Editor's note: This is the first in a series of bi-monthly interviews highlighting Austin's creative community. For our first subject, we reached out to musician Walker Lukens whose new album, Tell It to the Judge, was released on September 22, 2017.
According to the press, Walker Lukens is on the brink of stardom. In fact, he's been on the brink of stardom for years. Earlier this month, it was Texas Monthly declaring him one of the top eight up-and-coming acts. Last year, it was NPR, and the year before that was Austin Monthly. (To be fair, I also joined the chorus with a piece in 2015.) And after rave reviews for his latest album, Tell it to the Judge, and appearances at this year's Bonnaroo, Firefly, and Austin City Limits music festivals, we'll likely see a whole new batch of articles about Lukens' impending super stardom.
But when Lukens hits the big time (and we do think it's a matter of when), it will be due in part to a little bit of luck and an incredible amount of work. Since 2013, Lukens has released two full-length albums and two EPs, played countless festivals, produced four music videos, and maintained a touring schedule so aggressive that the only thing he can equate it to is being an amateur boxer. ("You have no idea what were getting into, so you have to prepare like each night is the most important one," says the singer.) His latest tour, which kicks off on Saturday, October 28, at the Historic Scoot Inn, has Lukens and his backing band, The Side Arms, playing 20 cities in as many days.
But, says, Lukens, this is the path he has chosen. "I decided a long time ago that this is my life’s work," he says. "We still have to win people over ... every night can be very very different when you’re [at this level]. I'd much rather find meaning in it rather than find another job."
What does success look like to you? I would love to go on vacation with [my girlfriend] Mckenzie and not worry about money when I get back.
Life goal in three words: Love your fate.
What was the last test you had to take: I took an ethics test to work for Anthropologie in the stockroom. I failed the test.
Other than Austin, favorite city to play: Hot Springs Arkansas.
What was your AIM screen name growing up? From ages 16 to 17, it was "shagnwgnWL." (Editor's note: It's pronounced, "shaggin' wagon.")
What's your comfort meal: Mac and cheese, the cheap kind. No milk, just substitute more butter.
Last book you read: James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time.
Deep Eddy or Barton Springs: Definitely Barton Springs.
Next big thing to come out of Austin: Aw shucks, I hope it’s me.
Do you have a question to add to this list? What is your greatest extravagance?