Rising: Ten Questions with LA rockers Levara

Ahead of their debut self titled album, out via Mascot on May 14th, LA based rock trio Levara have released a statement of intent in the shape of a new single Automatic. The trio – Trev Lukather, Jules Galli and Josh Devine, came together through chance – singer Galli emigrating from France, and former One Direction drummer Devine relocating from the UK, and they found a kindred spirit in Lukather – song of Toto’s Steve Lukather.

They’ve been building momentum with dates across Europe, and with Lukather seniors gang, and after listening to the slick rock of Automatic – we didn’t want to miss out, so we spoke to the band.

Give us a potted history of Levara?

It all started with a song, about three years ago. Trev (guitarist) and Josh (drummer) were roommates at the time, and wanted to record a heavy rock song just for the fun of it. We were all in separate projects at the time, all very different from a heavy rock vibe. I remember opening the instagram message Trev had sent me asking me if I were interested in writing to their instrumental and if all went well, we’d record it, no strings attached. The first 30 seconds in and I was so impressed by how great it sounded… Next thing you know we were in the studio recording our very first song. We had no band name, no commitment, no pres- sure… It was just awesome music. A few more songs came next and it was clear we needed to do something with this, so we formed the band, at the time under a different name, and an early sound as to what became Levara. We had the opportunity to tour in the states with The Winery Dogs and build up our chops to tour in Europe, opening for Toto, and Foreigner. This tour was such a great chapter for us. We came out of it with a new understanding of what we wanted to do, what we could do as a band. It was a true test and I would like to express our gratitude towards everyone involved in making it possible. Without their European tour, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We went in the studio as soon as we came back to LA and recorded two songs that proved to be a new beginning for us. Our sound had evolved and Mascot Records believed in our ability to deliver a full album. We couldn’t be more proud of what we created, and are so pumped to share it with the world, May 14th. It’s all happened so fast and yet so much has happened in order to get here. This is only the beginning for us!

Who inspired you to start making music?

The thing I love the most about our band is our wide musical influences and how different it is for each member. We all come from different parts of the world, yet somehow found ourselves in the biggest city for music and entertainment. We are still amazed at how lucky we are the have found each other.
On a personal level, my very first musical inspiration was my first concert. I was about 5 years old when my father took me to see our French rockstar Johnny Hallyday. He’s the guy who introduced rock n roll, blues, American music to France, my birthplace. He was our Elvis. I vividly remember being on my father’s shoulders and giving Johnny the thumbs up, when he looked right at me and send it back to me. I was like, “I want to be like him”… This was the jolt of electricity that turned me on for life!

And the one (or maybe two) records that inspired you artistically?

This is a tough one! I feel as though so many are a part of what became my musical vocabu- lary, but the first CD I would listen to on a loop was Jamiroquai’s album, “A Funk Odyssey”. It had the grooves, the melodies, harmonies and danceable energy I love so much. At the time, I didn’t understand English so it was purely melodic. My uncle had gifted it to me for Christmas when I was 8 years old. Who know how important that gift was gonna be!

If you’re trying to explain who you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say?

The best way I can describe it is “Anthemic pop/rock with a modern touch”. I’m honestly the worst at answering this kind of question… Best way to tell what we sound like is to listen to our music.

Tell us about your new track, Automatic?

The latest release is our lead single “Automatic”. The song was born in a green room at a Foreigner show in Germany. We were asked last minute to open for them with an acoustic set, but only had our electric gear with us. We had to rent gear and put together a set that we had never done before. You hear about how great art is created in the face of adversity… well this is it. We came back to LA and finished writing it to record a demo, which got Mascot Records interested in signing us. I don’t know if we would have created this album if it wer- en’t for Automatic. We recorded our album with producer Ethan Kaufmann and mixing en- gineer Will Brier at Elephant In The Room studios in East Hollywood. I know Trev experi- mented with many guitar pedals, some of them unknown to the public, thanks to Fender who provided us with their latest creations! He also used real amps, Bogner’s Shiva is one of them. One cool fact about the recording of this song and album overall, is that the legendary Steve Perry sang background vocals and group vocals with us. That deserves its own story, what an experience…
The song itself is about the magic in a moment, the power of human emotions. They trans- form the mundane into fantasy. We wanted to portray that in our music video, by pairing each emotion to its color. For example, blue is nostalgia, red is anger, purple is sultry etc.

Where can we get hold of it?

You can find Automatic, as well as our previous releases everywhere online. Check out our videos on youtube and save our tunes to your spotify playlist.

Tell us how you write?

Each song is a bit different but we usually start with guitar/vocals and then arrange it togeth- er as a band. I try to let my instincts lead the way when it comes to writing melodies and words. Sometimes the words will come randomly as I sing over Trev’s compositions. I then hang onto some of the words and write the story around it. Some songs start with a concept, like Chameleon, some songs start with a guitar riff, or a hook, some songs start with a full guitar composition from Trev. I like that we don’t have a set formula, I like that inspiration can flow from anywhere. For lyrics, I like to have a clear concept to write to and a vibe provided by Trev’s guitars. I then put a large piece of paper on the wall, grab a bunch of different colored markers and write without reservation. There is something about physically writing words and seeing them, almost animated in front of you while singing the melodies. It’s also much more dynamic and fun and will prevent any writer’s block. It’s also pretty cool to see what it looks like by the time the song is finished. You end up with a song, and a visual art- work! I highly recommend any songwriter to try it.

Tell us about you’re live show? And how much have you been missing it recently

The funny thing is that we have yet to perform live with this new material. We have toured a few times but basically were a different band then, so it’s gonna be interesting to build a live show with new songs that really feel like home. It is also gonna be the first time that we will play shows with an album released to the public, so by then< I hope I will be singing our songs along with the crowd! It’s honestly hard to imagine the feeling of stepping on stage once again, after the lockdowns and overall crisis. I think it’s gonna be incredibly needed, both for the band, and the people. We can’t wait!

What can we expect from you in the near future?

We have a few more singles coming out before our debut album release, May 14th. If you’re into vinyls, I highly recommend you pre-order our light blue, limited edition vinyls coming out for the release. Our packaging is really awesome, and the sound quality is outstanding. Of course, it will be available in CDs and on every major platforms. We had a bunch of tour dates this summer but unfortunately we will have to postpone and be patient, but touring is a very important part of our future. We hope to see you out there, sooner than later.

Tell us your favourite record(s) that’s rocking your head- phones / tour bus / stereo
I really dig the new song “Prisoner” by Dua Lipa and Miley Cyrus, “Madness” by Muse is a classic in my book, and I indulge in some old school Snoop Dog hahaha, especially his tunes produced by The Neptunes.

Thank you so much for having us BackBeat Mafia!!

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