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UnCovered: The Luka State on Working Class Struggles Inspiring the ‘More Than This’ Artwork

For our latest UnCovered interview, The Luka State talk about the working class challenges inspiring their ‘More Than This’ album artwork.

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The Luka State, photo by Jim De Whalley

You only have to look at the gritty artwork for The Luka State’s new album, More Than This, to know that there is a story behind it.

Reading that the band also donated the budget for their recent “More Than This” video to the foodbank and poverty charity The Trussell Trust and further supported the charity by donating a meal to families in need for every ticket sold for their upcoming London show as well as launching a GoFundMe appeal, the struggles and challenges faced in a working-class town have clearly made a huge impact on their lives.

In our latest UnCovered series, we spoke to The Luka State about the album artwork, the challenges that inspired it and what message they wanted the artwork to convey.

Which album is the artwork for?

The Luka State: “So, I wanna tell you all the story behind the artwork for our second album, More Than This. A very personal album to me and the other boys as it kinda reflects the experiences we’ve all had in a working-class town over the last couple of years.”

Please help us understand what are you trying to convey with the cover’s imagery? Give us details on the concept.

“The album theme is about needing more than you currently have. Be that love, money, food, or even support from the system. The same system that kinda ignores people like us from working-class towns… Rather than doing the whole cliche band photo in front of a run-down building in our hometown Winsford, we felt we could be more symbolic and make people ask questions rather than just giving answers.”

How did the artwork’s image and/or concept come to you?

“The boy in the photograph is a very close family member to one of us, a really lovely kid called Frankie. He’s growing up in a hometown with very few opportunities, and we wanted to show his innocence against the backdrop of the realities of life. We tried doing the photo shoot in front of a few different places but settled on one of the permanently shut down shops on the estate round here.”

When it came time to come up with artwork, did the musician/band give the artwork guidance or was this more from the artist’s interpretation?

“So we’d spent some time looking at old archive photos from the North West taken in the 20s and 30s. Old coal mine town stuff and also photos from this lady in the midlands called Tish Murtha. Originally we wanted to sort of show the old with the new and make people realise that although we all have Sky TV and fake leather sofas, we’re really no better off than we were back then.”

How did the artist collaborate with The Luka State on the artwork?

“Unfortunately, Tish passed away some years ago, so we weren’t able to collaborate with her, but she left such an amazing legacy of photos that inspired us, and we hope many others for years to come. If you check out her images of the Elswick Kids online, you can definitely feel the connection to the photograph of our Frankie.”

Who created the artwork? How did the musician/band decide on that artist?

“So one of our managers, Jim took the shot, but he kept telling Sam “This is your vision, man, you direct it.” So really, Sam was the spark behind the whole thing, and he came up with the idea whilst in the back of the tour bus in North America.”

How did the artist decide to get into making album cover art?

“We’ve always loved the creative process outside of just the studio. Making music videos in particular. And this time around, we really wanted to make sure the whole package around the album reinforced our message and beliefs.”

Are there any symbols or stories hidden in the artwork?

“So there’s a definite Oliver Twist, kind of Dickensian take on the artwork. The idea of an innocent boy saying, “please, sir, I want more,” and in some ways, we’re all stuck in that same horrible workhouse trap of zero hours contracts, rising food costs and benefits that don’t help people regain their pride to get back to work. It really sums up that we all deserve more than this at times.”

Based on the results, would you work with the artist again?

“I mean, we think Sam and Jim absolutely nailed it, so yeah, maybe. But really, it depends on the inspirations we draw on for our next album. We’d definitely like to be heavily involved in the creative process again, though.”

The Luka State “More Than This” Album Artwork

The Luka State “More Than This” Album Artwork

Has anyone got your album(s) cover art tattooed on them?

“Ha! No, not yet. But we have a fan in America with our logo tattooed on their wrist and one in Paris with the lyrics to our song Room’s On Fire on her leg!”

How do you think the record business and art industry are navigating the handling of album artwork?

“I mean, people will have you think it’s all digital these days, but there’s nothing like holding a physical record in your hand, or putting it up on a wall like a piece of artwork. Plus, vinyl is selling loads now. So I think album artwork is here to stay.”

More Than This is out now, and you can order your copy here.

Tour Dates:

03/23 – Birmingham, Rainbow
03/24 – Bristol, Crofters
03/25 – Southampton, Heartbreakers
03/30 – London, Camden Assembly
03/31 – Leeds, Hyde Park Book Club
04/06 – Aberdeen, Tunnels
04/07 – Dundee, Church
04/08 – Glasgow, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
04/12 – Hamburg, Hakken
04/13 – Cologne, Helios37
04/14 – Berlin, Maschinenhaus
04/15 – Amsterdam, Paradise Bitterzoet
04/21 – Manchester, Academy 3

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.

Alternative/Rock

Glixen – “foreversoon” [Song Review]

On “foreversoon,” Glixen created a song where youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear,

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Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork
Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork

It’s been less than a year since Glixen released their debut EP, She Only Said, on Julia’s War Records. Still, the Phoenix shoegazers have already dug their heels into the DIY music scene and are heading out on an extensive US tour this year alongside the likes of Interpol, Softcult, Glitterer, and fish narc. Appearances at SXSW and Treefort will only further cement their reputation as a new band worthy of note.

To herald the busy year ahead, the band has released a new single, “foreversoon,” via the AWAL label, and it’s well worth a listen.

Says lead vocalist Aislinn Ritchie:

“‘foreversoon’ represents blissful moments of new love and intimacy. The song harnesses melancholy chords, layered with fuzzy red melodies and gliding guitars that pull you in deeper. I wanted my lyrics to feel like a conversation that expresses my infatuation and sensuality. Time is relentless and memories are fleeting, this song encapsulates those emotions forever.”

It’s a fair summation. Its youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear, think Ride, Curve and Slowdive, but with the fuzz cranked up possibly higher. Ritchie’s vocals certainly share that dreamlike quality of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and with many of those bands back on the road this year, perhaps the time is ripe to inject fresh blood into the genre.

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Run Time: 3:43
Release Date: February 9, 2024
Record Label: AWAL Recordings

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Album News

Slightest Clue Release Their Rocking, Five-Track EP ‘Carousel’

Vancouver indie rockers Slightest Clue recently released their ‘Carousel’ EP, inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship.

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Slightest Clue
Slightest Clue

Vancouver’s Slightest Clue is like the secret after-school project of four kids who would have passed each other without a glance in the hallway at school, but once they’re plugged in and ready to play their distinct blend of post-punk, alternative rock, and dark pop, all bets are off.

Produced by Matt Di Pomponio, their new EP, Carousel, is inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a formative romantic relationship, spanning the trajectory from love to this loss of connection. The closing track, “Carousel,” marks the ultimate bittersweet reflection with unique harmonic layers to portray those contrasting emotions, shifting between grand and quiet tones.

Commenting on the album, the band states:

“The main theme is love, loss of relationship, and connection. The arc of the story is our foreshadowing of the end in our first song ‘These Days’ speaking on the day to day fights and how neither person can seem to get back to a happy place in the relationship. ‘Why Can’t I Call You?’ is the initial spark of infatuation and obsession with someone before you know them. ‘When You Wake Up’ talks of the blissed out honeymoon stage where everything is working and nothing could go wrong. ‘Suit Uptight!’ represents the mounting frustrations and resentments building tension from unmet needs. And finally our closing track ‘Carousel’ is the end and the bittersweet reflection of a cherished relationship that can no longer return.”

Each member, Malcolm McLaren, Hannah Kruse, Sean Ries, and Nick Sciarretta, brings distinct influences and experiences: a stage actor whose playlists go from Talking Heads to Sonic Youth to Björk, a hook-obsessed recovering choir girl, an electrical engineer whose personal idol is John Bonham, and a guitarist who played for (and left) 10 other bands before deciding this was the one for him.

Slightest Clue ‘Carousel’ [EP] album artwork

Slightest Clue ‘Carousel’ [EP] album artwork

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Alternative/Rock

Track-by-Track: The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord Cuts Through ‘It Leads To This’

The Pineapple Thief frontman Bruce Soord breaks down each track on the progressive rock band’s new record ‘It Leads To This.’

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The Pineapple Thief in 2023, photo by Tina Korhonen
The Pineapple Thief in 2023, photo by Tina Korhonen

It’s been a bit of a renaissance period for The Pineapple Thief over the last few years. This revitalization has resulted in the brand-new album It Leads To This. Released on February 9th via Kscope Records, the eight new songs comprise more of frontman Bruce Soord’s observations and deductions about life and the world around him. The initial concept for the record came together rather quickly, but the actual lyrical and musical components took time. Finalizing these songs required much work and collaboration between Soord and his three bandmates. Each member had a conception of what was satisfactory regarding the songs. Coming to that common ground took time, but in the end, each member was extremely pleased with the final product.

The release of It Leads To This coincides with the 25th anniversary since The Pineapple Thief formed. In that time, they have released over 20 full-length albums and EPs. It Leads To This proved to be one of the most intense writing periods ever for the band. They worked on these new tracks for almost three years. Each band member pushed each other to go above and beyond what they felt capable of. It was extremely fruitful from an artistic perspective, but personally, it did pose challenges for the band members.

Joining us today for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of It Leads To This is Bruce Soord himself. He takes us through each song on the record, their inspirations, motivations, and how they came together.

1. “Put It Right”

Bruce Soord: “This was the first song we wrote for the album, right in the depths of the pandemic. I remember standing outside my studio, which is in the garden of my home, when we were in full lockdown. I looked at the blue sky, not a vapour trail to be seen. Even the hum of my small town was gone. As a songwriter, you’re obviously going to take that in and use it. I started to ponder the fragile state of the world. I mean, how can the world be brought to its knees overnight? Which then led to thoughts about the past, essentially a re-evaluation. Are we all to blame? Was I to blame?”

2. “Rubicon”

“As soon as the lockdown was lifted, I remember talking to (drummer) Gavin (Harrison), and he had the idea to write some songs in the same room. I know, radical, right? So I got in the car and drove to his house. Honestly, in the history of The Pineapple Thief, I had never written in this way. Songs were built up in our various studios over weeks and months.. But we were up for trying something new. It could have been a very long disaster – a 6 day jam in E. But to my surprise, we wrote four songs in this way. The first one being Rubicon.

“The verses are in a ‘5/4 shuffle’ which is quite unique (see Gavin’s drum playthrough on the Vic Firth YouTube channel). The song is actually about Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, destroying the Roman republic for his own selfish ambitions. History repeating itself indeed…”

3. “It Leads To This”

“Following on from the theme of ‘Put It Right,’ this is essentially a positive song about focusing on the right things in life. What are going to be your biggest regrets on your deathbed? It’s obvious but also easy to miss. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, I wish I had spent more time with my family and friends. It’s a love song really. ‘For all this time, I didn’t notice you…’”

4. “The Frost”

“I came up with the riff on my 6-string baritone guitar, so it has a low, edgy feel which I really love. This was a song that came together really quickly between the four of us (plus some great contributions from our touring guitarist Beren Matthews on guitars and backing vocals who played throughout the record). It’s about spending your life with a soulmate, through thick and thin, no matter how bad things get.”

5. “All That’s Left”

“Thematically, this continues the theme from ‘It Leads to This’ and, for me, is dominated by the riff and the middle section, which I love playing live. Again, it’s low in register, written using my baritone, massive drums.”

The Pineapple Thief ‘It Leads To This’ album artwork

The Pineapple Thief ‘It Leads To This’ album artwork

6. “Now It’s Yours”

“Written during the sessions with Gavin, this song goes on a bit of a journey. Soft, atmospheric, big riffs, a guitar solo… Lyrically, looking at the world as an older guy with a family about to be let loose into the world. What the hell are they going to inherit? Well, now it’s yours…”

7. “Every Trace Of Us”

“Again written during the Gavin sessions, I remember Gavin had the intro riff written on his Wurli keyboard he has in his studio. I took it, added some more chords in the progression and the song snowballed from there. Lyrically this is about the pressure of modern life, expectation, pressure, and the mental repercussions of it all. Modern life can tear every trace of us apart.”

8. “To Forget”

“I had this finger-picked acoustic guitar part, which the band liked, so I developed the first part of the song and came up with the words pretty quickly. Us humans, especially as we grow older, have to come to terms with loss and, in a lot of cases, tragedy. Touching on the debate as to whether life is a gift or a curse (I am firmly in the ‘gift’ camp). However, living with tragedy isn’t easy. Remembering isn’t easy, to forget is impossible.”

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