Luke Buda - The View from Vesuvius
Author: Rebecca Thomson (photography by Amelia Hanscomb)
It seems that members of Wellington’s Phoenix Foundation have so much creative energy they’re not only making award winning albums for the band, but also pouring themselves into solo projects. ‘Vesuvius’ is the fourth album from a solo Phoenix crew member this year and the second solo album project for leading man Luke Buda. He talks to Rebecca Thomson about playing with drum machines and unintentionally making a pop album.
Luke Buda is yawning his head off when we first meet – but it’s not from boredom. An eight-week old baby in the house means there’s been little sleep. As well as welcoming a second son into the world, The Phoenix Foundation’s Buda is welcoming the completion of his second solo album, the suitably ironically titled ‘Vesuvius’.
Timing is everything, it seems. Before I can even ask, Buda quickly acknowledges that, yes, his first and second albums were well-timed to be finished, or near finished, when each of his sons were born. The first time round, when Buda found out his partner was having a baby he sat down, wrote a bunch of songs and put out an album.
"This time, I started writing songs and then I found out I was having a second baby. I thought the only time I’ll have to do finish it is before the baby arrived – there’ll be no time after."
He managed, nearly, to complete ‘Vesuvius’ before baby’s arrival and as we talk the album is being mastered by Mike Gibson.
Buda’s first album, 2006’s ‘Special Surprise’, was mostly put together in his own home with final touch-ups done by Lee Prebble at The Surgery. This time he took a more professional approach from the get-go.
"With this one, I knew that I wanted it to be recorded by an expert in a studio. I’ve worked with Lee lots and have a great rapport with him. We’ve grown together – he has recorded all three Phoenix albums."
Though chatty, Buda is reluctant to describe ‘Vesuvius’, giving the distinct feeling he just doesn’t want his music to be ‘boxed in’ to any particular genre.
"It’ll help a lot if people just listen to it and make up their own minds. It’s similar to the first one, but better. I’m really into ’70s pop – David Bowie, Queen, ’70s spacies pop, so it’s a bit pop."
Though he enjoys "… songs you can dance to", it wasn’t his intention to make a pop album. "I like the way it sounds and I like what Lee has done with it, but also I was hoping to do something different ... perhaps you have to not fight what you are," he muses.
Well maybe a bit, for the next baby he says, he would like to play around with the sound more.
"I’m already thinking about the next one. I’m going to get Conrad Wedde to produce it. I want to do a completely outlandish album with lots of drum machines – they’re my friends," he quips.
More seriously he continues, drum machines create "… a totally different vibe".
It quickly becomes apparent he is more and more interested in sounds per se and would be willing to give just about anything a go.