Yep, lightsabers have been changed to croquet sticks or whatever they are. Well, it's Labor Day like I said and I was impressed when I saw there's a Labor Day inspirational poster. Here it is.
Yep, lightsabers have been changed to croquet sticks or whatever they are. Okay, I have to complain, Google is making it harder to post pictures and to change their sizes. So far this has not been fun, putting together this blog, kids. I just want you to know that.
I am doing something different for the P.P.A.G. for a few days. This year is the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and in honor of that day I am showing you photos I took of children's artwork that was in St. Paul's Chapel, which is the Chapel right across the street from Ground Zero. Anyway, here's another drawing.
Next week's one will break your heart.
Okay, today's guest is a musician who has been recording since 1991. His new album "The Invisible Audience" is now available in stores and on iTunes and he will be next appearing at Pilton Hall, Barnstaple, UK supporting Sarabeth Tucek on September 24th. I am a huge fan, so please welcome to the Phile... Luther Russell.
Me: Luther, welcome to the Peverett Phile. How are you?
Luther: I am fine.
Me: I have to tell you, Luther is one of my favorite names ever. In a few weeks I will have another Luther here on the Phile... Luther Dickinson, have you heard of him?
Luther: Yes, I have heard of that Luther. I was and am a big fan of his father Jim. Love his work on Big Star's "Third" and The Replacements' "Pleased To Meet Me", et cetera.
Me: Luther, where are you from, sir? Do you still live there?
Luther: I am from Los Angles, Ca. and I happen to live there now, as I have been known to do from time to time.
Me: Okay, enough with the small talk. I have to tell you, your album, your DOUBLE length album "The Invisible Audience" is one of my favorite albums... EVER! That's not bullshit, kissing up to my guests ass, I am being serious. I didn't want it to end, Luther. What made you decide to record a double-length album?
Luther: Wow, that is high praise indeed... and I'll take it! But seriously, I really appreciate that. As Shakespeare put it, "I will praise any man that will praise me". I'm just happy it's getting across and that all the crazy thoughts, words and melodies that were once only in my head are now being enjoyed somehow by a few appreciative people, so thank you for that. Why is it a double-length album? Well, it frankly ended up that way because many of the songs I was considering for a new collection were making the most sense that way. I actually think it wouldn't have been quite as strong as a single album. I think the strength of this particular LP is it's variety and the contrast between songs. Plus it's something I hadn't tried yet, so that was a convenient fact.
Me: And what's with the name of it? "The Invisible Audience"? I doubt it your audience is invisible. Mine is, but I doubt yours is.
Luther: I wasn't quite sure where I got the title, but I re-watched the recent Nilsson documentary, and I noticed he mentioned how when he was a child he would put on shows for an 'invisible audience' in his head. Must have gotten the idea from that!
Me: And before I forget, explain what the album cover is about. What skyline is that, and what's with the flying medicine?
Luther: Well, I can't rightly explain it any better than you can. For me it just says 'here you go. Take this and you'll feel better'. Really, though, I saw the artist's work a while back in a show my sister put on in New York City and it really resonated with me, especially that piece. The artist's name is Amelie Chunleau. I had a suspicion it would make a great album cover, and since my sister knew her, I got to ask Amelie if I could use it, and she agreed. I knew I wanted something bold, kind of 'pop art collage' a la Richard Hamilton, so Amelie's work fit the bill. Her stuff is very psychedelic and humorous as well. She cuts up old magazines and whatnot. I really think it tied the record's disparate styles together somehow... made sense while leaving overall interpretation open for the listener.
Me: Back to the music, I love the album, and I hear soooooo many influences, Luther. Nick Lowe, one of my favorite artists of all time, the Faces, of course, the Beatles... who do you listen to?
Luther: I'd say the Beatles are the obvious influence, just because I've been enjoying their music from the earliest years of my life. But I really listen to so much different music these days that it's hard to narrow it down. Bob Dylan is a high influence on me, and not just for the obvious reasons, like his words and music. But I really also love the productions on a lot of his records, especially the sixties ones. I love the sonics on a record like "Blonde On Blonde" and they fascinate me to no end. My idea of heaven would be watching footage of any Dylan Columbia session from the sixties, whether in NYC or Nashville. Albums I can never get enough of are "Music From Big Pink" by The Band, "Mirror" by Emitt Rhodes, "Arthur" by the Kinks, "Sticky Fingers" by the Stones, "Tommy" by The Who and the complete Robert Johnson or Skip James.
Me: This is your fifth album you recorded, right? I want them all. When did your first album come out?
Luther: My first solo record was "Lowdown World". It was recorded entirely on four-track cassette and came out in 1997 when I was living in Portland, Oregon.
Me: You are also known as a producer, Luther, and have produced quite a few musicians. One I have to ask you about, and that is Sean Lennon. What album of his did you produce?
Luther: I actually worked with him when I was helping to produce a solo project by Brian Bell from Weezer called "The Relationship". I'm not sure it made the cut, but Sean did some nice bass work and we sang some harmonies together. I remember he played a beautiful instrumental piece on the studio piano and I was just gobsmacked. Really impressive musician and nice fellow, Sean.
Me: Did he talk about his dad any?
Luther: We did not discuss his father at great length, but in the course on hanging out he would mention him at times. I think we discussed the album "Plastic Ono Band", which is really one of my favorites (and his) and was actually my first record!
Me: Do you prefer to make your own albums or produce other people's?
Luther: I really like doing both, actually. I enjoy helping other's make their music, and I can get into doing my own thing once in a while. I think this new album is the last of it's kind for me. After this I may do a different type of 'project' or something. Maybe explore a different sound altogether or what have you. I think I've said all there is to say in the usual styles. Maybe I'll get more 'conceptual', or just more 'out there' in some way... but you never know.
Me: Did you produce "The Invisible Audience"?
Luther: I indeed did produce this album.
Me: Luther, I imagine you play quite a few instruments. What do you mostly play?
Luther: My first instrument was drums, and I do play bass, guitar and keys. I have had to do one or more of these things on entire records or tours, so I'm fairly adept at them all. I'd say drums and guitars are my main 'axes'.
Me: Do you play both piano and guitar on stage?
Luther: Yes, I do. Though it's mostly guitar for obvious reasons.
Me: You played slide guitar on the album, well? You must have a favorite guitarist, or slide guitarist.
Luther: I am quite fond of Mick Taylor. He really kills me. Especially for slide. I love to listen to all the pre-war greats like Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell , Skip James, Blind Lemon, et al.
Me: You have relations you wrote Tin Pan Alley standards, am I right? Who is that, and what standards did they write? My dad "Slow Ride" by the way.
Luther: I do, my grandfather, Bob Russell, wrote "He Ain't Heavy... He's My Brother", "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", "Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me" and many more and my great uncle Bud Green wrote "Sentimental Journey" and "Alabamy Road", amongst others. They were lyricists by trade and they are both in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Wow, I love "Slow Ride". Who doesn't?!
Me: Did you ever have a band, Luther, or were you always a solo artist?
Luther: Yes, I had many bands growing up. Had a band called The Boothills (with Jakob Dylan) when I was very young. Then had a band that was great called The 45's. And then I was in The Freewheelers for quite a few years. We made a record for Geffen and one for American in the 90's. I also had a great band from 1998 to 2000 called Federale with Marc Ford from the Black Crowes and we never made a record but we toured a lot and made a lot of demos for Geffen. I'm still bummed out that project didn't work out because we were really good, that's for sure. Maybe I'll have a band again sometime soon, who knows?
Me: Are you coming out with any new music? After 25 songs and a fantastic album, I am sure you are taking a break, but any new projects you are working on?
Luther: I have a few records to produce 'til the end of the year, but I have some new ideas brewing, so we'll see!
Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile. I hope this interview was fun, and I hope you can come back again soon. Do you have a website you wanna plug?
Luther: Thanks for having me. It's always fun if it involves music and art. Oh, my website is LUTHERRUSSELL.COM. Everything you need to know about me is there.
Me: Thanks so much again, and I have to hit somebody up for an autographed CD. Luther, you rock!
Whew! That about does it for another entry. Thanks to Luther for a great interview, and I love his album "The Invisible Audience" a lot, for real. Thanks also to Google for making putting together a blog so much more harder. Y'know, I don't think there's a way to edit after it's posted. Hmmmm. I always said I will do the Phile until it stops being fun, and guess what, today wasn't fun. Hope I get used to the new format and stuff. I also hope the link to Luther's website works. Okay, I'll stop bitching. The Phile will be back next Sunday for the special 9/11 10th Anniversary Tribute entry with musician John Berenzy. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.