I have been part of the rock scene in New Orleans for over ten years now, and in that time I have been a witness to some amazing local acts. Talking to the bands over the years I always find myself asking about influences, who is listening to what. Rarely do I hear the founding fathers of metal being mentioned. It seems most bands have grown tired of the foundations of hard rock, and choose only to mention each other, or more recent groups.
Where 'Y' At Magazine had the chance to sit down with Luke Starkiller to discuss not only their influences, but their take on fast aggressive music, and where their band is headed musically. Talking with them I enjoyed hearing them mention some of the older metal and punk bands that I use to get excited about when first learning my guitar skills. This may be the result of their age: Nathan Allen 23, guitar, keyboard, vocals; Luke Songy 24, guitar, keyboard; Tyler Lirette 23, bass; and Brody Leake 23, drums are a young group of guys that not only are proud to mention some of the early bands that deep down, we all love, but in addition their energy level inevitably has them shredding and riffing helplessly, as if anything under one hundred beats per minute is not possible.
The group wasn't always as technical and elaborate as they are today. They actually started as a two piece acoustic band that Nathan Allen and his friend started. This is when founder Nathan Allen came up with the name.
"The music has changed since I started this, and we've thought about changing it, but were at a point where the name has gained some recognition,"says Allen. "I've always loved Star Wars and really liked the original name Luke Starkiller. The character's name changed when they started working on the second draft of the script. You never heard the name until the Force Unleashed game came out. I pre-ordered it, got the fucking action figurine and all. But anyway the name sort of fits the music."
Don't worry ladies. Albeit a member or two may at one time or another been part of the Star Wars fan club, this doesn't take away the fact that these guys would look like Gap models if it were not for the embellishments that they've attained living an alternative lifestyle.
Since the inception of Luke Starkiller, Allen has auditioned a few different players.
Luke Songy was the original drummer, and after he found current member Brody Leake, Songy moved over to bass, then finally guitar. Listening to the music you can see that guitar is a perfect fit for him, catching on quick and not only keeping up with saber wielder Nathan but collaborating also. These fellas are pretty young to be erasing the fret board with their shredding skills, but leave it up to the young ones to have the passion and energy to do so. Learning the drums first seemed to be beneficial for Songy: "Being a drummer helped me out on guitar so much. You can learn timing so well that way." Transitioning from an acoustic band to a faster aggressive band started with some of the bad-ass rockers from the '80s. Allen explains why he picked up the pace of his music "Iron Maiden was a big influence, and also Megadeth. Rust
In Piece is a record we talk about at least once a week. I had to practice a lot to be able to play like that. The internet is such an amazing resource; I've learned a lot of theory and soloing from online lessons. But yeah, Iron Maiden for me." As far as Songy, he has some family that inspired him to be a musician. "For me it was my cousins' punk band called Outplay back in the day. They're twins, and one is a drummer and the other a guitarist. They're awesome players and they got me into different types of music."
And again Allen emphatically mentions more of the masters of Metal "Randy Rhodes, damn, he was awesome. His playing is awesome. I also like some of the Dio Black Sabbath stuff. It's weird because it changed their sound because that was when British heavy metal was catching on. A lot of the galloping techniques with the rhythm, harmonizing, and more minor scales in the playing. Once I heard Iron Maiden and caught on to their harmonies I became really influenced by that. Learning stuff from them and listening to early Metallica really helped me understand theory." Tyler Lirette first started playing bass in his church. Somewhat of a contradiction he is aware of, considering most of Starkiller's influences stem from groups that pioneered lyric ideas that at times are contradictory to most established religions. But his experience playing with the church is where he learned to keep a tight rhythm, crucial for the music he plays with Starkiller.
Allen, on what he is listening to currently:
"Right now I've had the latest Joe Satriani in my player for a while." And Songy: "I'm big into punk. A lot of Swedish punk bands is what I'm listening to right now. We all sort of listen to different things. But we listen to everything from Death Metal to Punk and blues. I liKe tO Play Fast...We alWays Get bOred WHen We slOW stuFF dOWn. —Nathan Allen, guitar/vocals/keyboards
As far as specific genres, it's weird. We're all over the place. We listen to things together, but we all have our own tastes." Considering the various influences that the group has, they still feel confident about where they are going with the sound. They plan on continuing to keep up the pace of the music, because playing slow and soft tends to get boring for them, at least in Allen's view "I like to play fast man. We always get bored when we slow stuff down."
August is going to be a busy month for Luke Starkiller. They will be playing with their good friends The Scorceses for the Sunday radio show that 92.3 hosts for new and up coming bands. In addition, they are trying to arrange studio time for a mass of material they are ready to put on record. Fans can expect to hear ten minute long tracks with all of the breakdowns, gallops, and minor scale harmonizing one can handle. Since they are products of Southern Louisiana, expect some blues/jazz breakdowns in the music, sounds that can be heard at times in their songs.
Be ready to keep a close eye on these guys; a fresh and inspiring group is what New Orleans rock scene is in need of.