Interview: Starlight Riot

Milwaukee group Starlight Riot has digitally released Bring Out Your Love The album is the band’s first widely released album, and showcases the group’s indie pop roots.
With influences from The Replacements to The Pixies, Talking Heads, and Green Day, Starlight Riot is contagious, sing along fun with a serious bite. The band tells blue collar stories with harmonies, and captures the defiant American spirit in the age of Trump. The album can be streamed in its entirety at here – the physical release of the CD is slated for early June. We managed to catch up with vocalist/ guitarist Josh Lukkes as talked about the album and more!
How has the release of ‘Bring Out Your Love’ gone so far with fans?
It’s been fantastic! We are so excited to see everyone really getting into the songs. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – we really feel like this album has connected with people, and we love to hear their stories, how they relate to the songs.
Tell us a bit about the release
We started recording “Bring Out Your Love” in the Summer of 2016. We had the bulk of the material ready for the studio, but were looking to flesh out the album with a few more new songs. We were using the working title “Feed a Fever” at the time. Then in late August, the Sherman Park riots broke out after the Milwaukee police shot and killed a black man. And the tension that had been building around us, the police shootings, the election, the dysfunction at the top and the race and class resentment at the bottom, it all just hit us. David wrote the lyrics for “Bring Out Your Love” in essentially one sitting, and it all came together. We changed the album name, and released the song “Bring Out Your Love” as the first single. The overriding message is – ok, the world is a mess. But it’s our mess, and we can choose to come together and change things rather than tearing everything apart.
Are you looking forward for it to be physically released, do you find this more special?
Absolutely. Call me old school, but I love holding vinyl or a CD in my hand. It just seems more real, you know? I love the digital spaces we’ve created, but it’s nice to be able to put something on the shelf.
What is your favourite song from the release
JL: Oh, man, this is a tough one (laughs). It’s like trying to pick a favorite kid. Ok, I’m going to go with “Every Little Thing.” It’s one of my favorites to play live, and I feel like we were able to capture that live energy in the studio. The song is an angry daydream about whether or not your ex lover’s new lover can do all those things for her as well as you used to do them. It’s that fresh internal chaos when someone leaves, and I love how we capture that anger and sorrow with a driving chord progression and harmonies.
If you could work with any band on a new song, who would it be and why?
No bullshit, I’d love to work with Taylor Swift. I know that sounds kind of weird coming from a guy that fronts an indie power pop band, but I just love her. 1989 is a solid album top to bottom – maybe it’s the studio engineering and song writing geek in me, but there’s just this level of craftsmanship on that record. It’s easy to dismiss it as throw away pop due to it’s unbelievable success, but the more I listen to it, the more easter eggs I find. A lot of the vocal effects and harmony placement on “Bring Out Your Love” were inspired by the production techniques on 1989. And of course, I’d love to have Taylor emotionally destroy me in the lyrics of our first single after our messy break up (laughs).
Will you be on tour at all this year?
 We would love to get out and tour this year if we can
Would you ever think of touring Europe/UK?
We would LOVE to tour Europe. We just need the right backing to make this happen – are you listening, Fender, Monster Energy Drinks, Orange Amps, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Nike? Not to sound like a total sell out, but if we got to see all the cool and amazing cities and people in the UK and Europe, I would exclusively drink La Croix sparkling water for a year, if that’s what it takes.
What was your first ever gig that you attended?
This is going to make me sound ancient, but the very first show I ever went to was The Replacements. They were touring for their album “Tim,” and I saw them in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I was like 13 years old – my mom drove me and my friend John to the concert. She had this blue station wagon, and refused to drop us off a block away so we could walk up to the show with our dignity intact. She pulled right up to the front doors, in full view of the line waiting to get in. God, the horror (laughs). I was able to put that me behind me pretty quickly once we got inside. It was my first time in a mosh pit, first time hearing music out of massive speakers, the lights, the whole experience. Of course, it was amazing. That Christmas, I asked for a guitar – I knew that I had to play.
What do you get up to in your spare time while not in the band?
I have a home recording studio and really enjoy the art and process of production. I love to read – I am a huge geek. I particularly love fantasy – George RR Martin, Robert Jordan, Joe Ambercrombie. For non-fiction, I tend to read history. I am also a gym rat – love to lift. I’m not exactly world-class, but my bench press isn’t too shabby.
How much does it mean to you when you fans listen to your music?
It really means a lot to me. It’s not just that we’ve poured our hearts and souls into making the music and playing the shows, it’s that connection between me and the person listening on their ear buds. I’m sharing an idea or a story with the lyrics, and I love when I am able to resonate with someone else. I love the energy that people bring to the shows – these songs are just our songs, they’re the audiences’ songs.  I love talking to people after shows and hearing their stories, sharing a little bit of my life with them. I’m definitely not the stand offish type (laughs). I am not some untouchable and distance person – I like to mingle.
What’s the rock scene like in Milwaukee?
Milwaukee is a great place to make music. Milwaukee is an old rust belt city that is starting to remake itself – there’s a lot of new people coming in, doing creative things. It feels like a big small town. There’s a lot of venues that encourage live, original music. We’re 70 miles from Chicago, so there’s a lot of opportunity. Milwaukee has a couple of great independent radio stations – 88.9 Radio Milwaukee and 91.7 WMSE – which promote the local music scene. Overall great vibe.

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