The Right Tribe: Andy Browne & Lucy Theodora on Lynx Deluxe, New EP

Andy Browne’s enthusiasm is almost hot to the touch. The former frontman for ‘8os Atlanta punkers The Nightporters has been back in the saddle for a few years now, releasing intelligent British-tinted rock n’ roll under the banner of the Andy Browne Troupe*– but you’d think he was a guitar-fisted teenager again when he talks about his latest project, Lynx Deluxe. With his muse and partner, bassist Lucy Theodora, Browne has divined a new round of songs that draw from his English roots and the raw power of his early career. There’s a touch of glam and a snarl of confrontation in the band’s new EP, Jungleland, that dares to be defined. Featuring keyboardist Billy Fields (Rev Rebel, Follow For Now), guitarist Greg Di Gesu (Wooden Soldiers), and drummer Brad Mattson (The Phones), Lynx Deluxe is the echo of rock heroes and Atlanta 60-cycle hum.

*Read: “The Andy Browne Troupe: A Thinking Man’s (and Woman’s) Band”

AI- There’s been a lot of stuff that’s happened since the last time we talked, since last time you were in Macon. Lots of social unrest, political upheaval, a pandemic… Fill me in! What have you guys been doin’ to get by during this last year and a half?

AB- Sometimes in life, things happen– and I don’t want to say they’re good things, but it’s given us really a chance to get back in the studio and write a lot of songs. And that’s what we’re really concentrating on is songwriting and recording and getting this album together. So it’s been kind of a, I don’t want to say a blessing, but musically, it has been because it’s gotten the band tighter and it’s gotten songs easier to write.

When we spoke at the end of 2019, you, at that point in time, were workin’ on new music under the banner of the Andy Browne Troupe. What happened with that? What caused the shift to Lynx Deluxe?

AB-Well, it became more of a cohesive unit and everybody now is involved in the songwriting. The Troupe was cool. It was more of a, I don’t want to say solo project, but it was more of like different people comin’ and goin’, and this is a solid foundation. It’s less about myself and more about input from everybody else.

These new songs, the five that I have had the privilege to hear already, do these go back that far? Or is this all fresh material written as Lynx Deluxe?

AB- I think “Jane Goodall” was written when I got to Atlanta a while back, but obviously, [Lynx Deluxe] did a better version. The other stuff is brand new and fresh. It’s all fresh. Occasionally, we look back and grab somethin’ that might work, but our real goal is to write new stuff all the time.

Well, let’s dig into those songs a little bit. “The Struggle” sounds like it could have been written yesterday with everything that’s goin’ on.

AB- It seems to ring a bell with a lot of people. A lot of people are responding to that song. Life’s not so easy for some.

LT- We actually started writing it before the pandemic. It just happened to be kismet that the timing was perfect. Not that we meant it that way.

AB- Whoever you are in life, there’s some sort of struggle you’re going through, whether it’s personally or psychologically, or just itself with work and everything. Lucy likes the word amalgamation, but at the same time we were getting the song together, [the pandemic] just happened. It was kind of perfect timing and people seem to really respond to that song. Sometimes it’s just timing.

You brought up “Jane Goodall” and you told me in our correspondence that there was a strange coincidence in that song involving your love of Jane Goodall’s work but also, Lucy, Andy told me that you studied language acquisition in non-human primates. Tell me a little bit about that.

LT- I have always been interested in primatology. My aunt and uncle had become friends with a small part of the Georgia State University Psychology Department, which is the language research center, and they study language acquisition in non-human primates using lexigrams. They use these pictures to form sentences, so it’s all about studying the brain and learning how it can be applied to people with learning disabilities, cleft palate, mental health issues, that kind of thing to communicate. Because the theory is that if you can’t learn how to communicate at a young age, then you will develop certain developmental disabilities. So maybe you can thwart that. I ended up studying neuropsychology at Georgia State though. So I transitioned, but I didn’t finish.

Well, I’m no psychologist, but I also find the correlation between that kind of thinking and music and using that as a communication device.

LT- Oh yeah! Music is a universal language like math, you know? I mean, everybody can speak music, everybody can speak math. You don’t have the barriers with music that you do with language.

Andy, at the beginning of our conversation, you talked about writing a new song and that it was an English rock song. I have always felt that there is a specific warmth to the kind of rock n’ roll that comes out of Atlanta, and I think it’s shared by a lot of English rock n’ roll artists and songs. What you’re doing, I saw you guys have described it as World Rock because it takes so many pieces of music from around the world. Tell me about putting all of that together and doing it at Penguin Lab and the fellas that you worked with there.

AB- That’s Rory Landt. Rory and I produced the record. He’s a younger guy and he’s really, really amazing. I think we met him at the right time. When I came to Rory with this project for the band, I had one request and that’s the drums. We have a fantastic drummer, Brad Mattson, and we wanted the drums to be significantly louder than what we’re hearing because they are so important. You go to Zeppelin and Charlie Watts and the Stones, and we wanted that thunder. Rory has delivered us an incredible product, and we’re so happy with him. We’re about to record five more with him, actually. But about the English thing, obviously growing up there, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Roxy Music…

LT- The Clash, The Jam, The Kinks…

AB- All of those are top of our list, and me and Lucy share a great love of the same kind of bands, which is why we get along so well in the band and personally. I think I said this last time, and I don’t want to repeat myself, I love American music too, but my heart is with the English. I think that’s from a small child watching the Beatles on the telly and really not knowing who they were. And it still haunts me to this day, watching that Magical Mystery Tour video, and seeing Bowie. I was little, but it’s like your subconscious goes back to those memories. And I think they have a huge influence on Lynx Deluxe and the songwriting. It’s just great having Lucy around because she understands those bands as well. I gotta throw in there with all those bands that I love, I do love Bob Dylan a lot too. Infidels is a particular favorite of mine.

From Right to Left: Greg Di Gesu, Brad Mattson (seated), Andy Browne, Lucy Theodora, Billy Fields. Photo by Marina Fitzpatrick.

You talk about those influences from childhood that you may not even recognize until much, much later. I want to talk about “Steppin’ On Gold”. I just finished reading my daughter, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was actually the second time through with that one. But that’s all very fresh on my mind.

AB- “Steppin’ On Gold” came out of nowhere. Sometimes songs are just instant. Me and Lucy came up with the idea and it just fell together instantly. We were really excited about gettin’ it on the record and obviously, that movie, The Wizard of Oz, is one of our favorites. Sometimes, stuff you’re lookin’ for is right in front of you. It’s just a really heartfelt movie. And I don’t want to say I cry when I’m watchin’ it, but I cry when I’m watchin’ it!

Lucy, are you still doin’ the Wax ‘N Facts thing?

LT- I am!

I know that my own appetite for records and music has increased exponentially during the pandemic and quarantine. It’s been something that we’ve done as a family, that we’ve done together. I imagine that others have been the same. Has the store been able to open in any capacity? And what have you seen in the trends of people buying up music?

LT- Yeah, it has picked up. Vinyl is definitely what folks are buying. Almost nobody has CD players anymore, at least, they’re not buying them. But we’re open seven days a week from 1pm to 5pm, and we have a maximum of 10 people in the store at any given time. Everybody has to wear masks and people are generally really good about waiting outside in line. We’re only open for four hours and we’ve done that because we want to try to keep the employees safe with minimal exposure to the virus in the store. But we also want to keep the customer safe too. Everybody’s adjusted and adapted pretty well to it actually. We’ve been fortunate, especially compared to so many businesses in this country. It’s worldwide! It’s just stunning, you know? But people are buying new and used music. It’s really kinda cool because now that they’re buying the new music, especially some of the younger kids gettin’ the hip hop stuff, they’re actually delving into the old stuff that’s been sampled.

Which is something we talked about last time– people sideways finding those older tracks in that capacity.

LT- It’s cool, ’cause I was actually talking to a customer, a kid, young guy, who said that he was there just for that reason. He had listened to some of these tracks and there’s some website that gives you a breakdown of the stuff that’s sampled in all of these hip hop songs. And he said, “Oh my God! I didn’t even know there was a sample in this song!” So he went and listened to the original song and he was there to buy the old school soul. So it was pretty cool. And it happens all the time!

Another thing we talked about last time, you had mentioned that you two were working on a children’s book. Is that still a project that you’re pursuing?

AB- It is. But right now, our minds’ on music. That’s taken up a lot of our energies, but that book is still in the forethought of our minds. It’s already there. We just need to put it on paper. It’s all complete.

With Lynx Deluxe, I think initially when we were talking, it was the plan to release an EP. But you apparently have hit a wonderful creative streak. Are you still planning to do an EP release or will you wait and try to do a full-length?

AB- No, sir. The plan right now is we have an EP on CD, limited edition, coming out in about three weeks. We’re just waitin’ for some artwork to be completed. But in the meantime, we’re recording 5 more songs, and we have vinyl coming out in however long it’s gonna take to manufacturer the vinyl. We have some big things happenin’– we just can’t talk about ’em this moment. The first people we got our new music to was Tim [Neilsen] and Kevin [Kinney] from Drivin N Cryin, who we’re fans of. They really dig it and me and Tim were on the phone the other day… And well, again, I don’t want to talk about anything that’s gonna happen, but there’s some things on the horizon that look really well. Those guys are really diggin’ it.

You bring up Tim Nielsen, who of course you played with in The Nightporters. I listened to that a song-by-song retrospective interview you just recently did that focused on your career with the Nightporters. I enjoyed that, and something that you talked about was the evolution of being a teenager writing and playing music, and then growing as an individual. For me, and I’m sure this isn’t healthy, but I still carry a lot of the same angst and passions that I had as a teenager. What I’ve discovered about myself though, as a man bordering on middle age, I’m just not as inclined to risk as much as I did when I was 19 or 20. You are. You are back playing music, I would say with the same energy and fervor that you did as a teenager. What have you discovered about yourself in that capacity? What has changed for you?

Well, that’s a very easy question to answer. That angst and anger? It doesn’t work for me. What I realized, it’s about love and caring and people. You need people around you, you need the right tribe. And because the universe has given me the right tribe, it’s been a hell of a lot easier to deliver my, I wouldn’t say full potential, but what we’re doing makes it a lot easier. There’s been some struggles along the way, but we change and we realize that certain things work and certain things don’t. So we avoid the don’ts.

Listen to Jungleland, the new EP from Lynx Deluxe, now! Like & Follow Lynx Deluxe for news and LIVE performance updates!