The story so far….
Leftbank is the latest musical project of Declan o’Luasa along with drummer Gordon Ashe, both members of the Irish band Rubyhorse. Having released several more main stream major label records with Rubyhorse, this is a change of gears. “I think this record is an attempt to fuse a lot of my more esoteric influences into an album that i might listen to myself. Things like Sparklehorse, Wilco, Jon Hopkins, Tom Waits, War on Drugs, Ry Cooder”
Steve Morse of the Boston Globe
“Hypnotic, bluesy meditations and ambient harmonics lie at the core of Leftbank. This is a thinking-person’s palette of contemplative melodies (some enhanced by Daniel Lanois-like space-guitar textures) and deeply probing lyrics by o’Luasa.”
To fill in some biographical detail, Ashe and o’Luasa left Cork,Ireland in January 1997 with the three other members of Rubyhorse in search of fame and fortune in the US. They landed in Boston with sleeping bags and a phone number and spent the next 18 months essentially homeless, relying on the good will of strangers for a couch or a bed. They managed to find the odd gig here and there and built up a steady following among the college kids of Boston. Eventually the major labels got wind and they came calling , starting a huge bidding war for the band. As o’Luasa recalls,” we would turn up to the gig having walked because we couldn’t afford the bus and there would be a line of limos outside the club with all these fat cats coming to see the next big thing!” It was a long way from Cork. Eventually Rubyhorse would sign one of the biggest new artist record deals in history with Interscope/Universal. Next stop was Los Angeles ,studio D A&M studios to record their major label debut. “We were like kids in a candy store”, says Ashe, ” the only thing we didn’t put on that record was the kitchen sink. Probably because we couldn’t get it off the wall!”. The constant drinking and partying, inexperience in the studio and a feeling that they had maybe already made it, led to predictable results. “LA was completely nuts! You have to realize we were just five Irish kids dropped into a situation where we had money in our pockets and access to whatever we wanted. The label were falling over themselves to keep us happy. The recording process got lost along the way and needless to say that record never saw the light of day. Subsequent records did however , once they got away from the LA scene into the more comfortable and familiar surroundings in Nashville. “We were a killer live band” says Ashe “and it was the live show that had gotten us signed in the first place. We should have just tried to capture that spirit for the debut record rather than fucking around in LA for three months.”
Over the course of the next ten years the band made several records with Interscope, Island and Atlantic, scoring a Billboard top twenty with a song called Sparkle. “It was a joke really ” says o’Luasa.” The major labels are always just looking for the lowest common denominator and so obviously gravitated toward the most throw away thing on the record, poured a million dollars into it and off we went”. It was fun while it lasted but of course with any major corporation , you’re only as good as your last sale. The story goes that during a weekly A&R meeting , when the bands A&R man began pitching the follow up single, the boss( Lyor Cohen), drew his finger across his throat and that was the end of the line. The band headed back to Nashville one more time ,self financed and recorded their best work to date “Goodbye to all That” with producer Jay Joyce. “That one was an exhilarating record to make” says o’Luasa.” We recorded and mixed the whole thing in eleven days. I would finish the lyrics while the band went for lunch and then Dave would sing in the afternoon. I don’t think we slept much at all for those eleven days but that record still moves me and i am really proud of it.” The band took a break a few years later, after having toured consistently for ten years, but have recently reconnected and started recording again. “We have six tracks in the can so far , including a reworked version of a song called Punchdrunk which features George Harrison on slide. It’s quite awe inspiring “says o’Luasa, ” he played his parts in London not long before he passed away and i still have the tapes.The best part is listening to him breathing while he’s waiting to play!”
In the intervening years, o’Luasa and Ashe kept recording under the nom de plume “Leftbank”. The first record “why can’t man be more like animals” was released in 2012. The new record “The sky on my Birthday” is out at the beginning of October 2017.This time around there is no record label involved at all. “I wanted to try something new, a more direct connection with the fans without the middleman and all the bullshit that goes along with it”