What’s your name and the name of your band…
“I’m Luke Howard and the band is Magnolia. We’re joined by Ben Edgar (lap steel), Daniel Farrugia (drums), Leonard Grigoryan (guitar), Ross Irwin (flugelhorn, harmonica) and Ryan Monro (bass).”
And what do you do in the band?
“As little as possible! I play keyboards.”
Who else have you and your band closely worked with?
“Myself and Len have played together for many years; we’ve both played with his brother, Slava. The others are all mutual friends and colleagues: Ben plays with Washington; Danny and Ross, The Bamboos; and Ross (again) and Ryan, The Cat Empire.”
When did you form the band or did it just stumble upon you? / What was the driving force behind the idea?
“Len and I had been listening to a lot of Daniel Lanois and we got together to play a few of his tunes (we also wanted to play with Ryan, who at that time I knew mostly from his coffee blog!). It felt quite effortless and it wasn’t a difficult step to decide to make a record – the tunes are simple and were written over a day or two. I moved to Berlin shortly after, so with the benefit of limited time we were able to make an album quickly and devoid of expectations. I think that’s why it sounds quite fresh, we’d never done any gigs and there’s no overplaying, because at that time we barely knew the tunes!”
Where has the name come from?
“The name comes from a song by New York trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis, an old friend of mine. We recorded it but it didn’t make the album. The name, however, did. (It could also be after the cupcake shop, film, flower, etc.)”
Do you think that you have achieved what you set out to do?
“This was a rare project that happened with very little planning and expectations so we were all pleasantly surprised it turned out so well.”
If you weren’t playing music you would be?
“I’d probably be pretending to be an architect.”
What makes you happiest about what you’re doing?
“A lovely thing about Magnolia is that I have hardly any notes to play, so I can listen to the rest of the band almost as an audient. That’s a rare thing. More generally: playing music and hanging out with kind people is a privilege.”
How do you all find time to work with so many musicians?
“We are all pretty busy, the others more so, but the fact that we often play with each other in different projects makes the scheduling a bit easier. Danny is pretty much the only drummer I play with.”
When are you doing your thing next?
“Magnolia is, so far, not a frequently gigging band. We have just our second gig tonight at the Northcote Social Club December 15. Hopefully there will be some more gigs in 2011. Listen at thisismagnolia.net.”