Local H Charging Even Harder With Next Album
By Mike Duffy
With two-person bands like the Black Keys, The Kills and Sleigh Bells finding more play on the airwaves these days, it’s a wonder why there isn’t more reverence for Local H.
After all, the Scott Lucas-fronted outfit has been doing the two-man thing for years. The outfit hasn’t achieved the commercial success of the now-defunct twosome of the White Stripes, but it has been chugging along for years.
|Local H’s debut full-length album.|
Having released his first album – Ham Fisted – in 1995, Lucas was a forerunner of this duo phenomenon, and it was mostly out of necessity.
Lucas has been playing his signature setup of the bass pickups he adds to his electric guitars since the beginning of the band.
It all started in his mid 20s, when he couldn’t find a bass player and decided to take things in his own hands, literally playing bass and lead on the same axe.
“I’m from a small town in Illinois. We were looking for a bass player, and everybody that tried out had a mullet. It just wasn’t working, so rather than wait to find one, we just started recording and doing shows,” Lucas told Fender.com. “We talked to a friend of ours who worked at this guitar store to figure out how we could do this while still being heavy as a two-piece.
“I had been playing guitar for at least seven or eight years before this became a necessity for me to do. It was never something that I started out thinking I was going to do. We just had no choice.”
Technically speaking, there were challenges Lucas had to overcome.
“We were thinking that maybe there was a way I could use an octave pedal, but that was too muddy because all the strings were going through it,” Lucas explained. “The idea was floated that we use a bass pickup with its own jack and position it under the E and the A strings and isolate them. It’s only just a tiny bit of octave pedal on it.
“It’s mostly cranking up the low end on the bass cab. All the root notes on all the strings have to be on the E string or the A string.”
Nearly 20 years into the game, Local H – which includes drummer Brian St. Clair – has a follow-up to 2008’s 12 Angry Months due out this summer titled Halleluja! I’m a Bum.
With the release, Lucas is excited for a change in the sound of his main band.
Collaborating with noted metal producer Sanford Parker (Bloodiest, Pelican, Yakuza), the typically-hard sounding Local H is moving in an even harder direction.
And Lucas believes it is working, even if it will take fans by surprise.
“I think what happens a lot is that some of the best stuff that we do takes a while for people to like,” Lucas said. “If there’s something on it that people say, ‘I can’t stand this,’ it’s great. Perfect. That means it doesn’t sound like the last record and we’re moving forward.”
Perhaps known best for “Bound for the Floor” and “Eddie Vedder” off the band’s bestselling 1996 album As Good As Dead, Lucas and St. Clair have had Hallelujah! I’m a Bum in the works for a while.
They’ve been road-testing fresh tunes such as “Paddy Considine” and “Another Friday,” and after working with Parker on his second album with his other band, Scott Lucas and the Married Men, Lucas realized he had found a gem.
“We had recorded a bunch of songs about a year ago and were trying to work out schedules with some producers, but there’s a lot of waiting around,” Lucas said. “When we met Sanford, we knew we needed to go in that direction.
“I’d known him from around Chicago and met him a few times, and I just asked if he’d be interested in it quite a few months back. He definitely was, so that was a good starting point.”
The constantly-traveling Lucas laughed when asked about the fan response to a song like “Considine,” however. It has been described in several concert reviews as a crowd favorite.
Lucas had a different take.
“People seem to fucking hate that song. People come to shows or on our message board and won’t shut up about it. That sort of lets me know that we’re on the right track,” he said with a chuckle, before getting serious. “There’s nothing worse than someone going, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty good,’ or, ‘That’s not bad. Sounds like the last record.’ Nobody wants that, the least of all us.”
Lucas is also going in a new direction with Scott Lucas and the Married Men.
“I started playing with these guys that are the Married Men, and it just became a band,” Lucas said. “Over the course of the last couple of years playing live, we’ve become a band that was trying to be this subdued band to getting louder and louder. Now, it’s this thing where some of the songs are as heavy as anything.
|Scott Lucas and the Married Men.|
The seven-person band will release its second full-length effort this June with Blood Half Moon, and Lucas warns that it’s a departure from 2010’s debut, George Lassos the Moon.
“The more we played live, the louder the amps got. The louder the amps got….you get the idea. After a certain point, we quit fighting it and decided to get chocolate all over our peanut butter,” the frontman said. “It’s not like we’ve turned into Slayer or anything – we’ve just decided to embrace our dark side. And that goes for the lyrics, as well.
While this fresh batch of songs could have ended up on a Local H album, Lucas thought it best to keep them under the Married Men banner.
“I see this band having its own trajectory, some day having its own history where it can look back and look at where it started.”
And since the Married Men shows tend to be a bit mellower, at the very least, there is a fall-back plan if he can’t keep up with the rigors of a Local H show.
“I guess it’s also a retirement plan. If I break a hip in Local H, I can still do this.”
Still, Local H has a healthy slate of tour dates for 2012.
Noting an evolution in the sound of both bands, Lucas is definitely moving forward.