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For Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, 2011 was a year packed with over 200 high-energy, spirited performances, including such mega-musical events as Farm Aid, Bridge School Benefit, Stagecoach, and Country Throwdown, the chance to spread their unique brand of gritty rock and roll to millions of people via the greatest of the late night shows, Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the adoption of the name Realers by their growing base of supporters.
But 2011 was also the year, through blood, sweat and trying times, that Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – which also includes drummer Anthony LoGerfo, percussionist Tato Melgar and bassist Corey McCormick – made good on that promise to keep it real, and to make their way out of the shadow of a famous father and into the hearts and souls of music fans nationwide the way that they wanted to… on their own downhome rock and roll merits.
During the summer of 2011 Nelson, 22 years old at the time, found himself in the most intense writing jag of his early career. His journey spanned three soul-searching summer months during an intense 15-week tour. The result, the band’s second full-length album, Wasted.
Nelson doesn’t want people getting the wrong idea that Wasted is an album about partying. It’s not. It’s about the idea of wasting your time, your life, your creativity, and reminding yourself to stay true to your values and ideals. For Lukas and Promise of the Real that’s always been about family, positivity, and spreading love and happiness to others. “I have a lot of reflections about the honesty of people in general,” Nelson explains, “and this record explores big life questions and what it means to waste your life away. There are many definitions for the word and this record delves into a lot of them. It’s not a one-dimensional album, it’s meant to be listened to and internalized. There are a lot of sentiments about missing loved ones and being on the road, and even some political and military hints in there.”
On Wasted the band’s familiar sound evolved from past recordings. A huge influence on this was Neil Young, whom Lukas calls a “distant mentor” and who suggested the band try a different approach to recording their new album. “Neil Young suggested that we record the music live in the studio in analog, which is something we didn’t do on the last album,” says Nelson. “It really added a lot of magnetism, energy, and gave the music a live feel, and a lot of warmth to it. I feel like this record sounds more like what you get when you see us perform.”
The band had a magical time in the studio, taking Nelson’s acoustic guitar renditions of the 14 tracks and turning them into true Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real creations. “I think he’s improved a lot as a songwriter because he’s writing a little more cohesively and showing us a different side to his writing. It’s a little harder, more rockin’, and more danceable,” says LoGerfo of Nelson’s growth as a writer. But, lest we forget: Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real is a band. “Lukas gets all credit for writing, and I’m proud of what he’s done here, but the arrangement and the sound is definitely the band,” says LoGerfo. “We’d listen to the song on his cheap little recorder one time through and then go into the studio together and start jamming and it would come out completely different than how we wrote it. The lyrics and chord changes were there, but the sound would just morph.”
The first single from the record is the title track, “Wasted,” a feel-good tune with a strutty vibe. “I had just finished Keith Richards’ book Life, when I wrote that song,” says Nelson of the song’s inspiration. “It was kind of influenced by the Stones and I wanted the song to be something that reflected our live show and that I could really move to onstage.” Logerfo adds, “This song and this album are really road tunes. By being on the road together so long for those three months, we really improved as a band and got tighter and you hear that on this album. The songs are really jammy and fun to play live and represent us and we hope all the Realers out there enjoy it!”