I discovered Lukas Nelson by accident. I stumbled across Willie Nelson’s cover of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe,” and I noticed the very unique voice of the man singing with him. I immediately wanted an interview and was shocked to discover that the man in question is actually Willie Nelson’s son. I then found out that Lukas fronts his own band called Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real. After listening to his latest record, “Wasted,” I reached out to his team and he kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.
Can you tell me a little about how you connected with your current band?
I met Anthony at a Neil Young concert, and we became surfing buddies. He’s known our bass player for years, and I’ve known our percussion player from Hawaii. We’ve all known each other for a while.
Is it true you wrote Wasted while you were wasted?
Yes, I was pretty drunk [laughs].
I heard you’re not undergoing that songwriting formula anymore.
No. I quit drinking for a year. I’ve taken it way easier. I took a year hiatus from everything.
Has that helped your creative process?
I don’t think it made a difference. It’s not better or worse. There’s not a universal way [of writing].
I read that your dad gave you a guitar at 14.
I was eleven. And I started playing in his band at 14.
Do you think it was an innate interest being a son of a musician?
I think being around it kept my interest high. It was nature and nurture. I was immersed in that world, so it became second nature to me.
I know you grew up around so many legendary musicians. Did you know at the time that you were around such greats?
I always had a lot of respect for them. But it’s still just hanging around the house with dad’s friends. If I didn’t think of it that way it would get awkward. They’re just people, but they’re really inspiring people so they have good conversations that makes it really interesting to be around them.
I imagine you get really good advice with all those resources. I read that Neil Young told you to record this live to tape?
He told me about digital recording, actually. He said if you’re going to record digitally, do it to the highest resolution. But when we mixed the original tracks, we mixed it to analog tape. So we did both.
Do you often go to Neil Young for advice about your records?
I try not to bother him too much. I usually go to him for technical advice. I really try hard to figure it out on my own first, because I have a lot of respect for his kind, and he probably gets thousands of emails a day. I’m just another kid.
Are you partial to this album with that different recording process?
I like this one as much as all the others. But in terms of recording, it’s definitely a more mature recording.
I saw your performance on Jimmy Fallon with your dad. You looked so relaxed. Do you get nervous at all anymore?
Sometimes. I’m just better at not showing it. I try not to stress too much.
I know in a lot of interviews you get asked about living in your father’s shadow. I read something great that you said about how you don’t feel pressured to prove yourself. How do you get to that space in your head? Was it ever an issue?
No, it never was. I just don’t really think about it. If I spent my time wasting my energy on crap like that, [which] doesn’t really matter, I wouldn’t be the musician that I am trying to be. I’m still growing and learning, and I don’t really think about that stuff. I have to just keep writing and keep playing and getting better.
Do you get along with your father on the road?
We’re buddies. I’ve never had an argument with my dad. That’s not the relationship we have.
Listen below to Lukas’ record.