Biography

Did the 21st century put the troubadour to death? Did the march of progress put a spear to the folk singer?

These were the questions that besieged Luke Thompson as he stepped off the plane in 2015. After the grind of a recent European tour and jetlag’s cobwebs settled into the wind, the New Zealand songwriter began to wonder if a season was coming to an end.

It wasn’t so much that he felt like giving up, rather, the self-managed artist was road-weary. Although his recent EP ‘Strum Strum’ was well received, the internally frenetic pace of Thompson’s life as an artist was taking its toll.

“I felt like a having a solid break from the constant shows and planning and writing and recording and being a musician in general”, the now-veteran songwriter explains, “I had no idea why but it felt right and I didn’t fight it. I just wanted to stay at home for a decent length of time and tell my kids that I wasn’t going away for a while.”

And so, Thompson quietly domesticated, closed his guitar case and returned to normal life. He found a job at a local café and clocked out in a 9-5 blanket, suddenly available for everyday life; the hum of making up lost time with longtime friendships and becoming an expert children’s book narrator.

Of course, the muse is never so easily shuffled to the corners of a storage bay, returning almost a year later, surreptitiously cloaked as a favour for a friend.

An old, broken hollow-bodied electric guitar had haunted Thompson’s home for years, given to him by a friend and in desperate need of repair. One night, with nothing better to do, he picked it up and began to repair it.

“I found myself fixing up this guitar almost instinctively,” says Thompson, “if only because I had space in my brain to get around to it. Then I started to play it, almost as a therapeutic exercise.” Thompson, usually a native of acoustic instruments, found inspiration in the nuances of the hollow-body.

Even as a minor departure from his usual instrument, the electric guitar presented a new avenue for Thompson. He decided to ease out of creative retirement, this time with a few conditions. He decided he would record a new batch of songs, quietly and alone, armed with only the hollow-body and his voice. He also determined to leave his inner critique at the door, laying down the tunes quickly and without his usual regimen of re-writes and suspicions.

The songs that eventually grew into ‘Hosts’ came fast; harbingers of another seasonal change, and ironically, catalysts for massive change in Thompson’s personal life. He and his wife had begun discussing the idea of becoming pilgrims, selling their home, throwing everything into a caravan and touring Australia. As ‘Hosts’ came together, Thompson’s family began placing their life into boxes; shifting into his parents’ house.

“I wanted a family adventure.” He explains, “to teach our kids that life isn’t just the safe little box they had experienced so far in their little lives. As we made this decision, I began to feel like the record I was making somehow kind of a farewell the house we had lived in for nearly 5 years, to my studio I had been working in, and just our whole lives as they had been. It felt really right, but also really sad – this strange tension that I was putting in to the songs, or probably more accurately drawing from for the songs.”
Thompson’s recording continued; he stole away to his parents’ double garage each night to his makeshift studio.

“All my family knew was that I was downstairs a lot and working at night, most of the songs were recorded while everyone else was asleep and initially that’s why some of the vocals are so quiet. Turns out I really loved that sound so I started singing everything quietly.”

‘Hosts’ emerges as a gentle work; Thompson’s quiet re-entry into a folk adventure; songs that are stripped bare and self-sufficient, the sound of a songwriter with only himself for company, free of a certain baggage, and in limbo between old and new. In many ways it’s the songwriter at his most honest and unguarded; in every way, it’s the sound of a hopeless romantic, marching into the unknown country at the pace of his own drum.

'Hosts'

Released 15th July 2016
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'Strum Strum'

Released 9th April 2015
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'To The Common Dark'

Released 15th November 2012
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SHOWS

AUCKLAND
FRIDAY MAY 5th
The Vic Theatre (Devonport)
Doors 8pm
Tickets from Tickets page

TAURANGA
SATURDAY MAY 6th
Vinyl Destination
Doors 7pm
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ATE AWAMUTU
THURSDAY MAY 11th
Walton Street
Doors 7pm
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WELLINGTON
SAT MAY 13th
Meow
Doors 7.30pm
Tickets from Tickets page

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