Luka Bloom » The Connection
The Luka Bloom Connection
Fan Magazine from 1990 to 1993
connection issue 4

Issue #4 - Winter 1991/1992
1. updates
2. CBGB's review 8/8/91
3. Pedal Power! - interview from London, 11/91
4. review of Blackthorne Tavern show 8/12/91
5. photos from Knitting Factory show 8/24/91
6. reflections from A&R person Michael Hill
on the recording of 'The Acoustic Motorbike' in Dublin

Publisher/Editor: June D. Sheridan


Welcome to Issue #4. Time has really flown since the first issue of the Connection, which was last year at this time, as has the membership! Thanks to all who have joined since the summer, and to those who've been here since its inception.

Back in September, Luka was one the many fine Irish artists who lent their support for a fundraising benefit concert in the hallowed surroundings of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, as part of the Yeats International Festival. Mike Scott of the Waterboys was there to give some musical interpretations of some of Yeats' poems, and Paul Brady and the Hothouse Flowers were also on hand. But according to Tony O'Brien of the Irish Independent, Luka's was the "...performance of the night. 'Gone To Pablo' was remarkable, especially his astonishing guitar playing ending the number."

This past November 29th, Luka played at Dublin's National Stadium. along with Sinead O'Connor, Donal Lunny, The Stunning and The Pale, as part of a fundraiser and what was being billed as "the concert of the year" in Ireland, The Denning Demolition Gig, on behalf of Irishman Nick Kelly. Dublin music magazine Hot Press noted (all too briefly) on "Luka Bloom's crisp, zesty playing and 'I Need Love' show[ed] how cultures can and should be bridged and merged..." A little background on the reason for the fundraiser: Mr. Kelly is suing the Irish government for being falsely convicted and later imprisoned in the 1970's for alleged involvement in an IRA-affiliated train robbery. This fundraiser hopes to help Mr. Kelly, who intends to take a surpreme court action to overturn the government's use of the internationally discredited Lord Denning judgement from the Birmingham Six case. All involved hope that this concert has raised public awareness on the subject and help Mr. Kelly to bring this case before the Supreme Court.

The official record release date for The Acoustic Motorbike is January 21st, in America, while in Europe, it'll released earlier, on January 3rd. Be assured - it's well worth the wait!

American fans will have to wait until March to see Luka. So far, Luka has stayed near home, touring Ireland, with such dates as University College Dublin on November 13th, Co. Clare on the 20th and 21st (Ennis and Kilkee, respectively), then it was back to Dublin on December 6th at The Project Arts Centre. January 92 will find him still in Dublin, playing one show at The Olympia Theatre. Then it's off to London on the 29th, where he'll be at The Mean Fiddler. From there to the Netherlands, where there'll be shows in Utrecht on January 31st, in Groningen on February 1st, Tilburg on the 2nd, Sittard on the 4th, Amsterdam on the 5th and Ancienne Belgique on the 6th. After that, there will be a few dates in Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia, though there are no confirmed dates for these countries thus far. As per usual, I'll keep you posted on the latest tour info.

Luka was in New York City in the earlier part of December, to do the taping for the video for "I Need Love". The video was directed by Katherine Deickmann, who directed REM's "Stand", a couple of years back. Look for it on VH-1 sometime in the early new year.

While Luka was in town that week, he stopped in at Greenwich Village's, Sin-e, where he treated the cafe's late evening patrons to a few songs.

Waterboys' Mike Scott has provided Luka with yet another gorgeous song, "My Sunny Sailor Boy", which Luka himself says "is a real show-stopper".

Check your local magazine stands and record shops for the January/February issue of "Acoustic Guitar" magazine. There's a great feature on Luka in it, by Beth Fishkind. Accompanying the article is the sheet music/chords and lyrics to "Mary Watches Everything". If any of you have figured out any other songs of Luka's and would like to share it with the rest of us, let me know, and it'll be printed up in future issues of the Connection.

Are there any Luka fans out there who'd like to correspond with other Luka enthusiasts, or perhaps would like to buy/sell photos or swap articles with other fans? If so, let me know about it, as I'd like to begin a "classified ad" section/page for the next issue and thereafter. Just send in your wants/particulars, along with your name and mailing address, and I'll take care of the rest. No charge for the ads, of course!

That's it for this now, I'd like to say thank you to all the members who've joined so far, and for making this first year of the Connection such a success. I hope you'll be with us for many issues to come! Thanks also to Susan Wexford, Tony Alise and Jim Eaton for helping me on this issue.

I also want to send out a very special and sincere thank you to Luka, Glenn and Tom of Tomorrow Management, and Tommy, for all their encouragement and support.

A little message from Luka before I close: "I wish you all the best for 1992, and I hope the people who read this have a great 1992 as well, and I hope I see them all somewhere on the road, out and about, riding my acoustic motorbike... God bless."

Love and peace,

Pedal Power!
The Acoustic Motorcyclist...up close

Back in November, I got an opportunity to ask Luka a few questions about his eargerly anticipated new record, his upcoming tour plans, and other projects in the works. The following is the outcome of that interview, done while Luka was in London.

The album was initially to be titled Exploring The Blue, but then changed sometime down the road to its current The Acoustic Motorbike. Any particular reason for this change of mind?

I don't think "The Acoustic Motorbike" had been written as a song, or at least completed, and it certainly wasn't a certainty to be on the album at the time I thought of calling the album "Exploring The Blue". I liked, apart from loving the song, "Exploring The Blue", I like the image, and I had some ideas regarding a sleeve, which would have been nice, but then, when "The Acoustic Motorbike", the song, got finished, I realized that right there was a very unique, distinctive image... a very memorable image to use for an album title. "The Acoustic Motorbike", in a way, defines what I'm about, this sort of just self-propelled energy... self-propelled locomotive. And it's given us a very interesting image... interesting for a sleeve, and all those sort of things.

The Acoustic Motorbike has a different feel and sound to it than did Riverside. How was working with Paul Barrett as compared to working with Jeffrey Wood?

Doing The Acoustic Motorbike was completely different to doing Riverside. I made a decision to record The Acoustic Motorbike in Dublin with an Irish producer, who had not produced a major album and was not known to Warner Brothers apart from my A&R person's knowledge of him for his work with a band called The Stars of Heaven. Working with Paul was completely different from working with Jeffrey. I enjoyed both experiences for completely different reasons. The nature of Riverside was completely different. It was my first album for a major label and I suppose I was nervous about it and I suppose in a way, I was a little bit less confident of my position regarding the way the album was going to be recorded. And maybe a little bit less forceful than I was in The Acoustic Motorbike. Jeffrey is a very different sort of person than Paul is. Jeffrey is very quiet, very introspective sort of individual... somebody who absorbs and then goes away, and is very quiet, but was a very strong individual. And I made some decisions about Riverside. I made some decisions not to force certain things on the album, that I might've liked to see, and I went along more with Jeffrey's approach, as opposed to really asserting myself. That's not to say that I'm unhappy with Riverside. I love it. And there's nothing on Riverside that I wish wasn't there. But I have to say that I fell that The Acoustic Motorbike is perhaps a little closer... a bit more true to who and what I am. But then again, Riverside was probably more appropriate to the state of mind I was in at that time. Paul Barrett is a very hyper, energetic individual. I've never worked with anybody with such an unbelievable amount of energy. And he really drained me. He literally drained me. But in a way that was just always good fun. I don't usually enjoy working in studios. I find it very difficult working in isolation without an audience. But from the very beginning, making The Acoustic Motorbike was wholly pleasurable and I worked in the exact conditions that I wanted to work. And that made the whole experience singularly pleasurable.... and that's not to say that the other experience wasn't enjoyable either! (laughs) It was just different. It was just very different. I feel I was a little bit more aware of what I wanted. It's a process of education, isn't it... just learning about the way you want to work and the things you want to do, and learning how to communicate that with people without offending. Making records is not easy for me, I suppose, but as far as making record goes, making The Acoustic Motorbike was singularly pleasurable.

Riverside was a collection of self-penned songs. Was there any particular reason for putting two cover versions [LL Cool J's "I Need Love" and Elvis Presley's "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You"] on this new record, as opposed to adding original material?

While "I Need Love" was not an original song of mine, I feel that my interpretation of it is sufficiently unique. It's such a unique format, that it feels like an original song. I don't feel like I'm copying somebody else's song, because my treatment of it is so radically different that it justifies using it, apart from the fact that it's an amazing song. To take a song that is a black/urban/rap song, and to give it a treatment that is Irish, that has traditional Irish musicians and instruments working on it, I feel is so radically that it justifies. It lends an originality that is not originally mine. And I feel similarly about the Elvis cover. Again, it's a surprising sort of a song to do. This was almost more difficult, even though it's a more simple song than "I Need Love". It was a more difficult choice because it's a song that is so well known, and has been so covered, that it could've really disastrous. It could've been really like, "...what the hell is this guy putting on this on for?" But again, the treatment of it is, I feel, is sufficiently unique and different, that it justified doing it. It wasn't a question of feeling that I hadn't gotten enough songs. I just wanted to make an album that was really diverse. Really dynamic... really interesting. And I have sufficient material of my own on the album to portray myself as a songwriter. I feel that the two tracks that I chose to include by other artists just add another dimension to my work and... I love these songs, and I'm happy with them.

You wrote and recorded this album mostly in Ireland as opposed to Riverside which was written while you lived in America, which subsequently gave that album a very optimistic feel. The Acoustic Motorbike, on the other hand, has a much more subdued sound. Is this something that happened by design?

I disagree with you that The Acoustic Motorbike has a more subdued sound than Riverside. It definitely is darker. The songs on this album were written during the Gulf War... a lot of them. And my mood was very much affected by that. And I was also undergoing the ending of a very long and serious relationship with somebody, and so that affected my mood in the process of writing these songs. I suppose some of the songs are softer and more personal in a romantic way because of all that. The Acoustic Motorbike has a much more raw edge to it, sound wise. It's much closer to what I do live, I feel, than Riverside, and that was definitely by design. I wanted to make an album that was closer to my live sound. Everything about this is very, very live... very raw.

You lived for a while in Holland. Would you ever consider recording an album in another European country?

Yes. I would very definitely love to make an album in another European country. In the last year, living in Ireland, I've had more access to Europe than I've had for five or six years, because I spent all my time in America. I've done a lot of festivals in Europe, particularly in Holland and Belgium, and some work in Germany and Switzerland. I'd love to do a record in Europe, most definitely. When that opportunity would present itself remains to be seen. I take these things as they come. God knows where I'll end up doing the next album.

The album, moreso than the last, has a political edge to it, with lyrics concerning women's rights/pro-choice, native American Indians, the environment, and Irish emigration. Do you consider yourself more of a political songwriter than anything else, and is this something you want to continue pursuing for future recordings?

Yes, this album definitely does have a more political edge to it. But I still don't consider myself a political songwriter. I think that all songwriting is ultimately autobiographical, really, because, even the more political material gives you, the listener, an insight into the person, and that's really what it's all about. All I'm really sharing is my own experience. In the process of sharing my own experience, I share my reactions to things that are going on around me, whether that is in Dublin, or wherever I happen to be living, or whether it's things that are going on around me in the global village. But I hope I always will have an ear and an eye to what's going on in the world, that I won't be purely be writing about my own emotional experience or my own emotional life, because that is, ultimately, a limited experience. I've always sought to draw on the experience of individuals around me too, for the songs. It just gets so boring, doesn't it, if people just write songs only about their own limited experience. Give us a break! (laughs)

In the early live renditions of "Mary Watches Everything", there were lyrics pertaining to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall (i.e., "...they talk about the changing tides in Germany today...") Yet on the recorded version, they were changed. Was there any particular reason for their omission?

The song is very much about the experience of a young woman in Ireland, at time when there are changes taking place all over the world, and it's a song about a desperate feeling that things will never change for women in Ireland and that still, very much, is the experience for a lot of women in Ireland. It still is very difficult to be a woman in Ireland, a woman who wants to take charge of her body and control of her life. It's very difficult to be that in Ireland today. And I felt that the references to the Berlin Wall confused the issue and so I wanted to change that line purely to retain the focus on the girl, on Mary, as opposed to shifting the focus of the song, to the issue of Berlin Wall, which is relevant, but I felt that specifically mentioning it was... it's so hard to hold people's attention these days. It's so important to keep a clear focus. That's the simple reason I did that.

One of the songs, "Bones", was written initially for a play that was performed in Dublin last year. Tell us a bit about that. Are there any more such projects in the works?

Trinity College's drama department was putting on a production of a Jim Cartwright play, Road, which was a play that was written around the time of the miners' strike in England, and it was set on a road in a miners' town in England. It was a very, very devastating play. A very devastating look at life in urban England at that time, and as it still continues. And I was asked to write the theme song, which would be used in the play, and that's what "Bones" is. It's a pretty ravaging song about a pretty ravaging story.

You seem to be inspired a lot by films you've seen, such as "The Way You Talk" after seeing Children of a Lesser God and now "Exploring The Blue", based on your seeing The Big Blue. Is writing songs for a film something you'd like to pursue in the future? Have you been approached for any such projects?

I have been inspired a lot by films. It is very definitely something I really aspire to. I've written songs as a result of seeing films. I hope to God I soon get the opportunity to write songs as a result of seeing scripts, so that the songs can be included in the film! And that's something I hope my publishers will make happen for me.

To hear "The Acoustic Motorbike" in a live club setting and then to listen to the song on the new record is like listening to two different songs. What influenced you to change the sound and feel of the song for the recorded version?

A song like "The Acoustic Motorbike" is a very immediate, live song. And if you're in the audience, and you can see the sweat, and you can feel the motion, and you're there in the room, it has an energy all of its own, just right there with the guitar and the voice. But when you get an opportunity to record something like that, you have the opportunity to just have more fun with it and to record the song and work it in a way that will survive repeated listening. I don't know how much a song like that would survive repeated listening with just the guitar and the voice. That sort of song requires the physical presence of an audience to really work in that way. And that was the reason we just decided to just have fun with it, and to... Paul Barrett went out to his farm and taped the dogs and taped the cats and taped the birds and taped all sorts of mad sounds to just lend to the atmosphere. He even taped the sound of the bicycle, of the chain and the wheel going 'round. It just all makes for a more interesting treatment on a record.

Tell us about some of the musicians on this album.

I decided to bring my favorite electric guitar player in the world over from New York, Ed Tomney, because I'd loved working with him on Riverside. And I felt that he adds a very important edge to my recorded work. I have a very big sound myself, but he very definitely helps to create a sound that is totally contemporary, which is very important to me on my records. He just... he gives me the broken glass. There's a very velvety element in my sound, but there's also a crucial broken glass dimension, and Mr. Tomney's my man for that. I'd also enjoyed working with Bob Riley who played the drums on Riverside, and he worked very well with Ed, and I wanted to find ways of having percussion on my record without using just standard drum kits... I just don't like drum kits, per se. I feel people just automatically find themselves working with bass and drums without really thinking about the unique needs of each individual song, and Bob is familiar enough with my work to understand that I want to approach each song individually, so I was really delighted that the two guys were able to come over. Percussion was a problem for me because, as I say, I don't like working with drum kits and I wanted to find a way to the percussive on the record, differently. And I decided to work with some Irish bodhran and initially I worked with one or two professional percussionists and bodhran players and ultimately decided the man who most suited a songwriter and a singer in the context of the bodhran was my very own brother, Christy. And so I rehearsed with him one day in my home and it was just brilliant. He just sat in on the songs, under the songs, perfectly. And came in and ended up playing on I think four or five tracks from the album and it was just... his is the work that has endured most of all, apart from Ed Tomney's, on the album. Jerry O'Connor is a banjo player and fiddle player whose work I've admired for a long time and always wanted to work with him. He has a very distinctive style, particularly banjo playing, and I'm really delighted that he was able to work on the record with me... I was also really thrilled to be able to invite the Hothouse Flowers, all of them, collectively, to work with me on one song. We did it live in the studio and it worked great. That's the Elvis song... So that's most of the people who worked on the record.

How do you feel about live recordings? Do you think they're of any validity and would you ever consider doing one yourself?

At the moment, I'd have to answer that and say no, because I feel that my gigs are very special to me. Each one of them is completely different. They feel different. I have a different vibe. Sometimes I'm very talkaktive. Sometimes I'm not very talkaktive. And I would hate to nail a particular performance, or even to go through a series of performances, or to nail a particular style of performance and just put that down as being the definitive live recording. I generally don't like to listen to live albums, myself. I think that you have to be there. I hate listening to albums where there's all this applause at the end of it... with reverb on the applause. I just don't believe in it. It's not a believable thing to me. I don't see myself doing that.

How do you feel about bootleg tapings?

I don't have a feeling about bootleg tapings. I feel that if people want to go and record a tape, that they'll get something out of recording that gig, that's their privilege. I don't have a problem with that. It doesn't trouble me one way or another. As long as they don't regard that as a definitive thing. But I think that people who do that sort of thing don't. They just do it out of interest or out of curiosity, to capture that particular evening. I've listened back to live recordings of shows of my own, and have found them singularly uninteresting to listen to, but I know that there are other people who've listened to certain versions of songs that I've recorded on a particular occasion live, and really loved those things. So it's matter of personal taste. I don't have a problem with it.

Can you see yourself playing as a solo performer indefinitely, or, as in the case of Billy Bragg, eventually surrounding yourself with a band?

I don't see myself surrounding myself with a band, certainly not in the short term. I still feel I've a long way to go in the challenge of working with an audience, and also in developing my sound as a live artist and the way that I work with an audience as a solo artist. I love it! I love the challenge of it, and I will continue to do so until I don't feel fulfilled by it, and then, if I want to, for whatever reason bring other musicians along in my work, then that'll happen, and I'll know when that's the right time to do that. I'm really just a selfish bastard! (laughs)

The new album tends to remind me of the kind of things David Bowie was doing during his Heroes/Low period, as evidenced in songs like "Be Well". Have artists like early Bowie, Iggy Pop or Nick Cave ever been an influence on you?

I find it interesting that my records remind you of David Bowie's Heroes period. Of the people you refer to, the only one who's been any influence on me at all is Iggy Pop, and that's only recently. I'm not really familiar with David Bowie at all. I've never certainly been influenced by him in any way. And I'm totally unfamiliar with Nick Cave. But I love Iggy Pop. I totally admire this man. I think he's a remarkable individual. I think he's a great survivor. I think he's a great artist. I think he's a great songwriter. I think he's an enormously entertaining individual, and I think he's a really courageous guy, and he's great fun. And he definitely has been an influence on me. But only recently. He's helped me to get in touch with the darker edge of my work. Like that recent album he had out, Brick By Brick, I think is a really great record. I think there's some really great stuff in there. He's an example of somebody who has aged without going soft. I think Neil Young is another example of that... Lou Reed... These are people who don't just age gracefully, like an old wine. They retain their balls, and that's what I like to see. I like to see that it's possible for people to do that. I would hate to think that I would lose all of my ability to be angry, or pissed off. And that's what I like about Iggy.

What kind of music do you listen to, personally?

At this moment, as we speak, my favorite record is Massive Attack's Blue Lines album. I think it's a really record. I'm starting to listen to Lynton Kwesi Johnson. I'm listening a lot to the very early Van Morrison records... early Joni Mitchell... Ella Fitzgerald... I'm listening a lot to really great singers. I love really great singers. But I'm also listening to people who have a different way of articulating themselves, lyrically, and how they syncopate their lyrics. I think that Massive Attack are very interesting, because they're not a rap band, and they are not a soul band. They're a band, to me, who have a wonderful way of expressing themselves lyrically, but who also have great singers, and who have a great sound. I think they're wonderful.

How do you feel about new technologies in music, such as sampling?

Interestingly enough, there have been bands who have been very technological in their songwriting, who I've really liked. I really liked China Crisis, and I was very surprised. I went to see them at the Ritz in New York about two or three years ago, and I didn't expect to enjoy the gig, as I'd imagined it would be very difficult for them to do what they do live. But I actually thought it was great. In principle, I prefer people to play live, definitely, but yet one of my favorite bands at the moment is a band in Dublin called The Pale, who sample a lot, and there are lots of people who sample. When it gets to the point of people sampling, using backing vocalists, live, but using them sampled, I think that's pretty scary. The whole business of people not singing live, I think, is totally repulsive to me. Completely and totally objectionable. You either are a live performer, or your're not. That's my own personal feeling about it. I don't know if sampling is something I'll ever get into, but I can see reasons for doing it. I like some of the beats that people work out for themselves as a way of making their songs more interesting. I don't have a problem with that.

What's your opinion of videos, for viewing and for marketing/promotional purposes?

I have very mixed feelings about videos. I hate looking at videos. I have no interest in MTV or VH-1. I just don't look at them. And yet I'm interested in the idea of making videos for certain songs. I have seen videos that have really moved me. I have seen videos that have made me laugh. But by and large, because they've been misused and abused so much, I find myself wanting to stay away from them, wanting to avoid them. And yet I do accept that they have a place to play, and they are another form of expression. I was very happy with one video that I did myself... "Rescue Mission", which was directed by a marvelous woman, Paula Walker, who had worked with Lou Reed on "Dirty Boulevard" and one of Gloria Estefan's songs. It was a fascinating insight for me into the visual arts in that sense and it was brilliant. But mostly, MTV is full of shit. I find it obnoxious, and I've no time for it. Whether or not I'm ever seen on MTV is of no matter of huge concern for me. If I succeed sometime in making a great video, that maybe gives people some break from the sexist, racist awful shit that they have to endure on MTV, well then, well and good. If I don't, it's not important to me.

In some circles, particularly among Irish-American media, you're still perceived as a traditional Irish musician/folk singer. Does this irritate you? And do you think the fact that Christy Moore being your brother has led to this sort of thinking?

To be honest with you, I am no longer concerned about how I am perceived within Irish-American circles. I don't think about it. I think a lot of Irish people living in America like my work now. I get the impression that a lot of people come to see Luka Bloom because they want to hear Luka Bloom songs. And so that's not really a problem. If there are people who are not capable of seeing me other than being an Irish singer-songwriter in the vein of my brother Christy Moore, well that's their problem. I mean, I love Christy. He's my brother, and he's a great singer, and he's a great performer. What we do is very, very different. Our moods are different, our styles are different, our music is different, our tastes are different.... I think most of the people who come to see Luka Bloom understand that now. They understand that when they see me they're seeing something that is very different. And they have their own reasons for coming to see me. I think that particularly in America. Because unlike Christy, I've lived in America. And I know what it's like to be an Irish person living in America. His experience of living in England, I think, is very different from my experience of being an Irish person living in America. And I think a lot of the young Irish people coming to see me understand that. But it's really a musical thing. Our music is different, as they say. It's not a problem. It's not an issue anymore. It was. It definitely was something that I had to overcome. And it was a contributory factor in changing my name. But I've done that now, a long time ago, and in creating this new identity, this musical professional identity, I've had enormous benefits from it, that go way beyond being perceived as somebody who's Christy Moore's brother. It's helped me get in touch with whole areas of myself that I wouldn't have done had I not changed my name. But in short, no I'm not irritated. (laughs)

You played a lot of large outdoor festivals during the summer. Do you find it easier to play in this sort of environment or is it more comfortable in a smaller, more intimate setting?

I love playing the large, outdoor festivals. I don't necessarily find it easier, but I actually really enjoy it. I wouldn't like to ever become somebody who performs in large stadia, as a staple diet, because it's a very unnatural environment in which to project yourself musically, because it simply has no intimacy. But funnily enough, I sometimes do find the large festivals more comfortable than the intimate ones, because the intimate ones are so "in your face" that it can be more difficult. It can be intimidating, and sometimes I tend to be more nervous in the smaller clubs than in the big venues, which may be a surprise to people, but that's the way it is. I love the diversity of clubs that I'm able to play in. I love the fact that I can play in the Continental Divide one day, and then perform in the Newport Folk Festival the next day, in front of five, or six, or ten thousand people outdoors, and then from that go to Holland and play in the PinkPop Festival with bands like Living Colour and Lenny Kravitz and play in front of fifty or sixty thousand people. That's one of the great joys of my life.

Judging from the success of Sinead O'Connor and Hothouse Flowers in Australia and the Far East, have you any intentions of touring that part of the world in the near future?

I would love to go to Australia and to go to Japan, particularly. I sort of have the Bon Jovi attitude of, "I'll go anywhere there's electricity." I want to play. I want to see the world, and I want to travel in a sensible kind of a way that allows me to enjoy life as well as playing music and my work to date has allowed me to do that. We've concentrated very much on working in America and Canada, and recently in Europe and in Ireland and we're taking things very gradually. There's no hurry. I hope to be able to go to Australia and Japan within the next year or two and gradually build an audience there. But there's no big rush. It'll happen if it's meant to happen.

Looking back on your career, did you ever imagine that you would be releasing your second album on a major label at this point of your career?

It's still a miracle to me. I still marvel that I'm on the label that I'm on. Recently I received a copy of Blue, Joni Mitchell's album... an amazing album. And I didn't realize this album was on Reprise. I was listening to this record... it was one of the first records I really, really fell in love with. Little did I know that this was to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Reprise Records. It is a miracle to me when I think of the wonderful artists who've made records for Reprise Records. It blows my mind, and it's a source of great joy to me. I feel very privileged.

Is "world domination" something you would like to aspire to?

(laughs) I've no desire to live like Madonna. I've nothing to hide. I always feel that people who aspire to world domination are hiding behind something... they're very insecure. I'm not saying Madonna is insecure. I'm not saying that Michael Jackson is insecure... I don't know any of those people. But their work completely freaks me out. Their lives completely freak me out. I'm actually a very simple man, to be honest about it. I've no desire to do anything other than write good songs, and to make good records, to do great shows. It's as simple as that.

What does your tour schedule look like for 1992?

My tour schedule for 1992 looks fairly hectic in the beginning. It's already booked for February and beginning to be booked for March and April. And I'm sure there'll be festivals in the summer, and it'll be chock-a-block with all sorts of exciting work which I look forward to.

This just in! The following is a message from Michael Hill, Luka's A&R person and good friend. Herein are Michael's reflections on working with Luka and the new record.

Luka Bloom's debut album Riverside, was recorded in New York and, in a way, it was about New York. In New York City Luka made friends, built his following and found a record deal. With songs like "Hudson Lady" and "Irishman In Chinatown", he described his experiences here, real and imagined. And, with "Dreams In America", he told us what it was like to be so far from home.

On The Acoustic Motorbike he returns home, literally and musically. It's as much a record about Dublin in 1991 as Riverside was about New York City, 1989. The Dublin he returned to was full of creative energy - lots of good bands, American movie crews invading all the cool-looking streets and a general air that something exciting was happening. Luka decides to record the album in STS Studio, a funky three-story walk-up in a part of town called Temple Bar, a neighborhood that has been called Dublin's Left Bank. I must admit I was skeptical when I saw the place; the moment you walked in you knew you weren't in New York or Los Angeles.

U2 had just left there and, after I'd spent a few days in the studio, I could see why they liked it as much as Luka did. It was a place where you could perform, not just record; where you could invite a few musicians up and discover whole new ways to arrange a song right on the spot; where the people watching you through the control room glass seemed like family and friends, not just hired hands. In that environment, Luka recorded some of his most assured, most intimate, most spontaneous performances. The mood he manages to create on stage has translated effortlessly into that small studio, and that is very evident on "The Acoustic Motorbike".

Luka brought with him the lessons he learned in New York. He fell in love with a lot of the rap music he heard in the States and that's reflected in the very Irish - and very funny - rap on "Acoustic Motorbike" and, of course, in his utterly original reworking of L.L. Cool J's "I Need Love". That tune deftly blends New York and Dublin with, on the one hand, state-of-the-art drum machines and, on the other, his brother and esteemed Irish folk singer, Christy Moore, playing the tradition Bodhran. Luka recently shot a video in New York City with director Katherine Dieckmann, who did R.E.M.'s "Stand" and "Shiny, Happy People".

"The Acoustic Motorbike" features several other Irish musicians, including the Hothouse Flowers, who accompany Luka on his late night live-in-the-studio version of "Can't Help Falling In Love". There's a lot of lovely, traditional Irish instrumentation on "The Acoustic Motorbike", but there's plenty of hard-edged electric guitar too (courtesy of Ed Tomney, who also played on "Riverside").

The album is full of potent pop music fueled by the imagination, played by hard-working human hands. It's like the story Luka tells in the title track. "The Acoustic Motorbike" is a journey, but getting there is half the fun. And this is just a way of telling you how Luka got there. As for where he's going next - well, you'll be seeing him in your town pretty soon.

Michael Hill
New York City
Reprise Records
December, 1991

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