Central Rain is the antidote to autotune: no-frills, melody-drenched indie pop/rock that Blurs The Church, Neil Finn and The Go-Betweens. The first solo project for Melbourne musician Luke Thomas, the six atmospheric and reflective songs on debut mini-album Flying Information were produced without bells, whistles or studio trickery. Never one to pander to mainstream radio tastes, Thomas writes from the heart and the songs are recorded and performed with a refreshing honesty. “Central Rain has no particular direction or genre,” he explains. “It gives me room to move, I can feel free to release whatever I like without any expectations.”
Thomas cut his musical teeth while still in his teens playing bass in Brisbane band Lavish, enjoying several commercial successes on the Festival Mushroom label. Post-Lavish, he relocated to Melbourne and joined You Am I guitarist Davey Lane’s band The Pictures. Over the years they released several critically acclaimed EPs and two full-length albums and shared stages with the likes of The Killers, The Libertines, Jet, The Posies, Teenage Fanclub, Sloan, the Black Keys and Evan Dando. As guitarist, lead vocalist and producer of his own band, Deserters, Thomas stepped out of Lane’s shadow to showcase his own evocative, well-crafted songs. They released an EP and a mini-album independently and two full-length albums on Popboomerang Records, garnering high praise from reviewers nationwide.
Shortly after the release of the band’s second album Quay Of Sea, Thomas found that fatherhood had given him a new perspective. “I didn’t have time to gig very much,” he says, “but being at home a lot led to a purple patch with writing. This time around I wanted to do something that would have a bit of longevity, and I had in mind to collaborate with different people on the songs to make them less conventional and stand apart from each other.”
While largely a solo venture, Central Rain draws on contributions from bandmates and friends including Mal Pinkerton (The Ronson Hangup), Dave Mudie (Courtney Barnett) and vocalists Elly-may Barnes and Kate Martin. “I play in The Ronson Hangup with Mal and Dave, and we started doing our own little project, which never eventuated, but a couple of the songs came about into Central Rain. I met Elly-may when The Pictures toured with Jimmy Barnes. We were singing an Amy Winehouse song during a late night karaoke session and our voices blended really well, so we decided we should do something together.” This collaboration saw Thomas in Jimmy Barnes’ studio in Sydney laying down acoustic and vocal tracks for what would eventually become Flying Information. “I was listening to a lot of Kurt Vile’s music and I liked the way that it sounded like it was done at home. We laid down acoustics first and recorded Dave’s drums at his house. We knew we couldn’t get it sounding big or bombastic so we worked with what we had, within our means. And some of it sounds loose and sketchy, but I don’t mind that at all!”