Feelin’ Lucky: An Interview with Lucky Costello
In just a little under a week, Purple Hatters Ball will be among us at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, and festival-goers from all over will come together dressed head-to-toe in funky purple threads for a weekend dedicated to the memory of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman. With the festival right around the corner, I was grateful to find time to speak with Gerry Raimondo (guitar) and Wil Begley (keyboard) of Lucky Costello, who have been hustling and preparing for their upcoming PHB performance in between crushing it at their recent tour stops.
Sensible Reason: First question – how would you describe the sound of LC? Is there a genre that resonates with you guys particularly, or is it more of a combination of genres?
Gerry Raimondo: Organic Electro Fusion is what we came up with. I think it sums up what we do. Definitely a combination of genres.
Wil Begley: I think you could sum it up as that, but with more improvisation.
SR: What/who inspired you to define your sound to create what you call Organic Electro Fusion?
WB: Santana’s one of my favorite bands, they have this album called Abraxas that does such a good job of molding all the tracks together. But no one does it better than the Biscuits.
GR: I spent the first twenty years of my life listening to classic/progressive rock, and then the last few really diving into electronic music and hip hop. Lucky definitely indulges both sides of my music taste.
SR: You guys have performed at PHB in the past, and at numerous other SOSMP festivals. What’s one of your fondest memories from jamming at Suwannee?
GR: Our first Bear Creek was one of my favorite Lucky Costello moments. I’ve been to every Bear Creek since its inception, playing at that fest was a dream come true.
WB: I would say that the last show at Blackwater 2014 was my favorite time there. There were only about 25-50 people in the crowd at the beginning of the show, and then the entire festival just showed up when I had my head down playing piano. I looked up and panicked for a second, and then we played one of our best shows ever. Reggae kids didn’t know what to do with themselves, haha, just kidding.
GR: Yeah, Blackwater was great, that crowd was rowdy. Nothing like the last show at a festival, nobody want to go home, everyone parties hard.
SR: I support that statement 100%, everybody has to get that last bit of boogie out of them. You recently played a set at Aura Music and Arts Festival as well – along with the Biscuits, moe. and other huge headliners. How did it feel to be playing at the same festival as one of your all-time favorite bands, the Biscuits?
GR: It was amazing, all the adrenaline of playing a big show and then immediately it felt like we we’re on vacation. We barely had enough time to make a Bisco Bingo board.
WB: Just playing Aura is sick because of all the amazing bands that are there. Playing SOSMP is amazing as well. But that day getting to play a show that rocked and then getting off work and going to see the biscuits for dessert was unbeatable. Best day ever.
SR: Not to stray from the subject too much, but you mentioned a Bisco Bingo board….what’s that all about? And yes, Biscuits for dessert. I dig it.
WB: It’s bingo with the song names of the biscuits. You usually do it over a 3-day run so you have a better chance of winning. When they play a song, you cross it off your board, first one to get five in a row wins.
SR: I’ll have to try it out at the next Biscuits run I find myself at. And speaking of your new bassist, I’ve noticed that Lucky has undergone some other minor changes recently, including the loss of your former drummer. How have things changed regarding your music with the addition of Jeff, your bassist and the other changes that you dealt with as a group?
WB: I still consider myself a bassist. A left-handed one at that. Jeff’s just better at it. Having Jeff playing bass really frees me up to do a ton of more stuff. As soon as he joined, it was a night and day difference with the band.
GR: Adding Jeff was a huge leap forward for the band. He definitely adds a new layer to what we do. The drummer change was tough but it’s been really great seeing how the songs adapt to new drumming styles. We’ve been playing with our good friend Ryan Tinney of Lumagrove behind the kit recently and it’s amazing how a few overlooked tracks shine given a new perspective.
WB: Well put.
SR: Will Ryan be performing with you all at PHB?
WB: Hell yeah! It’s his last show with us before he moves to Denver to follow his new career as a herbologist. Seriously though, that guy is super committed to music. I can’t believe how hard he worked to learn all of our songs so quickly and stick with our insane practice schedule and tour for the past three months.
SR: Well, surely he’s going to go out with a bang and you guys are gonna do it big, so I’m pretty ecstatic to witness that. And yeah, it is incredibly commendable to be able to adjust that quickly with the band and such a unique sound, props to him. What has your tour been like the last couple of months?
WB: We’ve been practicing 3-4 times a week to get up to par with the new drummer. Mainly playing 2-3 day weekend tours booked pretty much every week since February. Every time we come home to a show, the crowd keeps getting bigger.
GR: It’s been a lot of fun, some new venues and some of my favorites. I love touring. As long as we have shows lined up, I’m a happy guy.
SR: Sounds like you guys are killing it. What have been a couple of your favorite shows/venues thus far?
WB: Dunedin Brewery is honestly heaven on earth. We also played a silent disco for the first time ever at Lil Econ Love Festival and it was actually really awesome, I wanna do that again sometime soon.
GR: A few months ago we played Baton Rouge for the first time at Chelsea’s Cafe right after a big LSU win. One of my favorite crowds ever, Louisiana knows how to rage some music. We also had a gig at Martin’s Bar in Roanoke with Brock Butler where we played a few P-Groove tunes, I’m a huge fan so that was a great night for me.
SR: Oh yeah, I definitely remember that silent disco set at Lil’ Econ. Maddox Ranch is a pretty intimate venue from what I saw at Lil’ Econ, but it attracts some amazing artists and talent. Have you guys played there many times in the past?
GR: Yes, we’ve played at Maddox quite a bit. First time that comes to mind was Jam-O-Rama with Dopapod.
WB: Yeah I think that was like our 5th or 6th time playing there. It’s like a tiny mini Suwanee, but we always have a ton of fun out there.
GR: First, or fifth. Somewhere around there.
SR: Who’s keeping track anyway? So you covered some Perpetual Groove tracks at a bar in Roanoke while on your tour, do you guys cover a lot of songs from bands or is P-Groove special in particular?
WB: We are more of a Star Wars cover band than anything. We love p-groove and wanted to play something with Brock in Virginia. He never got to practice with us. He looked so surprised when we nailed every part of that song. Oh yeah, and Michael Jackson covers too!
GR: Lots of Michael Jackson. And a bunch of video game songs. One of my favorites was Sandstorm by Darude. We got into every detail of that one. Classic.
WB: Yeah that’s true, if we cover a song, we like to learn how to play every part of it to the tee.
SR: Would love to see you guys perform the Lucky version of Sandstorm, it’s a classic indeed. But let’s get down to the real business here – tell us about the Star Wars side of Lucky.
GR: Well, on our website you can find The Battle at Bear Creek, which is our Star Wars themed set where we play all of the covers in one big block. We’re all fans, to say the least.
SR: So in other words…..we can expect some Star Wars shenanigans at PHB?
WB: Who knows? Maybe if everyone comes to our show and gives us all their money.
SR: Fair is fair. In that case, shut up and take my money.
SR: Well I appreciate you all for taking time out of your jam-packed (literally) schedules to give an update about the happenings of Lucky.
Be sure to catch LC on the Beach Stage at 3:45 pm on Saturday of PHB. Tickets are still available online and will be for sale upon entrance at the gate as well for $140 plus fees and taxes. Check out Lucky’s music at their official SoundCloud.