INTERVIEW: Danny Flood (LUCA BRASI)
Like a fine Tassie wine, lovable purveyors of poignant punk Luca Brasi have only gotten better with age. Forming in the Apple Isle back in 2009 sharing a moniker with the stoic Godfather character of the same name, Luca Brasi rapidly turned heads beyond their hometown and into the mainland, storming their way into the hearts and ears of fans all over the country and beyond with their hard-hitting brand of punk rock elevating them from living room gigs to playing around the globe (pre-COVID times, of course).
A band unafraid of embracing change, Luca Brasi may have started life as a spitfire punk powerhouse, but over time the group in its current form grew to embrace more ambitious sonic territories, sprinkling plenty of relatable angst alongside unbridled warmth that can equally rattle and mollify any woes in your life in seemingly effortless fashion. After decades of hard work, measured tenacity and four full length albums already under their belts, Luca Brasi still continue to rouse and inspire with each passing release or explosive live show; and while 2020 was a year not remotely kind to the music industry overall, from the ashes comes art formed and informed by setbacks and ingenuity, and the fifth studio album Everything Is Tenuous from this Tassie bunch, complete with powerful odes and uplifting ferocity, could not arrive at a more fitting point both in the band's career and the surrounding history after the year from utter hell. And before this stunning new album releases into the world, Tiana Speter grabbed some time with Luca Brasi drum lord Danny Flood to chat new tunes, live memories and creating in a COVID world. Interview below!
TIANA SPETER: Hey Danny, how are you?
DANNY FLOOD: Good Tiana, how are you mate?
TIANA: I'm not too bad at all! 2021 is being a bit kinder to us all somewhat, and to Luca Brasi already, I know you guys have leapt up onstage at Mona Foma this year, and you're locked in for Full Tilt festival...but before that adventure, you will also be unveiling your fifth studio album 'Everything Is Tenuous' in just under two weeks...how does it feel to finally be inching so much closer to the release of this gorgeous album?
DANNY: Yeah, I think it's...well, you do an album, you go and tour it, and before you know it you're writing the next one. Most of our albums have been two years apart, and with the current climate this one's been a bit longer than that...it's been finished for a while, so it's just really nice to transition from finishing the recording, you normally literally put it away for a while - and before you know it, it's release time! It's two weeks to go now, and we're pretty pumped just to finally get it out into the world for everyone to have a listen!
TIANA: Yes! And what a great way to kick off the year, for you and for all the fans as well. I feel like everybody's winning in this scenario, it's fantastic!
DANNY: It's great isn't it!
TIANA: There's obviously some undeniably huge things on the album lying in wait for everyone when it does finally drop, but! It also marks the first time you guys kind of fully immersed yourselves in this whole self recording/self production thing I believe...was this a necessity due to all the COVID mayhem last year, or was it something you guys had always wanted to explore regardless of what happened last year?
DANNY: Well, it was sort of bit a mixture of both, we'd done some work, when we did 'Tangled; Content' and 'This Selfish Love' with Andrei Eremin, which was in Melbourne a little while ago...we were playing around with what we would do, whether we would get back in the full studio again, or sort of do some things ourselves. With COVID; I guess we weren't really given the choice. But in saying that, I think it's a bit of a natural progression we were going to go towards anyway, we've learnt a fair bit about what's worthwhile and what isn't in the recording process over the years. It was certainly weird not being in a full-blown studio to do everything...but, we were pretty lucky to be able to do things the way we did it, I think everyone adapted pretty heavily into what they could and couldn't do with all the restrictions in place. Especially in Tassie, we've been extremely, extremely lucky with what we've had to give up, or not give up more importantly. So we're very lucky in that respect!
TIANA: It's funny, like you touched on there, a lot of those skills you'd have been picking up along the way over the years . And now...it's not so much that it's forced your hand, it's encouraged your hand too to explore these things more. The silver linings are there, despite the other craziness going on...!
DANNY: Yeah, it's great. (laughs) It was funny, we recorded one track and sort of used that as a bit of a tester, and Andrei (Andrei Eremin) mixed and mastered it for us and sent it back to us. And it was sort of an awkward wait, like "is it actually gonna come out any good?!". Then we all got it back and were like: "all right, this was perfect, this is the way we'll do it!". We were really stoked with how the album and the singles in particular came out as well.
TIANA: Yeah, I feel like you guys really did thrive against all the odds that were stacked up, the end result on the album is such a polished thing, it's authentic and, of course, it's catchy as hell at times. With these results, is this process something you see yourselves embracing down the track now that you've had a run at full-blown self production and self recording?
DANNY: Even with some of the way we produced and recorded, we did have some help along the way...I mean, it'd be nice to pop back into a bit more of an official studio. But in saying that...we've got families and partners and all the rest of that, so not having to go away for an extended period of time to record is pretty attractive. I think we'll definitely look at doing things similar the next time round...but, yeah, there's certainly some pros and cons to both of them. But being able to do it at home and literally just driving 20 minutes into the city to record and then driving back home and not having to fly out anywhere; it was pretty nice, especially for our partners and families and all the rest!
TIANA: Yes, what a rarity! It's a nice change of pace I imagine! I know you mentioned back at the start how the usual run is making the album, go on tour, make the album, go on tour...I read that you guys were kind of halfway through writing 'Everything Is Tenuous' while you were touring the UK at the end of 2019...that in itself seems like an alien concept, to be touring AND overseas, but hopefully that won't be the case for too much longer...but I digress! How much of the stuff that you guys wrote at that time made it onto the final album? Did you guys re-evaluate once the lockdown stuff set in? Or were the gears all in motion and everything was well and truly on its way?
DANNY: Yeah, we were already getting stuck into the writing process and had some songs finished already...so, nothing really changed too much in that respect. But, I guess vocally for Tyler (Tyler Richardson, Luca Brasi vocalist & bassist) as well, he's our lyrics man, so it might have been different for him, for example, as he writes some pretty heavy-hitting lyrics. But musically for us, we'd already gone down that path, we had a fair few demos sort of ready to go, and they just evolved from there! So, things didn't change too much. But, I mean, lyrically I'm sure there would've been a few things from COVID there that Tyler would've drawn from as well.
pic: Nick Green
TIANA: On that note, now that you guys have been at this for a fair while now, I know you yourself have been in the band for a good long while now, it just keeps clicking away year after year after year, it goes so quickly?!
DANNY: It does mate, it sure does, I'm gettin' old!! (laughs).
TIANA: We all are, don't worry (laughs). Obviously there has been evolution along the way for you all as a band; but what has changed the most, or perhaps even stayed the same for how a Luca Brasi song comes to life? Have you actively tried to evolve your sound as you go along or, again, is it just a case of natural progression for how you bring a new Luca Brasi song or album to life?
DANNY: I think even with 'Extended Family', which was before I joined the band, back then it was making punk rock music, it was about drinking and partying and all that sort of stuff that I think a lot of bands go through initially. And then as we've grown up a bit more and evolved; the themes of the songs have changed a bit there as well. But as a band...I mean, I love punk rock music and everything as well, and when you look back at some bands, as they evolved their sound a bit, it almost felt like a bit of a let down to the fans, at least for me personally. But then you look back now and you go: "actually, their music's just got better and better, and maybe my tastes were just slightly different". For us, I think it's a natural progression. I mean we still love playing our music, and in terms of the writing as well, Tom (Thomas Busby, Luca Brasi lead guitarist) and Pat (Patrick Marshall, Luca Brasi rhythm guitarist) do the majority of writing for the music...and I think they've just found what works for them. Normally it starts with a riff or two, and then we work our way from there. We've certainly learnt to do things a bit more efficiently, and by using our time a bit better rather than just sitting on songs and not really going anywhere with them. Looking back at our music, I feel like our songwriting has certainly improved, and the songs have improved which I'd like to think is a true assessment of our music!
TIANA: Absolutely! I think what's really nice too, you guys do at times touch on heavier themes, but there's always something so reassuring, there's this incredible warmth to it. Well, for me personally anyway, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that thinks that. But it's kind of nice that the fans can evolve with you guys as you go and find all these different facets to your music. And I know you guys have unleashed some live recordings of some of the newer songs in the absence of touring...but you did also manage to sneak in some acoustic shows last year in good old Tassie...
DANNY: Yep, good old Tassie got a bit spoilt!
TIANA: Hell yeah, go Tassie! Did you get to bust out any of the new tunes at these shows to christen them a bit ahead of the album release? Or are you just saving everything for once it's officially out in the world?
DANNY: Yeah, we're saving most of them, I mean the newest tracks we got to play, which were 'Dying To Feel Alive', 'This Selfish Love' and 'Tangled; Content'...even though 'Tangled' has been out for quite a while, so has 'Selfish Love'...so they were the newer ones. But anything we haven't released yet, we haven't played. So, we're keeping a few songs close to the chest, but you should be hearing some fresh ones off the album pretty soon hopefully! I can't go into too much detail (laughs) but we should be able to crank some new ones out that people haven't heard live before. Which will be really exciting, it's so refreshing isn't it, as a band, to add those new songs into the set as well...it sort of gives you a big hit of fresh air in your lungs as well, which is nice!
TIANA: Yes, absolutely! And is there one track in particular, if you had to pick one of your favourite new children...is there one from 'Everything Is Tenuous' that you haven't played live yet that you're crazy excited to bust out? Or are you keeping that secret too...?
DANNY: Not too secretive! There's a couple on there that I really enjoy, I'm a BIG, big fan of playing real drums, but I have just delved into the world of electric kits, which I've just had for about a month or so, I've got it upstairs in my work space which I've been using a lot. There's normally one or two that I sort of come back to and play quite often, just to keep my skills on those songs. Overall, there's none in particular, but there a couple in there which I'm really looking forward to playing in front of a nice live audience rather than just at a band practice (laughs.
pic: Ian Laidlaw
TIANA: I find that interesting actually, I had a few listens to the album already when I found out I was gonna have a chat with you...and normally when I listen to an album in full, I always have a song or two that stand out on the first pass that I become obsessed with and I rarely change my mind. But for some reason each time I listened to 'Everything Is Tenuous'...I keep changing my mind about what my favourite is, it's such a unique thing to go through, I haven't experienced it before...
DANNY: That's so cool!
TIANA: I really did enjoy that as an new experience, I have to say. But long story short, to sound like a cop out: I haven't picked a favourite song, because each time it's changed! It's new for me, but very cool!
DANNY: That's awesome! I think too, even talking with friends, like you'll play them songs or the album or whatever...and a lot of them will say "it took me a few listens" too before they really settled on a favourite track or so. And then they'll come back and go "nah, actually I like this one more!". I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing?!
TIANA: I love that it's not just me! And I do think it's a good thing, there's so much to come back to on the album...but at this stage, I basically just ended up liking all of them. Call me indecisive, but also yay it's not just me!
DANNY: I do like, actually, there's two on there 'Restless' and 'Sea Sick', which are quite a bit more, sort of, chilled out songs. And for anyone who will listen to the album, I find 'Restless' is the one I've enjoyed playing, and even the writing and recording was heaps of fun for that one as it's...well I wouldn't say different, so much, but a bit more chilled out initially. I really enjoyed that song, that's a bit of a highlight!
TIANA: Well that's definitely one to look out for, and I'll be excited to see that live eventually too. And speaking of live shows, I know Luca Brasi have played an insane mount of shows throughout the years, literally the entire gamut of pubs, clubs, festivals - everything! But for yourself coming into the band, I believe it was back in 2013, am I correct?
DANNY: Yeah! Spot on, mate!
TIANA: Wohoo! Can you take me back to the first ever live Luca Brasi show you played, who was there, where was it, and how would you rate your performance?
DANNY: OK, my first one was...I literally just finished, I was a footy jock, love my Aussie Rules. And the boys approached me in my last year playing, I'd had lots of knee issues and thought "alright, I'm done with footy, I'll move on to the music". So, I had about two weeks to learn all the songs for 'By a Thread'...and then the boys were like: "we're going on tour with Bodyjar!". And I love Bodyjar, that's what we grew up listening to. So, yeah, my first tour was with Bodyjar...I think the first show...I'm thinking it was Canberra or something like that, or Newcastle? It might've even been Newie! And I remember getting offstage and going "oh geez, I completely cooked that!", it wasn't my best effort with Luca, but being mates with all the guys I enjoyed playing. So, that was my first official sort of show on tour. But I did fill in for the Title Fight national tour about a year or so before that. And that was very, very new, I'd been playing in bands before that at some very small shows, and I remember playing a very hot and sweaty rank show up in Queensland somewhere. It was one to remember, but I remember getting offstage and going "yep, I need to, ahhh, maybe practice a bit more, and maybe then I'll play better" (laughs).
Luca Brasi circa October 2013, opening for Bodyjar //pic: Luca Brasi Insta
TIANA: I've had mates up in Brisbane who are drummers who have passed out after shows from the heat, so you throw that into the mix with a baptism of fire of a whole new career after your AFL days...I think you did pretty damn well, that's definitely impressive!
DANNY: It's tricky because...for one it's hard playing drums, or any instrument. And then you've got the heat in there as well! It's a sweaty gig musicians have, but we wouldn't have it any other way either!
TIANA: And look where you are now, from that sweaty first show to today! Well done! And I know there is obviously going to be a lot more to come for you and the band beyond the upcoming album release...but in the not so distant future, does Luca Brasi have a bucket list band or event that you'd love to tick off now that stuff is slooowly creeping back to normal? Or are you just going to see what happens and take it as it comes?
DANNY: As a band, we've all got full-time jobs and families and that sort of stuff. So, it's almost like we're a part-time band, but we take it very, very seriously in terms of where we're heading and the direction we're taking. So, just getting back and playing some festivals would be great, we were really lucky with some festival runs, we've done Laneway and Falls a bunch of times, and Splendour, which is obviously like the holy grail of festivals. It'd be great to just get back on the festival train a bit and try to boost the profile of the band a little bit more. It sort of felt like we'd done a lot over the few years of working up the ladder, I suppose, and, it's been the same as everyone else, with COVID we lost a bit of momentum, so it'd be nice just to put our heads down and work our way back through. And you can only do that by playing shows and things like that. So, yeah! Getting back on the festival circuit would certainly be nice, but we'll just be happy to play shows and connect with our fans again, and be able to play shows around the country soon, which will be nice!
TIANA: Yes, hear hear! I think Laneway was actually the first time I saw you guys live, and was converted on the spot.
DANNY: Awesome, thanks mate!
TIANA: Well, I know there's all the live shenanigans to look forward to down the track, but in the meantime: 'Everything Is Tenuous' is out in just under two weeks now, which is truly incredible news! I'm so excited for you guys, massive congratulations, it's such an awesome album!
DANNY: Thanks so much Tiana, thanks for your time! See ya!
LUCA BRASI'S BRAND NEW ALBUM EVERYTHING IS TENUOUS WILL OFFICIALLY UNLEASH ON FRIDAY FEBRUARY 12 VIA COOKING VINYL AUSTRALIA. AND IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE IN TASMANIA THAT DAY, THE BOYS WILL ALSO BE CHRISTENING THEIR NEW ALBUM WITH A SPECIAL LIVE LAUNCH. TICKETS AND MORE INFO CAN BE FOUND AT: LUCABRASI.COM.AU.
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BY TIANA SPETER