This week Luke Leighfield begins his Christmas tour, however this isn't your typical tour. For the 15-date trek, Luke will (mostly) be playing in people's living rooms and generally getting in the festive spirit.
Alter The Press! recently caught up with piano-playing singer-songwriter to discuss the tour, his future plans, tour essentials and the race for Christmas Number 1.
Alter The Press: First of all Luke, How has 2010 treated you?
Luke Leighfield: It's been good! It kind of feels like it's been slow in terms of Luke Leighfield music stuff because I haven't played as many gigs as previous years, but I've done some cool things like a tour with Jose Vanders and Sam Little, playing main stage at Greenbelt Festival in the summer, a tour of Russia, and I've also written my new album which I'm hoping to record in early 2011. On top of that I've played keys for The King Blues, Futures, Dry the River, Tellison and The Cape Race for various recordings and tours, released a few things on my label Got Got Need Records, and I got engaged to a beautiful lady! So yeah, 2010 has been tip top.
ATP: You're ending the year on tour but instead of mostly playing venues, you're playing round peoples house. What is the reason for this?
LL: I've done a few living room tours before and a couple of people emailed me around the same time asking if I'd play at their house in December. I thought it'd be fun to end the year with a small tour so I put the word out on Facebook and Twitter and next thing I know, a few dates have developed into a two-week tour! It's just a great way to get out and play to people in my opinion. It doesn't have to be booked months in advance like a regular tour, it's fun, it's intimate. It'll be a great opportunity to try out some of the new songs I've written, eat minced pies, drink mulled wine, and spend two weeks in a car with my best buddy and photographer Tom Price.
ATP: Because this tour is a bit different, how did it come together?
LL: A couple of gigs were already booked, then a couple of house shows got slotted in, then I kind of filled in the blanks. It's great, though - we're going as far south as Worthing (near Brighton) and as far north as Edinburgh. I can't wait.
ATP: For those attending these Christmas shows, what can they expect? Any Christmas covers?
LL: Yeah, I'm hoping to learn a few Christmas covers to break the ice a bit. The tour starts in four days so I should probably get started!
ATP: What are your tour essentials? Will you be taking something specific because of the winter weather?
LL: Funny you should ask. I actually bought a wearable sleeping bag especially for the tour (see musucbag.com) because Groupon did a special offer where you could buy one for £35 instead of £90. If it gets really chilly then I can drive in it because it has zips for your hands to come out. A seriously useful bit of kit.
Aside from that it should be pretty smooth sailing - I'm playing in living rooms after all, not cold dingy venues. I thought that one through!
ATP: Overall why should people come to these shows?
LL: Because their mates tell them? I don't know, I guess just because it's going to be fun! You don't have to traipse into town to go to a cold venue. You can sit down to listen to music (I'm getting old and I really appreciate a sit down gig nowadays). You can buy a four pack of Carlsberg on the way to your mate's house for £4 instead of buying four pints for £12 at a venue (that's a saving of £8 and one has to be frugal in these tough economic times). I'm going to play some half-decent songs. There are going to be minced pies. The reasons are too many to count.
ATP: Along with the tour, you're re-releasing your Christmas single, 'I'm So Confused By Christmas'. Tell us what the single is about and how it came together?
LL: It's not strictly a re-release, it's just that I released it in 2006 and I tell people about it every Christmas because I haven't managed to write a new Christmas song yet! Maybe I'll do one next year for the 5th anniversary of the original.
The song is just an attempt to get people to look at the bigger picture at Christmas. I think we all get caught up in spending loads of money on crap that no-one actually needs when there are people freezing and starving on our streets, even in an affluent place like the UK. The song also takes a dig at people who make their token charitable donation at Christmas, because it makes them feel good to do that kind of thing at Christmas, when we really need to be thinking about these issues all year, not just when there's a bit of snow. I'm not claiming to be perfect and I don't want to come across as righteous or preachy in the song, but I just hope that it encourages a few people to look a bit deeper and really think about people in need this Christmas.
ATP: Speaking of Christmas songs. What are your favourites?
LL: I think my favourite carol is 'In the Bleak Midwinter'. It's a cracker. I don't really have any favourite Christmas songs, but I always get my Mariah Carey and Christian Aguilera Christmas CDs on in the car - no-one does it quite as well as those girls in my opinion.
ATP: In the UK the race for the Christmas No.1 single is annually a big deal but in recent years have been spoilt by reality TV show, X-Factor. Do you think the Christmas No.1 is still a big deal?
LL: I really couldn't care less about the Christmas No. 1. I guess it gives people an excuse to make yet more annoying groups on Facebook though.
ATP: What are is your tip for Christmas No.1? Are you backing any internet campaigns?
LL: I guess the winner will be whoever has the prettiest face or biggest boobs on X-Factor, right? Or maybe it'll be a novelty song by an irritating comedian. We'll see!
ATP: What do you have planned for 2011? More touring? New material?
LL: Yep, like I mentioned earlier I'll be recording my new album at the start of the year, and hopefully releasing it soon after. There's a tour of Germany pencilled in for the spring, and I'm playing keys for Futures on their UK tour in February and March, but apart from that I'm wide open. I'd like to do a full band tour of the UK at some point because it's been a while since I've done one of those
ATP: Is there anything else you'd like to say?
LL: Just that my new album 'Have You Got Heart?' and my Christmas single can both be downloaded for free/pay-what-you-want at lukeleighfield.bandcamp.com. And thanks to ATP for your continued support and love - I really appreciate it!
''Have You Got Heart?' and 'I'm So Confused By Christmas' by Luke Leighfield is available now through Bandcamp.
Luke Leighfield's Christmas Living Room tour starts this week.
7 Sophie's House, Southampton
8 The Emersons' House, Southampton
9 Simon's House, Wisbech
10 Tom's House, Norwich
11 Aileen's House, Cambridge
12 Grant's House, Aberdeen
13 Vairi's House, Edinburg
14 Henry's House, Middlesbrough
15 Rob's House, Preston
16 Oliver's House, Lancaster
18 The Peel, Kingston
19 Holy Trinity Hazlemere, High Wycombe
20 Hannah's House, Southampton
21 Robin's House, Worthing
22 Emma's House, Sheffield