INTERVIEW: Luke Dick of Republican Hair
“The Prince and The Duke” slated for release on July 14 by Nashville, Tennessee’s new wave pop band Republican Hair pays homage to two legends: “It is not only musically inspired by its namesakes, but lyrically centered around their lives and deaths.” The first single, “Miss Prince” will be released Prince’s birthday, June 7. The second single, “Constellation” is “a melodic reflection on David Bowie’s legacy and the lightning bolt-shaped constellation named for him posthumously.” Republican Hair is a side project from songwriter, filmmaker and “renaissance man” Luke Dick. Recently SoCalMusicToday spoke to Luke about this intriguing and exciting new project that is incredibly timely and relevant as the music of Prince and David Bowie will continue to endure and influence current and new generations of music listeners and artists following in their wake. Luke spoke eloquently on his thoughts and observations about Prince and David Bowie reflecting on his take about their importance in music and their legacy as well as offering raw, funny, offbeat and amusing asides.
What makes The Prince and The Duke an original homage to both legendary artists (Prince & David Bowie)?
Every artist feels like their work is original. That kind of naiveté or delusion comes with the territory–it may be essential to being an artist at all. I’m not quite sure how to codify originality, but I can say that I felt inspired when I worked on this project, and even sitting back months later, it feels like it has a bit of the spirit of the Prince and the Duke. I love listening to it. I love playing it. It has a joy and a quirk that is my lens to these two artists–for whatever that’s worth.
How long has this project been in the making and was it the death of both artists that spurred this concept?
It started the January that Bowie died. I read a bit about a constellation being named after Bowie, and I thought that was a sweet and appropriate gesture. Then I got the idea for the lyric of singing to this androgynous constellation–wishing and meditating on a set of stars that had a life and a personality. When Prince went, I had the title “Miss Prince” a month or so after–just knowing that no one would ever come close to that kind of presence in music. After writing that, I’d noticed that a few other songs kinda felt similarly, like I’d been planning the record all along. So, I had a serendipitous short record roughly a year after Bowie died, without consciously planning it.
How do you balance the somberness of losing both artists with something joyful, celebratory, uplifting and fun?
Bowie already did a great job of somber with “Lazarus” and Blackstar and No Plan. Those are real gifts from the other side. I didn’t really think about the emotional approach in regards to the entire project or as a thematic approach to death. I just had ideas for songs–one song (“Constellation”) that was a fan speaking to a star in the sky. And another song (“Miss Prince”) that’s simply a song telling all bands and maybe even telling all people: I may love you, I may want to sleep with you, but I’ll never miss you like I miss Prince. The remaining songs on the record are explorations with hints of Bowie or Prince–all of them are meant as stand-alones you should be able to just fucking jam to.
What was Prince and David Bowie’s influence on you as an artist and making music?
I’ve made all manner of music. Prince was always an oddity to me growing up, kind of like the Eurythmics or Annie Lennox or Grace Jones. I didn’t really understand them; they were androgynous forces of nature, but I’ve really grown to appreciate the musical genius of both. My wife got me into Bowie, she’s generally cooler than I am. There’s just something in his music that isn’t obvious–but there are the hits, and then there are the many worlds he built. Anyone creative (with half a brain) can see the real genius in the ability to attempt to build a world.
What did you find most interesting and unique about both artists from a perspective of being a musician yourself?
Sure, Bowie was built on this notion of oddity. But what I really loved about him was his self-awareness. He’s an artist. He’s a shape shifter. He’s an entertainer–but he’s really a human who feels a little weird on earth. That kind of discernment I identify with when I’m pouring my cereal and wondering what it’s all about. I mean, there goes the sun burning out, and I’m worried about a record. That’s a weird dichotomy, ya know? Prince seems to be this myth within a myth–from his first public performance. He’s as inventive a contributor to pop music as there’s ever been. What’s more fun about Prince is the utter inability to distinguish between persona and person, probably because there isn’t much of one. You wear a purple suit for the majority of your life, and that’s just you. Pretty sure he invented sex, hairdos, and the color purple. He may as well be from Pluto, and I love that there are people out there. And I love that all us normies gravitate to someone like Prince. If we saw someone like him at Target, we’d make fun of him (even though Prince never shops at Target). But the truth is, we clearly need people like this for some reason.
What do you want your fans to take away from this project and feel listening to this EP?
I can keep rattling about concept, but all I’ve ever wanted is for people to put this in and say “Fuck yes.”
Will you and the band be dressing up in homage to Prince and David Bowie based on their various stylistic incarnations on this brief tour? Will the band be doing any covers or obscurities?
I’m working up a cover of “Let’s Dance” and maybe “Kiss”, but I never wanted this to be “tribute-y”. It’s not a gimmick– I love these people and I was inspired, so I did it. No costumes, just a little art, and a banging band to help you forget that the sun is exploding. Enjoy.
Republican Hair will open for Wheeler Walker Jr. at the Troubadour on June 8th.