Man At Work: Lukas Nelson
Photo by Jim Eckenrode
Lukas Nelson isn’t afraid of sharks.
And even if he was, you get the feeling that there isn’t any way he’d let that fear keep him from surfing almost every day when he is home in Hawaii. That same kind of fearless spirit serves Nelson well as a musician, too.
Those who think that Willie Nelson’s son was born with a free pass to fame clearly don’t know his family or, more important, the figurative sharks in the music business.
Nelson was so determined to make a living from music that he defied his parents and left college in 2008. They, in turn, cut him off financially. He responded by busking on California’s Venice Beach, living out of his car and trying to form a band.
During the next three years, Nelson developed a quartet dubbed Promise of the Real, cut an EP and a full-length album, toured relentlessly and refined his lineup. It was during last year’s tour with his father’s Country Throwdown tour that Nelson began penning songs for what would become the band’s latest album, Wasted.
“You listen to the lyrics of the song [“Wasted”]—which people may or may not do—and it is ironic in a sense that you could definitely party to the song,” says Nelson, who gave up drinking in the wake of the Throwdown tour. “But it is a warning song. I wrote all of the songs when I was wasted. Those songs are about being self-destructive and the dangers [of drinking]. I was wasting my life.”
Plenty of musicians say that they are afraid to get sober because they think vices beckon their muses. Nelson, however, doesn’t share that concern.
“I grow every day and we get better every day,” he says confidently. “I write what I feel. Anytime I have something I want to say, I can sing it better than I can say it.”
Nelson is proudest when he hears people tell him that his music has changed their lives but knows he can’t take full credit. “I realize the music doesn’t come from me,” he says thoughtfully. “It’s coming from a different source. It’s coming from wherever my dad got it from.”
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