Luke Concannon is a name you'll probably recognise from a band called NIZLOPI who had a hit in 2005 with 'JCB Song' (more on that later). Luke recently played an absolutely spellbinding set at the Loft Live Sessions near Exeter and sadly I wasn't able to make the show so we thought it would be great to have a chat AFTER the event. Being the super nice guy that he is, Luke was well up for this and we pulled up a couple of bean bags and got the questions rolling, here's how it went....
Luke, most people know you from your band ‘Nizlopi’, please tell us a little bit about YOU….
I’ve always loved to sing, it feels like such a powerful and beautiful gift to let these cries out from our bodies! I love creating and writing. I’m touring an album currently that I wrote during and after a hitch-hiking trip to Palestine. It’s called ‘Give it All’ and is about people, power, empathy, the erotic and revolution.
If you could have one of the following superpowers (invisibility, mind control or x-Ray vision), which would you choose and how would you use it?
Invisibility appeals. I’m often wanting to quietly slip away, I love silence and solitude, and it might help for getting to see wildlife, though, I suppose they work by sound and scent as much as anything!
If Michael Eavis called you, asking for you to nominate 3 bands to headline each night of Glastonbury 2017, who would you go for (bands can be alive/deceased/broken up or fictional)
Wow, sweet question! I’m laughing thinking of my honest responses: I’d have Paddy Keenan on the Friday night, my Dad is a fine Uileann piper/irish bag piper and a gig he took me to of Keenan's in a church hall in 1996 is still my number one live performance of all time! Saturday night would be for my hero Rory Mcleod (A revolutionary folk soul singer, incredible live performer who often plays 4 hour long sets) and the great Irish Ceol soul ‘Damien Dempsey’ on the Sunday. It’s funny the best gigs I’ve been to have been small ones, with down to earth artists singing out of a community of solidarity, peoplehood and shared hopes. I love folk music for this reason.
You released ‘JCB Song’ in June 2005 and it reached number 160 in the UK charts, only 6 months later, it hit the top spot, what happened in those 6 months to make this happen?
I sold my soul to the Devil…nah, I didn’t! It was the video Laith Barani made for the song that got shared around, and we put together a team to market the song and Brits love talking about ‘who will be Christmas number 1?’ so, journalists ran with our underdog story. And then ran off in the new year!
You recently played at The Loft Live Sessions near Exeter, have you ever played in a medieval barn before?
Loved that gig, a beautiful place and, for music to keep going, for musicians to survive; we need communities who are willing to turn up to a night even if they havent heard us before. That night has a good reputation so people come and pay for music and are happily surprised by the quality that Sarah Lacey puts on there. So good!
Gavin Monaghan produced your debut album ‘Half These Songs are About You’, for your second long player, ‘Make it Happen’ you enlisted the assistance of Phil Brown for production duties, was this because you were seeking a different sound from your debut?
Good research bro! Yeah, we were at a point in our career where we were working with people in the mainstream music industry and taking their council, and they were recommending going with certain producers that might host us in a way that helped create a great record.
In your opinion, what is THE best album in the world EVER?
Wow, that’s too hard, and for me my response is evolving daily, I’ll say that in recent months I have been deeply moved and inspired by Cloud Cults album ‘Seeker’ really strong poetics and a kind of burgeoning spirit of adventure, honesty and hope, they make me remember that being alive is this exquisite light of a gift, what more can you ask for?
You play LOTS of festivals up and down the country, which have you particularly enjoyed this year so far and which are you looking forward to?
I KNEW that I would love ‘How The Light Gets In’ and really did, it’s a philosophy and music festival running alongside the Hay Literary Festival and has a great buzz of life and dynamism about it. Its human scale and the people running it were lovely and happy. Amazing strawberries with clotted cream! Green Gathering was great too, I like it more than it’s previous incarnation ‘The Big Green Gathering’, a gentle wholesome hippy vibe to it. Good listening audience!
What are your top three tips to surviving a music festival?
- Go to a good one that excites you!
- Prepare: Waterproof foot wear (I cuta few inchs off an old pair of wellies so they are a little lighter for walking around a big site) waterproof everything, good warm sleeping matt.
- Plan a day off when you get home!
Lets say that we’re coming round to your place for dinner, what would be on the menu? Is this your ‘signature’ dish?
Rice and Dahl with Green vegetables, followed by some French Chocolate Mouse!
Ed Sheeran used to be your guitar tech, can you tell us any amusing stories of his younger days?
He was crazy enthusiastic, he felt like a younger Brother who was so bustling with energy and hope that it was slightly overwhelming. He always wanted to rap battle, loved Harry Potter books, and once clattered our beer rider with out doing much work!
Did you always want to be a musician?
No, I loved drawing as a child and did well in 'art' at school, I was looking at that path but the music seemed to draw me in.
What other careers did you seriously consider when you left school?
I was a community musician. I loved the public service part of it, but it didn’t give me time to really develop as an artist.
Have you ever had any ‘Spinal Tap’ moments? Tell us the best one….
I went out with a very famous Jazz musician one night, he drank some strong magic mushroom Tea, the rest of his band left the Blues club, he then came up on the drugs, it was just the two of us left and he got dragged up on stage to play and played brilliantly but then stopped in the middle staring blankly and saying ‘I can’t do this’ I, in my naivety (I was young!) got up on stage and told the whole audience that he had had too many magic mushrooms and took him home!
Music has been through so many changes over the last 25 years, CD, Minidisc, Digital downloads, iTunes, Spotify, Crowd Sourcing etc, how do you think we’ll be consuming music in the future?
Hopefully we will go back more and more to listening to live music and singing together!
Do you still think the good old vinyl record will still be around in 25 years time?
We love Vinyl don’t we? Yeah!
If you were a cartoon character, which one would you be and why?
Speedy Gonzales, great name!
What does the future hold for Luke Concannon?
I’m working on new songs, and moving to America to be with my Love.
Luke was doing well, a little too well for our liking so we thought we'd put the spotlight on him with some fast paced, no holds barred quick-fire questions to get him thinking on the spot....
Whiskey or Wine?
Pizza or Chicken Dippers?
Wheat free Vegetarian kid!
Stanley Kubrick or Alfred Hitchcock?
Electric or Acoustic?
Camping or Camper Van?
Summer or Winter?
Pub or Trendy wine bar?
Rudyard Kipling or Mr Kipling?
James Bond or Austin Powers?
Xbox or Playstation?
De Niro or Pacino?
God or Google?
We'd like to thank Luke for sparing the time to chat to us and we wish him every success for the future. To keep up to date with all things 'Luke Concannon', please check out his social media sites below;
Interview by Steve Muscutt