Luke Brandon-Field is an actor, writer, and British hunk currently living in Los Angeles. I was fortunate enough to meet him on a short trip to New York where he was promoting the Steven King TV movie he had appeared in. I know what you’re thinking…. yet he isn’t just another pretty face. Luke wrote and starred in his own movie set in Nazi Germany. He is currently writing a biography on the Velvet Underground chanteuse, Nico. A true Renaissance man! And because his father was in the music business– his Dad managed glam rockers The Sweet, in their later years– Luke had an unusual upbringing.
* This interview happened last year before David Bowie’s unfortunate departure.
Luke: My Dad and I are thinking of giving a live Bowie hologram show. So Bowie plays in a studio and the show tours worldwide. Because he’s not willing to tour. And Bowie’s always been on the forefront of technology so I think this would be a very Bowie thing to do.
Amy: It would.
Luke: You know he’s always been about space and new age. It’s also a great joke with the fact that people will pay money to see you when you’re sitting on a bench in New York and people are in Brisbon or London.
Amy: That’s something Lou Reed would definitely do it if he were alive. He’d be like fuck ’em!
Amy: So tell me about growing up with The Sweet?
Luke: I grew up always around punk in my childhood house which was located two doors down from where Marc Bolan lived. He died in ’77 and I was born in ’88, so obviously I wasn’t around. But my mum lived next door when she was growing up in the seventies.
Then up the street was Paul McCartney– so I grew up around glam. Then when I was about 5 or 6 this long blond haired man came into the house and it ended up being Brian Connolly, the lead singer of The Sweet. I had no idea who he was at the time.
I just thought it was some random hippie who came to have dinner with us. I remember very well that Brian was very shaky. I don’t know whether he suffered from Parkinsons or if it was just years of alcohol abuse. He had a problem holding his glass. He would shake wildly every time he took a drink. There was spit all over him. It was embarrassing. I had just come home from school so I had my school tie on. My dad said to me, “Take your tie off.” So he told Brian take one end of the tie and tie it around the glass, pull it tightly and then use the other end to pull it towards you.
It was a very sad thing. I remember going to see The Sweet live at The Town Hall and there was literally about six people there. Brian’s voice was shot. They had a backing band because The Sweet had fallen apart by this point and we went backstage and it was if they had just stepped off of Wembley Stadium. They were high-fiving and it was pretty bad. I shouldn’t say this but… I remember Brian’s dick hanging out of his pants while he was sitting there. His meat and vegs just hanging out there and his zipper was down on this jumpsuit he was wearing.
Amy: Were you scared, puzzled or laughing?
Luke: I just said to my dad, “Was his willy hanging out?” My dad said, “That’s the life of a rockstar…”
Luke: It was one of those really weird moments… He was a really nice guy though and unfortunately he was very ill and his voice was shot. I remember my Dad got the original line-up together to sign a publishing deal. By this point, they all hated each other and my Dad was the only one who had no axe to grind— he wanted them to make money. This was a time when seventies music was coming back. It was the mid- nineties and you had Queen becoming huge again with the movie Wayne’s World. Queen was a big band in America but not huge. In England, they were always huge. When Freddie [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Mercury] died, Queen sales went through the roof.
Amy: Wayne’s World helped introduce Alice Cooper to a new generation of fans as well.
Luke: That was the first time I had heard of him.
Amy: “Feed My Frankenstein“ wasn’t his best but at least kids found out who he was.
Luke: In Wayne’s World they play The Sweet cover song in Tia Carrera’s character’s band, Crucial Taunt. They play “Blockbuster,” it’s her big live song at the end. It was on the soundtrack and everyone was wondering who this band The Sweet was. So my Dad got them together to sign a record deal and they made a good amount of money from it actually.
Amy: What year was this?
Luke: Most likely 1994. Brian died in 1995. In the seventies, they made a lot of money, but in the eighties nobody wanted to hear about them. Because punk killed glam. And glam was seen as an old hat, tacky, like hair metal of the eighties. Nobody was interested in it. In the beginning of the punk movement, Bolan wasn’t relevant at all. People say, “Oh, he was the godfather of punk,” but he was an old hat. He was trying to redo himself as a punk but it didn’t work.
Amy: I feel sorry for his son, who is trying to be a successful musician. Because one thing about having a musical genius father is that everyone will compare you.
Luke: Brian died in ’97 from liver failure from his alcoholism and heart attacks.
Amy: So did he drink until he died?
Luke: No. He had a large speech impediment and always shook at the end.
Amy: Did your Mom have any good stories from growing up next door to Mark Bolan?
Marc Bolan of T. Rex
Luke: She said he was very quiet. He didn’t drive. I think he had two places, so fans didn’t know where he was. He kept this house as a rehearsal studio when he was making Tanx and The Slider.
Amy: I love the song “The Slider.” I’ve never done heroin, but when I listen to this song I imagine what it feels like. It’s how it starts… trudging along, slow moving… It’s amazing when you can be as sober as a judge, but the music takes you to an alternate reality.
Luke: Sure and it’s a lot cheaper. Which is the purpose of it. My Dad met Marc Bolan three weeks before he died on this show called Supersonic which was kind of like Top Of The Pops, for kids in England.
Amy: What was your Dad doing there?
Luke: So my Dad used to look after the Bay City Rollers and he used to work for Arista Records. He started off as the postboy and then worked himself up. One day he was in London and Lou Reed was in town and some guy was introducing Lou to everyone in the Arista offices. Of course, Lou was very cantankerous and just didn’t want to be there. My Dad is sorting the mail and Lou stops and says, “Who’s this?” The man showing him around says, “Oh, just the postboy.” So Lou goes, “Does he work here?” The man answers, “Yes, but he’s just the postboy.” Lou adds, “Well you should introduce me! I’m being introduced to all these suits… You should introduce me to the real people.”
Amy: Oh, that’s cool.
Luke: So the next day at 10 am there was a press conference for Lou in the offices and they were looking everywhere for him and he was down in the post room with my Dad just chilling. He says, “I remembered you from yesterday. I just want to hang here. It’s the last place they’ll ever find me. I don’t want to do this.” So my Dad said, “Cool! You can watch me sort mail!” So they just hung out. I thought that was a cool story since Lou was very kind to my Dad and he has a reputation of being difficult.
Amy: Tell me about your first concert?
Luke: At six years old I was front row for my first concert, it was Gary Glitter. I went backstage and met him but he wasn’t into little boys, just little girls…
Amy: I thought he was into both?
Luke: No, it was just girls.
Amy: That’s weird since he comes off so gay. I would imagine a Gary Glitter concert would be incredibly entertaining for children with his hot, pink jumpsuit and the crazy faces he makes.
Gary Glitter during his Christmas special.
Luke: Yeah he’s outlandish, it was a Christmas show.
Amy: Did he ride a raindeer out?
Luke: He was dressed as Santa!
Amy: That’s fuckin’ creepy!!!
Luke: Super creepy! But the support was Susie Quatro and she was fantastic. Her voice was amazing. People talk about the Runaways and say they were the first girl power, rock group.
Amy: Right and nobody talks about Susie Quatro…
Luke: Yeah and it’s bullshit! She pre-dates Kim Fowley founding the Runaways by at least two years. I don’t get the Runaways thing. It is what it is but I don’t know why there was a movie made about them. There were much better bands out there.
Amy: The movie was pretty bad too. For me, and maybe it’s just because I’m a female and I’m from L.A. but I drove around in my car as a teen blasting the Runaways and being really happy. They represented female empowerment and some of there songs are catchy.
Luke: Kanye uses the drum sample from Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part Two” and they use it at every basketball game out here and nobody realizes.
Amy: But nobody realizes that song is Gary Glitter except maybe a few older people. I think he was more of a British sensation than American.
Luke: So was T. Rex. “Get It On,” was a hit but not a huge hit. Bolan could walk down the street in the 70’s a nobody would know who he was because he wasn’t playing much over here.
Amy: It’s amazing to me how Marc Bolan prophesied his own death. He wrote about it in a song which is crazy to me.
Luke: And that he didn’t drive.
Amy: Right, he didn’t drive so it wasn’t like he was trying to go down in a blaze of glory.
Luke: I’ve been to the tree where he crashed and died in South London. There are a lot of people that leave stuff out there still.
Amy: What music did you listen to growing up?
Luke: I would get teased at school for liking Bowie and the Dolls because all the guys said it was gay. But they were listening to Limp Biscuit which was drivel.
Amy: Oh, horrible!!! I got really into glam in the late nineties. I went from punk to glam.
Luke: I remember seeing the movie Velvet Goldmine in 1999.
Amy: I saw that in the movie theater when it came out. Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a Bowie-esque rocker was a beautiful character for him to play. I was on cloud nine after I walked out of the theater on Haight Street in San Francisco. I thought it was the coolest, most rock n’ roll movie ever at that point. Meyers and Ewan McGregor together was so fucking hot. I ran out and bought it on VHS right away and still have it, but i watched it again recently, and was like, “This movie is really fucking gay.” The most homo-erotic film I own, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s just funny how I didn’t notice any of that when I was eighteen.
Luke: Haha! You’re right! My favorite Bowie album is Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
Amy: Mine too! With Hunky Dory coming in second because of “Queen Bitch” and “Oh, You Pretty Things”.
Luke: I’m not into the Berlin period.
Amy: It’s funny you say that because all my musician friends love the album Low. I just don’t get it.
Luke: My musician friends say that too!
Amy: Tell me about the Nico book you’re writing.
Luke: My uncle met Nico backstage after a never-ending show. I think she was gacked out of her mind. He goes back stage to interview her and of course asks about working with Lou [Reed] and she says, “I don’t want to talk about this, the past stays in the past.” So the funny part was she was smoking a cigarette, yet pauses to say, “Whhoo haas a cigarette forrr meeee?” So my uncle says, “Nico, you have one between your fingers.” She chucks it on the ground and says, “What cigarette, give me one now.”
Luke: I originally wanted to write a screenplay about this German goddess with the unusual voice that is Nico. Then I found this great book written by this English guy who joined her band in the eighties. They would have to find dope for her or else she wouldn’t play. She bathed very rarely and was hardly ever sexually active.
Amy: There is a lady named Tammy Faye Starlight who does a great Nico impression. Have you heard of her?
Luke: Yeah! She had a show one night and John Cale had a show on the same night and it was like rival Nico night!
Luke: A lot of my friends don’t understand my love of Nico. They think it’s very depressing, but to me it’s relaxing, like jazz.
Amy: What song would you want played at your funeral?
Luke: I would want “Afraid,” by Nico. I would also want something about my hometown as well. Lord Kitchener’s “London Is The Place For Me,” works. So hopefully someone will look up this article when I die and play it.