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AU's Luke Wyland on strange venues and Denver connections

AU started off as "luc," a solo project of Luke Wyland's when he was attending college in Boston. The band formed after Wyland's graduation, in 2005, when he and some friends took a trip along the West Coast. Settling in Portland, they began carving out a niche for themselves on the strength of Wyland's richly textured experimental pop songs.

Their 2008 album, Verbs, was a marvel of informally orchestrated, organic, ambient pop, and their latest effort, Both Lights, reveals a band that is more coherent and direct in its approach without having lost the playfulness and energy of its earlier work. We recently spoke with Wyland about his fondness for Denver and the new record's prismatic cover art.

Westword: You have a Denver connection from your early national tours, having played Brooks Center Arts in 2008. Tell us about that, and what you enjoy about playing unconventional spaces.

Luke Wyland: We made good friends with a nice community of people there, like Laura Goldhamer and the band she plays in, the Dovekins. We've always had a lot of fun in Denver. It's actually a place that, if I had to move anywhere else in the U.S., it would be there. There's just a very good, open energy there. The first time we came through, we did play [the Brooks Center]. That was an amazing night.

We play houses and raw art spaces and whatnot, and venues as well. We're still a smallish band, and in some places we do well and in some places not as much. For me, at least, I quite enjoy playing those non-traditional places. I feel like there's less of a barrier between the audience and the band. I always end up having a little bit more of a personal experience with the people who are there.

The cover art for Both Lights is interesting; it looks like a cross section of some kind of polished layered stone.

That's exactly what it is. It's a Mexican crazy-lace agate. It's a very high-res scan of a very small part of a stone. Then they printed it on reflective metallic cardboard. I couldn't be happier with it. It was a collaboration with my new record label [Hometapes]. We were bouncing ideas back and forth. The title comes from the idea of the light that is emitted and the light that is reflected.

We got into this idea of having something reflected [that] you can see yourself in to some degree. They found that stone in a pawn shop, and we were like, "That's it!" Layer upon layer of almost psychedelic color while also still being reflective. We didn't know how it would come out printed, but we opened the boxes and it looked great.