Check him out tonight with his band, The Promise of the Real at The State Room, at 8 PM. Visit thestateroomslc.com for tickets and info. In the meantime, read about what he has to say about life, music, and being real in our exclusive interview, here.
LR: Obviously you had an early introduction to music! How did it play out for you?
Nelson: I started singing when I was four. I sang a lot, actually. I grew up on the road. I started playing guitar when I was 11 or 12. Then I played rhythm at 14 and through my dad, learned how to play in a band.
I sounded like a little girl, though! I had a different sound in my head. So I stopped singing for a while, but started again in college. I played on the street in LA, on the Venice boardwalk, and I started meeting people. I finally made it to the point where I could make a living out of it.
LR: This one's kind of a no-brainer, but who were your biggest influences?
Nelson: Incredibly, Jimi Hendrix really got me. My dad influenced me, too, but Jimi inspired me to play the guitar professionally. My dad was my biggest influence altogether, though. I try to keep his humility. He's an incredible example. So was Stevie Ray Vaughan.
LR: How is it, trying to make your way as a musician with such a famous father?
Nelson: It's a helpful thing, a lot of doors get opened. I consider myself really lucky and my dad is so supportive. For us, though, it doesn't matter how many open doors you get, if you don't take advantage, of them, if you don't practice and work hard, you won't get asked back. You have to put yourself out there and take the opportunities.
Also, I play my own music. People are going to like it or not. They'll compare me to my father and I'm not trying to run away from that. I just like playing music. I like playing live music; I like to give people a good time. All the other stuff doesn't matter to me. I try to make it a great party.
LR: What is life like for you, now that you're making a name for yourself?
Nelson: Well, I plan to be on tour for the rest of my life. We get three weeks off here, or a week, there.
I also still love to go surfing, usually around Venice Beach, but once the lease goes up I'll go out to Maui.
I'm never off, though, I live on a bus. I'm gone all the time. I'm making a living a living and would like to buy a house eventually. But I'm so young I don't need a place right now. Plus, I'm used to it. Right now I can't see myself taking more than three months off. I have to be playing music.
LR: Tell me about your band. How did you all meet?
Nelson: I met them all in LA, except in Maui: Tato (Melgar - percussion), he was our gardener at our mom's house. He's from Uruguay. We started playing together years ago, and I've known him for 15 years.
Also, my brother Micah is often with us. He paints on stage!
Anthony (LoGerfo' drums) and I met at a Neil Young concert. And then there's Cory McCormick (bass) and John Avila (bass). I feel like everyone who's with me is my family.
LR: What's on the horizon for you?
Nelson: We've got a new record; self-titled. Fans should follow me on Facebook, because I regularly update the page myself. I try and stay connected. We don't know when the album is coming out. Soon!
There are also some causes that are important to me, like Farm Aid and education, in general. The change that we need will come from ourselves. I write about personal transformation.
LR: Tell me about your band's name. The Promise of the Real. How did that come about?
Nelson: The promise of the real: It's us as a band promising that when we bring our music to the table, it's not someone else saying what we should play. We're being real, we screw up.
To me, being real is being human, it's rawness. We really like Neil Young and Bob Dylan, too. Both very real artists.
LR: Trick question. Not really. What are some of your favorite, most influential songs or ones you like to play?
Nelson: I've never been able to answer. I love so much music. (Click here to see some he told us about, and go see Lukas on stage tonight for more!)