Courtesy Rolling Stone In the spirit of March Madness, Rolling Stone has…
- Posted on Feb 28th 2011 1:15PM by Emily Tan
Courtesy of Rolling Stone
Spinner recently spoke with MacMaster about his switch from rock 'n' roll to folk rock, why he likes Conor Oberst and how it felt to get the two thumbs up from Kings of Leon.
If you like what you hear, vote for the Romany Rye below.
Before the Romany Rye, you were in a band called the Colour and went from upbeat rock and roll to the country folk rock. Why the change?
The Colour was a rock 'n' roll band and very like the Rolling Stones and things I still listen to very often today. And it seemed the more I sunk into music and becoming a fan, naturally I went from listening to the Stones to listening to Gram Parsons. And Gram Parsons introduced me to the Flying Burrito Brothers and International Submarine Band. And the older I got, I just started writing songs on the guitar. They all started coming out that way. And now my band is a bunch of Southerners so I think it was just a natural progression of growing up. It soon became clear that I'm not as angsty as I once was to be in a rock 'n' roll band. And the music that I play [now] encompasses the emotions that I can muster into a song. I don't think I chose it. I think it kind of chose me.
You're from California while the rest of Romany Rye is from the South. So how did that dynamic work out?
It kind of worked out beautifully because it gives us a nice balance on what we're doing. And now I've spent so much time in the South and lived in Nashville and lived in Arkansas that I've gotten my taste of that sort of lifestyle. California will always be home for me, but I think musically it worked out for the best because it broadened the way that I think and look at music.
When did you realize you wanted to be a musician?
I think it was 2005 when I was in the Colour. The Colour got signed to EMI, and somewhere along the line I fell in love with playing music and knew that's what I wanted to do. So when I quit that band, I just kept right on going.
What song or band made you fall in love with music?
I think it started at a basic level, working with my dad. I grew up in Big Bear, [Calif.], which is a mountain town, and listened to oldies radio. So it would obviously be the Beatles and the [Rolling] Stones -- just very classic rock. And from there, I just started to fall backwards and started to dig deeper and deeper into music.
Who inspires your songwriting?
I heard Conor Oberst once say that lyrical heat was an important part of writing songs when he wrote with his friends, and I sort of went along with that ideology. I fell in love with songwriters like Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt -- very heavy lyricists. Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes is a great lyricist. And I think for me, it's just an important part -- writing -- and is what separates people like Conor Oberst and Taylor Goldsmith and Townes Van Zandt from Ke$ha and Justin Bieber and stuff like that. While that's all good fun and stuff, I think that lyrical content is really what separates songwriters from sort of celebrities, I guess.
If there was one songwriter you would want to work with, who would it be?
To write or sit down and play songs with John Prine or Jackson Browne would be pretty incredible. Also Conor Oberst. Whether you like it or not, I think he is one of the heaviest writers of our generation. People either love or hate it for one reason or the other, and that's all fine. But it'd be great to write a song or work with him.
Kings of Leon Matthew Followill told NME last year that Romany Rye is one of the bands to look out for. How did it feel to get that kind of praise and recognition?
Kings of Leon are a great band. I've been a fan since 'Aha Shake Heartbreak.' It's just such a great rock record, and I've had the pleasure of knowing all of those guys. And hearing that from Matthew Followill was one of the high moments of my life. And just the other day because of the [Rolling Stone cover] contest, Jared Followill, on Twitter, was like, 'Everyone has to go and vote for my friend Luke's band. They kick ass,' or something like that. So to have the support of the biggest bands in the world is an incredibly heavy feeling. It doesn't necessarily feel real. It just makes me ecstatic. I can't believe it.
You had a taste of being a signed band with the Colour and are now starting over with Romany Rye. What's your hope for this new project?
I'm very aware of the failure rate in music, and I don't pretend to not be affected by that. So I have very realistic goals for this band, and my main goal is to be a better writer. And as far as the music reaching people, I hope to tour the States this year and have the van not break down and interact with as many people as I can and build a modest following so I don't have to work a s----- job. That's really it for now. For anything beyond that, I can only be excited.