Following on from his debut 2016 record, Long Way Back Down, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Lucas James returns in 2021 with a new project, Midnight Drags, and a new album Bad Business. Co-produced by esteemed Australian guitarist Ash Naylor (Even, Paul Kelly) and mixed by engineer Matt Wallace (Faith No More, The Replacements).
Power Pop, Classic Rock, a bit of Soul, you can hear it all on Bad Business. Nine strong, very catchy stories.
What was the moment you knew you were on to something?
I think the moment I thought these tracks were pretty solid was when the band got together and first started rehearsing the tracks, until then I had only heard them an acoustic guitar (which is generally what I write all my songs on) and although I was happy with them I couldn’t hear the finished product in my head. The first few jams were exciting and the songs started to take on a new life altogether. I think that’s when we knew we might be onto something a little cool.
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
First and foremost, success for me is being proud and 100% happy with my music when it is released. Secondary to that is other people enjoying the album. I’m not looking at sales figures or streams as markers for success really (although it’s cool to get a few dollars here and there!) .. it’s just really nice when somebody you don’t know says ‘I love this song!’ when talking about your music.
As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
I think earlier in my songwriting journey I was much more reluctant to be 100 percent honest in my lyrics and kept things a little more superficial but as I’ve gotten older I’m much more comfortable being honest about my feelings and insecurities with myself and others. I still write songs about ‘characters’ but they usually have a little me or somebody I know in the story as well. But a wise man once said ‘don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story’.
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
I think so yes.. anybody can make music, anytime and anywhere with the way technology is now.. you can do it on a phone, tablet, or laptop and make something really special. Bedroom producers are taking over and I think it’s pretty cool. Back in the day, you could only produce decent-sounding music if you had access to some type of recording equipment which was usually found in recording studios so it was a costly exercise.
Getting music heard is another thing altogether, that side comes down to a mixture of word of mouth, pr/promotion, and/or luck but the number 1 thing is, having good songs! But, you might be one of the lucky ones who put their first-ever song on Soundcloud and the world goes bananas for it and you sign a mega-deal with a record label and eat caviar and drink champagne for the rest of your life..?
Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?
Tough question, but I’ll try…
My Old School: Steely Dan
I’ve been listening to a lot of ‘the Dan’ lately and I love them so much, I could have picked any of their songs but I do love the feel of this one.. very fun and as usual, the musicianship is off the charts.
Friday On My Mind: The Easybeats
This is an Australian band from the ’60s and I seriously rate this track as one of the best pop tracks ever written. It’s a complex and interesting chord progression that builds tension throughout with the euphoric release of the super hooky chorus. Killer song. Fun fact, the band included George Young on guitar who was the older brother of Malcolm, and Angus Young who went on to form AC/DC.
I Was Made To Love Her: Stevie Wonder
Just an awesome song, everything about it makes me happy.
Southern Girls: Cheap Trick
Again, I could have chosen at least 10 or more other tracks but this is so much fun… Cheap Trick was a big influence on my and my music.. they were heavy yet very poppy and they were a ‘fun’ band that didn’t take themselves too seriously… I love that about them.
What can I say, Radiohead is amazing and this song of The Bends has everything. Jonny Greenwood is a guitar god!
released February 26, 2021
Lucas James – Vocals, Guitar, Synth, Percussion
Ash Naylor – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Warren Booth – Bass
Brett Wolfenden – Drums
Sefi Carmel – Strings/String Arrangements
Daniel Frankel – Piano/Electric Piano/Perc
Wez Prictor – Piano
Hugo Lee – Saxophone
Bill McDonald – Bass on Tracks 2 & 5
Nate Barnes – Drums on Track 5
Recorded at Hot Bias Recording Studio
Mixed by Matt Wallace
Mastered by Lucas James