Considering Nashville’s diverse roster of incredible live acts, the city remains a unifying denominator. This might seem like a semantic point, but a band’s hometown plays an important role in its identity. When local septet LUTHI formed and started touring back in 2015, its members christened their cosmic blend of groovy, danceable rock and electronica “Cumberland Funk” to associate their sound with Nashville and indicate that they were “making something different” than what might be expected to come out of the city. Their second studio EP, Episode One, made up of “Sleepwalkin” and “Out of This World,” arrived on March 29, and it’s the first release they’ve recorded live. They’ll play a set at the Fire on the Water festival in Gallatin, Tennessee this Saturday, Aug. 3.
Incredibly, “the LUTHI crew,” as they call themselves, have always been able to transpose their famous onstage energy into studio recordings, despite tracking their instruments separately. What inspired them to finally capture everything together was a want for more efficiency.
“The immediacy of just being in a room together was very healthy and fruitful,” says LUTHI guitarist Taylor Ivey. “I mean, that was an eight-hour session that you’re listening to.”
“It’s just nice to be able to be in the studio, and if something doesn’t go right, we just stop and fix it right there,” adds lead singer Christian Luthi.
From the beginning, LUTHI possessed all the makings of a first-rate live act — hard, in-the-pocket grooves, trend-friendly sonic experimentation including poppy synth leads, and Luthi’s innate funk prosody. Its first single, 2016’s “Do You,” burst forward wielding the catchy, megawatt hook: “do you? Do you really want my love? Do you want it?” which says as much as the chorus in Donna Summer’s 1979 disco classic, “Hot Stuff,” does. Indeed, LUTHI takes stylistic cues from disco, funk, New Wave, and modern pop alike, but succeeds by blending different genres to create a sound all their own.
“I think it is done solely by not trying to sound like anything,” Ivey says. “That is just letting everybody’s influences and everybody’s backgrounds meld in an environment with no preconceived notions, and we’ve been fortunate that it ends up in the same place every time.”
LUTHI does well at music festivals, where its succinct three- or four-minute songs are free to sometimes effloresce into longer onstage jams. This Saturday marks the second annual Fire on the Water Festival, where the band will share the bill with acts including Birdtalker and Delta Rae.
“I like the idea that it’s not down in the middle of Nashville,” Luthi says of FOTW. “I think it’ll let people be a little bit more free and a little bit more, I dunno’, able to get out of their comfort zones and not be in the typical Nashville listening position.”
The band has already recorded Episode Two, the second installment of a series recorded live in the studio. Another two-song EP, its first track will release on Aug. 9, with the second following in early September. Tickets to FOTW can be purchased here.