Browse by Title
V W X Y Z #  

Lukas Nelson
Lukas Nelson and his backing band, Promise of the Real, are a California band that churn out energetic music that wears its rock and blues influences on its sleeve. He's also the son of famed country singer Willie Nelson, a musician born and bred. The band first came together in 2008, playing slews of live shows ever since, pausing now and then to put out an album.

The band sports a sort of rugged authenticity, a sense of living and breathing for music that's more than a little reminiscent of Lukas' father. With loud, crunchy live shows and honest, emotive songwriting, Nelson and company make a powerful case for the raw intensity of a classic-style band in a time when the traditional rock act is starting to seem more and more antiquated.

Lukas NelsonTrevor Morelli (Songfacts): The first question I have is about your new album, Wasted. In your bio you mention that you wrote a lot of the songs on the back of the bus where there were a lot of pressures on the road. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Lukas Nelson: Sure. Would you rather me elaborate on the pressures or of writing the songs actually?

Songfacts: Maybe some of the specific songs.

Lukas: Yeah. Well, which one's your favorite? Which are some of your favorite songs out of the record and I'll just kind of hit on those.

Songfacts: Sure. I liked "Don't Take Me Back." That was one of my favorites.

Lukas: Okay. That one, I was drunk, sitting outside in Myrtle Beach by the bus. It was like 3 or 4 in the morning. I was just sitting around with my acoustic guitar and playing whatever kind of came to my head and kind of freestyling. I also had my iPhone there; I had it recording so I wouldn't miss anything. The next morning or afternoon when I woke up, I listened back and I had that song and it was fully done. So I showed the band, they liked it, and then we recorded it.

Songfacts: And what inspired you to write the song "Golden Rule"? It has such a positive message.

Lukas: It's something my dad has taught me ever since I was a kid. And I just felt like as a record starter, it was a good message to start a record that's generally about wasting everything. I wanted to just start it off with a good note before I kind of delved into the dark parts of being around the music business.

Songfacts: Let's move on to a different song. I understand that "Wasted" was influenced by Keith Richards' book Life. Can you talk a little bit about that song and the influence that the Rolling Stones have you on as a musician?

Lukas: Yeah. That song was just trying to capture the vibe of the Stones, if you understand what I mean.

Songfacts: Yeah. Just sort of the shuffle and rockin' kind of vibe?

Lukas: Yeah. I was thinking about that kind of strut feel, you know?

Songfacts: Do you think that you carry the Stones' attitude when you get up there and play live, as well?

Lukas: Yeah, I do. You know, Keith and Mick are definitely influences performance-wise. I try and integrate a lot of different influences and not just keep one.

Songfacts: That song has a lot of soloing in it. Did you plan out those solos yourself before you recorded the track, or were those done on the fly?

Lukas NelsonLukas: They were done on the fly.

Songfacts: Oh, wow. So you're a pretty good improviser. Was that something that your dad taught you? How to play different scales and soloing and things like that? Did he teach you music theory?

Lukas: No. Not at all. He doesn't know music theory. (Laughs)

Songfacts: Oh, no?

Lukas: No. He doesn't know music theory. I took music class. I went to music college for about a year and a half and failed all my classes. So that was the extent of my music career in terms of that kind of thing. But I really don't think that you need that to survive.

Songfacts: Do you think that the music industry is more based on the business side of things now?

Lukas: No, I don't think the music industry even matters. Basically, musicians who play music for the right reasons aren't thinking about the music industry at all. The music industry is thinking about them, how to make money off of them.

Songfacts: What would you suggest to, say, an aspiring musician who doesn't really have any contacts or anything? What would you tell them to do?

Lukas: To be themselves and not even think about what's going to be liked by other people. Just do what you like, listen to the music you like, even if it's old and outdated. Because when you start playing and you start writing your own stuff, it's going to create your own sound automatically. After a while, you'll start getting your own sound based on the influences that you love.

Songfacts: You guys have built a fan base by playing hundreds of shows a year. Do you get people still coming up to you after shows that are saying, "I've never heard of you before, but now I'm a fan"?

Lukas: Oh yeah, all the time.

Songfacts: And what does that feel like?

Lukas: Well, it feels like I'm doing my job right.

Songfacts: Your dad's Willie Nelson, he's a country legend. Do you ever feel pressure to live up to that at all or anything like that?

Lukas: No. Not really. I could die tomorrow, but I'd be happy because I play music for a living and have a lot of good friends and family.

Songfacts: I read that you played guitar on his new album.

Lukas: And I sang, too, and wrote a lot of the songs. I wrote three tracks on there and then I sang on ten out of the thirteen songs. I only played guitar on a few of them, actually.

Songfacts: Oh, I see. So what is it like working with your own dad in that situation?

Lukas: It's great. It's like anybody who works with their dad. It's a good feeling to be able to have your father be proud of you. Depending on your relationship with him, you know. Some people don't have a nice relationship.

Songfacts: For sure. Did you ever butt heads with him?

Lukas: No, I've never in my whole life ever butted heads with my dad. (sincere)

Songfacts: Okay. That's interesting. You two decided to cover a Pearl Jam song, "Breathe." Why did you decide to do that song specifically?

Lukas: Because I love the song and I think it's written very well. It turned out great.

Songfacts: And has Pearl Jam been pretty influential for you?

Lukas: Definitely. I love Eddie Vedder's writing and I love the whole band Pearl Jam. I grew up in the '90s, so that has been part of my upbringing. So yeah, it was great. It was just kind of natural. I learned about Pearl Jam a little later in life, so I got into them a little later.

Songfacts: But still a big influence on you?

Lukas: Yeah.

Songfacts: There's a song on the new album called "The Joint." Is that about smoking marijuana?

Lukas: Yeah. (Laughs)

Songfacts: And is that something that influences your writing, as well?

Lukas: It's definitely something that I did and do quite a bit. I took about a six month hiatus.

Songfacts: What happened in that six months, and why did you go back to that?

Lukas: You know, it wasn't even a big deal too much. I needed to clear my head and think about things and get back on track in my own life and deal with some personal things. And I did, and I felt clear enough to handle them. When I got through the rough periods, I went back to it kind of naturally. I've been smoking again since May, since last month. It was just real mellow. I mean, weed is nothing, man. You can smoke weed or not smoke weed and you're the same guy, in my opinion.

Songfacts: I think a lot of people feel that way. There are movements all over the place where people are pressing to get it legalized because they don't really see any long term harm.

Lukas: Yeah. And I see that first hand, because my dad's been smoking it every day for 40 years and he's all right.

Songfacts: No kidding. (Laughs) There's a song on your album called "If I Were An Ocean." That one definitely sounds like you might have written when you were high. Can you talk about the time that you wrote that song?

Lukas: I don't know whether I was high or not, and that doesn't really matter when you're writing songs. To me, at least. But that song was written acoustically in open B tuning, and I was just riding on the back of the bus and it kind of came out.

Songfacts: I see. Do you think that writing when you're high or drunk is good for some artists, though, because it takes the sort of self-filter away? Do you know musicians that can't really write unless they do that, because they just throw away everything they write because they think it's terrible?

Lukas: Personally, no. I don't think that anybody I know is dependent on anything to write in terms of songwriting. They're all better than that.

Songfacts: Well, that's cool. So which songs on Wasted are you the most excited about playing live and which ones get the best response?

Lukas: "Don't Take Me Back" gets a real great response. "The Joint" always gets a good response. "Wasted" is a great one for live shows, and "Wasn't That Great" is always fun to play. I mean, they're all fun. Every one of them has their charm, you know.

Songfacts: And which songs were the most challenging to write and record from start to finish?

Lukas: None of them really stood out as being challenging to me.

Songfacts: Does it help having a good group of musicians around you?

Lukas: Well, yeah. I've got my band around me and we've been playing together for a while.

Songfacts: You've been together for about three years, is it?

Lukas: Yeah.

Songfacts: And do you pick each other up when you're feeling low and maybe not feeling a song as much?

Lukas: Yeah. I mean, if we're all not feeling a song, then we'll just say, Okay, we won't do it. But most of the time everybody's got each other's back.

Songfacts: So from Wasted, where does it go from here? Are you writing another album already?

Lukas: I've got another three albums in the works right now.

Songfacts: Oh, wow.

Lukas: Yeah. So we'll have a lot of music coming out.

Songfacts: And that's all new material?

Lukas: Yeah.

Songfacts: Have you ever put some thought into putting out a live album?

Lukas: We've got one recorded. Yeah. We haven't put it out. We put an EP out, live, a long, long time ago. But I don't even have a copy of that anymore.

Songfacts: Collector's item.

Lukas: That's a collector's item that I haven't even collected. But we've got another one recorded and it should be out in the next few months.

Songfacts: With the Wasted songs, are there any that change quite a bit from the recorded version to the live?

Lukas: Yeah. It changes to the live feel. I think that we're a live band, really. So it's something that comes across live better, I think, than in the recordings.

November 20, 2012. Get more at


No Comments yet! Be the first to leave a comment!

Where are you from?
Your Comment
 security code

Brandi CarlileBrandi Carlile
As a 5-year-old, Brandi was writing lyrics to instrumental versions lullabies. She still puts her heart into her songs, including the one Elton John sings on.
Modern A Cappella with Peder Karlsson of The Real GroupModern A Cappella with Peder Karlsson of The Real Group
The leader of the Modern A Cappella movement talks about the genre.
Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"
"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.
John Lee HookerJohn Lee Hooker
Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed Bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write The Blues.

Search in Songwriter Interviews
Songwriter Interviews titles
Aaron Beam of Red Fang
Aaron Gillespie
Aaron Lewis
Adam Duritz of Counting Crows
Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne
Adam Young of Owl City
Al Anderson of NRBQ
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
Al Kooper
Alan Merrill of The Arrows
Alex Call (867-5309)
Allee Willis: Boogie Wonderland, Friends theme
Amanda Palmer
Amy Grant
Andy McClusky of OMD
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash
Angelo Moore of Fishbone
Ann Hampton Callaway
Anna Canoni about Woody Guthrie
Annie Haslam of Renaissance
Anthony Raneri of Bayside
Antigone Rising
Art Alexakis of Everclear
Asher Roth
Badi Assad
Bart Millard of MercyMe
Becca Stevens
Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl
Benny Mardones
Biff Byford of Saxon
Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers
Bill Withers
Billy Gould of Faith No More
Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Montana ("More Than A Memory" - Garth Brooks)
Billy Steinberg
Bo Bice
Bob Daisley
Bobby Liebling of Pentagram
Bobby Whitlock
Boz Scaggs
Brad Arnold from 3 Doors Down
Brad Smith of Blind Melon
Brandi Carlile
Brandon Heath
Brenda Russell
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn, Love and Death
Bronze Radio Return
Bruce Robison
Bryan Adams
Butch Vig
Buzz Osborne of the Melvins
Carol Kaye
Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)
Chad Urmston of Dispatch
Chan Kinchla of Blues Traveler
Charles Fox
Charlie Benante of Anthrax
Charlie Daniels
Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's
Chris August
Chris Fehn of Slipknot
Chris Isaak
Chris Knight
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes
Chris Squire of Yes
Chris Tomlin
Chris Willis
Chris Wilson of The Flamin' Groovies
Christopher Cross
Chuck Billy of Testament
Cody Hanson of Hinder
Colbie Caillat
Corey Hart
Craig Goldy of Dio
Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets
Cy Curnin of The Fixx
Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay
Dan Reed
Daniel Moore ("Shambala," "My Maria")
Danko Jones
Danny Kortchmar
Dar Williams
Darren King of MUTEMATH
Darryl Worley
Dave Clark
Dave Innis of Restless Heart
Dave Mason
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave Stewart of Eurythmics
Dave Wakeling of The English Beat
Dean Pitchford
Denny Randell
Desmond Child
Devin Townsend
Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)
Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Coal Chamber
Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper/Lou Reed)
Dino Cazares of Fear Factory
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
Don Felder
Donald Fagen
Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)
Dr. John
Dropkick Murphys
dUg Pinnick of King's X
Duncan Phillips of Newsboys
Dwight Twilley
Eddie Carswell of NewSong
Eddie Reeves
Edwin McCain
El Sloan of Crossfade
Elvin Bishop
Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls
Emmylou Harris
Eric Burdon
Eric Kretz of Stone Temple Pilots
Francesca Battistelli
Francis Rossi of Status Quo
Gary Brooker of Procol Harum
Gary Lewis
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
Gary Numan
Gentle Giant
Georgia Middleman of Blue Sky Riders
Gilby Clarke
Glen Burtnik
Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket
Gordon Bahary
Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)
Graham Parker
Graham Russell of Air Supply
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Greg Puciato of Killer Be Killed and Dillinger Escape Plan
Gretchen Peters (Independence Day)
Guy Clark
Gym Class Heroes
Hal Ketchum
Harold Brown of War
Harry Shearer
Hayes Carll
Henry McCullough
Henry Paul of The Outlaws, Blackhawk
Holly Knight
Holly Williams
Howard Bellamy
Howard Jones
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"
Ian Astbury of The Cult
Ian Thornley of Big Wreck
Ingrid Croce
J.D. Souther
Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees
Jake Owen
James Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges
Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
Jamie O'Neal
Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go`s
Janis Ian
Jann Klose
Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup
Jason Michael Carroll
Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)
Jason Reeves
Jason Roy of Building 429
Jay Graydon
Jeff Walker of Carcass
Jello Biafra
Jeph Howard of The Used
Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada
Jess Origliasso of The Veronicas
Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms
Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds
Jimbeau Hinson
Jimmy Jam
Jimmy Webb
JJ Burnel of The Stranglers
Jo Dee Messina
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Joe Ely
Joe Grushecky
Joe Jackson
Joe King Carrasco
Joe Rickard of Red
Joel Crouse
Joey + Rory
Joey Burns of Calexico
John Doe of X
John Gallagher of Raven
John Lee Hooker
John Oates
John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls
John Waite
John Wheeler of Hayseed Dixie
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde
Johnny Winter
Jon Anderson of Yes
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot
Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Jon Tiven
Josh Kelley
Josh Shilling
Josh Thompson
Judas Priest
Julian Lennon
Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues
Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Meat Loaf)
Keith Morris of Black Flag and OFF!
Keith Reid of Procol Harum
Kelvin Swaby of The Heavy
Ken Block of Sister Hazel
Kenneth Nixon of Framing Hanley
Kenny Vance
Kerry Livgren of Kansas
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Kip Winger
Kirk Franklin
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristine W
Kyle Nicolaides of Beware of Darkness
Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Larry Burnett of Firefall
Larry Wiegand of Crow
Laura Bell Bundy
Lee Ranaldo
Les Claypool
Leslie West of Mountain
Lindi Ortega
Lisa Loeb
Lita Ford
Little Big Town
Lori McKenna
Loudon Wainwright III
Louie Perez of Los Lobos
Lukas Nelson
Mac Powell of Third Day
Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Of A Revolution)
Marcy Playground
Maria Muldaur
Maria Neckam
Mark Arm of Mudhoney
Marshall Crenshaw
Martin Gordon
Martin Page
Martin Smith of Delirous?
Martyn Ware of Heaven 17
Marvin Etzioni of Lone Justice
Mary Gauthier
Mat Kearney
Matt Pike of High On Fire
Matt Pryor of Get Up Kids
Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon
Matt Sorum
Matt Thiessen of Relient K
Matthew West
Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)
Meshell Ndegeocello
Mia Doi Todd
Michael Bolton
Michael Franti
Michael Gilbert of Flotsam and Jetsam
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
Michael Schenker
Michael Sweet of Stryper
Michael W. Smith
Mick Jones of Foreigner
Mike Campbell
Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North
Mike Love of The Beach Boys
Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies
Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater
Miles Doughty of Slightly Stoopid
Millie Jackson
Mitch Myers about Shel Silverstein
Mitts of Madball
Mountain Heart
Neil Fallon of Clutch
Neil Giraldo
Nick Van Eede from Cutting Crew
Nick Waterhouse
Nick Wheeler of The All-American Rejects
Nina Persson of The Cardigans
Nona Hendryx
Oliver Leiber
Our Lady Peace
Pam Tillis
Pat Alger ("The Thunder Rolls", "Unanswered Prayers")
Paul Dean of Loverboy
Paul Evans
Paul Williams
Pegi Young
Penny Ford of Snap!
Pete Anderson
Peter Lord
Petula Clark
Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")
Philip Cody
Queensr├┐che founder Geoff Tate
Radney Foster
Ralph Casale - Session Pro
Randy Goodrum (Oh Sherrie)
Randy Houser
Randy Montana
Randy Newman
Randy Sharp (From Glen Campbell to Edgar Winter)
Randy Stonehill
Rebecca St. James
Reverend Horton Heat
Rhonda Vincent
Richard Hell
Richard Marx
Richard Patrick of Filter
Richie McDonald of Lonestar
Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)
Rick Finch
Rick Springfield
Rick Wartell of Trouble
Rik Emmett of Triumph
Robert Ellis
Roger Clyne
Rosanne Cash
Rupert Hine
Ryan Star
Sam Phillips
Sandy Chapin
Sarah Brightman
Scorpions Rudolf Schenker
Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders
Scott Jason of Thriving Ivory
Scott Stapp
Scotty Emerick (Beer For My Horses)
Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities
Serena Ryder
Seth Swirsky
Shane Volk of One Bad Son
Shaun Morgan of Seether
Shawn Smith of Brad
Shelby Lynne
Skip Ewing ("Love, Me," "The Gospel According To Luke")
Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D.
Speech of Arrested Development
Spooner Oldham
Squeeze: Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford
Stan Ridgway
Steel Magnolia
Stephen Christian of Anberlin
Steve "Zetro" Souza of Exodus and Hatriot
Steve Azar
Steve Hindalong of The Choir
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai
Sum 41
Sunny Sweeney
Supertramp founder Roger Hodgson
Tanita Tikaram
Taylor Dayne
Terry Cashman
Terry Jacks ("Seasons in the Sun")
Terry Taylor of Daniel Amos and Lost Dogs
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Dandy Warhols
The Fratellis
The Limousines
They Might Be Giants
Thomas Dolby
Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs
Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles
Tina Shafer
Tobin Esperance of Papa Roach
Toby Lightman
Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down and 7dayBinge
Tom Gabel of Against Me!
Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers
Tom Keifer of Cinderella
Tommy James
Tommy Lee James ("She's My Kind Of Rain")
Toni Wine
Tonio K
Tony Hiller and Brotherhood of Man
Tony Joe White
Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria
Trent Wagler of The Steel Wheels
Udo Dirkschneider (UDO, ex-Accept)
Van Dyke Parks
Vanessa Carlton
Ville Valo of HIM
Vince Clarke
Vince Gill
Vinny May of Kodaline
Vonda Shepard
Wayne Hussey of The Mission
Wayne Swinny of Saliva
Wednesday 13
Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit and Black Light Burns
Will Jennings
Yael Naim
Yoko Ono
Zac Hanson
Zakk Wylde
Other Songfacts Blogs
Songwriter Interviews
Song Writing
Music Quiz
Fact or Fiction
They're Playing My Song