I was given a Jimi Hendrix tape by Julia Roberts as a boy when she was going out with my uncle. I listened to it on repeat, especially ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ and ‘Little Wing’. Later I had a Michael Jackson VHS of Moonwalker: great moves but a dodgy white suit. Then things plummeted when I bought the Spice Girls, went back up to cool with Daft Punk, and finally basked in the 60s, 70s and 80s for all my teens, until settling on to a more modern influenced mix.
The short answer is The Beatles, starting with my mother who sang me their songs before bed as a kid.
After receiving my first guitar as a 13th birthday present (it was later destroyed in a gardening accident so I was able to upgrade to an electric) I soon got a hold of my dad’s psychedelic Beatles songbook and started learning their songs.
I later turned into a fully-fledged Beatles fanatic after reading Albert Goldman’s biography of John Lennon. I was probably the only person to ever read it and think it was a positive portrayal of John Lennon.
I briefly took up classical guitar but soon dropped it for Rock ‘n Roll (though I’m now desperately trying to remember how to play Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring for a wedding!) when I started playing in a band called The Prendergast in high school. I vividly remember the thrill playing with a full drum kit for the first time!
2 – Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?
The list is almost never ending so I’ll try and call out some peaks: For voice: Stevie Wonder, The Eagles, The Beatles, Adele (I’m still ‘growing up’ when I listen to her!), Eva Cassidy, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke. For guitar: Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel. For songwriting: all the aforementioned and Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Coldplay, Joni Mitchell. The works of these people quietly inform every note of music I ever make.
Luca: even though I play guitar and spent my fair share of time listening to heavy guitar bands like Led Zeppelin, Guns and Roses, even stuff like Joe Satriani and Dream Theater (briefly!), I was never into guitar heroes and was always more interested in songs and bands that wrote good ones.
The Beatles and Velvet Underground were huge influences but if I had to pick one band above all it would be U2 and I think that is reflected in my relatively sparse and melodic style: I always try to figure out the minimum number of notes I can get away with playing that will best complement the song while leaving space for the other instruments (the voice in particular), rather than trying to cram in as many notes as I can!
3 – How long have you been playing/writing?
Since before Britney Spears could legally drink (in America).
4 – How often do you play live (include details and links for any upcoming gigs)?
We won a slot at the Trinity Cambridge May Ball in June – hard fought against other bands. We busk every Friday. We play the main unsigned artist venues in London once or twice a week. We just played the O2 pop up theatre twice last week which was great! We have a good few late summer weddings coming up, plus a recent one we sung one of our own for the first dance – a huge honour.
24 July: The Troubadour, London
14 August: The Bedford, London
21 August: Clare Island Seafood Festival, Ireland
10 October: Barfly, London
5 – What has been your favourite moment in music?
Singing a solo to over a thousand people at NYC’s Lincoln Centre, then at a full New Theatre in Oxford, and blocking a street with fans whilst busking to promote the show!
Listening: to the Velvet Underground for the first time at age 14. I’ve never had as big a musical revelation since, but I hope I will!
Playing: at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta, a legendary venue that has hosted the likes of John Mayer, The Civil Wars, and even Justin Bieber. It was our first night in Atlanta and as an out of town band we had no local support but the audience seemed to be captivated by our performance and we were crowned joint winners of the competition that night. It reminded us a bit of Rocky 4, when the Russian crowed starts cheering for Rocky!
6 – Where is the best place to find you online?