Interview: Luke Elliot on bringing Dressed for the Occasion to Australia for the first time

Over a couple of long blacks in Richmond, New Jersey songwriter Luke Elliot anticipates his debut Australian shows. Having brought his sophomore album Dressed for the Occasion out here to be performed in solo mode in some great east coast venues, Elliot’s introduction to the Australian scene is one that has been a while in the making.

“Thank god for the record company.” he muses. “That’s probably the only time I’ll say that! I mean, originally, the plan was to bring over an entire band and do a larger tour, but this was my first time in the market and it was very expensive. We all decided that I would just come over and do solo; each venue would provide me with a piano and I would just do it solo for now.”

“The hope is to come back in the Fall with a full band to tour. We’re releasing a new record in the Fall and we actually have a new single coming out on April 20th, that’s just started to go to radio now along with the singles that have been promoted. I’m hopeful. I think it’s going to be a really great country for us.”

As he explains of new album, Elliot’s sound has continue to diversify, while remaining true to the influences and sonic strains we were first introduced to on Death of a Widow in 2010.

“To me, it felt like a natural progression.” he says. “I feel like, for other people watching it, it seems like I veered off a little. I mean, it’s still early for anyone to say that about me. This will be my second full length record. Before that, there were two EPs and the first EP was essentially a demo. Death of a Widow is a demo done in someone’s basement for $500. Provisions was a little more of a real thing, but it didn’t have a proper release. Dressed for the Occasion was the first actual thing that we put out. I try not to pay too much attention to what people are saying about me veering off…I’m glad people like the first record enough to have an opinion, but for me it felt natural. It felt like something I wanted to do.”

“If you’re lucky enough, you have a team of people who help you and they all have opinions.” Elliot furthers, discussing his usual creative process and the role external influences play. “I guess the idea is to not let those opinions change what you’re doing too much, but to be open to some good ideas and criticism from people you trust. With these songs, while I’m making them there are a few choice people that I’ll speak to about them. I’ll nervously hand them a copy like, ‘What do you think?’,  and I’ll get a sense.”

Already, Dressed for the Occasion has been received warmly by Elliot’s strong fanbase, one that has extended far outside of the US – with a tour schedule continuing to flesh itself out over the next few months with dates in the US, Europe and potentially Australia again. As we’ve seen on this tour, Elliot is only getting started, when it comes to introducing his musical style to us. With this new album too, Elliot is enthusiastic about the places Dressed for the Occasion is still to travel to.

“I feel like these songs are more melodic, actually, than the last record. I feel like the last record was more in your face, a rock and roll album. I feel like this permeate slower; the new single, “I Love You All The Way”, has gospel singers on it. It’s a real different feel. You can still tell it’s me, but it’s a little different. I’m really excited, I’ve never been more excited about anything that I’ve done.”

Luke Elliot performs in Sydney tonight, April 4th and on April 5th at the Lazybones Lounge, before heading to Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall in Brisbane on April 6th.

For tickets and more information, visit lukeelliot.com.

Photos by Michelle Grace Hunder.