alfie?" It came together really well. It's sort of apocalyptic, which suited the music. It was really good fun.

I can see how with your singing style, Marquee could easily turn into Mercury.

As I say, I was singing gobbledygook. It's that flaming pie kind of thing, or scrambled eggs, where you're making up just rabbit-fish words. But the Marquee bit was [sings] "Under the Mercury Moon."

It's not even the only moon song you've got on that album.

Well spotted Finn. Sometimes you finish up the lyrics and the whole package of the album, eleven or twelve songs, and you look back on it, and there was quite a use of "moon". 'See You Next Wednesday On The Moon'... lyrically, there's verses that use "moon". "Glorious" I think I use quite a bit. It's funny there's different words that crept into the songs. I wasn't analysing it at the time.

If you weren't able to do music now. Y'know things are kind of up in the air, imagine we were stuck in a place where you couldn't tour... [Jordan Luck laughs uproariously] Maybe you lost your voice, or your hands, or your legs or something.

[Jordan sings] "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay / I sleep all night and I work all day / I cut down trees / I eat my lunch and go to the lavatoryyy." [Finn joins in] "On Tuesdays I go shopping / eat buttered scones for tea."

Maybe some sort of lumberjacky logging thing. Tiling's quite fascinating.

Tiling is what kept you away from this interview in the first place.

Yes that's why I was late.

That's a good excuse, you were following your bliss. What's so fascinating about tiling?

The accuracy of it. Also the sticking and gluing thing. You've got a smaller sized tile, but then you've got some big ones. The bathroom wall here has got ones the size of, oh gosh, a metre by 750 (mm). They're quite heavy for a start. The weight of them - how is that going to hold?

Maybe you can do the mosaic album covers in the future.

Well mosaic, that's even trickier... the skill, the acumen of - you see a shape and you go "ooh it's going to fit right there". Honestly I can't tell, I'm terrible with sizes. Will that painting fit in that corner? No. [laughs] Will that TV fit in that corner? No. Will that fridge fit there? No.

But when it does happen it sort of gets you right in the human, part of the deep lizard brain of your mind. You know – tessellation. That's when two dimensional geometric shapes fit together, like tiling. Basically when you put shapes together and there's no gaps in-between.... Which is what you're going to need if you decide you're ever going to have a career change.

I'll tell you one thing, getting older's great. Time just slows down. Everybody says "time flies, life's short". But flip man, you make it past 60, a week is like a month. These people that say life's short, time flies, there're all younger than me. What are you on about?

Are the people who say that to you, are they still drinking?

It wouldn't matter if they were drinking or not, it's a fallacy! One lady she was 99, she said "oh Jordan, make it past 70, get ready for the long haul." I'm thinking yeah flipping heck. She's just had nearly another 30 years from 70.

It's crazy thinking about old people. Because when you're under 60, you take that age group, 60 to 100 say, and then you turn it into one age group. But you don't do that with zero to 40.

[laughs] Exactly! I think suddenly 70 year olds are like wild teenagers, and 80 year olds, they might be like some crazy 30-somethings.

I reckon I probably have one or two more questions, I won't take up too much of your time. As a young person, do you know if you would tell anybody how they could tell if their drinking was a problem?

I think it's probably pretty hard to tell a young person that they might have a drinking problem. There's enough indicators these days. Your health is gonna be a real indicator early on that you may be an alcoholic, or you might be overdoing it. Especially if you're coming off alcohol. If you flipping start the shakes... this is from drinking heavily to stopping, cold turkey.

I'll tell my friend who asked. Drink really heavy and stop, and see what happens.

Younger listeners, I don't advise that. And older listeners, I don't advise that either.

I'll make sure to put that in. Last but not least, what about the future of making music and touring are you looking forward to? What's the most exciting part of the future for you?

Definitely the touring side, but having said that, the creative songwriting... One of the fascinating things is the vinyl comeback. Very very fortuitous. People say "hey do you guys put some vinyl out?" The Dance Exponents did, The Exponents never did. The Exponents had a couple of 45s, but everything else was digital. Whereas the Dance Exponents, there's quite a bit on vinyl. The Luck Band, we're looking at putting the last album out on vinyl, hopefully that does happen. Because there's something about vinyl, I hadn't thought about it at the time, but I've got some of my parents' records. They must be 70 years old, and they're just mint.

I reckon the album cover would look great on a vinyl. Unless you've got any burning statements to make, I reckon we've done a really good job today.

Well I just look forward to hearing some of your material on vinyl Finn [Finn whoops].


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Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sat 26th Sep
The Old Stone Butter Factory, Whangarei
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 2nd Oct
Speights Ale House, Timaru
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sat 3rd Oct
The Good Home Ferrymead, Christchurch
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 9th Oct
Tinwald Tavern, Ashburton
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sat 10th Oct
Paroa Hotel, Greymouth
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Thu 15th Oct
Mussel Inn, Takaka
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 16th Oct
Playhouse Theatre, Nelson
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sat 17th Oct
Yard Bar, Blenheim
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Thu 22nd Oct
Southland Musicians Club, Invercargill
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 23rd Oct
Mornington Tavern, Dunedin
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sat 24th Oct
The Thomas Green, Gore
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sun 25th Oct
Oamaru Club, Oamaru
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 30th Oct
Mangawhai Tavern, Mangawhai
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sat 31st Oct
The Brownzy, Auckland
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 6th Nov
Pukekohe Cossie Club, Auckland
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sat 7th Nov
San Fran, Wellington
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 13th Nov
Smash Palace, Gisborne
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 20th Nov
The Cabana, Napier
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sat 21st Nov
Waihi Beach Hotel, Waihi
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Sun 22nd Nov
Totara St., Tauranga
Jordan Luck Band - Who Loves NZ The Most? 2020 Tour
Fri 27th Nov
Howick Club, Auckland