Luke Fenlon: Summer in Liverpool Sound City

Posted on 10 May 2011
By Richard Lewis & Ash Williams
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With only a single track to his name as an official release, Luke Fenlon already has people talking. ‘Summer’, his debut single has been a fixture on the Radio One Introducing Playlist, whilst the accompanying video has sailed past the 5000 views mark on YouTube.

Looking like he has used a Tardis, the 20-year old singer-songwriter has seemingly ripped through the vortex of time from 1965 and emerged looking the image of Bob Dylan. Unlike Dylan however, who delighted in baiting journalists and tying their questions into verbal knots, the present subject is the polar opposite.

‘Summer’ is a brilliant, loping synthesis of Buffalo Springfield and Lou Reed’s laidback spoken/sung delivery evokes the season perfectly, a shoe-in for afternoon festival sets.

“We only digitally released it ‘cos Radio One wanted to play it.” Luke explains of the track. “They said ‘We wanna play this song’ and we thought “We’re gonna have to release this quickly!”

“I uploaded it to the BBC Uploader and they heard it from that. The person who runs BBC Introducing rang me up and said it came through to them after (BBC Radio Merseyside DJ) Dave Monks had heard it and really liked it. He sent it off with a great recommendation, it was sent to a listening panel, they liked it and put it through to Radio One.”

“The thing is, the BBC Uploader must have millions of songs uploaded every day, so for it to get picked out it was… special” he grins.

There then followed a flurry of text messages saying he was on Radio One. “Yeah, tons.” Luke says. “I woke up in the morning, turned the radio on and it was just on, halfway through the song on Fearne Cotton.”

The timing of some unseasonably good weather might have helped the track also. “Yeah, that was brilliant ‘cos it was Summer all that week.” Luke nods. “I’ve been busking for the past week.”

Drawing inspiration from The Strokes, Ray Charles, The Velvet Underground, over-looked sixties rockers The Zombies and Sigur Ros, Luke has carved out his own idiosyncratic sound.

With several songs written and completed with many more still in an unfinished state, Luke has frequented many recording studios recently.

Having used Sandhills and the Motor Museum (where Oasis recorded ‘Supersonic’) in Liverpool, Luke also recently recorded out in LA at Matt Sorum’s house.

Sorum, best known as drummer for Guns n’ Roses, currently serves as sticksman for Velvet Revolver. “All the equipment he’s got is endorsed, it’s all been given to him for free, it was all the best stuff.” Luke marvels. “We used his actual drumkit for the recording. There was a crystal skull that Axl Rose used to hold up in the air at gigs, like something from Hamlet, that was on top of one of the speakers.”

“We were told that Slash might come down” Luke laughs incredulously. “He never did though. Matt came down for a bit though and sat with us.”

In addition to making the acquaintance of a former Gunner, Luke met another notable from the charts. “I also met Justin from The Darkness” Luke says. “He was just having a holiday, he was in my hotel and he sat next to me at the pool. I was talking to him for about an hour and the next minute I said to him ‘So what do you do?’ And he said, ‘Well I was in a band called The Darkness.’ As soon as he said it I had the name Justin in my head and I went ‘Fuck off! No way! You were in The Darkness?’

“I didn’t recognize him ‘cos he had this Captain Hook kind of thing going on with a big moustache, shades and a cowboy hat. I said it a good way though, I wasn’t actually telling him to go away!” he laughs.

The invite only industry bash MUSEXPO, a festival which has been the springboard for many on the way up was also a fixture on Luke’s LA sojourn. “I’m not signed to a record label” Luke explains. “I’ve never sent a CD off to any record labels, I’ve never done any of that kind of stuff. I’ve not really recorded much, it’s a case of doing it now.”

“‘Summer’, ‘That Girl’, ‘Hey You’, ‘I’m OK with That’ are the main four recordings that have been done properly. I’d love to go out there and record the album, but money is a factor. ‘Cos it’s all come so quickly, I’m unsigned and I’ve not got the kind of infrastructure in place, it’s hard to get stuff out there quickly”.

‘Summer’, already well into four digit viewing figures on YouTube is backed by a memorable video by acclaimed Liverpool film maker Dominic Foster. Filmed entirely on location in Liverpool, the clip features sun-baked footage of the Georgian Quarter and panoramic views atop Everton Brow, showcasing the city brilliantly. “Yeah, I wanted to show off where I’m from” Luke nods, explaining the locations.

On top of this is a plotline featuring two lovers who eventually meet up after a day seemingly spent floating around the city. Much debate has taken place on how the director achieved the ‘levitating’ effect.

“Everyone’s been asking about that” Luke grins. “Basically we got two friends of mine in and I said to them ‘What you’re gonna be doing today is jumping up and down. All day.’ It’s like a flick book, it’s all photos. At the end of it, it was just over seven thousand pictures taken, which means they had to jump up and down seven thousand times in one day!” Luke smiles, disbelievingly.

The footage of Luke singing was to be shot in Sefton Park originally, but had to be shelved due to logistical problems.

“The armchair that I’m sat on wouldn’t fit in the back of the car” Luke laughs. “We were like, er, Plan B? Look, there’s some daffodils over there!” The scene of rural bliss was instead filmed in the industrialized locale of Leeds St, not the Victorian splendor of the park.

‘Summer’ is available now on Amazon and iTunes

Luke plays Liverpool Sound City on Thurs May 19th supporting Steve Mason at The Masque