(Rules of The Gauntlet: The artists (in this case, Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell of Southern Alternative Rock band Lonely Dakota) is sent a butt ton of questions ranging from standard to stupid from which they must choose at least 12 to answer and return them to us with a minimum of tear stains).
Tell me why your music rules, or why it sucks.
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell : Our music rules because it’s a great mix of the best parts of rock music from the last 30 years. You’ll find lead guitar licks inspired by EVH and Richie Sambora; bass lines inspired by ‘classic’ metal bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden; technical and driving drums that just show the real breadth of Sepala’s abilities as a seasoned session musician and song writing influenced by rock, grunge and even some nu-metal bands from the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. The only thing that sucks about our music is that not enough people are playing it… Some of the radio stations in the UK are scared to play anything that isn’t Indie or Pop. Go listen to our EP and request it on your local radio show – be part of the solution, not the sucking problem!
Which Muppet would you marry?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: What a ridiculous question! You make it sound like there is a choice? The only muppet worth marrying is Pepe the Prawn. He’s like the anti-muppet! Can you get anymore rock and roll than that? He’s an outsider that always ends up coming good and always thinks big. What more could you ask for in a muppet marriage? Plus, he’s pretty damn funny.
Tell me about your new single or album. The writing, vibe, production/producers, etc.
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: Our new EP really is the end of a process of years of hard work. It’s taken a long time for us to get to a point that we are happily completing the songs and releasing them to the world because once that song is recorded, you can’t really make a change to it. It’s not the same as a song that you only play live that might change in length or have the lyrics changed over and over. Once it’s recorded, that’s it. I think listeners will find a little something for everyone, at least if you like rock music. We have some heavy, driven tracks like “End of Days.” But we also have softer and more ballad-like tracks with huge choruses you can sing along to like “Medication” and “Victoria”. We also have a dual vocal track, “Overdrive”, which is something the fans always love, but is something bands in the Southern/Heavy rock scene just aren’t doing and will become a feature of ours in future releases.
How often do you work on your music?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: Every. Damn. Day. But seriously, practice makes perfect. If you’re not willing to commit to furthering your abilities or practicing, there is no point being in a band. All the greatest musicians that have ever been keep practicing and learning new things otherwise what’s the point? Being a musician is a way of life.
Which voice in your head is the craziest?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: Since the last round of medication, they’ve all been pretty quiet! Which is nice. Although I must admit, I do sometimes miss the screaming and maniacal laughter…
Top 2 stupidest things you’ve ever done.
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell:I once drank a whole bottle of Southern Comfort in a single sitting and half a bottle of Tequila (including the worm). I felt fine until it was time to leave the house party. I was staying at a friend’s. His parents had just redecorated the whole of the downstairs of the house. I did some redecorating myself as well – on the furniture, the walls, the floor… Drink responsibly kids! I haven’t been able to drink Southern Comfort, or look my friend’s parents in the eye since.
I also managed to get locked in a cupboard once – completely naked. After a while and with no help from any of my friends, I managed to free myself and burst out. Only to be stood, proudly, in front of a friend’s mum in my birthday suit! She didn’t seem that impressed… I’m assuming with the destruction and the noise as opposed to the size of anything. Funnily enough, a lot of my friends’ parents think I’m a bad influence.
Which band member are you positive is an extraterrestrial and what does their planet look like? Details!
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: Tez is without doubt the most likely to be an alien. He seems to be able to distort time. It just works in a different way for him. He’ll text you two hours before a practice and tell you he might be late because he’s three hours away. Then he’s at practice before you. I’m also pretty sure there’s a zipper on his back for him to take off his skin suit. He can also hear frequencies the rest of us can’t and after playing “Cochise” by Audio Slave, his hand goes really claw like! Plus, let’s face it: when have you ever looked at a band and not thought the bassist was an alien?
What was the last song you listened to before this interview?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: “End of Days” by Lonely Dakota. It’s a great track – I can sing along to it perfectly! I know all the words! But in all seriousness, someone’s got to get the Spotify plays up…
Why should people experience your music?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell : Put us all together on a stage, add beer and whiskey, guitar’s being played behind PJ’s head, me out singing in the crowd, Tez jumping around all over the place and Sepala playing one handed so he can film the audience; throw in the weight of the world as well as a few near death experiences and you get Lonely Dakota. Why wouldn’t you want to experience that? Plus, one thing that we have worked really hard on is bringing you five different tracks on this EP. They aren’t all the same track played at different speeds with different lyrics like some bands I could mention… So, if you like a bit of variety in your rock, check it out!
Discuss: If you could accomplish one thing in a music career, what would it be? When you achieve that, will you quit?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: I think the ultimate career ambition for any guitarist is to have their own signature guitar! I’ve already designed three or four on paper; I guess you’ve got to dream big? At the moment, it would be a Schecter PT, mahogany body with roasted maple neck, glitter green top with white binding and black back and sides. Plus, chrome covered Pasadena pick up in the neck and an uncovered Brimstone 6 in the bridge!
I certainly wouldn’t want to quit after getting that far. I imagine the sales of my new signature guitar would probably plummet pretty fast!
If you had a time machine what would you do with it?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: Destroy it! Name one good example from fiction were messing around with timelines has ever made something better. Exactly! It’s all paradoxes and butterfly effects. The past is the past for a reason; learn from it, try and keep all your limbs intact, then move on. Pain, loss, happiness, tragedy – it makes us who we are.
What are your detailed thoughts on yodeling?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: From my experiences, I would say that whoever is fitting these guys with lederhosen is making them a bit too tight in the crotch area… Which could be a benefit I guess. Not only for hitting the high notes, but also to stop them reproducing. Although I’m pretty sure that any guy trying to impress a girl with yodelling has probably already deployed the world’s best contraceptive aid.
Name two people cooler than Evel Kneivel. Why?
Luke ‘VonDee’ Varndell: Sepala, our drummer, because not only can he play kick arse drums, he can do it one handed whilst filming the crowd and still keep us all in time. It shouldn’t be possible.
Also, Slash, and I honestly don’t think I need to explain why! Just read his biography.
Thank you very much for participating in Groovey.TV’s The Gauntlet! We look forward to your answers! Cheers!