Life & Culture

Meet Jake Lucas, Model and South London Indie Star

We speak to the grunge-pop guitarist splitting his time between the Peckham stage and the Paris catwalk – shot here wearing Pretty Green’s A/W17 collection

  • TextTom Connick

This article was created in partnership with Pretty Green.

For most people, splitting your time between sweatbox gigs across the globe and catwalk shows in high-end locales would be more than enough creative contrast. For musician and model Jake Lucas, though, that’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible. As guitarist in South London’s next-big-indie-thing INHEAVEN, he wields buzzsaw, grunge-inspired guitars like a weapon; though when he’s up on the catwalk modelling for everyone from Margiela to McQueen, he’s an altogether more pensive figure. It’s this mixed media creative streak that runs through everything Lucas does.

Pictured here wearing Pretty Green, a brand with strong ties to British musical subcultures, Lucas is buzzing with ideas and excitement. He recently held a screening of Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change documentary Before The Flood at nearby arthouse space Deptford Cinema, allowing him to share his fervent love of film for the first time. “I’m making a zine about Glen Campbell,” he also reveals. “Rhinestone Cowboy was my childhood, so when he passed away I was like, ‘God, what can I do?!’ I thought about illustrating this zine about Glen Campbell playing the Rhinestone Cowboy. He’s thought of as a guy on the breadline, trying to make ends meet, but then he turns into this famous, cowboy figure.”

It’s a story that, in many ways, mirrors Lucas’s own. Plugging away in tiny venues and touring incessantly in a beat-up van, his band INHEAVEN recently broke free of the South London scene to become an international prospect. Their self-titled debut album – released September 1st via PIAS – is built on a foundation of Lucas’s towering guitar riffs, the likes of Bitter Town and Vultures kicking back at normality and complacency with a similar confidence to that cowboy-esque figure he himself idolises. Understandably, the band is Lucas’s main focus as a rigorous touring schedule kicks in.

“We started playing in this crappy rehearsal rooms in Peckham, behind the Bussey Building,” Lucas recalls of those early days, citing “that graft of playing in shitty places, from the ground up,” as key to their recent success. “It’s difficult for guitar bands to break through these days,” he continues, “and we definitely slummed it through by playing so many crappy places.”

Parallel to those early years of the band, though, Lucas’s modelling career took a different, altogether more glamorous path. After shrugging off his first couple of requests from talent scouts, he eventually yielded in late 2013 – within six months he was on the catwalk in Venice for Diesel, and holding a starring role in Marc Jacobs’ S/S 2015 lookbook. Last year, Lucas was shot for Another Man’s S/S16 issue and here, he models Pretty Green’s A/W17 ‘Black Label’ collection, which was inspired by the creative luminaries of the Britain’s underground music scene in the 1960s – a nod to the brand’s British heritage, and its ties with the country’s musical subcultures.

“People are fascinated with [the fashion] world, and how exciting it is, and that was definitely part of what appealed to me,” Lucas explains. “The travelling, and the excitement of going to new places and meeting new people, and trying something you didn’t know anything about… it was quite a contrast!” he laughs. “At the start, I was going to Panama with Juergen Teller, and then I was in Birmingham playing [local indie bar] The Sunflower Lounge. It makes everything a bit more real. It brings you down to reality, for sure.”

As INHEAVEN prep for the release of that first full-length, things are about to to get a whole lot more surreal. A star turn on Reading & Leeds Festivals’ huge NME/Radio 1 stage this August was just the start of their wide-eyed adventure – a first US tour is on the horizon, something Lucas is more than ready for. Juggling as many creative endeavours as he can manage, he relishes the opportunity to try something new whenever possible. “I have a compulsion to create. Every day I wake up and I feel like I have to create something,” he says with certainty. “If it’s not creating a black-and-white print, it’s painting ink on paper, or writing a song. It’s never-ending.”

He cites the likes of Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol and their collective fusion of music, fashion, film and art as key inspirations growing up, and it’s not hard to see a similar streak running through Lucas himself as he enthuses over the multi-faceted creativity of his idols. The modelling, the musicianship, the film curation, the painting, the illustration and the zine-making clearly aren’t enough for Lucas – he chuckles to himself as he admits screen-printing and ceramics are next on the list. “Push your own boundaries and you’ll find something amazing,” he declares. “Life’s way too short to just try one thing.”

Grooming Shiori Takahashi; Model Jake Lucas at Tomorrow Is Another Day.

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