Take Five: Nick Lutsko

Authored By pitulah

Nick Lutsko. (Photo: Harris Oates)

Sometimes, change is a good thing. Often, that change comes about through the shifting perspective of time-or maybe you just want to hear something different. Whatever the reason, Chattanooga singer-songwriter Nick Lutsko had something of a rhythmic recalibration when he went into the studio to record his latest record, “Etc.” Formerly treading through a particularly rustic, folk-centric landscape, his focus shifted a good deal when the album first began to take shape. He dropped the loosely woven acousticism and adopted a denser, more volatile musical timbre.

With the release of “Etc.” March 17, Lutsko is finally able to realize a sound that has been echoing in his head for years; his previous record, “Heart of Mold,” was very much indebted to the sounds of folk music. But this one feels limitless, not hampered by any preconceived notions or expectations. Thudding drums rattle your chest, serpentine bass lines slither through your veins, and ecstatic guitar riffs zip from neuron to neuron in a series of rhythmic jolts to your nervous system.

Recently, Lutsko answered some questions for Nooga.com’s Take Five feature, where we pose five specific questions to bands to get a better understanding of their own inspirations, to see what really drives them to create. From seeing Blink-182 and Cypress Hill in concert to obsessing over “The White Album” by The Beatles, Lutsko maps out a good chunk of his influences and lets us see how these musicians tempered his own musical evolution.

Lutsko will be playing a record release party for “Etc.” at JJ’s Bohemia April 10. Our conversation is below.

What was the first record you ever bought, and why?

I wish I had a better answer, but it’s probably something like Chumbawumba. One of the least embarrassing early buys was “Pork Soda” by Primus in seventh grade. It was in a $5 bin at F.Y.E. (R.I.P.). Years earlier, a giant book of CDs mysteriously appeared in the street in front of my cousin’s house. “Sailing the Seas of Cheese” was one of those CDs, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I remember buying “Pork Soda” just to show my friends how “out there” Primus was. I didn’t anticipate it being so dark, and it genuinely disturbed me at the time. They ended up becoming one of my favorite bands, though. I think I’ve seen them more than any other artist. 

What was the first music concert you ever attended?

My brother and I dragged my dad to see Blink-182 and Cypress Hill when I was 13-which reminds me, I need to apologize to my dad. 

If you had to choose, what would you consider to be the album that has influenced you the most? 

The Beatles (“The White Album”) come to mind. I was waning off my prepubescent pop punk phase when I bought it. Up until then, I had only listened to The Beatles’ greatest hits (“1”). “White Album” has such a wide array of styles and emotions. It covers so much ground and challenges the listener to keep up. That helped set me on the path I’m trekking, and it still inspires me to this day. 

Was there any one thing that led you to start writing and recording music?

I’ve been all about music for as long as I can remember. My dad plays a little, so I grew up with guitars around the house. I got my own in fourth grade. I wrote a song called “Chinese Man” in fifth grade, and my teacher assembled all of the fifth-grade students and teachers to the cafeteria for me to perform (looking back, the song was kind of offensive and probably shouldn’t have been encouraged by adults). Around that time, I hooked up with a buddy who was learning to play drums. We recorded hundreds of “songs” between fifth and seventh grades. The writing process consisted of me pressing the record button on Windows 98 Sound Recorder and then banging on our instruments while I made up lyrics off the top of my head. But to answer your question more specifically, the “one thing” that led me to this was my urge to be a famous rock star. But that mentality has transformed over time. At this point, I would be thrilled just to make a living doing what I love. Writing, recording, performing-they’re my favorite things in the world. And I’m not especially good at much else.

What album(s) have you been listening to lately?

I bounce between a lot of different records, but these are a few that I’ve returned to on a semi-regular basis over the past year: “Mule Variations” by Tom Waits, “SMiLE” by Beach Boys, “Freeman” by Freeman, “Music from The Adventures of Pete & Pete” by Polaris and “Guero” by Beck. 

Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on FacebookTwitter or by emailThe opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.