The Luke Foley Interview
Farewell Flight showcased new music off I Was A Ghost to a packed house at The High Watt last Thursday night with a strong bill that featured The Joy of Painting and Lorien marking the first release after reaching a decade as a band with a March drop date.
Luke Foley, looking like a happier version of Jim Morrison’s “LA Woman” final Doors sessions era poet, has developed into a full fledge Songwriter / Performer veteran that was at ease and ready to express fresh autobiographical lyrics about his “Quarter Life Crisis” that make up the new release.
CITGO has featured the song “Places We’ll Go” from I Was A Ghost in their recent “Fueling Good” national ad campaign and Farewell Flight has become a favorite on Lightning 100 since moving from Pennsylvania to Nashville over two years ago.
The band is now built solidly around the core of Luke Foley as well as Caleb Allensworth [drums, samples] and “Rabbit” Campbell on lead guitar in much the same way Genesis became and ”then there were three” after Peter Gabriel’s departure.
Before the show, The Nashville Bridge spoke with Luke Foley about overcoming the anxiety of being an independent band with the realization of how strong their core fan base is after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: The lyrics seem like a mini storytelling Opera about events you have gone through. Is it really personal?
Luke Foley / Farewell Flight: Yeah I think it is. The stories pretty much stretch over the last three years, but also are reflecting on the previous ten. So, it’s very nostalgic in a sense since it is about me for the last few years, but it’s about myself for a good ten years leading up to that moment.
TNB: Two themes I really like are from “Breaking My Heart” where it talks about being 25 and “Quarter Life Crisis” which is a term I have never heard before. Also, “I Was A Ghost” where you are looking into the past then changes pulls you into the present.
Luke: I think everything, every person you meet is for a season and sometimes a season is for a really long time perhaps it is for your whole life. I think that even though you have people that come into your life for a short period, you can become incredibly close to people in that short period of time. It’s still in the natural and normal progression for them to move out of your life. People end up kind of doing it eventually and that song is about that, no matter how natural and normal it is, it is hard to do.
TNB: As far as the recording congratulations because Farewell Flight has been together for over ten years now.
Luke: It’s been quite a while. I was actually looking it up last night because I was trying to remember how long we have been a band like when was the first show or something. But, I think 2003 is a ballpark. That would be my best guess.
TNB: I know you guys have gone through a lot of personnel changes. How long with have you worked with the two other members of the current lineup?
Luke: My guitarist, “Rabbit” Campbell has been with me since the end of 2008, I think. My drummer, Caleb Allensworth currently started with me at the end of 2011 and we are currently a three piece. We just parted ways with our bassist who was willing to come back when my drummer did in 2011-2012. He still lives here in Nashville. He is actually a roommate of the other two guys in the band. He wanted to do some different stuff.
TNB: I know you had been with Mono vs Stereo, but I guess there were financial problems and they got around to releasing your album in 2011. This time around you are Independent and financed this album with a Kickstarter campaign. Was that kind of a gut wrenching thing, realizing that you are going to have to do it on your own?
Luke: I had really mixed feelings. So, yeah, Kickstarter… you know it was really hard and really easy to do at the same time. We signed with Mono vs Stereo actually twice. We signed with them once and then the guy that ran the label, that signed us, left the label and we were left without a champion there and it gave us the option of: if you want to leave you can and so we decided to leave and then we were independent for a while. Then, the label was revived by these two guys. They really wanted to sign us, but they wanted to release an old record which we kind of fought against for a while, but I don’t know, we rolled the dice. We thought it would be a lot better having a connection with them, but it ended up turning out to be, you know, they are great guys, but it probably was not a great fit. So, once we left that label we went back to square one, although we are not just a band that just formed yesterday. We don’t have a record label, but at the same time it’s freeing to know that after six months [there was four months of planning and then executing Kickstarter] you don’t have other people involved and you are just able to do it all on your own timeline. It’s just really freeing and we really enjoyed doing that. It felt we were back to square one, but we really weren’t because over the years we have toured so much and we really had a great network of friends and fans that were able to get behind us and really help make the record happen. It is amazing to see how many people are still interested in what we are doing after all this time. It’s very humbling.
TNB: I remember when Mono vs Stereo wanted to change your name to Indian Summer and your fans fought it. That showed me that you had a strong base so that later on when you did this Kickstarter campaign you had somewhere to start.
Luke: Yeah, It’s definitely been very good. It’s cool. We don’t have a ton of fans, but our fans are very loyal and very fierce. I think they really love what we do. I think it is because the music really connects with them on a very personal level. I think a lot of our fans relate to a lot of things that I have experienced. It’s like biographical tools for the people that listen to it. A lot of people have kind of adopted it as their own, kind of like, music for a movie. It’s like a score for their own personal life. I think that most people that listen to it kind of have that experience. I think that is why people are so fiercely loyal about our band even if there are not a whole lot of them.
TNB: “Places We’ll Go,” that reminds me of a Farewell Flight song, but you also took a lot of chances on this album.
Luke: Yeah, I think one of the biggest influences for me was the movie Drive. I just love that movie and the soundtrack and then listening to a lot more “late 80’s” and “early 90’s” pop hits: the stuff I listened to when I was growing up. I didn’t know who the artists were. I just listened to the songs and I was just a little kid. There are songs by Phil Collins and Cyndi Lauper, even Springsteen stuff, you know, when you are growing up that you hear, but you don’t know who the people are. The songs are like a soundtrack to your life when you are little and so I think in keeping with the whole nostalgic thing, I think I was listening to the songs of my childhood and just a lot of that kind of music. I think that has a big play in what we do. I really wanted to lean heavily on synths and keyboards and drum machines on this record. I think that my own path is actually very acoustic stuff, so it‘s very hard. It was very difficult to get the emotion and the passion of what I was trying to say or get across with this new record. I think we accomplished trying to just get that rawness across.
TNB: It kind of has a little Prog or complexity in some of the songs.
TNB: You relocated to Nashville in 2012. What brought you to Nashville?
Luke: I wanted to try something new. We toured for a good seven or eight years and we never had a booking agent. We did around 800 shows or something like that, completely independent and we always thought that was what was going to get us to the next level. It’s always a tough picture. We were working really hard, but it didn’t vacillate into anything happening. I just kind of viewed that as “I can’t just keeping doing this over and over and expect different results to occur.” I was losing my mind. I had tried everything I could possibly do. What could I do differently? I thought; we have never tried relocating to a new area. I made connections and built relationships, kind of like, you know, being in the right place at the right time or at least being in the right place all the time. That was our goal in moving to Nashville and I think it is already paying off. I think that a lot of the friendships and relationships that we are building have been very comfortable and helpful to our career. A couple of things have happened here. I got our first placement on the CITGO ad. I got it from a person that I waited table on. She just asked me what I was doing further than just living in Nashville. She was like, “So what are you doing here in Nashville other than wait tables?” and I said I write songs and play in band and stuff and she said, “send me your best track.” So I sent her “Places We’ll Go” and she placed it in a CITGO commercial. That doesn’t happen every day and I don’t really bring stuff up like that as a waiter like, oh well, I have a band check me out, you know, but I think that could never happen anywhere else except maybe L.A. or New York maybe Seattle or Austin, but that never would have happened back in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The move was just to make connections with people.
TNB: You are right. The thing that is interesting is Nashville is evolving into where some of the things that would happen in L.A. or Seattle are starting to happen here. You came at a good time.
Luke: I am very glad to be here. It is such a cool place to live even if you are not doing music. My wife is not a musician, she is an artist and there are so many creative opportunities here for someone like her or anybody who does something creative. It is a very creative place to be and I am happy to be living in Nashville.
- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom