Within 10 minutes of a chance meeting with Lynx Deluxe’s Andy Browne at the venerable Atlanta record store Wax n’ Facts, we’re talking about replacing our shared poetic spirit guide, Charles Bukowski for Pablo Neruda. Bukowski, whose low-life, roguish reputation overshadows his talents and hard-won accomplishments, remains the patron saint of thousands of would-be gutter poets who emulate his alcoholic indulgences but lack his work ethic. His work can be crass, heartbreaking, and cynical, at times stumbling towards blotto, the ideal poems for someone at odds with the world, perhaps even themselves. Then there’s Neruda, arguably the 20th Century’s greatest love poet, whose passions envelop the grand– the matters of the heart and the political– and the quotidian. It’s no longer Bukowski’s fuck-all pessimism that appeals to Browne, but Neruda’s awe of life and refusal to dismiss everyday details as trivial. These days, the former Nightporters frontman finds miracles in the minor, emboldened by a newfound sense of clarity and a rekindled fire for music. Rather than deal in reunions or revisionist history, Browne has chosen to write an entirely new story.
The first chapter of his career renaissance was The Andy Browne Troupe, which released four albums of high-IQ, elemental rock n’ roll before morphing into its latest incarnation, Lynx Deluxe. The rechristening signaled that the band had become something more than a solo project for Browne; it was now a united front, each musician– Browne (vocals, guitar), Lucy Theodora (bass), Brad Mattson (drums, samples), sibling Jeffery Dean Browne (guitar), and Billy Fields (piano, keys, samples) — essential to the group’s vision. The result of their efforts is 2021’s Jungleland, an EP that eventually swelled into a full-length. The collective’s debut is thick with layers, a concise kernel of rock n’ truth at each song’s core. With the cinematic sweep of “The Struggle”, the punk exotica of “Jane Goodall”, the English Beat horns of “A Little Piece of England”, and the unapologetic pop of “Highwire”, Jungleland ignores genre concerns.
And their journey continues. This month, the band returns to Macon to perform at Grant’s Lounge on the 21st and to spend some time in Capricorn Studios working on new material and a live-in-the-studio session.
I met with Browne and bassist/partner Lucy Theodora at Wax n’ Facts to talk about the upcoming visit to Macon, Atlanta, and Southern Baroque.
CF- Y’all wanted to conduct this interview at Wax n’ Facts? What makes this place so special?
AB- Well, it’s the coolest record store in the world, isn’t it? My friend Lucy’s been working here three years. I’ve known [co-owner] Danny Beard for quite a long time. Clay Harper [The Coolies and various other fames] had called me and said one of his friends was in town and invited me to a pizza party. I said sure, “Can I bring my girlfriend?” We talked to Danny there, and we got closer.
LT- I threw it out there– “If you ever need anybody [to work at the store], let me know,” and months went by, and then I got the call.
AB- Danny loves her because she knows how to treat people right. And we’ve become quite close with Danny. He’s one of the most ethical and truly good-hearted people to us. He’s a big supporter of the band, too. We look at Danny, I don’t want to use the word father figure…
LT- A mentor, maybe…
AB- But if there is any sort of business involved, the first thing we do is ask Danny: “Do you know this person? Are they ok? Have you dealt with them?” If we bounce it off him and he gives us a good nod, then we know we’re able to walk into this person and say, “Cool”; otherwise, if he doesn’t have anything to say, then we politely decline whatever’s going on, because Danny is well-experienced in the field, and we have total respect for his label, DB Record, but also Wax n’ Facts. You can’t do better than this place.
Andy, you spent your formative years in Atlanta, but eventually left and lived elsewhere. What brings you back to Atlanta? What does it offer in the way of creativity?
AB- Atlanta is a great training ground for the rest of the world. I’ve traveled the world for my work, and I love Georgia. Lucy grew up in Georgia, Wayne County.
LT- Savanah is where my father’s family is from, and my mom’s from Wayne County, so Georgia’s home for me, even though I was born in New York.
AB- I was away for a while, but I came back home, and I understood why my parents came here in the first place– because it is like home. As far as music goes, with this new band we have, people have been more than accommodating. Jason Becknell from Radio Tucker has been an absolute angel in helping us. We love Jason to death. Palmer Wood produced “Steppin’ on Gold” from Jungleland, and he’s producing our next project, which we are recording at Capricorn Studios. I don’t want to forget Rory Landt, who did a great job with the majority of Jungleland. He’s a young guy, and we got along with him. As far as Atlanta goes, our friends– we call them our extended family– have been nothing but helpful, and we are just starting to get more and more out to the clubs and play more and more gigs.
LT- I love Atlanta– Atlanta is home; Georgia is home, but people don’t go out in Atlanta like they do in other cities that we’ve played, even Macon. More people go out in Macon than they do here. It’d be nice to see more people go out.
AB- I’ve watched it with a couple of different bands, though. It’s a good thing for a band to get out of Atlanta, then come back to Atlanta. I saw The Black Crowes here in the early days, and maybe there weren’t hundreds of people, but they went out, and then they came back– and I have great respect for them– but sometimes it just takes honing your craft on the road and then coming back and delivering something. The Nightporters were the same way. When we came back from touring, everyone was jumping all over us.
Can you talk a bit about your plans for Capricorn Studios?
AB- There’s two projects going on for Capricorn. There is a couple of new songs on the table, and we’re going to be working mainly on those. We’re also probably going to do a four or five-song “Live from Capricorn Studios” session.
It’s got a great legacy. We like epic bands, and we like epic places. So when the offer first came up to go to Capricorn, the word epic came to us. Given the history there and Macon, like Lucy said, we love it there– the people have been gold to us down there. We thought, it’s in Georgia, which is very important to us, and I’ve talked to the engineers down there, and I don’t think we could be in a more comfortable place.
LT- We like Macon! I graduated from high school in Macon from Mount de Sales. I’m glad to see the city is thriving, and some of the historical music landmarks are being preserved and restored, so people can actually enjoy them.
Do you consider yourself a Southern band? Your influences are all over the place, but here we are, in Georgia, talking about Capricorn Studios.
AB- We like the term Southern Baroque. We are from the South, but we certainly aren’t southern rock, although we do like some of those bands. We have a great influence from the outside, but really, Georgia is our home, and we love the South and Southern people. We’ve got this great Southern Hospitality– we’re big on that, nice people. It’s a weird connotation when people say southern, because they may want to use the term southern rock..
LT- They immediately slap a rebel flag on the album cover, but that’s not true. A lot of Southern musicians and writers and artists don’t want to have anything to do with that movement.
AB- But we do love early Skynyrd, and we do love The Allman Brothers.
LT- I love Outkast, and they call Outkast a Southern band, too. We’re Southern, for sure, when I think of a lot of the influences we have. We’ve got Brad, who plays drums, and he’s from Minnesota. We’ve got Billy from Atlanta, and we’ve got Andy, who’s by extension, from Great Britain via Miami, and me, who’s born in New York, but are we from the South, really? Are we really a Southern band? I don’t know. Is that only because of geography?
AB- So if we had to, if you could name three of your tops– Curtis Mayfield, obviously for you, and Bowie, I’m into– but if you had to name somebody else?
LT- Parliament, Funkadelic, any P-Funk is going to be pretty awesome. For me, growing up in South Georgia, ’cause I’m old and cable wasn’t around, we only got 2 channels– CBS and NBC, and Soul Train would come on at noon every day—I remember because the cartoons would be over, and I’d be excited because I’d see the train coming, “Choo choo!’, and every time it fooled me because I thought another [cartoon] was coming on. But it was the music. I let myself be fooled because I loved watching Soul Train. I sat there and watched it every week after the cartoons. There was some great music, and it was purely by me growing up in south Georgia, not having access to multiple television stations.
Speaking of Soul Train and having only two television channels, we’ve grown up in two different worlds: before and after the invention of the internet. From a band perspective, which world do you prefer?
AB- I enjoyed the organic growth in the earlier band. I understand we have to deal with the internet and all its facets, but I think really what I enjoyed– like how I just turned you on to the Mick Ronson album [Play Don’t Worry]– when we were kids, it was like, “Listen to this album.” It was friends telling you about albums and bands, and that excited you. Like, if we were both into The Clash, Joy Division, or whoever it may be, a friend would say, “Hey, this [band member] has this other band,” so it was all word of mouth, and that was exciting, because now you’re talking to your friends, and they’re into the same music you are, and this and connected to that, and that connected to The Animals, and then Hendrix, and from there. I enjoy talking to people rather than being on the internet. I understand it’s a necessary evil. Everyone’s asking me about Spotify, and I kinda go, “I don’t care at this point.”
LT- The internet is like the stock market: looking for that needle in the haystack. Everybody’s doing their internet thing– everybody– trying to make it. And basically, it’s like only that one needle in the haystack is going to make it. That’s hard to do, so how do you do it? Well, combine the old-fashioned way with the new way: Get out there, play to people who want to buy your records, and take it from there. You need a combination of the organic and the new, but not get too wrapped up in the internet being an integral part of it. Because it’s still word of mouth.
AB- We’re always writing new stuff. But this band is a cohesive unit. I’ve played in a lot of bands, and I can tell you this, I feel– and I know it’s a bit pretentious– everyone in this band, they’re epic players as well as epic personalities. I know mostly, intimately, what each and every member has been through. Everyone goes through their own struggles, but we’re right on target with this thing– the chemistry, the sound. I feel really good, and there’s also confidence, and all that stuff we might have done as younger kids is out the window; we just couldn’t be bothered. The consciousness that we’ve obtained as we’ve gotten more mature is gold to me. We appreciate every moment, every instant, knowing that maybe it was given to us by some higher form.
What’s the collaboration process like for y’all, the typical writing sessions?
AB- The ideas start with me and Lucy at our house. We’ve got some smaller instruments, a toy bass, and a toy guitar. It’ll start with that, and when we feel it, we’ll bring it to the other guys.
LT- Sometimes, it’ll be him coming up with something, and then it’s like, “Oh, let’s work on that.” Other times, I’ve been playing a bass line I’ve been practicing, and he’ll add something to it.
AB- For instance, “Mercy” is a very important song to us. Lucy came to me with this bass. Her mom hadn’t left us yet…
LT- She was dying of cancer.
AB- She brought me this bass line and said, “Can you filter this around my mom?’ So we worked on it a little while, so we brought it to the band as is. It seems to be a lot of people’s favorite song on the album.
I think I should give a little background on the group. Late 2020, coming into 2021, the world was at a standstill, and Lucy and I asked ourselves what we were going to do. We decided to make some music, do a couple of songs. I was working with Rory Landt from Penguin Lab Studios. He said I should come over and do one song and see how it goes. We started from there, and it just kept growing. We did these five songs, and I passed them on the Kevin Kinney and Tim Nielsen from Drivin N Cryin, and they kinda freaked because they really, really liked them a lot. They offered to sign us to their label, but they wanted a full album. We thought, “Ok, so we’ll write some more songs,” and we did eleven songs for Jungleland. It was released in November of 2021. It was a process, obviously, because the rest of the world had slowed down. It took a little bit of time because people weren’t jumping out and doing things. Drivin N Cryin really dug what we were doing, and in the meantime, July 19th, 2021, at The Roxy was our first gig with them. They have been really good to us. We’ve played quite a few places with them. They’ve really helped push us along, playing really nice places. They’re really nice guys, and we do love them. As soon as they got that spark from us, they said, “This is great.” It was like a boulder that gathers momentum, so when it got rolling… Now, we’re into our second phase, which is our second project, and we’re hoping this thing builds and builds from there.
How do you know when a song is done?
AB- It’s instinctual. If you’re working with a producer who understands where you’re at with your head, we all know. For instance, we are really happy with “Jane Goodall”. There are certain songs on Jungleland that sound perfect. They’re as good as they’re going to be. Working with a producer, you want to put them as the fifth or sixth member, whatever the situation calls for. There’s a certain juice to a song, a certain juju, and when you get that in the studio, and you know– granted, Dali said, “You’re never going to reach perfection; don’t bother”– you hear it, you know. When you’re working on a song for three weeks to a month, and you finally get down to that final mix and you think, “I think that’s good.”
LT- Unless you’re Yes or Steely Dan, pretty much every song is going to be a demo because it may evolve over time. Even The Rolling Stones, some of their songs have changed over time. I think for us, it’s because we played so much live that the songs evolved naturally. We just liked the way they ended up better. Sometimes it takes a while for songs to get to where they’re supposed to be. I don’t know if it’s really ever done. I hope so.
Why have y’all chosen to press forward, when it might be easier to coast on your past accomplishments?
LT- Does anyone want to say that they’ve already plateaued, that they’ve reached the pinnacle of their life, and nothing’s going to be any better? That’s like saying, “High school was the best years of my life.” You can never go back and relive high school, so that doesn’t have to mean they were the best years of your life. There’s never going to be “the best song” of your life.
AB- Something happened to me five or six years ago, where I just got sonically charged about music again, like all those feelings I’d had when I was learning about music all came back to me. Maybe it’s Lucy– we get along musically very well. It’s like when something comes into your life, and it makes you bloom again and feel young again. For me, it’s a great feeling. It’s finding that passion again. Sometimes people forget what they loved, what made them who they are, and that connection. I got lucky. I got really lucky. It was a bolt of lightning that said, “Get back to who you were with a clear head and a clear mind. Surround yourself with the right people and the right chemistry and just go for it.”
LT- We also listen to different types of music. At home, we don’t just sit around and listen to the same kind of music. We’ll listen to a big variety of things, and sometimes we’ll get stuck on a song that we’d forgotten about.
AB- The simple thing is finding your passion and what inspires you, whether you’re a writer, a musician, or an artist. Find that key and muse and run with it.
Do you still have the same affinity for musical heroes?
AB- The difference now is when I was younger, and I had The Nightporters, I was maybe trying to play the role of my heroes. As we mature, we realize, “I’m the best I can do,” so the songs now are more feelings of me, rather than feelings of my influences. It’s good to come to terms with yourself and realize you have to get it out. I’m happier with writing as I am now than back then. What happened back then was good, but I feel this is great. I feel we’re not quite reaching our full potential, but we’re getting as close as one can get.