Luke Sweeney

Luke Sweeney has built his name around the San Francisco Bay Area as a rock 'n' roll sweetheart since his move from VOWS & Montra to his own solo project and coveted release of Ether Ore, his solo debut, in 2013.

Ether Ore, a dreamy, singer-songwriter release that was stripped-down and bare boned, came with critical acclaim and a number of possibilities and expectations for Sweeney. His new album, Adventure:Us, which was produced by Robin MacMillan in 2014, takes Sweeney in a whole new direction, and into a more garage, rock 'n' roll, and psychedelic sound. From the pop anthem that is "Doin' It To You," to the psychedelic reminiscent "Lap Of The Gods," Sweeney's Adventure:Us reinvigorates the power of a live band, and has that feel-good rock 'n' roll style that is impossible to dislike.

This week, he'll be playing at show at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. So we got to meet up with Sweeney and even walk his pig Atticus along the Great Highway in the Sunset District to talk a bit more about his new album, his upcoming haircut, and that pig.

Luke SweeneyThe Bay Bridged: So we're out here walking your pig. What's his name?

Luke Sweeney: Atticus. I should have brought a treat with me, he's really grumpy with people otherwise.

TBB: [Laughs] Well then. Hopefully he's okay with us walking him, then. 

LS: He'll be fine. Just don't watch him as he goes restroom, he doesn't like that. [Laughs]

TBB: So, Adventure:Us. Tell me a bit about the name of the album. 

LS: Well, it's another pun. Haha. I yanked it from the third track on the album, where the chorus is "Let's get adventurous." It's an invitation, the title. It goes off the theme of that song, "Spousal Arousal," you know? Where I say, "It can be a lonely night again for us, unless we go on to get adventurous" it's an invitation to listen, and take chances, and take some risks. That's how you live. The album has been about four years in the making, so a lot of that goes with the process of making the album.

TBB: I like that. How would you think about the album, up against Ether Ore, in a sentence or so?

LS: Well, Ether Ore was little treats and vignettes of unrealized dreams, where it stays in a dream state. Where, Adventure:Us travels the real world and grabs you by the hand and actually goes somewhere.

TBB: There's no question that Adventure:Us is much heavier, much more rock 'n' roll. There's a lot more elements that spew ’60s rock. How was that shift in sound and style for you?

LS: I don't really have a genre other than "songs that I write." I do like to keep an album focused, and not have it mixed. I like to keep it consistent in terms of the production, and basically, I like concept albums in the sense that you start with an idea and you complete it, and it doesn't stray the course too much in terms of the sound, the vibe, and the context. Really, some of the songs from Ether Ore were newer than some of the songs from Adventure:Us. Some of the songs from Adventure:Us I've had laying around for years, so I can't say it's a progression chronologically as much as it is a matter of a progression that goes to fitting songs into a concept that fit into a complete idea.

TBB: So why Adventure:Us now?

LS: Because it's ready. [Laughs] And I think the cool thing about it is that four years after we started laying tracks for it, I don't know if it's more trendy or less trendy, and it also doesn't really matter, because it doesn't carry a trendy vibe to it.

TBB: [Laughs] Do you ever struggle with being desensitized to music you've been working on for years? I always feel that'd be such an issue for musicians who have archives and catalogues of material they're sitting on.

LS: I totally understand that from past bands, but the fact is that almost everything from the Adventure:Us record had ever been played with a full live band before. It hasn't been until this past year that we've started playing the songs from the record and piecing them together as a full band, so it's still pretty fresh for us. Probably by next summer we'll be tired of it. [Laughs]

TBB: What's been the most fun show you've played so far for the Adventure:Us tour?

LS: Probably Austin. The release show we had here in Brick & Mortar was tons of fun too. I just don't think I've ever sweat as much as I did in Austin, but it was just a really fun show, and everyone was into it.

TBB: So what's next in the Luke Sweeney progression?

LS: I mean, I've got very long backlogs of songs that are waiting to be recorded. So, we've been talking about it, and we haven't actually started working on any of it. I think what we'll do is start to record a new album sometime soon, and it'll be some of the most recent stuff we've worked on. Then there's another album that I'm sitting on, but I won't talk about that until it becomes the next thing.

TBB: Anything anyone else should be anticipating?

LS: More surprises. And a hair cut. A really short haircut.

TBB: A hair cut?!

LS: Yeah, every year I donate it. It has to be like 10-inches long or something, so it's going to be a lot.

TBB: So a HUGE haircut?

LS: [laughs] Yeah! A huge haircut.

Francisco The Man, Luke Sweeney, Hot Flash Heat Wave
Rickshaw Stop
December 10, 2014
8pm, $10 (All Ages)

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