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An Interview With Jay Luke

The latest single release from Jay Luke it's all the classic metal sweet spots with a tasteful and melodic but edgy tone and songwriting style that bring together elements of old and new approaches all done with an upfront and honest lyrical approach and some shredding guitars that just can't turn away from.

"Me And My Demons" hits the ground running with an electrifying and high energy persona that is strong together with a ton of hard and is overflowing with his love for songwriting and guitar playing.

This track is an absolute banger and doesn't outstanding job of showcasing his character as a person and as an artist as he builds on that persona and turns it into something more people can relate to.

This is a thrasher and it's done with a ton of attention to detail but even so, it never loses that soul or drive that it was originally built from.

This is an example of an artist that pays his own way and does his own thing by taking certain genres in making them sound refreshing and exciting again.

Obviously, the guitar work across this song is ridiculous and yes you do get some really great lead sections that you just want to rewind a little bit so you can hear it again, but the song is a whole has a few layers that you can actually peel back, and it feels good to hear song like that again especially a really heavy rocking one like this.

Jay has a great way with words and his lyrical phrasing is super on point while that vocal delivery is powerful and impactful.

You can definitely hear certain influences coming through during the songs course and I love that he's got his own spin on everything.

The aesthetic of this classic metal sound is completely nailed from beginning to end right down to the guitar tones themselves.

The energy throughout this track is infectious and makes you want to sing along with your fists in the air.

This was catchy and fun but has that dark edginess to it that keeps it where it's supposed to be.

Jay Luke is the kind of artist that you'd want to go see live especially if the live shows anything like you here on the record because if that's the case, it's going to be a crazy show.

But the question is how does Jay put these songs together?

Does he have a backing band, or does he do most of the stuff himself?

After hearing this track, we absolutely had to ask him some questions to find out more of how this all got put together and what it means to him.

Here's what happened.

Buzz Slayers: Welcome jay! Thank you for taking some time for us! Let's begin with the "Me and My Demons" single as it really has some outstanding guitar work and gives a genuine classic metal tone! Where did this track come from? Thank you so much for having me first of all. Secondly, thank you for the kind words. The track "Me And My Demons" came from my love of vintage horror movies and early playbill posters for magicians in the early 1900s. I felt them to be so striking. There was a film called "The Story Of Mankind" where Vincent Price looked on one shoulder to find a devil and then to the other to find another devil where an angel would typically be. Then some magicians used to have devils whispering into their ears on their performance posters which is where I think the song started in my mind. It was very visual before it was musical. I am a graphic designer so seeing it in my head visually probably helped to get both the lyrics and music into place as well. I thought it was so symbolic of how mankind is always facing some struggle in their day-to-day life. Good or bad, light or dark, heaven or hell, rich or poor it's a constant tug of war and the song dealt strongly with that theme. There are also bits of the insomniac in me that lives in the vampire hours as the world is asleep. The time when where you are alone with your thoughts can either be productive or destructive. I think it is often the only quiet time some people get amid days filled with deadlines, chaos, and stress. The cover art came to light as I mentioned being a mixed tribute to the inspiration I drew from classic horror and magic. The photographer Eugene Lucas and I got to use a straightjacket from the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA thanks to the owners Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks who were kind enough to let us do our photoshoot there as well. It was such a cool experience working with everyone on that front and handling the graphic design part of it myself to tie it all together.

As for the guitarwork, I think the MVP goes to lead guitarist Michael "Duds" McDonald who's been playing with me now since the second album. He nailed the leads on this one. Buzz Slayers: You have a lot of releases under your belt! What sort of things inspire or push you to write?

I am the kind of person that uses my music and lyrics as a diary of sorts so most of what I write tends to be a personal snapshot into my life. I may not blab to anyone about what's going on in my life but my music tells you more about me than I might speak in a hundred conversations. I don't struggle with writer's block like some people do which makes things seem to flow easier lyrically to get songs written and recorded. I feel most alive in the studio creating so it is something that is both therapeutic and productive for me as an artist. I think many times that if I didn't channel the things I feel or am going through into music I would probably be dead or in jail. While I may feel frustrated by the madness of the world and the state it is in, it is the music and the creative process that keeps me sane. Buzz Slayers: How do you feel like your sound has evolved since you began releasing music?

I hadn't thought about this until you asked that question but yes there is a definite evolution in both sound and lyrics since my first album. They say when you make your first album you have your whole life to put it out and then usually a year or so to get that second one out if you want to stay involved in the game. It is like once you punch in you have to want to work and I like to keep active. So the first album was a collection of songs I wrote and built up over a decent period. By the second album, I found myself taking on a more personal side to the songwriting as I mentioned earlier and that gave each following album a concept album feel, meaning that each album is built up of chapters (aka songs) telling a story. The lyrics always evolve as I face new challenges and adapt to the world around me where there is never a shortage of inspiration. With the sound or music, I try to keep things as fresh and different as I can. Some songs I think require a certain heaviness, some I may want orchestration with strings and symphonic elements, or some mellow acoustic, etc. It is really what I think complements the words best. I don't want to be painted into a corner for only doing one thing I like to keep it open genre and play whatever I feel. Whenever I find myself trapped in a box of the same old patterns I try exploring different tunings which opens up new sounds on the musical portion of things as well. Buzz Slayers: Are you a guitar player first? The guitar on this song is really good!

The guitar is my favorite instrument to express myself through. I tend to stick with the rhythm work and it was never really something I thought much about but for my solo material, I very seldom do any of the lead work, unlike the other band I am involved in called ReachForTheSky which I am lead guitarist for. I don't generally have a specific formula though in terms of songwriting. Sometimes I'll come up with the guitar riffs first and the lyrics second, other times it could be vice versa, or sometimes they just happen together. The first thing typically laid down in the studio is always my rhythm guitars though and then the real magic with the guitar is solely because of Michael "Duds" McDonald. He is the lead guitarist in this project since my second album "Vandalized Memories." He is easily one of the greatest guitar players I have been involved with and his contributions to the songs give that shot in the arm to take them over the top. I think our guitar parts complement each other very well along with the other instrumentation, and we get along well which is the most important part of any collaboration. Buzz Slayers: Do you perform live with a band or by yourself at all?

I perform about 2 to 3 shows every week since I started to play live back in 2003 minus that period during the pandemic when I ended up doing live streams from home. So performing live is another thing that is necessary for my sanity. Sometimes it may be everything leading up to and following the live performances that can be so frustrating but in the moment when you are performing it is that one time when the whole world doesn't seem to matter and I feel at peace. Moments like that are few and far between. I wish I could bottle them. I play with two other bands which will occasionally have live gigs as well but most of my shows are for my solo project so to come back to that question I perform both with a band as well as doing solo gigs. Buzz Slayers: Do you collaborate with other artists?

Aside from my immediate band mates in this and the other 2 band projects I am involved in (ReachForTheSky, and The Stones Of Atlantis), I do not get to collaborate as much as I would like to with other artists as there are only so many hours in a day and I tend to have a full schedule all of the time. I was hosting an open mic nite locally here in the Scranton, PA area where I was able to provide a home for anyone that wanted to perform or work on things together and had a place for over 10 years. Once the venue closed its doors I have been focusing more on own my endeavors. I will say that a big part of my recorded sound which isn't always said is 100% due to my producers Joe Loftus and Jay Preston. Those two have been such an asset to the sound and pointing me in the right direction or steering me out of the wrong direction many times when we are recording. Joe Loftus is also the bassist on nearly every song in my solo albums so his contribution is immeasurable. Buzz Slayers: Is there another release coming up after this one?

Well, this release (Me And My Demons) is just the self-titled single for the upcoming full-length 4th solo album. It is finished with the recording stage, we just have to mix and master it. I am aiming to have it out in the early Fall of 2023. I am also in the midst of our band ReachForTheSky putting out our 4th album and The Stones Of Atlantis releasing our debut album. So there are a lot of irons in the fire musically. As much as it may be time-consuming it is what I love to do. So I do feel grateful to have the chance to do what I love. Buzz Slayers: What would you say is your favorite part of doing what you do?

There was a time when I thought I could make a living where I wouldn't need a day job and it would all be sunshine and roses but you quickly realize that in the music business, there is so much less music than there is business. For most artists, you struggle from meal to meal and have to fight for every possible cent you can get. We don't have the luxury of having the personnel to handle each thing individually. So in addition to being the songwriter, and performer, you have to be a manager, merchandise coordinator, sound person, accountant, public relations department, lawyer, artist, photographer, bouncer, and everything else under the sun. When you realize all the work that goes into it and then the shock of spending so much money to make a decent release only to have to give it away in the streaming world it is the ultimate test. If you continue knowing the battle that was already challenging and keeps getting harder is worth fighting then you truly have it in your blood. The discouragement is very easy to surrender to and quit. For me, my favorite part of doing what I do is when you make a connection with a fan in either a live setting or through a song/album release. When they tell you how a song or lyric had a meaning to them or got them through a hard time, to me is without a doubt the best feeling in the world. To know that what I felt in creating my music translated and reached someone that might be in front of me or across the planet is worth all of the other struggles. Buzz Slayers: Are you playing any other instruments on this song? In this song, I am playing the Rhythm Guitar and handling all of the vocals. Buzz Slayers: Do you record on your own or with a producer at a big studio? I found my home at a recording studio in Olyphant, PA called JL Studios. It is my favorite place to record for the solo project. It is fairly close to my home and as I mentioned Joe Loftus and Jay Preston who are the guys handling things there are just the best of the best to work with. I recently mentioned how when I first broke away from the bands I was in for so long to pursue this solo career I imagined I would be alone for it all and since album number 2 the lineup became solid so I feel we are more a band than a solo project. It can easily be called The Jay Luke band like Van Halen or Santana it just started with my name as I took that initial leap off the cliff on my own. I am so grateful to everyone involved. Buzz Slayers: Is there any message you want to say to fans of the music? I want to thank the fans for everything. The new ones who just discovered our new single "Me And My Demons" as well as those that have been supportive the entire run. The ones in my hometown as well as the ones from all over the world. Never did I imagine there would be such a response to these songs but a few weeks ago I found out the stream count on Spotify alone had topped over 300,000 which is such a mind-boggling number. I am beyond grateful for those of you that relate or feel a connection to these songs. I cannot thank you enough. I hope you enjoy this new single and will love the upcoming album in the fall.

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