After gaining major international success as the breakout star and winner of 2006’s Rock Star Supernova, Lukas Rossi was a rising star, destined for great things in the music industry as the frontman for a supergroup that was to include drummer Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns N’ Roses), and Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica, Newsted).
As so often happens in the music industry, the supergroup never really found the longevity expected following a smash-hit reality show, and after a platinum album and a world-wide tour, the members went their separate ways. Since that time, Lukas has kept himself busy in the music industry, building his own studio where he continues to record new material. He has since gone on to record with a list of top-level musicians, while starting a family with his wife Kendra.
While things may not have worked out as planned for Rock Star Supernova, Lukas continues to redefine himself through his music, continuously finding success more than a decade later. Recently, he took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us at The Oshawa Times.
TIMES: Let’s start by taking everyone back to where you first grabbed international attention, as you competed on, and eventually won, Rock Star: Supernova in 2006. Clearly, that win changed the trajectory of your career. Other than your original song, “Headspin”, looking back, do you have a performance that was your favourite on that show?
LUKAS: Absolutely. “Fix You”, because I remember, about an hour before I was supposed to perform, I hadn’t seen my father in years, we just kind of went our separate ways, and I found out that he went blind because of diabetes, and it really shook me, to say the least. Looking back on that performance now, I’m literally crying at the end, it was very emotional, and that song, a Coldplay song, it’s a wonderful song, and I think it was very pertinent and important, and meant to be, I guess. Unfortunately meant to be.
TIMES: When you won the show, the plan was for you to become the lead singer of that supergroup, but it never really took off to become the commercial success that the show was. Where do you think things went wrong with the Rock Star Supernova?
LUKAS: Actually, things really didn’t ‘go wrong’, it was a commercial success, I have a few platinum records on my wall, you know, so I’m very grateful for that, and we toured the world. We didn’t spend too much time in Canada, unfortunately. I think the reason that it stopped was that I wanted to pursue my solo stuff, and the guys were, they’ve had some lengthy careers, and I was just getting started and super-hungry to do all these innovative and different things, and experimenting with different sounds, and I think we just had a difference in song choices and direction. We’re still very good friends, especially me and Tommy, I mean, we’re doing stuff together as we speak, we’re about to put out another record, so I think it was just a sign of the times, you know?
TIMES: That ties into our next question, being do you still communicate with any of the guys from the band, or from the show?
LUKAS: Yeah, I still speak with Toby every now and then, and Tommy mostly. Tommy and I are very close, and always have been. I’m sure you could see that during the show, we were almost like kindred spirits, it was like he was my big brother, that’s never really changed. We’re still rockin’, man, so stay tuned, you’ll be hearing some new, very different music. Nothing like Supernova, but very emotional stuff.
TIMES: Do you consider that band over now, or is there still a chance we may hear more from Rock Star Supernova at some point in the future?
LUKAS: That, no, it would definitely just be me and Tommy, and “special guests”. Me and Tommy were kind of, I guess you could say the ‘brains’ behind all that, and it looked as if we were at the forefront of it. We were always a little different, there’s always a few guys in the band who are, you know, tighter than the other dudes, unfortunately, but that’s kind of the way the ball bounces in that kind of a scenario.
TIMES: Okay, you’ve certainly kept yourself busy since all of that went down. A few years ago, you teamed up with Ben Moody, formerly of Evanescence, and formed The Halo Method. How did that all come together?
LUKAS: Well, there’s an awesome little one-week tour that I go on every year called “ShipRocked”, and the owner of the boat/cruise is a good friend of mine. Dave Buckner (former drummer, Papa Roach) was on it first, and he asked Dave, ‘Hey man, if you know a few guys you wanna join forces with, you can play some tunes, and you guys can play on the boat’, and Dave was like ‘I got the perfect guy’, and he called me up, me and Dave Buckner are really good friends. Shortly thereafter, he hit up Ben Moody, and we all really gelled, and we wrote some really incredible music. We played our debut show on there, and really, really hit a note with our fans. I think it was more of an experimental thing, I love writing music with talented people, and whatever it becomes it becomes. I think the most important thing is the message in the music, not the name of the band or who you’re working with. There’s either magic or there isn’t. We found that spark, and we recorded a bunch of amazing songs, and we played ShipRocked, and it was killer!
TIMES: Are there any plans to work with Ben, or work with The Halo Method in the future?
LUKAS: Yea, me and Ben are always writing together. Ben just had a couple of wee ones, little babies, so that always comes first. What can you write music about if not for the love of family and friends, you know what I mean?
TIMES: More recently, word spread last year that you were working with Neil Sanderson of Three Days Grace on a project titled ‘King City’, and you released a song, “Neurotic”. What can you tell us about that?
LUKAS: My life in music has been like a giant mix-tape, and that’s what’s wonderful about music. You can do different things, and I guess sometimes you gotta put a title on it for people to differentiate what you’re getting at. Neil and I have known each other since before Three Days Grace were signed to their deal, and that was like twenty years ago or something like that. From what he said, he’s always wanted to work with me, and we both found a time where we wanted to put out something different, something very electronic and out there, where we could be ourselves without any record label saying ‘you should do this and that’. It gave us a sense of freedom, and we just wanted to do something for the fans, the crazy fuckers out there who just want to listen to music. There’s been a hole in music, you know, the posters on the wall days, the angst days, and that should still exist with every human being in the world. Music has been that outlet, you know, where ‘I don’t have to do anything, I could just put my headphones on and disappear for three and a half minutes’. And that’s what we did.
TIMES: On a personal level, I know that you and your wife Kendra adopted a son a couple of years ago, Bryden. Has being a husband and father changed your views on the music business, and how you go about writing and recording?
LUKAS: I guess the content has become a lot more focused. I’m a lot more aware about the youth of the nation, you know, where I came from and where my son is going. I try and write lyrics that are real. I don’t think people have time, there’s so much material out there, everybody with a laptop and an attitude thinks they’re a producer, or a songwriter, or an artist. I just like to stay true to what the youth is going to do in the future, because when we’re not around, they’re taking over. The last thing we want to leave behind is bull-shit, you know? Music has always been a source of protest, or the voice of the people when they can’t have a voice. When you have that microphone, you gotta lay down that real shit, you can’t sit back and think ‘oh, I’m a rock star, I can write anything and people will love it’. That’s a hoax and not true. So yes, I think I’ve become a more centered and focused person with my writing because of my son and my family.
TIMES: I rank your version of Adele’s “Hello” right up alongside the original, and you can really hear the passion in your voice when you recorded that song, which went viral on the internet. How did that cover come to happen, was there a lot of planning involved, or did it just happen spontaneously?
LUKAS: It was very spontaneous. My wife had been listening to that record for like a month or so, I’d hear her in the bathroom, doing her hair or whatever, and listening to this song. I’m like ‘this song, it’s a great song, but I just hear it different’. She was like, ‘you should record it the way you would do it, babe’. We literally went in the studio, I went in the vocal booth and she sat behind the pro tools, and she recorded my voice. We did it in like, two hours, and we called our friend over, we recorded a video with it, and we had a good time with it, you know, the way music should be. We never expected, it wasn’t like ‘oh, this song is a hit song, let’s jump on the coat tails’, it was just an organically fun thing. We had a couple of beers, in L.A. by the pool, because the studio is right there beside the pool, and I just remember thinking ‘What a wonderful life, to get to do music’. And then we dropped it, just for fun, and all of a sudden these numbers in a month went from like one play to 1.8 million plays, and we were like ‘What?’
TIMES: Lastly, you come to town here in Oshawa at the end of the month. What should those attending your show expect when Lukas Rossi comes back?
LUKAS: To be honest, man, to get away from their life for a couple of hours, and take a look into mine. There’s a lot that musicians hold inside, it sounds a little cliché, but artists are tortured in a way, we see things, hear things, and deliver things differently than other people. The only time we really get to vent, or get that off, is for people listening, for the people who want to listen. When I go up on stage, the last thing I want to do is count how many people are in the room, or count the tickets sold, it’s not about that. I want to count the people, hopefully crying or feeling something that I’ve felt in my life that made me cry, or made me angry, or made me happy. If I can do that to one person, then I’m a winner.
Now 40 years old, Lukas shows no signs of wanting to slow down anytime soon, and as long as he continues to record great songs that resonate with his audience, he’ll continue to adapt to the ever-changing music industry.
Lukas Rossi will play three shows in Ontario at the end of April, wrapping up when he comes to Oshawa on April 29, playing at The Music Hall Nightclub & Concert Theatre on King Street East. Tickets for that show are $20 and can be purchased at Ticketweb. For more information about Lukas, check out his website at lukasrossi.com.
FEATURED PHOTO: A decade after winning Rock Star: Supernova, Lukas Rossi is still hard at work in the music business, balancing his career with a new family. (Photo: Lukas Rossi)
Anthony Nicholson is the Managing Editor of The Oshawa Times, and will be covering the Oshawa Generals in addition to various events around Durham. Anthony has covered the OHL since 2008 as Sports & Entertainment Editor for the N24 News Network and is the former colour commentator for Generals radio broadcasts. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.