Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Lucero's a weird band. Are they southern rock? Emo? Indie? An alt-country Nickelback? Or are they just a hard-working rock band trying to, in the words of Elvis Presley (with whom they share a practice space), "Follow That Dream." lawrence.com spoke with the craggy-voiced singer about murder, Tiger Style Records, and murder.
Ben Nichols: Yeah, it is. We'd done two records before this last one on a local Memphis label, and then we did our third record with Tiger Style.
It is. You're right. I don't know exactly - how did that happen? Oh, there was an intern working at Tiger Style who was actually from Littlerock, Ark., which is my hometown, and I think he actually introduced them to the CD, to the first two CDs, and then they just came out and saw us live in New York, and liked it, and yeah, it is an odd fit, just considering the rest of the bands on the label. But they were really excited about it, and they worked real hard on it, and so it worked out great.
No, not really. We did that record at our practice space here in Memphis, and kept it pretty simple and pretty straightforward. Just recorded it on ADATs ourselves. And we got finished with it, sent 'em a copy, and they're like, "Sounds good." And that was that. It was pretty easy. And then they worked really hard to support the record, and no meddlin', no "You should change this, you should change that." They were really cool guys.
I think it's all extremely heartfelt music. It's all coming from the same place, kind of. Just two different takes on the same thing. And growing up, all the kids who liked hardcore music or punk rock music or whatever, they all liked Johnny Cash and they all liked the Pogues, Tom Waits, and, at least when I was growing up, a lot of the more punk rock folks who I looked up to had really good taste in music outside of punk rock. They liked Hank Williams, and they liked George Jones, and even Willie Nelson and stuff like that. So I'm not sure. It makes a good fit. Maybe it's a similar approach to life, either way you go about it.
(laughs) People ask us that a lot.
No, no I don't. We've never seen Elvis, never talked to Elvis, never seen his ghost. But I figure, we're taking a shower in the same shower, we're sittin' on the same toilet.
Yeah, apparently so. (laughs) I don't know... I have no idea what the hell people are sending out, the PR people.
Yeah, yeah. I hear it a lot.
Negated fully. Man.
That is pretty harsh.
Yeah, I had read that one before.
That's pretty good. We gotta get that stuff up on the website.
I don't know. I guess you don't respond to 'em. Do you have to respond to 'em? I don't know. You can't please everybody. I ended up with the voice I got through no - it wasn't up to me. I just kinda got stuck with it. I like singin', I like writin' songs, so I don't know. It does the trick for some folks. A few people come out and see our shows. A few people have bought the record. That's good enough for me. I'd be doin' it no matter what, probably.
Ooh. We just did a tour with Against Me, a punk rock band from Florida, and that was a lot of fun. We played a lot of all-ages shows, which was something we don't do enough of, and so that was really cool. Then there's Drag the River from Colorado, and they're really good guys. That was a good match.
Yeah, looking forward to seeing them. Man, it's a really cool festival. I'm a huge fan of the Drive-by Truckers. They're one of my favorite bands, period, right now. I saw (Drive-by Truckers songwriter/vocalist) Patterson Hood last week on a solo run, and he was just doing acoustic songs, but he had (Drive-by Truckers guitarist) Jason Isbell with him and man, that kid is just brilliant.
Is Patterson Hood scary? He seems to be pretty in touch with his dark side.
Yeah, definitely. But no, he's the most smiliest, friendliest down-to-earth guy. Every time I talk to him, every time I've met him, he's overly friendly. And yeah, you wouldn't think it when you met him, but he writes really good stories that make really good songs. And they are darker, for sure.
Yes, he does. And I don't know if he's ever killed anyone or not, but he can write a good song about it for sure.
Yeah, and for me the lyrics are tough. Lyrics are hard for me, for sure, and it's really tough to write about - I'm not as good at the third person type songs. If I didn't actually do it, if it didn't happen to me, if I didn't see it, it's really tough for me to write a song about it. So yeah, I'm not as good at the murder ballad. I'd actually probably have to kill someone and go to jail before I could write a song about killing someone and going to jail. I could do it, but I'd have a tough time singing it. I'm not sure if it would feel right for me.
Yeah, hopefully it doesn't. We'll see, won't we. If I keep gettin' these bad reviews, who knows what might happen.
I can give you the name of the guy from Time Out New York.