Over the past few years Luke Rainsford has carved out a niche for himself in the Birmingham and midlands scene, as the singer for pop-punks Layover or the bassist in the of the Midlands Pop-punk group Fullshore. However, it is as a solo performer that Luke has found his ‘main focus’. I had met Luke a few times before getting to talk to him for this interview, yet still wanted to get to know Luke a bit better. You don’t have to meet Luke to get to know him however. As both of his albums are intently personal invitations into Luke’s world. Whether that be simple love songs such as ‘Streetlights’ or the alarmingly honest confession of suicidal thoughts named ‘I’m the coward I never thought I’d be’. Without asking for specific details of the girls he has sung about and his family. There isn’t much you could learn about Luke which you couldn’t from simply hearing his songs.
Our interview takes place on the bridge that leads punters into The Flapper. Luke is dressed casually in a simple shirt and jeans and despite the biting cold claims that after touring for so long he doesn’t notice it anymore. In person Luke is endearingly awkward. My admission that I’m not that great an interviewer is met by Luke saying ‘don’t stress’ and my comparison to my last interview with Crime & Punishment 2011’s Dan Carter, which involved him shouting and freestyling down my phone, Luke replies ‘I’m not as confident as that I’m a bit more introverted’.
Our 15 minutes talking outside the pub are regularly broken by awkward laughter, pauses and interruptions from Luke’s many friends. After a small chat about mobile phones I start by asking about influences.
Luke: ‘I used to be into a lot of pop-punk bands like The Wonder years and New found Glory now I’m, listening to stuff like The Front Bottoms’
Me: I’ve heard you cover them before but I’ve never listened to them
L: I recommend them! it’s like acoustic poppy -indie folk
It’s the name that puts me off
L: at first I was like what the hell! but they’re very quirky and indie. They’re very tongue in cheek so the name does suit them
Some of my favourite bands have very crap names. I’m a big fan of King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
L: -Laughs- Sometimes great bands have terrible names. I know you’re into Crywank, at first it sounds like a terrible name, but it’s a pun on the phrase tearjerk isn’t it?
What happened to Layover then?
L: it just had its time really, we done what we wanted to do which is some dudes writing songs together, it was never meant to be anything that serious. We just wanted to have some fun with it. We were still having fun with it but we just wanted to do other things, like my solo stuff.
Who’s in your band then?
L: Darren from Fulllshore, and Zach from Coast To coast…
So it’s like a pop punk supergroup?
L: Sort of, It’s just good friends of mine, they just wanted to help me out
Were any of these guys on the album then?
L: No I recorded everything myself, except for some piano parts.
That’s surprising because I heard a lot of interesting little guitar parts, that I didn’t notice on the first album
L: It was all me, the producer helped with some of them but I played it all.
I did notice a bit of a difference in the production. Like how Home Safe would just change half way through into something totally different.
L: I was interested in that; I didn’t want all the songs to sound the same because the first album was just all acoustic and I didn’t want to do it all the same again I wanted to mix it up.
Was the first album all recorded in your bedroom then?
L: It was done in a studio. it’s just that it was so simple there wasn’t much more to do with it. It started out as literally just some spare songs I had. It wasn’t meant to be anything too serious. As it wasn’t my main focus at the time. For this new album, I wanted to put a lot more into out as this is my main focus now. I’m really happy with how it turned out. Especially with what you said about the songs changing halfway through. Home safe is a good example of that as it starts out really poppy and upbeat and suddenly drops.
I feel like only you could write a song with the chorus ‘You made me not want to die this week’.
L: I had the chorus for ages but I could never get it into a song. I’m happy about how it turned out. I wanted to do a really dark line over a really happy song. I really like that vibe. It’s still kind of tongue in cheek.
At this point our interview turns to more of a general talk about the music we love. I talked a lot about Simon and Garfunkel, who I feel were masters of the happy song/sad lyrics idea. As well as other acts like Car Seat Headrest and Courtney Barnett. At this point I gave Luke a copy of Nick Drake’s 1969 début Five Leaves left, which he gratefully receives and seems interested in hearing. Our interview is short on scoops but he does seem surprised that profits from the gig are going towards the mental health charity Mind and hints at future fund-raising for the charity.
Luke also talks about his part time job as a drum teacher and the appeal of vinyl and cassettes over CD’s and downloads. The new album is being released on vinyl as a last-minute decision due to popular demand. The only subject we cross that Luke is reluctant to talk about is politics. Unsurprisingly for such an introspective artist, he isn’t the next Billy Bragg.
And with that our conversation ends, as the show is about to start. It’s a fantastic gig, with Luke and an audience singing songs of love, depression and despair. Luke hasn’t got fans, he has friends, and I’m happy to say that I’m one of them.