Coming to a living room near you: Austin Lucas puts intimate twist on crowd-funding forthcoming album
By Kevin Broughton
It had been about eight months since we last spoke.
“Hey, Austin! How you doing? How’s Sally?”
A reasonable question, as ubiquitous as she was on his website, his publicity photos, his tour. She curled up in his guitar case on stage, periodically getting up and moving closer to him as he sang.
“Sally died, man.”
Ugh. For a guy who’s been so up-front about his struggles with depression and anxiety, it could’ve been a crippling blow to Austin Lucas. But it hasn’t been. Such loss – on the heels of a messy label breakup that delayed the premiere of a wonderful record by a couple of years – forced him to confront his sadness and pain, and he’s emerged both hopeful and innovative.
Lacking the financial punch a guy of his stature would have from a major indie label, Lucas has come up with a twist on crowd-funding: He’ll use a “House by House” tour to finance the production of his next record, Immortal Americans, with all kinds of goodies and contribution levels available. You want value? How about $25 for an in-person house show and two records? Please visit his site here, now.
And because he’s a fan of our site, Lucas has given us an exclusive premiere stream of the demo of “Between the Leaves.” It’s a very Austin Lucas song.
So, Austin Lucas, you had a pretty good record last year. We ranked it highly in our critics’ poll. Want to catch people up on what’s happened in your life since the release of Between the Moon and the Midwest and the tour you went on to support it?
Well, as a lot of people know I guess, Sally passed away. She was my dog who toured with me and was onstage with me when I played, so that was a big life event. I also fell in love with an amazing woman, which is wonderful, but she’s also had her share of health problems. But I can’t say that I’m sad; it’s been tough, but it’s also been one of the most rewarding periods of my life.
I’ve been able to use songwriting to describe a lot of things that were happening in my life, and have come out, luckily, feeling pretty good about myself. A lot of people know I’ve had my own share of problems, and as time has gone on, I’ve gradually become a healthier person, both physically and mentally.
Tell me what led to the idea of crowd-funding your next record with an interactive component. Seems like the listener – when geographically close enough – gets tangible value under your scenario.
I was driving a lot and having a lot of conversations with my tour manager in Europe. It was a pretty crazy tour last winter; Sally died while I was on that tour. I don’t want to get too deeply into it, but it was a very dark period in my life. Thinking about making my next record, I knew I needed to raise the funds for a real publicist and real marketing. I wanted to birth something, and give this one something my previous albums never had.
I asked myself what was it that I really enjoyed doing, and could I offer some of that to other people. And the answer is, I could come into their lives directly – I’ve always loved doing these house concerts – and give them something tangible when they go home.
It’s obvious that intimacy with your audience is something you really dig.
Yeah. [House shows have] been sort of a stop-gap to make a little extra money between gigs on tours in the past, but I love being in a room full of people who actually give a damn about me. At club shows I do get to interact some with my audience; but with house shows there’s a limited amount of tickets and the opportunity to actually look every person in the eye. And engage with them, shake their hands and thank them for caring.
|Good dog. Rest in peace.|
Sort of a voluntary captive audience.
Yeah, exactly. It won’t be folks who paid a cover and walked in because they wanted to have a drink. I suppose it’s easy for some folks to take for granted that their music is important to people and that people care. It’s never been that way with me; it’s always blown my mind that people like my music.
It’s impossible to respond to every single person who does a post about me or sends me an email, but I spend a good portion of every day trying to respond to as many as I can. Making real connections in these intimate settings with people who care is rocket fuel for a guy like me.
It looks like you’re going to start in Memphis March 10 then head generally toward Austin in time for SXSW. How many of these house gigs are solidly locked in? Put another way, will the venue of your March 31 in Seattle show – for example – be decided between now and then, depending on interest level from that city?
No, these venues are all pretty much locked in. If you look at that calendar – I think there are about 50 dates on there – maybe five of them are even remotely flimsy. I’ve been working on this tour since December.
And the way it’ll work is, when people donate to my crowd-funding campaign, they’ll get an e-ticket or tickets, depending on the level of the contribution. We’ll send out the address for the show via email – the only way to get the address is to buy a ticket. There will still be a limited number of tickets for certain shows available from my website. But there are a lot of perks that come with contributing. For instance if you buy a ticket, you get a recording of the show you go to, plus you get a copy of my new album once it’s finished. So, pay $25, see a show and get two records, basically.
How will your next album, Immortal Americans be different from Moon/Midwest? And if you’re about to say this one will be “more personal,” the last one seemed pretty introspective in its own right.
All records are introspective, man. I’m the kind of songwriter who writes about human emotions, and the ones I understand best are the ones that come from inside me. I think this will be more profound than the last one, and the focus will mostly be on my guitar and my voice. Also, I’m not in production yet, so the record I’m thinking of may not end up being the record I make.
Do you have a tentative production schedule?
Right now, the plan is to be in the studio sometime in mid-May.
How many songs do you have written right now?
Man…that depends on what you consider to be “a song.” [Laughs]
Well, I’d consider “Between the Leaves” to be a song.
Yeah, that’s close to a completely finished song. Completely finished? Right now maybe 12. Best guess, when I go into the studio in May I’ll have around 15.
Okay, Farce the Music peeps, it’s time to step up. We do two things here, and we do them well: bust on disgraceful, no-talent hacks; and promote deserving artists trying their best to bring integrity to country music. It’s an uphill fight for guys like Austin Lucas. Let’s give him a boost. Here again is the link to his funding page. And if you’re in one of these 50 or so cities, get a ticket. I can tell you that seeing him in an intimate setting will have a profound effect on you. Thanks.