Interview: Luke Winslow-King Finds Closure on ‘I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always’
“I really feel like I had to put a lot into it and be really honest with my audience and put myself out there.”
So says Luke Winslow-King about his latest album, I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always. The LP — due out on Sept. 30 via Bloodshot Records — is his fifth full-length effort, but his first that required no searching for inspiration.
“I was writing the album in the year that my relationship [with my wife] was falling apart,” Winslow-King tells The Boot. “I went on tour in the summer of 2015 for two and a half months in Europe, and about halfway through, the band and I did an all-night studio session in Italy in this town called Livorno.”
The 12-hour session ran from evening to morning and found the band recording seven tracks that would appear on the new record.
“It was all pretty much live, and we did four or five takes of every song,” Winslow-King recalls. “The band had been rehearsing and playing gigs for an entire month, playing every single night, so the timing was good. The songs were fresh and raw for me, emotionally, and the band was just at that moment where they really knew the material but they weren’t sick of it yet.”
That was important to Winslow-King, as he didn’t want the songs to sound too wild, but he also didn’t want them to sound perfect.
“We had strong camaraderie within the band, and I was kind of crazy and heartbroken,” he adds. “My guys did a lot to help me during that time.”
"You have to be ready when lightning strikes."
As the leader of the band, Winslow-King knew that the timing was right, and he took advantage of it; as he says, “You have to be ready when lightning strikes.” For the Michigan-bred and New Orleans-influenced musician, that lightning tends to be a lot like fishing: “You have to be ready at the right time, at the place.”
The session in Italy was followed by more sessions in New Orleans once Winslow-King and the band returned to the States. But as “crazy and heartbroken” as he might have been in Europe, the subsequent sessions came at an even tougher time.
“When we got back, I was officially divorced on Oct. 18, and we did a bunch of sessions around that two-, three-week period,” he remembers. “We did a lot of work in the studio in New Orleans, and we did overdubs on the stuff that we did in Europe. We captured something live and special on the road and then came home and refined it and added to it.”
Though the end result of Winslow-King’s heartbreak is a devastatingly authentic record full of roots, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always played a significant — almost therapeutic — role in his life.
“I didn’t have any closure in this relationship, so I kind of got it myself by going through this process,” he explains about the writing, recording and now promoting of the new LP. “That kind of closure involves the people around you. Anytime you’re grieving, you have to involve the world around you to get through it and bolster yourself and find yourself within it … becoming a new person after it. This has been that for me.
“I didn’t have to go searching for inspiration. All the songs on the album are related to one topic,” Winslow-King continues, and that sense of personal urgency brought with it a clear conviction of what to write for this album.
As he reflects on the last year and all that came with it, the singer-songwriter seems to be at peace and ready to keep moving forward, though he has no interest in leaving his past behind him.
“I’m still really proud of the album,” Winslow-King says. “I was actually listening to it around the campfire with a couple of friends the other night, after having not listened to it for months, and I still like it. It’s a great feeling to have something you can stand behind and still feel proud of it after all of the thousands of times you’ve heard the songs.”
"Anytime you’re grieving, you have to involve the world around you to get through it and bolster yourself and find yourself within it … becoming a new person after it. This [album] has been that for me."
Now, just like he tries to do every summer, he has set up shop in northern Michigan to, as he says, “water the horses.”
“A lot of what I’m trying to do right now is relax,” Winslow-King admits. “I want to get my guys relaxed and in the mindframe of doing a lot of travel as a band. And for me, I’ve been doing a lot of trout fishing and hiding out in the woods, canoeing, just trying to rest my mind.”
That relaxation is leading up to a busy season for Winslow-King and company as they prepare to hit the road in promotion of I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always.
“We’ve already spent three months in Europe, and now we’re about to spend September on the East Coast, October on the West Coast and then all of November back in Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands,” he notes. “Six months on the road with only a month in between — and that month in between, we’ve been playing music festivals every weekend, so we need this time to relax.”
When he’s not in northern Michigan or relentlessly touring the world, Winslow-King tends to spend a lot of time in New Orleans, the city he moved to when he was 19 years old.
“New Orleans has deeply inspired me,” he says with a tone of humility and deep appreciation. “When I moved, I was able to study classical music at the University of New Orleans and also study blues on the street and find some great jazz players to learn from. It was a great soup of everything that I wanted at that time.”
Fast forward more than a decade and Winslow-King still holds New Orleans in high regard.
“After playing weekly gigs in most of the clubs in the city and becoming a part of the scene down there, I now really feel embraced by the community,” he shares. “All that time I’ve invested seems to be turned around now, and people are investing back in me and my career. That feels really good, especially coming from such a musical city as New Orleans.”
The music community is not the only one that seems to embrace Winslow-King and his honest work ethic: “People have asked me to do different jobs in acting or modeling or even writing and teaching music,” he admits, acknowledging that his first acting gig was as a young extra in 1993’s Groundhog Day.
“It was for a scene at Gobbler’s Knob,” Winslow-King remembers with a laugh. “The whole community is dancing, and you can see me and my sister, we’re dancing together. I have a winter coat that has primary colors on it, and you can see the back of my head for a minute.”
Even with a taste of Hollywood, though, Winslow-King’s passion for his music never wavered.
"It’s definitely not the easiest career I could’ve chosen, but it’s the most rewarding."
“I’ve tried a little bit of everything and I can appreciate it, and I can see that I could make money or have a career doing other things,” he adds, “but I just try to focus on writing and performing music. That is where my heart is at. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. It’s definitely not the easiest career I could’ve chosen, but it’s the most rewarding.
“The more I do it, the better I get at it,” Winslow-King concludes, “and the more support I get … so I’m just gonna keep at it.”
Listen to Luke Winslow-King’s “I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always”