Leigh Davies – Lune Asea ‘Origins of these Musical Outliers’

Wall Of Sound // Lune Asea Interview 2023

Prevailing wisdom might say it is an extraordinarily tough time to be kicking off the career of an all-new original rock act. But that doesn’t phase Leigh Davies, Melbourne-based guitarist and frontman for new Australian progressive rock ‘supergroup’ Lune Asea, in the slightest. He is more than happy to create art with the ridiculously talented bunch of creatives he has around him in the Lune Asea band and broader team (which, incidentally, includes production genius Forrester Savell), and anything that happens beyond that is purely cream on the top.

“The first thing that comes to mind with that,” Davies says, “is that I haven’t thought about that at all. It’s a good question, but I think we’re all just so focused on getting our music out there, and we’re not really too concerned about the outcome and how it’s received, to be brutally honest. We just really enjoy playing music together, as corny as that sounds, and we feel like it’s just a big cathartic process for us all, and just that whole process of writing and releasing music is why we’re in it, and writing music together.”

“Anything else that happens is just a bonus.”

In fact, he feels that worrying about things like fan and industry reactions, numbers of hits on Spotify, YouTube and so on, is actually counter-productive, a distraction from the true objective. “I think in the past, I’ve definitely looked beyond that. I think when you start to look beyond the point of the initial goal or target you have of just creating art, you can start to get a little bit misguided and get off track. You stop focusing on making the best art you can.”

“So in terms of if it worries me releasing music in this current climate, no, it doesn’t bother me at all.”

The new band consists of Davies – former member of brilliant but underappreciated Melbourne band Sleep Parade as well as Cog side project The Occupants – on guitar and vocals; two current members of Perth’s mighty Karnivool, Steve Judd and Jon Stockman, on drums and keys respectively; Ghost of Aquarius guitarist Ben Elphick and bassist Adam Perry (who actually currently resides in the US.) So the musical pedigree in the band is exemplary.

Of course, ‘all-new’ is a relative term. To the members of the band, Lune Asea has actually been around since 2016, writing, shaping and refining their sound, songs and music from scratch. Then a little period in history known as the ‘Covid pandemic’ came along, delaying things further, and when all the water had flowed sluggishly under the bridge, it was no less than seven years before they could officially launch their superb first single, ‘Outlier, which came out in mid-April of 2023. Davies details how the band came together and a little of the frustration he and the other members felt waiting and waiting to get their music out into the world.

“I was talking to Adam Perry,” he begins, “who’s a mutual mate of Jon, Steve, Ben and myself, and he mentioned that his mates Ben and Jono wanted to start something and they were maybe looking for a singer, and that Steve might also be on board. So I said I was definitely interested, the only issue was they all live in WA. So we arranged that I go over there, and I think I spent about a week or so there, and we just went through some initial ideas and just some jams. This was in 2016. One of those jams is what is now ‘Outlier‘”.

“So that’s how we formed, and from there it was just little trips over there every couple of months or so. The longest time I spent there was when we recorded ‘Outlier’ and another couple of tracks.”

The single itself is an incredible, powerful piece of songwriting. Choc-full of emotion, dynamics and top-shelf musicianship in the grand tradition of classic Aussie alt-prog, it is a track of which Karnivool, Cog or Dead Letter Circus would be proud. In addition, there is a very deep and personal lyrical message in the song’s words, and Davies is happy to fill us in on how it all came together, musically and lyrically.

“So, ‘Outlier’, it started off with the title ‘Deftown’,” he recalls, “so that was the initial idea, and it came from that riff you hear at the start of the song. I’m trying to cast my memory back, because it was some time ago now, but I like to muck around with my whammy pedal, and the harmonies you can get out of the old Digitech, and I sort of formed that verse when it kicks in and goes to that major 7 type thing. So that was really, in my opinion, the foundation of the tune. And that groove just came out of that first jam.”

“So I would go back and forth from WA, and we would send the files around, and remotely work on it as well. I actually recorded all the vocals in my home studio as well, I self-recorded it. I’m happy with it as well. It’s hard to record yourself, it’s kinda hard to really critique yourself and really push yourself. It’s always good to have another set of ears there in the room or in the control room.”

“So the chorus came about, same deal, just sort of jamming, with the tribal drumbeat that goes on in that.”

Such deep and emotional music needed lyrics to match, and that’s exactly what Davies tried to do, drawing on a well of his own dark personal experience to inspire the track’s poignant and affecting lyrical content. Outlier is about my Dad,” he explains. “He had paranoid schizophrenia, so he would have delusions. Back when I was a kid though, I didn’t know they were delusions, just hearing your Dad say there’s helicopters circling the sky. He had a recurring delusion about a Russian spy swimming ashore, and Dad said that he stopped him from invading the shores. His biggest fear was of the communist world taking over, and he actually passed away a couple of years before the pandemic, and he would have hated seeing how the world’s turned. A lot of his prophecy is actually coming to fruition, in a way, which is eerie.”

“So the song was written after Dad had passed. The opening line is ‘you put a bullet in my hand’, not in my head. Although I really tried to make it sound like I wasn’t saying ‘bullet in my head’, most people might think I’m saying that, it’s ‘bullet in my hand’, and that’s indicating the responsibility that Dad believed he had, a responsibility literally for the world’s outcome. It’s a massive responsibility. He’s holding that in his hand.”

“So when it goes into the chorus, ‘When it all goes down’, Dad used to sit there in his chair and you could see the cogs turning in his head. He was just thinking about this stuff and it goes round and round. He’d be thinking about these delusions and he’d just obsess over that. So it’s a song about Dad’s prophecy which, bizarrely, is partly coming true now.”

‘Outlier’, as fabulous a song as it is, is really just the beginning for this band. As Davies explains, the band has plenty more material to come, much of it has already been professionally recorded, and they also plan to unleash their music in a live setting in the not-too-distant future. So if you dug what you heard on first listen, there is plenty to look forward to.

“Our plan is to release another track within the next three months. We’ve got a couple that we recorded the same time as ‘Outlier’. We’ve got a lot of songs in the works and we’re going to basically work towards an album. Not exactly sure of the date of release for that record, but that’s what we’re working towards.”

“And we definitely want to be playing shows, at least in the second half of this year. Logistically, it’s just a little bit more challenging because of our locations. But we definitely plan to be playing shows, whether they’re our own shows or supports, in the second half of this year.”

Interview by Rod Whitfield

Lune Asea is Leigh Davies (vocals and guitar), John Stockman (keys and synths), Steve Judd (drums), Adam Perry (bass) and Ben Elphick (guitars)

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