Lukas Graham’s interview was scheduled for the early afternoon, before their performance on the stage of the European Border Breakers Award (EBBA) in Groningen, the Netherlands, for which they have received an award for best breakthrough in 2013 together with other 9 European artists. The 15 minutes SOA had to make questions seemed not enough, and that feeling was enhanced especially from the funny jokes the four guys were making throughout the interview, that were, in some way, reducing the time to collect some response to our questions. But how to blame them, jumping every quarter of an hour from a different labeled microphone to another, probably bored of getting asked the same old questions?
Fortunately, we had time after the show to have a further chat with them and bring up some more insight on the band’s dynamics and life. And this turned out to be a kind of a bliss, for two reasons: first, because this won’t be then an usual and plain Q&A layout interview report, and secondly: because I screw it up a bit.
The unexpected happened and I had to deal with that. Yes, call it luck or misfortune, but the little recording device I was holding stopped to work just after 2.44 minutes, leaving me with just the noise of beer cans opening, few jokes and early answers, while all the rest was becoming just remembrance in a pure set of panic, when I noticed it. Although I might be having a good memory, extrapolating quotations from it, it wouldn’t really make justice to their statements, and at the same time I do not have a particular need of being sued.
Therefore, here you’ll get the most honest version of a Lukas Graham band portrayal, that might not have happened if technology didn’t fail.
Lukas Graham doesn’t feel the burden.
Whether it is a Dutch journalist to carry on their shoulders, or one of the biggest US record label, the band seems quite ready to take over. The latest interview with Politiken left some blank points regarding their future plans. As they asked for time, how much time was the exact amount required from the band to their oversea record label? Lukas and Magnus went straight telling me, that what was required by them was the time to make the label understand and accept that there wouldn’t be any change in the band members and producers. What they were asking for was: no pressure, as, the time they would have normally needed to set their goals, not necessarily corresponded to the label time plans.
In February, the band will fly to U.S. to figure out on the field how to manage the American deal, come out with the people they are going to work with and directly feel the vibes around them, to then come back for some dates in Denmark during the Summer.
Many other European bands have had the chance to sign contracts in the U.S., but got back with nothing in their hands. The tranquillity in dealing with Warner Music made me wonder whether it was just a bluff, as Lukas Graham is not really in the best position to conduct negotiation. But for him, doing push and pull with record labels doesn’t really seems a big deal, and he keeps doing it. That is rather not an effrontery or a caprice, but a need to keep his project and band coherent and safe towards future attempts of impositions. He repeats like a mantra, how, it is the band that have to dominate the situation, and in a way, put the company in the cage, and not the other way around. And this is quite understandable, because no caged bird sings for pleasure.
It would be impossible for the band to compromise, when their songs are giving so many autobiographical insight as coming straight from glimpses of reality. As they’ve just finished to record a news song, “Don’t Worry About Me”, I tried to grasp some insight on their future album, while we were sipping beers and red wine. As the last year had brought so many changes I got confirmed that, this second project will be a kind of a grown up album. Many things happened and they feel more mature, and despite they are still young and having fun, it is not anymore the time to write something like “Drunk in the Morning”. That belongs to the past, while coping with determined feelings and taking charge of the family, seems quite a central responsibility in Lukas Graham’s life, and that might be showed in the future songs to come. He mentioned, at some point, how he would have flied back the day after to Copenhagen, to celebrate her sister’s 12 exam grade, and although mentioning fortuitously, you could feel a bit of a pride for the, now to be, family man.
The band opened the EBBA Awards ceremony with “Better Than Yourself” and, as the gentlemen sitting next to me seemed quite moved by their performance, I got back thinking about one of the questions I had asked them. As not personally belonging to the danish community but having spent two years in Denmark, I do not feel tight up to the Janteloven rules, although feeling its daily persistent presence in social interaction dynamics. I found, that the band overturns them quite oftenly by having their true feelings showed on the stage or during interviews. The non-written rules of danish lifestyle seems to scream an impossibility of showing self realization, achievement and feelings, and I was wondering whether the Irish origins of Lukas might have been a key of success for their musical project in the Danish musical arena as he appears to be the cohesive and driving force behind the band. We discussed a bit about all this, for which they strongly defended the need of everyone to show their own potentials and skills, otherwise, things won’t ever happen at all. Everybody is good at something, but not at everything, and accepting each other’s qualities and excellence should be a starting point from where to derive pleasure and inspiration, as it happened when Lukas’s heard for the first time Lovestick playing his drums. And as they are “damn good” in making music, they will continue the way they do it.
Only later on, after the EBBA ceremony, I fully got the evidences of the importance of keeping intact the Lukas Graham’s music project from external tensions and how it is possible that these 25 years old men are not afraid of putting stakes to their record label. More than a team, the Lukas Graham crew it’s a true family, where nobody is out of place, but all of them are avulsed by showbiz arrogance. In fact, as almost quite as a family, they integrated me, quite surprised, in their EBBA Awards celebrations as we started to chit-chat drinking a few more beers, and talking about Irish traditional rules of politeness ( together with Kodaline members), the will of going back to US to do some more surfing and how much they loved Amsterdam, where once they’ve played a gig. Mentioning my country of origins, with Lukas, we were going to start a conversation about history, of which he’s fond of, but that was however soon interrupted by Magnus’ will of moving away and continue celebrating in their backstage room as the journalists and other artists were slowly leaving the place. There, I ended up talking with another really cordial member of the crew that asked me some tips about my homecity, Milan, as it was in his future travel plans. He gave me in return some suggestions on places I should have check out next time I will be in Copenhagen. I chatted with Lovestick while he was djing with his mobile for us all, asking something that one of our readers, was curious about: do Lukas Graham’s members receive many presents? And if so, what in particular? I ended up knowing about the fans’ presents reality, from which they mostly receive caps, delivered directly to the venues they play their concerts. Surrounded by this close-knit down to earth group of Danes, for which notoriety is just accidental, and their main interest is making good music together, I could understand the need of fighting for this to remain as it is, for which no real burden can be felt if achieved.