Lux Lisbon is a British, Indie band, comprising of Stuart Rock, the vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter, Charlotte Austen, the vocalist and bassist, Tom Cooper, who is the guitarist and vocalist and Johnny Colgan, the drummer. (Occasionally, Elliot Phelps performs with them, playing the trumpet).
This band, formed at Nottingham University, has recorded numerous BBC Introducing live sessions, has had 2 UK tours in 2013, created more tracks (Memento Mori is a must hear!), played at the Bestival and are now on their Memento Mori Tour. Amidst all this madness, we managed to catch up with Stu and Tom, and got some really fun “backstage access” and tales of their band.
Alisha Attarwala (AA): What’s the story behind the name “Lux Lisbon?”
Stuart Rock (Stu): It’s the name of a character of the 1993/1999 book/film, the Virgin Suicides. Always thought it sounded like an amazing band name. It has an ‘x’ in it, and everyone knows that’s the best letter; just ask a scrabble player.
AA: How did you all meet and decide to form a band? Have you known one another for long?
Stu: We have fewer original members than the Sugababes, sort of. Charlotte and I met at Nottingham University forever ago, and now the band is based in London, although I live in Newcastle, so I’m clocking up the East Coast mainline time (EMT).
Tom Cooper (Tom): I’m the latest addition to the band, but I’ve known Charlie all my life, as she’s my older cousin. Stu and Johnny are relatively new acquaintances in comparison.
AA: Has it been a difficult journey so far?
Stu: Well, they recently upgraded the rail stock on that line, so it’s getting better all the time. No, seriously, it’s literally been a rollercoaster of emotions. Literally.
Tom: When I find the perfect delay pedal, my life shall be easy again…
Stu knows what he wants when he writes a song, so the collaborative input from there on only enhances what’s already a great song or idea.
AA: Your genre is Indie music. What bands or musicians inspire you?
Stu: We did a cover album for charity, called ‘Lux Lisbon Loves….’ earlier in the year, and included many of our favourite, maybe less well known bands on there.
Tom: I can only speak for myself, but I’m heavily influenced (on a song writing level) by the likes of Everything Everything, Alt-J, Bloc Party and Bombay Bicycle Club. As a guitarist, I love great rhythm players, anything from Jeff Buckley on Grace to John Frusciante on Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Amazing playing.
AA: Where have you performed? Any particular favourite, and not so favourite gig?
Tom: Bestival was amazing. What a funky crowd! Great vibes all around!
I’ve only done one other gig with Lux Lisbon, and that was a packed out gig at The Cluny in Newcastle, so that was great too. Looking forward to the tour.
AA: Do you collaborate with other musicians or bands, or aim to do so in the near future? If so, with whom?
Tom: I play bass and guitar for lots of different bands, and have my own original band (Kuqi) too. We’ve certainly talked about doing things together before. We surely have something in store….
AA: When it comes to writing songs, is it a joint effort or is it a one-person responsibility and creativity?
Stu: I’ll write the songs, with help whenever it’s needed, but like any band, you bring them to the group, and often they really blossom at that point.
Tom: Stu generally comes to us with pretty much a fully formed idea, and then we put our own touches to it. We spend a lot of invaluable time on arrangement, which brings coherence to the songs. There’s a fifth member of the band too! Our producer James (Barr) doesn’t just engineer, he has a big say in arrangements, parts and groove.
AA: What is Lux Lisbon’s music making process like?
Stu: I’ll bring a song, the more finished the better I find, but we’re getting better at letting a song go, wherever it needs to, rather than forcing,
always forcing it to rigidly fit the original vision, if it’s not working. We’ve made 3 part harmonies a real feature of our sound, since the “Get Some Scars” EP, so often, those form the basis of whatever we’re doing.
Tom: Stu has a song or an idea, and we then build up from there. That’s generally how it goes.
AA: What according to you makes your band different from the other bands we hear today?
Stu:Anyone who claims they are original is a liar. And a bad liar at that. Liars. We’ll be different from others, because not everyone has the same mix of influences, and if you can combine things intelligently rather than outright copying them, that’s when you get somewhere interesting, and that’s what we’re trying to get better at.
Tom: Lux Lisbon is unashamedly ‘power pop’ being performed by a rock band, with a doff of the hat to anyone, from Bruce Springsteen to Arcade Fire. We’re a big melting pot of anything out there.
AA:How has your music evolved, since you first began playing together as a band?
Tom: As I say, I’m the newest member (joined in March 2014), so for me, there’s been minimal evolution, but I’d like to think I’ll bring my own song writing elements to the fore. I love the direction the band has taken, with the likes of Memento Mori, Get Some Scars, Demons, etc.; that’s just my cup of tea.
AA: What is the ultimate goal of your band? Are you heading towards fame and fortune or are interested in making a difference in the Indie music scene?
Tom: Fame and fortune has never been an aspiration of mine. However, I did say at a rehearsal last week that the day I consider my career as successful is the day I don’t have to set up and pack down my own equipment.
Stu: I can’t put it much better than Tom. It’s easy to get lost aiming for whatever ‘success’ is, but it only takes a small amount of rock based research, to find the road littered with stories of ‘successful’ musicians, who were terribly unhappy and unfulfilled. Top of the list has to be enjoying what you are doing, but that probably does involve getting better at it, and getting better often means playing to more people. But yeah, basically the setting up your own gear thing.
AA: Any words of wisdom for aspiring musicians and bands?
Tom: Don’t think, just do. I’ve been guilty of it myself, but I’ve heard way too many really, really great musicians say “Oh I’ve been thinking of doing…” or “I wish I had the time to do that”
Make the time and just do it. What’s the point in putting in all the time and effort in order to play your instrument in your bedroom, and not go and show off?! Trust me, it’s the greatest fun and the biggest buzz there is – particularly when it’s something you’ve been involved in, with the writing process.
Stu: Exactly what Tom said, that and the rocket science of put effort into getting the email addresses of people who like you, and then tell them where you are playing.
Peace out x
You can visit http://luxlisbon.com/ for a free 6 track EP of all of their best tracks.
Or simply follow them via social media, and keep up with them and their upcoming tracks, shows and gigs.