Luke Pilgrim Follows His Heart to Make ‘Sweet’ Country Music
There must be something in the water in Georgia that produces uniquely gifted singer-songwriters making noise in country music. Jason Aldean did it. The Zac Brown Band did it. Brantley Gilbert did it. Corey Smith did it. Colt Ford did it. Now Luke Pilgrim is doing it.
The 24-year-old singer has been dabbling in music in the southern state for nearly half of his life. At the ripe age of 15, Pilgrim had written, recorded and produced his first album with his band, Last November. Pilgrim and his band toured the country for the better part of a decade, but his heart lies in the country music scene.
Pilgrim is readying new music independently for release this summer, with the album's first single, 'Sweet Tea,' already becoming a fan favorite on YouTube.
We at Taste of Country are honored to have spoken with Pilgrim before he becomes another household name, making the state of Georgia proud. Remember the name and get ready to meet the sweet and charming Luke Pilgrim!
Music has always played an important role in your life. When did your musical journey begin?
I started playing guitar when I was 11-years-old. My parents bought me a guitar, and my cousin was a music major. He's a phenomenal guitar player and basically taught me everything I know how to do on the guitar. I started writing songs when I was about 12 or 13. I don't know what they were [laughs]! They were pretty terrible, but I just started jotting down thoughts and things like that pretty early on. When I was in high school, we started a rock band. We were kids, and we wanted to rock. I did that for the better part of a decade. We toured a whole lot and had a great time ... met a lot of awesome people and some of those videos are still up on YouTube under my name.
Over the years, though, I gradually progressed to a country song. The last album we did as Last November, I started leaning a lot more southern in subject matter and the sound. There's a song called ‘Georgia’ on the last album, so lyrically I started showing a lot more of my roots. So finally, over the last year or so, I've been working on a lot of these songs for my new record. I just hadn't done anything with them up until about six months ago, I guess. So we all just decided it was time for a change. I decided I want to pursue this new project full force … not straddle the fence, but do a real country record. That's mostly because I love lyrics. I love storyteller songs, songs that make you think and feel something. To me that's what songwriting is really about. Not to say that melody isn't just as important, but I've always been a fan of lyrical songwriters and people who take you somewhere with their song. So that's really how this whole thing came about. It was really a kind of personal journey for me, doing this new album.
Are you still in the studio working on the album?
Most of the album is finished. Back around Thanksgiving, we put it up online for free. If you go to my website, you can download it all for free. I did that just to start getting it out there in people's hands, on their iPods or in their CD players. To me that's a lot more important right now, instead of trying to sell it. I have fans from my old band, and I wanted people to hear the new stuff I was working on, so we went ahead and put it up online for free. We're tracking some more songs, and I have eight songs up that you can download for free. We just did one more new one ... a really cool, kind of party country song. We've got a couple more we're going to track before we do an official country iTunes release. So I guess technically I've got a couple more songs, but for the most part the album is available and out there.
Tell us about the album’s first single, ‘Sweet Tea.’
‘Sweet Tea’ is something I feel really blessed and happy about with the acceptance we've had from people in the country music world. I'm really grateful for that. People seem to really be enjoying the video, the song is pretty much about growing up in the south -- in Georgia -- but more than that, I think anybody can really relate to it because it's about having a place to call home.
Was the video shot in Georgia?
We shot the video in my hometown of Cleveland, Ga. It's a really small town in the Georgia mountains. It was a lot of fun. A lot of my friends and family came out for it and a lot of people I didn't know who are fans. I put some stuff out online saying that if people wanted to be in the video they were welcome to come. I had no idea what kind of turnout we'd get or who would actually come. Luckily, we got a good crowd. There were enough people to shoot a fun, outdoor video. Videos are a lot of fun to shoot but they're extremely stressful, too. We did a lot ourselves. We shoot our own music videos, and I edit the videos myself. It's quite a process, from planning the day to shoot, to getting the location … I talked to the sheriff's department, and the sheriff let us use a patrol car, which was really nice of them.
Talk about your involvement with the Food Allergy Anaphylactic Network, which many are familiar with because of Trace Adkins’ daughter.
Trace's daughter has a severe peanut allergy. It's been about a year now since I've been involved [with the organization]. I thought it was fantastic because I've lived with a deadly, anaphylactic peanut allergy my whole life. Basically, if I ingest even a trace amount, I've got about 30 minutes to get to a hospital. It's pretty scary. I never thought anything would come of it like this, but being involved with a charity organization has turned out to be an incredible opportunity for me because everyone at the Food Allergy Anaphylactic Network (FAAN) are all great people. They've been fantastic involving me. They asked me to be a celebrity ambassador, and I said absolutely. Every now and again they have events. I flew to Baltimore where they had a teen summit. That was a life changing event for me. I've only met a handful of people who have an allergy like mine and growing up in a small town it can be really alienating for a kid. You have to be treated differently. Meeting all these kids that are going through the same stuff I did was just awesome. They were some of the coolest kids I've ever met. When I was leaving their parents came up to me, crying and hugging me, telling me I gave their kids hope. It really blew me away. It was a wonderful experience for me. Anytime they have something like that, that I can be involved in, I'm happy to go. It's great. It's a tough thing for the whole family. A lot of parents have nervous breakdowns about it because they're worried everyday that their kid is going to die. I try to talk to them too, help them find something to focus that nervous energy on. For me and my family, I had music and art, so that was an outlet for us instead of being worried all the time that something is going to happen. So it's a really cool charity organization.
Are you planning on doing a lot of tour dates over the summer once you're done in the studio?
We're going to definitely start touring a lot more. As of late, we've been playing a lot of Georgia and southeast dates. We're working on some tours for the future. Mostly we've been gearing up for everything: recording the album, shooting the video, packaging singles and all that stuff. We've had a lot to do around home, but we're definitely planning on hitting the road again soon!
Watch the Luke Pilgrim 'Sweet Tea' Video