Q&A: The Just Luckies

Members of The Just Luckies have a hard time describing their sound. With various musical influences flooding their creativity, they’ve settled on the label twang-punk. Sonically, their instrumentals and vocals fall within the realm of Americana. A hint of a southern accent can be heard in the lead vocals, backed by touches of ukulele and uplifting beats. Their lyrics and individual personalities, however, are the epitome of punk. They embrace their uniqueness and use their music as a tool to comment on various types of relationships and today’s political culture.

Gathered in a glass conference room in the back of Portage Grounds on Chicago’s northwest side, vocalist KC Weldon, drummer Shea Briggs, guitarist Nat Greene and bassist Lucy Diavolo share the ins and outs of creating their latest album Lovesick Politics and discuss what it’s like growing within Chicago’s music scene.

Listen Live and Local: You’re releasing your new studio album on June 23rd. Can you talk about the album and how it came together?

Diavolo: [The album is] called Lovesick Politics. [The album name] came up because we realized that almost all the songs were either about relationships, whether that was with lovers, friends or family; or politics, whether that’s around different forms of identity or just what’s been in the air [this] last year.

Weldon: We’ve been working on [the album] for a year. A lot has happened in this last year. It’s been a very intense year. [The album is made up of] songs we’ve all written. We definitely lean on each other a lot [and] I’m actually pretty amazed at how cohesive the album is given there are so many different songwriters and influences, but it’s been very carefully edited and organized into a narrative. Every single person has brought different ideas to each song to really make it what it is. We started with ten songs and then we were like, this isn’t good enough because now all this shit is happening and we have a lot more to say. We ended up writing two more songs. Those two last songs, for me, were totally influenced by Lucy and Nat. I’m just so excited for how this turned out!

LLL: What songs standout on the album for each of you?

Weldon: I think we should each pick somebody else’s song to talk about. I’m going to pick “Cody”. It’s a song about an employee at Walmart. Lucy wrote it. It empathizes with this name tag worker and it’s just really beautiful. It hits the Americana root perfectly.

Briggs: KC and I have been playing music together for five years now and I think the song I’ve been digging on most is called “Fine”. I think it hits home because it’s about telling someone you’re fine when in reality, you’re not, whether it’s about what’s going on personally or politically. The sound, too, is really great.

Greene: This is hard. I think I’d have to say “Lake Michigan” because it’s one of the first ones I learned when I joined the band. It chills me out. Just to hear it, there’s something very calming and comforting about that song.

Weldon: Before Lucy goes, can I say something about that song? That song was one of the first The Just Luckies’ songs. It was about me moving to Michigan to go to grad school. I’m actually moving back from Michigan right now. The chorus is, “I’ll see you again just over Lake Michigan.” It’s cool that at the beginning of this whole album, I moved there, and now I’m moving back. That song is kind of a bookend, at least for me.

Greene: [KC] has been in Michigan this whole time, so we’ve been driving back and forth.

Diavolo: Yeah, we’ve made a lot of trips around the lake to Grand Rapids. That’s where we recorded everything at Cold War Studios and Knavish Audio. Rick Johnson and Don Carlisle both did amazing work on the album. Okay, I’ll pick a song now. I think for me, there are a couple that jump to mind, but it might be “Red, White & Bruised” which was the name of an EP, but the song wasn’t on there. “Red, White & Bruised” was one of the first songs I learned to play with The Just Luckies. [It’s] great rock and roll and has a message.

Weldon: I feel like “Cody” and “Red, White & Bruised” are each other’s twins. Like fraternal twins.

Diavolo: “Cody” is very much the ballad that “Red, White & Bruised” is the anthem of.

Weldon: Damn. Well said.

 

LLL: What sets The Just Luckies apart from other bands in Chicago?

Weldon: Well, we’re not dudes.

Diavolo: But we’re also not a girl band. I think all four of us are committed to not just playing sick ass riffs and blowing everyone away, but making shows an actual fun time for people. A friendly space where you can dance and just be yourself. We want to have a good time when we go out to play a show. We don’t want to deal with a bunch of unsolicited music advice. The best shows we play are all women or all queer lineups. The energy of those nights is just incredible. We love that kind of shit. It’s all about vibes for us. We’re all somewhere south of queer.

Weldon: Next album name?

Greene: We have too many next album names.

LLL: What are some fun facts about each of you that your fans may not know?

Weldon: A fact about myself is that before I moved [to Chicago] I owned 32 coats. I have since downsized to 12 coats. Everyone in my family bought me coats. Then I had a lot of roommates who would just leave their coats with me. [My coat collection] grew and I just don’t get rid of things. If you want to see the coats, a lot of them are in our music video for Lake Michigan. Everyone is wearing one of my coats.

Diavolo: The story KC told me is that when [she was] leaving  Alabama, everyone in the south was like, “You’re going north, gonna need a coat!”

Briggs: [My fact is] I just downloaded this new program [for touring]. I’m kind of geeking out about it. [I was] on the lookout for like a month and a half and actually got tears in my eyes when I found this program. I’m really excited about it.

Diavolo: Shea is kind of a big industry nerd.

Greene: The obvious [fun fact about me] is that I’m in the process of being a priest.

Diavolo: My fun fact [is] that I’m a casual Satanist. I legally changed my name to Lucy Diavolo. Lucy for Lucifer and Diavolo is the Italian word for devil.

Greene: Our bookshelf is great.

Diavolo: We recently moved in together. We’re going to end up calling our apartment purgatory.

The Just Luckies’ next show will be on Friday, June 23rd at Bottom Lounge. The night will also include performances by The Peekaboos, Lever and Hawley.

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