L.A. Edwards Wants to Surprise Europe with ‘Pie Town’

L.A. Edwards released the LP “Out of the Heart of Darkness” last year. And now there is already a follow-up: “Pie Town.” The self-proclaimed ‘just a hard-working American band’ will soon cross ‘the big pond’ for their first headliner shows in Europe. Plenty of material for an open conversation with Luke Andrew Edwards himself.

The nine-hour time difference with the West Coast of America is easily bridged. “I just dropped my kids off at school and now have all the time for a conversation.” Luke looks fresh and cheerful, at 8 a.m., somewhere in Seattle… To get right to it, we start with a quick follow-up to “Out of the Heart of Darkness.” “That wasn’t planned,” he begins, almost apologetically. “No, we certainly didn’t force it, despite all the fatigue after an intensive tour. But the songs just came quickly and easily. So: why not?”

Although “Out of the Heart of Darkness” and the new “Pie Town” are close in time, there are clear musical differences. “The instrumentation is quite different. For “Pie Town,” we used more synthesizers. We had already started with them before, but we’ve now integrated the synths more into the songwriting. It’s no longer just a filler or something like that. We also approached the lyrics differently. I’ve deliberately left more space for the listener. So, less storytelling and more personal interpretation.”

To understand “Pie Town” and the overall development of L.A. Edwards, it’s good to take a step back. We go back in time when Luke was part of a large family of seven children. “We all really loved music. From a young age, I made music with my brothers, Jesse and Harrison. I especially loved rock, with guitar, bass, and drums. But classical piano was also played. But we never thought in boxes, in genres or something like that. We’re a bit allergic to that. We played what we liked.”

Despite the presence of his musical brothers (‘My sisters also love music, but didn’t pursue a musical career…’), Luke went solo. ‘I didn’t initially plan to release anything. I just wanted to write and record songs. And also play all the instruments myself.’ He still sounds proud of the time before the first record actually appeared: the EP “Secrets We’ll Never Know,” from 2015. Luke played his instruments in the garage, ‘where my brothers Jesse and Harrison, of course, would occasionally drop in… And now they are part of the band.’ Respectively as a bassist and drummer. The current quintet also includes Daniel Walker and Hunter Rath, who have focused on synths, samples, and drum machines.

Meanwhile, three full albums have been released. With the fourth, “Pie Town,” on the way. ‘The sound has become bigger, but the albums definitely flow naturally into each other, I think. I like it when each album sounds just a bit different, produced in a slightly different way.’

Speaking of production: for “Pie Town,” he took it entirely into his own hands again, just like in the early days. But for “True Blue” (2018), Ron Blair, his buddy from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, wanted to do it. A band with which Luke has always been very close. ‘Ron and his bandmate Steve Ferrone also played on “Blessings from Home” (2021).’

The artist’s name, L.A. Edwards, was chosen very deliberately. ‘L.A. is derived from Luke Andrew, my full name. And written this way, it looks a bit like an author’s name, like J.K. Rowling. In my early days as a singer-songwriter, I thought it sounded very nice, and also very fitting. Since we became a real band, I’ve considered adding something to the name, but I left it as it is. So, no L.A. Edwards and the Heartbreakers or the E-Street Band…’

While we’re on the subject of names… The album “Pie Town” is named after a very small hamlet in the U.S. state of New Mexico. A ghost town, known for its pies… ‘It’s inspired by the place where we grew up. And that’s actually not Pie Town, but a place very similar to it: Julian, California. Also a hamlet, somewhere in the mountains near San Diego. Founded around a gold mine. And, like Pie Town, now famous for its pies…’ But Luke is more about the ‘feeling’ than the ‘pie.’ ‘I love the ‘ghost town feeling.’ As you can also see in the artwork. And it fits the album, which is about losing your innocence. Or about the fear of growing up. Then you naturally return to your own childhood.’

Luke is 36 now and has a large family himself. ‘In this phase of life, you think more about your relationship, your children growing up, and thus also about yourself. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have made this album. I didn’t have that overview yet.’ This life experience produced at least twelve songs for “Pie Town.” Twelve quite varied songs. ‘If you want a good cross-section, listen especially to “El Camino” and the closer “Comin’ Around.” Although there are also some slower numbers.’

In the meantime, no one lives in California anymore, the cradle of the band. Luke lives in Seattle, where “Pie Town” was recorded at Road End Studio. ‘The others now live in Nashville, where I also lived before. Nashville has greatly influenced our music. It’s still ‘the music city’ with all its songwriters. We certainly picked up things there, but also gave them our own twist. We’re not so purist Nashville Americana, so to speak. And I can well imagine that you still get a ‘Californian feeling’ with our music.’

California, Nashville… How American is L.A. Edwards, for an average European? Luke laughs: ‘We are 100% American. Our roots, our influences, are from great American musicians like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. Not that we don’t have European influences, though. We also love The Beatles and The Stones. I even think that the influences on the latest album are more European, like U2 and some post-punk bands. But at the core, we are definitely just a hard-working American band.’

An American band, then… that is soon going on tour, touring in France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. “We’ve always felt welcome in Europe. People listen differently there. Here, all song-based music with an acoustic guitar is quickly labelled as Americana. With you, people seem to listen with a more open mind, without prejudices or specific expectations. For that reason, we’re very happy to be able to play there. And, it will be our first headlining tour there. That’s exciting, but we’re really looking forward to it.’ L.A. Edwards clearly wants to surprise Europe with “Pie Town”…

Photos (c) Lauren Farah

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