Luke Evans on his love for Lizzo and the Bay City Rollers
The Welsh actor, singer and longtime Soho House member reveals the music that’s shaped him
Monday 31 October 2022 By Soho House
Having appeared in some of the biggest movie franchises and most-talked about TV dramas of the past 10 years, Luke Evans is a familiar face to many. From small screen gems, such as The Alienist and The Pembrokeshire Murders, to big screen behemoths – including The Hobbit, Fast & Furious 6 and what is arguably his most notable, scene-stealing turn, as Gaston in the live action version of Beauty and the Beast – the 43-year-old has the acting world firmly at his feet.
A veteran of musical theatre, Evans initially found success on the West End stage in productions of Rent, Avenue Q and Miss Saigon. In 2019, he returned to his first love – singing – with the release of his debut album, At Last. Its success has led to his latest, sophomore offering, A Song For You, which features duets with Charlotte Church and Nicole Kidman, as well as original material penned by the man himself.
Should any of that leave you in any doubt about Evans’ work ethic, he is set to appear as the lead in Echo 3, a new 10-part, action-thriller for Apple TV+, later in November.
But first, the multi-talented actor, musician and long-time Soho House member tells us all about the artists, the tracks and the live music experiences that have – and continue to –influence him throughout his life.
Can you remember when you first discovered your love for music?
‘I was very young. My father was 21 when I was born and he was an avid collector of music. I think I was four or five when I learned how to use the record player. My parents were into music from the 1960s and 1970s, so I would play my dad’s 45’s and listen to music from Marc Bolan, Bay City Rollers, David Bowie, The Beatles, Tom Jones and E.L.O. I was an eighties kid, but I didn’t really appreciate that era of music until later on. I would learn lyrics by listening to songs over and over and would sing in the house to my parents, my grandparents, to anyone who would listen.'
So you’re from a musical family?
‘Oh my god, very much so. From ABBA, Queen and Dire Straits, to Elvis, Madness and musical theatre. My dad would play the same song over and over – and sing the same incorrect lyrics, over and over.’
What was the first album you bought?
‘It was a vinyl collection of Stock Aitken Waterman hits featuring Hazell Dean, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and Pepsi & Shirley. And no, I don’t still listen to it. My first ever CD was Now That’s What I Call Music! 19. The first song on the second CD was ‘Get Here’ by Oleta Adams. And the last track was ‘Innuendo’ by Queen. I kept that album for a very long time. Then it moved to my iPod and now, literally just now, I’ve added it to my phone to stream.’
What’s your ultimate comfort track?
‘Bon Iver’s, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. When I was shooting The Hobbit in New Zealand, Aidan Turner took me to see them at Wellington Town Hall. I’d never heard of them before, but with 15 different instruments on stage they filled the room with such powerful energy. When I left New Zealand, I played it as the plane took off. The song is forever attached to that memory. Whenever I leave a place that I’ve had a wonderful experience in, I play the track as an emotional goodbye.’
Do you ever listen back to your own music? If so, which track means the most to you and why?
‘Not often, but sometimes they pop up on my playlists. ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ is meaningful because I’ve sung that song acapella for so many years. To record it with a full orchestra was just a lovely thing.’
Who are your biggest musical influences?
‘George Michael, John Legend, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway and Adele.’
If you could play one instrument that you don’t currently play, what would it be?
‘The guitar. You can travel easily with a guitar and you can tune it yourself. Now I’ve bought the guitar, I just haven't learned how to play it yet. I bought it in Mullumbimby, near Byron Bay, when I was shooting Nine Perfect Strangers. There was a beautiful guitar shop in the town so I had to have one.’
What’s your favourite gig memory?
‘Pink, performing acrobatics on cables, bouncing around the stage, making everyone so happy. She was just phenomenal on stage.’
If you had to pick a soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
‘Again Pink – ‘Glitter in the Air’. It looks at the simplest actions in life that can bring the most happiness. The lyrics are stunning. Beauty in the simplest of things.’
What are you listening to on repeat right now?
‘Dua Lipa and Elton John, ‘Cold Heart’; Harry Styles, ‘As It Was’; Lizzo, ‘About Damn Time’; and Ed Sheeran, ‘Celestial’.’
Which artist are you most excited about?
‘I love how unapologetic Lizzo is. She’s beyond talented. A breath of fresh air in an industry that has been all about one type of image for too long. She plays the flute! And comes out with banging tunes that I love listening and dancing to.’
What’s your pre-performance ritual?
‘Honey and lemon tea, a couple of Vocalzone throat pastilles and maybe a quick stress nap.’
Luke Evan’s new album, A Song For You, is available from 4 November; Echo 3 debuts on Apple TV+ on 23 November.