David Luning Channels Life on the Road for ‘Restless’ [Exclusive Album Stream]
When David Luning heads to Colorado on tour this spring, he's hoping for a downpour-free trip this time around. The last time he and his band played in the state, the singer-songwriter recalls with a chuckle, "it was quite the learning experience."
Luning and company -- bassist and harmonica player Ben Dubin, drummer Linden Reed and guitar / mandolin player Dave Sampson -- were headed to stay with a friend in the Centennial State when, on the long, steep dirt road that led there, they got caught in a major rainstorm ("like, flash flood conditions," Luning recalls). Their van and trailer got stuck, and the whole crew had to get out and turn everything around manually.
"The best part about the whole thing was, Ben, my bass player, was soaking wet, completely, head to toe, just mud everywhere," Luning remembers, "and he just looks at me like, 'This is so ridiculous!'"
Following the release of his sophomore album, Restless, on Friday (Feb. 3), Luning will play four dates in Colorado -- not to mention a number of other shows in the western and central United States -- this spring. A number of locations will be new stops for the California native and Berklee College of Music dropout, who gave up studying film scoring to pursue a career in folk music.
"There's a lot of stuff that I think I inherently learned from the school -- like, theory and stuff like that, in my music, I apply it rarely, but I think that it comes out ...," Luning tells The Boot, "but what happened is that there was this undercurrent thing that was happening at Berklee -- this folk scene kind of developed as a rebellion ... I just latched onto that hardcore."
At home in California, Luning found "a really cool scene," which he describes as "very down home" and "very honest."
"There's people that want to write music and play music and share music," he explains, "and there's people that really want to listen and hang out and partake in those things."
Luning self-released his debut album, Just Drop on By, in 2012. He produced that project himself but, for this upcoming record, Luning teamed with Karl Derfler (Tom Waits, Dave Matthews).
"It was a totally different experience. There's pros and cons to both," Luning notes: Self-production gave Luning all the time in the world to shoot for perfection, "but it's kind of good that, when a producer comes in, you can't do that. Then, you have to step it up and make sure that the takes are as good as they can be."
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Of Derfler, Luning praises, "He is so fast ... He was able to bring my music to where I wanted it to be before I knew I wanted it to go there, which was very cool."
"The best part about the whole thing was, he really listened to me also," Luning continues. Rather than simply dictating orders, Derfler, "constantly checked in" to make sure that Luning approved of the way things were going.
Derfler definitely pushed Luning, though: "Be Like Gold," Track No. 8 on Restless, was a years-old, half-finished song idea until Derfler told Luning that he wanted it on the album, and gave him a deadline to complete the tune.
"I was like, 'Holy cow, okay!'" Luning remembers. It was "a little bit [of a] panic-inducing" experience, the artist admits, but also "helpful;" he wound up penning the song while on tour, in the van with his band. And when it was finished, Luning was quite pleased "because that song has plagued me for years."
Listen to David Luning's Restless
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