“At the time, that was probably the biggest thing that had ever happened to us,” says Tyler Richardson, the band’s bassist and lead vocalist. “The fact that we get to play festivals all the time now is crazy. When we used to play them, we felt like we’d infiltrated, and we were playing to an audience that wasn’t our own. Since the last album came out, though, I suppose that’s become our crowd. We’ve started to get booked for more and more of these things – which is great for us, considering that we have been pushing to get on them for quite some time. They’re so much fun to be at and to play at, so we’re totally blown away that we’ve gotten the chance to do so much of it.”
Fast forward to 2017, and Luca Brasi are one of the most in-demand rock bands currently on the circuit. As Richardson speaks with Beat, he is briefly back at home before jetting off once again to take part in Laneway Festival alongside the likes of Tame Impala, Gang of Youths and fellow Poison City Records signees Camp Cope. The band kicked off the festival run by playing in Singapore for the very first time, which Richardson describes as a breathtaking experience.
“They look after you so well over there,” he says. “We’ve only briefly touched on playing in Asia – we toured in China for about a week a few years back – but we’d never had the chance to do Singapore. It was really cool – the way that the festival is set up and run over there was really well done, and everyone that we worked with was so nice. We played pretty early, but a bunch of people came out to check us out. There were a bunch of Aussie ex-pats in there, as well – I think they’ll always be there, no matter where we’re playing.”
Their appearance on Laneway Festival comes just a couple of weeks after performing at Unify out in rural Victoria; joining bands like Every Time I Die, Northlane and Violent Soho – the latter of whom are longtime touring partners and friends of Luca Brasi. Richardson fondly recalls their reunion, which ended up with an impromptu footy match in the back fields of the festival.
“My brother, Callan, had come along to see everyone,” he says. “He’s a big dude – we call him The Rig – so obviously we had him on our team for this little rugby match we had going. He gets in there and he just pollacked Jimbo [Violent Soho guitarist James Tidswell] like you wouldn’t believe. He wound him up and destroyedhim. It wouldn’t have seemed that hard to him, but to anyone else it would have been like getting hit by a steam train.” Laughter ensues – as spending time with anyone from Luca Brasi only can – before Richardson sincerely reflects on a special moment between himself and his brother, had at the festival.
“Growing up, Alexisonfire was a huge band for us,” he says. “We’d only ever gotten to see them the one time before, so it was really nice that Callan was able to come to the festival for the weekend; and to have that reunion to watch Alexis play again. We had so much fun.”
On account of all of the band’s extensive touring in support of their third album, last year’s If This is All We’re Going to Be, the band has spent their fair share of time in airports across the country. It was on one of these otherwise-standard visits that Richardson had an unlikely encounter; bumping into none other than legendary Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly.
For those uninitiated, Luca Brasi appeared on triple j’s Like a Version segment on the Matt & Alex breakfast show last year; performing Kelly’s own unofficial Australian Christmas carol, How to Make Gravy. It captured the hearts of the listening audience, and has since gone on to be the single most requested song at any Brasi show. When faced with the real deal, however, Richardson was understandably nervous. “I could barely talk to him,” he says with a laugh.
“All I really got to do was mumble something to him and shake his hand, all the while trying not to look like an idiot. I came back to the rest of the guys and told them what had happened, and they all asked the exact same thing: ‘Well, what did he think of the cover?’ I told them that I couldn’t even think to ask what he thought – they called me a bloody idiot. What I want is for someone to find out for us. We’ll send someone in and see what he really thinks, not just trying to be nice or anything like that. Someday.”
Words by David James Young
Image by Ian Laidlaw