Scott Lucas of Local H on the Band’s 25th Anniversary
Scott Lucas has been making music with his grunge rock project Local H for nearly a quarter of a century now. He's gone through countless ups and downs including lineup changes and a brutal mugging in Russia in 2013 that resulted in vocal cord damage which he's luckily recovered from. Now, after the addition of drummer Ryan Hardng to Local H's roster, the two-man outfit have procured a stunning rock album titled Hey, Killer from the depths of Steve Albini's Chicago studio that's due out today (April 14) via G&P Records. In honor of the band's forceful comeback album, they'll head out on an extensive U.S. tour kicking off on April 17 at H.O.M.E. in Arlington Heights – a fitting venue in the band's home state. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band' birth, the duo will play a one-off anniversary show at the Metro in Chicago on April 19 – nearly 25 years to the day of their first ever show at the University of Wisconsin. We were lucky enough to catch up with Lucas and chat about all of that good stuff and more, including the funky new album cover.
Since you were recording in his legendary studio, did you get to work with Steve Albini on Hey, Killer?
You know, it's not like I would ever not want to work with Steve Albini. It's that I'm still kind of afraid of him, you know? And there's kind of no real way to work with somebody that you're afraid of. I admire him so much but, yeah, I don't want to make a record with him and then read in an interview six months later that he thinks it's a piece of s--t. But, yeah, I've made a couple of records in his studio and he's walked around. He's said hi and he's really nice. I almost feel like a p---y for being afraid of him. He's always been nothing less than a super-nice guy. And he wears a Dave Chappelle shirt, so that's cool.
Is there any meaning to the album cover's funky pop art?
The artist is a friend of ours from L.A. We were talking about what to do with the artwork and I just had this idea based off of the title to do something that was kind of a cross between Richard Ramirez and the dude with the nunchucks from Ghost World that hangs out in the convenience store. He came back with this and as soon as we saw the image, we loved it and thought it was perfect. It's definitely one of my favorite covers that we've ever had.
It's got a very "Hunter S. Thompson" vibe to it.
Yeah, you know, there's that. There's definitely a Ralph Steadman thing to it. I get like a Ralph Bakshi thing from it, too, and also when Disney went all art deco in the '60s. There are a lot of things it reminds me of.
Do you prefer your current two-man dynamic over being in a larger band like Local H was in the past?
For some things, you know, it definitely has its place. When I made those records with the Married Men, that was interesting, too. That, for me, was getting out of my wheel house. And that was the thing for me – when I decided to make a solo record, there was no reason to strip it down since Local H is already so stripped-down. The only way to go would be to go the other direction with it.
What has Ryan Harding specifically contributed to the new record and band's overall dynamic?
Energy and enthusiasm. That's the thing: if you listen to the last record, there's something almost magisterial and slower about it. With this, which I love, the songs are spikier and harder. There's certainly a live wire current running through the songs.
Did you expect your PledgeMusic campaign to be as successful as it turned out to be?
Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. I was just worried that it would be embarrassing. I didn't want to raise a flag and have nobody f-----g salute. I didn't want to announce it and only get like 30 percent of our goal, so that was the only thing that kind of scared me. But after only a few days of putting it out there, the response was pretty incredible. It turned out to be a great experience for us and hopefully a great experience for everyone who came along.
How does it feel to be giving back to MusiCares – an organization that helped you get back on your feet after your brutal attack?
It's nice to be able to have a charity that you can have a personal story with. What was really interesting to me was that I'm one of those people who just loathes to ask for help. So when [the mugging] happened to me and they heard about it and freely offered their help, I was kind of moved by that. I was also moved by the reaction of people on social media. It was really nice. We had to cancel some dates and I was really disappointed about that. It's just not something that we do and I know how disappointing that can be for people. But everyone was like, "Don't worry about it. Take care of yourself." That was interesting to me. I'm very interested in being moved. Now I sound like I'm running for the G.O.P. nomination for president or something.
Are you announcing your official candidacy for 2016?
[Laughs] Yeah, me and Mitt Romney. We're pretty interested in being moved.
How did plans to celebrate your 25th anniversary as a band unfold? Were you always planning a big celebration?
No, somebody brought up to me back in January that it was the 20th anniversary of Ham Fisted and asked how we were going to celebrate. And with this new record coming up, I'm not one for looking back and not really interested in doing one of those tours where we play some "classic" record front-to-back. But then, I thought that it was kind of interesting that we're releasing a new record almost 25 years to the day of our band's first show. I thought that was something worth celebrating. It kind of snuck up on me. I wasn't even aware of it until then. So I figured we have this hole of a couple of months before the record comes out and maybe we can sort of look back and talk about where we've been and what we've done. It should be cool. It's gonna be fun.
What do you aim to accomplish on your upcoming tour?
The last six months or so have all been about this new record. I'll just be glad that we can get it to people so they can hear it and hear us play it. That's what we're most looking forward to.