“I guess my energy is my thing,” Lunadon tells New Times. “Some artists like Jonathan Richman might not be high-energy, but they’re brilliant lyricists, so that makes them a good performer. My strong point is putting my all into it physically and being in the moment.”
Miami will see how much Lunadon puts into his loudly hyperactive rock ‘n’ roll when he and his four-piece band play Gramps on Saturday.
Gramps is a far cry from Auckland, New Zealand, where Lunadon was raised.
“New Zealand is so isolated. We’re 12 hours from anywhere else,” he says.
Still, it’s not so far that he could escape American and British musical influences during his formative years.
“When I was 6 or 7, I saw Michael Jackson’s video for ‘Beat It’ and was obsessed by it,” he says.
After being forced to take piano lessons, a teenaged Lunadon picked up the guitar.
“I used to work at my dad’s stationery shop. One day I told myself I’d go to work once I figured out how to play ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ I showed up three hours late, and Dad fired me.”
It wasn’t long before Lunadon joined his first band, Nothing at All.
“We were teenagers and got hooked up with older musicians at a DIY space. They had one floor of a car garage. It was almost like a squat, but they had a studio,” he recounts. “The guy who ran it was into Andy Warhol’s the Factory and made it a very DIY space for bands that didn’t want to be a part of the music-industry machine. We were against what a lot of bands in New Zealand try to do in being weaker versions of American bands, like the New Zealand version of Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
After joining garage-rock act the D4, Lunadon finally got to experience what it was like to be a working musician outside of New Zealand.
“We had a major-label deal. We learned what it was like touring the world and working with industry people,” he says.
After the band split in 2006, Lunadon moved to Los Angeles, crashing with Australian band Jet, best known for the 2003 hit “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.” After the move, he joined New York City noise rockers A Place to Bury Strangers as the band’s bassist.
But after a happy decade, Lunadon decided it was time to take control of his career.
“I was forced to make a decision to go solo. I had to look at what I was doing and decide what was best for me. A Place to Bury Strangers was essentially Oliver [Ackermann’s] band,” he says.
Lunadon’s solo career has thus far spawned one full-length album and an EP released last year with the German title Schreien.
“It’s the German word for ‘scream’ or ‘howl.’ It’s a translation from an English song I did on my first album, ‘Howl,’” he explains. “I had a friend in Switzerland with a record label who wanted a German song, and I always wanted to sing a song in a foreign language.”
Lunadon found singing a song in a language he doesn’t speak to be a challenge.
“On the record, I imitated the words as best I could. I memorized the first verse so I can play it live,” he says. “One day, I want to be able to sing the whole thing in German.”
For now, audiences will have to be content with watching him shred and sing in his native tongue as he spreads the gospel of his home country’s proud rock heritage.