The Luxury ride a wave of success to the Paradise
BMS talks with the local favorites about their incredible year and new album By Rory Flynn, Editor-in-Chief
Boston's music scene is and has always been rich with talent. Local bands are constantly trying to find their break and many times it just comes down to luck - but the best bands are able to create that luck. Over the past year, The Luxury have done just that. The superbly talented Brit-pop flavored band got their first opportunity by opening for megastars Coldplay at the Garden last summer and continued to make the most of it this past spring by winning the WBCN Rock ‘N Roll Rumble. Now they will celebrate the release of their stellar sophomore release, In the Wake of What Won’t Change, with a headlining show at the famed Paradise Rock Club on Saturday night.
"It's funny - you do the thing you love most because you love it the most," explains the band's mastermind Jason Dunn, who formed The Luxury in 2005 with a rotating cast of bandmates before bassist Justin Day, guitarist Daanen Krouth, drummer Steve Foster and keyboardist Steven Borek cemented their places in the band over the past two years. "But then when people step up and start paying attention it's like you've switched channels on a big TV and find that your favorite show just added a cast of your favorite actors and hired better writers. We got to open for arguably the biggest band in the world at the height of their popularity, and things sort of took off from there."
The opportunity to open for Coldplay came from winning a contest through WFNX, and the band has nothing but praise for Chris Martin and company. From arriving at the Garden to world class treatment, experiencing the most accurate soundcheck they could have dreamed up, Martin stopping by to make sure they were being taking care of, and receiving four bottles of champagne with a hand-written thank you note from the band after their set, the whole event was perfect. But the rewards were even better. A new batch of fans was born and would soon be found at that their regular gigs. Even Martin told the folks at WFNX that he was impressed with The Luxury’s set. "When you're on your own, all the encouragement you get means the world already, but from zillionaire superstars it's naturally even better!" quips Dunn.
Soon after, The Luxury set out to work on a follow-up release to their impressive debut album, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, which was practically a solo effort almost entirely recorded in Dunn's bedroom. "Luckily I've got a degree in audio engineering, which I'll be paying off until I'm like 50, so I was able to mix it to the point that no-one ever guesses it," says Dunn. Armed with better gear, more experience performing together, and a home basement studio in Allston, The Luxury were far more prepared for recording their new album. The process was also much more of a collaborative effort for the band. "This time around," says Day, "we were able to create the song arrangements together, from the ground up, and really hone them before recording. You can feel everybody's individual influence much more strongly."
Just as the band was wrapping up the recording, they were selected to perform at the 2009 WBCN Rock ‘N Roll Rumble, the city’s most prestigious battle of the bands. While the band went into the battle with low expectations, their performances were nothing short of excellent. Winning their first round match, they made their way to the semi-finals, eventually gaining a spot in the finals as a wild-card selection. Ultimately, the band would win the final night and take the champion’s crown with, perhaps most importantly, a boatload of prizes, including major studio time.
"About two days after winning, when we finally wrapped our heads around it, Justin and I just lined up all the studios back to back," says Dunn. Over a period of eleven days across four studios, the band re-recorded the new album which had already been in the works for almost a year. "It was frantically paced, but we all felt comfortable doing it because hey, we'd already done it. Everyone knew exactly what to do when they plugged in, so it was all about using the spaces and gear and talent we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by to punch the whole thing up a few notches."
"It was kind of a whirlwind of activity," adds Day. "Foster nailed the drums for 12 songs in one 14-hour day at New Alliance. Then on to Mad Oak, where we spent five days tracking bass, keys, guitars and horns before Jason went to Zippah for two days of vocals. After that, we spent three days at his home studio, recording backup vocals and various guest musicians, and fixing whatever needed fixing. Literally the next day, we were at Blue Jay, with only two days to mix the whole record. When a couple songs weren't quite up to snuff, Jason wound up at Taylor Barefoot's studio, doing some last minute remixing, right before taking the tracks to M-Works for mastering. So we ate, slept, and breathed this record for a good solid month. But if we've learned anything in this past year, it's that we work pretty well under pressure."
The final product, In the Wake of What Won’t Change, is a well-polished collection of catchy hooks and pounding rhythms with a variety of extras like horns and hand claps thrown in for good measure. Most remarkable is the band's lush four-part harmonies, which truly recall the band's classic Brit-rock influences.
Another interesting aspect of the new album is the help the band got from their friends - specifically fellow Rumble participants. Dunn says this year's Rumble was re-birth of sorts for the local music scene. "The 'scene' has divided into cliques over the past however many years, but the Class of '09 is seriously trying to create a sense of community, and it's working," he says. The evidence can be found on The Luxury's new album, which features five additional Rumble participants. "Given that this record was funded entirely by the Rumble, we tried our best to spread the love, and give props where they were due," says Day.
The sense of community will continue with the band's CD release party on Saturday, which will feature fellow locals The Click Five, MidAtlantic, Aloud and Chris Ayer. Ultimately, the show is a celebration for a band that has truly grown together as a band. "We've been through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears together in the last 2 years. Sometimes quite literally," reflects Day. "We've played in front of five people, and we've played in front of 10,000. For every person who's told us how much they've loved our music, we've had to listen to somebody else tell us we weren't shit. We've slept on floors together, and we've had to wear each others' clothes."
"Headlining the Paradise is something I never imagined I'd get to do. There's plenty to be excited about, and plenty to be nervous about. But mostly, I just feel really lucky to be in the position I'm in, playing good music with my good friends, and having some small corner of the world actually take notice of us."
Something tells me that "small corner" will be expanding very quickly.