Introducing Levara: where rock-star genes and synth-rock jams collide

(Image credit: Mascot Records)

There is nothing more addictive, says Trev Lukather, than the roar of a sell-out stadium. 

“When I was twelve years old and had just picked up a guitar,” recalls the Levara gunslinger, “Toto had reunited with Bobby Kimball and my dad [Steve Lukather] took me on tour to Europe. Next thing you know, he brought me up onstage without me knowing and told me, ‘Play whatever you want’. Dad had to hold the guitar strap because I was too frickin’ short. But I had 20,000 people scream afterwards. And then I was hooked.” 

With a first gig like that – not to mention a childhood where Eddie Van Halen “was just hanging out at the house” – it’s no wonder Lukather Jr has lofty ambitions for his own band. He’s inherited a few of the old man’s qualities: witness the motormouth interview style, flashy guitar skills and 80s synthrock sound. 

“Back in that world of tape, you had to really play your ass off,” he says. “Those guys played like motherfuckers.”

But the Levara lineup (completed by French-born vocalist Jules Galli and sometime One Direction drummer Josh Devine) insist they’ll live or die on the merits of their self-titled debut album. 

“I look at our songs as very anthemic,” Lukather says of electro-rock screamers like Automatic and Chameleon. “Like a nice homage to the 80s music like Toto and Journey that I personally love. Every time we wrote a new song, it was like, ‘I want to hear this in an arena’. Y’know, this music was about killer songs, loud guitars and ripping solos – and everything about it had to be real.” 

The hooks might be universal, but that doesn’t mean Levara deal in empty platitudes. Dig into the lyric sheet and you’ll find an edge to raw moments like On For The Night

“That song was written after we got a message from a fan who was struggling with depression,” recalls Lukather. “It’s basically a suicide prevention song. But then there’s the happy ending at the end of such a dark song where everybody can just go nuts on the dancefloor.”

Elsewhere, the moody Allow is so personal that he hesitates to talk about it. “My sister, she’s now over a year sober, so it’s a happy ending, but at the time, she was struggling with alcohol. So we checked her into rehab, and it was a really emotional time. I came home and that riff just poured out of me. But the craziest thing is that Jules wrote the lyrics separately – and they matched.” 

It’s tantalising to think how big these songs might sound live when Levara are finally let off the leash. And if you’re one of those cynics expecting a vanity project from yet another rockstar progeny, says Lukather, prepare to be proved emphatically wrong. 

“We opened for Toto back in 2019 and it was an amazing full-circle moment. But this wasn’t: ‘Aw, isn’t that cute?’ We were ready. We held our own. We fucking killed it.”

Levara is released on May 14 via Mascot.

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.