Lukas JP is hard to really understand. He speaks quickly, uses bigger words than necessary and often jumps from point A to point B without any clear-cut connectors. He’s difficult to pin down and can be quick to get down to brass tacks. Despite this, you want to talk to Lukas. It’s not just that he is the frontman for a cool band; it’s because he is clever and charismatic.
He is passionate and motivated, particularly about music – his music. While he plays for the touring cover band Candiflyp, Lukas is also the songwriter for Nomad Clientele, a band formed right here in West Chester. Their sound is a mashup of reggae and rock. The best way to describe the music is to say that if Sublime had been a little more rock, they might have sounded a lot like the music Lukas writes.
The band is set to debut their second album at the end of this month, but as loyal fans of The WC we’re giving you advanced access to two of their new tracks: Serenity and Pressure (click to listen). We caught up with Lukas to talk about life and music ahead of their show and release party at The Note on Saturday, August 27.
“The Electric Factory was sick. It was one of those huge moments where you stop and
go, ‘This is awesome,’” says Lukas JP of playing their biggest venue to date.
Name: Do you need my real name? When I’m on stage I usually just go by Lukas JP.
Age: I’m 25.
Where are you from? Originally I’m from Lancaster County in a town called Nickel Mines. It’s way out in Amish country. Actually, it is where the Amish school shooting took place five years ago.
How about the rest of the band? Ryan Estrada, you can call him Jenke, is from everywhere. He was born in California, moved around a couple of times and ended up in Horsham, PA. Larry Everett, we call him The Force, is from West Chester. Bob Lepor grew up in Cape May and Dave Wardon is also from Jersey.
What brought you to West Chester? I came here for school. I’m actually in the process of getting my master’s in communications right now.
How long have you been playing together? It has been about a year that we have been playing together as Nomad Clientele and I have been playing with Candiflyp for three years now. Candiflyp has been around for like 10 or 15 years, and Ryan and Larry brought me in to play guitar. I had been playing solo acoustic stuff around town, and was actually hosting open mic night at Kildare’s when I met Ryan. I was playing reggae stuff, and Ryan told me they were taking the band a new direction and wanted to try some reggae stuff. I had just graduated from college and figured, “Why not sell my soul and play for a cover band?”
What’s your roll with Candiflyp? Right now I’m rotating in and playing whatever instrument needs to be played that night.
So what instruments do you play? My first instrument was actually the violin, back in third grade. Then when I got into middle school I started playing the drums. My grandfather was actually a professional drummer back in the ’40s, and I learned how to play on his old set. Once I started playing the drums I knew I wouldn’t be happy doing anything but playing music. Later, when I was maybe in high school, I started playing the guitar so that I would have something to play the drums along to.
Did you ever really study music, or did you just happen into it? No. I studied. I took violin at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music. Plus, I took drum lessons from a guy out in Lancaster named Paul Murr. I never had many guitar lessons, but I took them.
So really you’re playing covers to fund your original stuff? Yeah. It’s like a necessary evil. A lot of the early jazz musicians, like real good old jazz, were people who would like play in Duke Ellington’s band during the day, then afterwards stop in these seedy spots and play the music they loved, which became jazz. You gotta give people what they want to hear, then I use that money to pay the bills, pay the rent, and pay for Nomad Clientele’s stuff.
Tell me about your new record. Well, our first record was more straight reggae, and we dabbled in a little punk and rock, but it was still more just reggae. This record is more rock than anything, but we call it skank rock. Skanking is what gives reggae its unique sound, and where a lot of rock groups play these standard, boring arpeggios. So, instead of playing the same stupid stuff everyone else is playing, we’re skanking over those intervals. It’s skank rock and that’s really the only way to describe it. I played all the instruments that you hear on the new record.
So, is Nomad Clientele just you, or is it all the guys from Candiflyp? Candiflyp has been around so long, and the lineup is constantly changing. Nomad Clientele is basically the guys from Candiflyp of two years ago plus Dave. Actually, that’s where the name originally came from for Nomad Clientele. I thought it would just be me playing and the rest of the band would change and rotate in and out, but the guys who were in it from the beginning are still with us today.
But the music is all yours? Well, the process is mostly that I do the writing, but then I give the ideas back to the guys and they kinda tweak it, but for the most part I’m doing it. Really, what it comes down to is that I recorded everything because we didn’t have time to get everyone in there. Everybody in the band is really busy, so it is hard to find the time to get everyone in the studio together.
Lyrically, where do you find your inspiration when writing? I think it is like a renaissance of like ’70s – no, not ’70s because that makes you think hippy. It’s a renaissance of early ’90s music with a lot of allusion and metaphor. I like using allusion a lot, because it is like a lot of Eastern philosophy – they don’t tell you directly but rather allow you to interpret it for yourself. I think it’s really cool when people come up to me at a show and tell me what they think it’s about, even if that’s not what I meant.
What do you write about? I don’t usually write about women like a lot of people – actually, I have never written a song about a woman. I like to write about issues, but not like politics. I mean issues that you come across in real life, like the disparity between being stuck in reality but wanting to be somewhere else. There is a song on this album called “Release,” and I paint that idea of being stuck by sitting up on my roof where my dad is really sick inside, but I can look out across all that is out there.
Do you think this new record is going to change things for Nomad Clientele? Absolutely. I think we have really found our sound. For the past year we have really just been messing around, trying out new things. Now, we have created a situation where we are not trying to do anything. It’s a new sound, so we’re not trying to sound like anything, and it’s like whatever happens happens, because our minds are devoid of expectations. It’s great to be in a place where what you’re playing is truly yours.
At our live shows the record acts mostly as a map, so we know where we are and where we’re going. That way everyone can tweak the sound; we can wail and not have to worry.
Where do you guys play? We play mostly in this area. We play The Note pretty frequently because it’s our hometown venue. We have played Dobbs on South Street in Philly or The Grape Room in Manayunk. The biggest venue we have ever played was the Electric Factory.
What was that like? The Electric Factory was sick. It was one of those huge moments where you stop and go, “This is awesome.” I have seen so many shows at the Electric Factory, and to be up on that stage, playing to the audience was amazing.
Are you playing a show in West Chester any time soon? We are playing at The Note on August 27. It is the last Saturday of the summer – or at least the last Saturday of August. It’s also going to be the release of our EP. This show will be like turning the stone for us. We have been kind of dribbling about this first year, but now we have our sound, we have a lot more shows coming up, and we’re really excited.
Don’t miss Nomad Clientele’s upcoming show and record release party
at The Note on Saturday, August 27.