interview: LUCKY THIEF presents a maze of emotions in his debut album DIY

"I always like the juxtaposition between a beefy riff and a beautiful melody and I try to combine the two quite a lot"
4 October 2023

Armed with an arsenal of infectious melodies and unapologetic heaviness, LUCKY THIEF, alias Ed Jefferson, is a force to be reckoned with. The essence of his musical deftness is encapsulated in his debut album, pertinently titled DIY.

Bristol’s Ed Jefferson, a virtuoso across multiple artistic dimensions, has meticulously written and recorded every sonic nuance on DIY. This album, a testament to three years of unwavering dedication, was brought to life at Humm Studios under the skillful guidance of Dom Mitchison (known for his work with Heavy Lungs, The Manatees, Pet Shimmers). The sonic alchemy continued with Ky Witney of The Naturals handling the mixing duties, and the finishing touch was masterfully executed by Pete Maher, a luminary who has lent his magic touch to the likes of Pixies, Jack White, and The Rolling Stones.

DIY is a sonic autobiography, a labor of love fueled by the ambition to create an authentic musical narrative that mirrors Jefferson‘s convictions and experiences. The album takes a deep dive into the profound realms of his mental health challenges​, the complexities of relationships, the darker aspects of substance abuse, and the significant influence of his religious upbringing.

Starting off with Landlubber and Spit on the Pavement, followed by Filthy and Better Now? and concluding with the grand finale featuring Menace, LUCKY THIEF truly shines through in his work. His seamless fusion of grunge rock and melodic vocals, accompanied by powerful riffs and thunderous drums, creates an unforgettable musical experience.

LUCKY THIEF hasn’t merely composed an album that defies categorization, beckoning listeners to explore the maze of his emotions. Instead, he extends an invitation to surrender to the magnetic force of his musical cosmos, where the rebellious spirit of sound discovers its voice.

I feel like the riffs and guitars can be the pain, grit or dirt which I experienced but the lyrics or vocal lines can be more hopeful

Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your debut album ‘DIY’?

Wow, there’s loads. I’ve suffered from depression since my early 20s and writing music helps so much with that, I don’t have a choice but to do it. All the songs I write have a flavour of that but there’s loads of past incidents involving alcohol abuse, drug abuse, failed past relationships which all give me inspiration to write.

As well as that I wanted to push myself, prove to myself and to others that I could set out and make something which I was proud of.

Being a multi-talented artist, you wrote and recorded everything on DIY. What challenges and rewards did you face in taking on such a hands-on approach to your music?

There are a lot of challenges really. In terms of writing and demoing songs, I don’t have a studio for myself so I regularly have to take trips there and back just to alter sometimes small parts of the songs. In terms of recording, the days are long and I have to do multiple takes on every instrument as well as ending with vocals. I think actually the main thing is remembering all the parts to the songs, I don’t write them down as I can’t read music so they’re in my head. I have to regularly check my demos to make sure I’ve included all the parts!

The album explores personal themes such as mental health struggles, relationships, substance abuse, and the impact of your religious upbringing. How did these experiences influence the sound and lyrical content of the album?

I always like the juxtaposition between a beefy riff and a beautiful melody and I try to combine the two quite a lot. Although a lot of my experiences have been negative they’ve always resulted in something better. I feel like the riffs and guitars can be the pain, grit or dirt which I experienced but the lyrics or vocal lines can be more hopeful and can provide a different feel to the other parts.

The album was recorded at Humm Studios with Dom Mitchison, mixed by Ky Witney, and mastered by Pete Maher. How did collaboration with these professionals contribute to the overall sound and production of ‘DIY’?

Dom’s a great producer to work with, really chilled and happy to explore different avenues. I didn’t think I’d ever use about 9 pedals plugged into each other at the same time for a guitar effect but we did. I lived with Ky when he was mixing the album so we regularly had mixing sessions in his studio in Stokescroft. We definitely drank too many beers which delayed the process somewhat but I was able to have a really hands on approach and he came up with some brilliant ideas in terms of mixing and even arrangement. It was amazing to see how much he loved hearing the songs live the other day when we played the album release show at the Louisiana.

With three intense years dedicated to crafting ‘DIY,’ what was the most challenging and rewarding part of the album-making process for you personally?

I think the most challenging was keeping up the self-belief and work ethic, even in Covid times. It was also really hard trying to balance making the album with my studies, job, relationship and everything else that is and was still going on. And financially! Making and performing music requires a lot of money for barely any reward so that is and was also challenging!

I think setting out a goal and achieving it has been the most rewarding part, and then even more rewarding is seeing the great reaction that it’s had from people that have heard it. I think also the Louisiana album launch party was a special moment for me, being able to play the whole album with my live band to a near sellout crowd.

What are your hopes and expectations for how audiences will connect with your music?

I just hope they have a good time! Seriously seeing us live, I want them to enjoy the shows and feed off the energy and passion. In terms of connecting to the album on record, I hope they can hear what I’m trying to say and connect to that. I also hope they do some great bench presses when listening to Menace.

How would you describe your perfect day?

Let’s start really middle class with a fuck off brunch – coffee, eggs, smoked salmon, hot sauce – yeah even a smashed avacado in there.

Then I’d meet all my mates with my partner and go watch Liverpool play at Anfield for a 12.30pm kick off. We smash Manchester United again and then head off for some food and beers after.

Queens of the Stone Age are playing in the evening so we have some more beers to get in the mood, watch them and go back to a mates house and party the night away with no hangover the next day.

What would your fans say they appreciate the most about you?

You’d have to ask them really, but I’d like them to appreciate my dedication to my craft. I’d hope they can see the authenticity of me as a person (flaws and all) which comes through in my music and that I’ll never give up.

What is your most valued material possession?

I don’t know whether I’d call this a material possession as it feels more important to me than that, but it would have to be my guitar. It’s only a couple of hundred quid but it has massive sentimental value to me as I wrote the whole DIY on it. Or perhaps my pedals as they’re way more expensive and would be a lot harder for me to replace!

If you could blink your eyes and be in a favourite place right now, where would that place be?

I’m not sure I’ve found my favourite place yet but I’m looking forward to finding it.