I had a chance to talk with Scott Lucas, singer/guitarist for Local H about a week and a half after the Chicago Metro shows where they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their second album, As Good As Dead, which also included original drummer, Joe Daniels. I wanted to get some insight on getting ready for the shows and different aspects of the three shows themselves. We also discussed his relationship with rock ‘n’roll, whether or not they found those kids in their Bound For The Floor video and how he defines success. He also shared their song writing process including how far along they are on new music and more.
Last April Local H celebrated 25 years as a band and you also released the new album Hey, Killer. This April you are celebrating the 20th anniversary of As Good As Dead and Joe [Daniels] is back as part of the celebration. Is it strange or awesome that you’re simultaneously celebrating the past and the future together?
Yeah, yeah, I like that. I like the fact that it’s not, you don’t have to sort of discount the last 16 years of your work, your life, to do things like this and we’re certainly not afraid to play new songs and sometimes I feel like some bands’ songs don’t measure up, but that’s for the audience to decide. It’s not really for me to decide. If they don’t like it, then I’m wrong, but we’ll see.
Obviously you guys had to practice before you started. Were the practice sessions more about relearning some of the songs that don’t get played all the time or getting back into that groove of playing with Joe because there have been two drummers since him.
That’s what it was about. Just getting into the groove with him and sort of shaking the dust off and getting Joe comfortable was a big thing. He hadn’t played in a while. There were certain songs that had morphed over the years because we played it so much. It’s not even something that’s on purpose, things just start to change the way you play it and he’d be like, “Hey, that’s not how we play it,” and I was like, “Oh yeah, you’re right,” so there was a bit of that.
Does that mean you’re going back to the original or there’s just less of…
There are things I forgot. It’s not like I sit around and listen to the records, so there are things that I forgot that are on those records, like maybe some lyric changes, you know, things like that. I was like, “Oh yeah,” you know? It was something that just kind of happened and it wasn’t a thing of wanting to do this or wanting to do that with the song. It’s just over the years you start to go a certain way. I think one of the things was trying to sort of bring it back to where it was. If there was some way that we were fucking up a song that was better we’d kind of leave it in.
Did Joe fall back into it pretty easily?
Yeah. Right from the first song it was like, “Oh yeah, these are Joe’s parts,” and it was good and it was just a matter of getting rid of any consciousness and sort of getting to that thing where we could just fall into it and throw away being careful. Not worrying about tempo and stuff like that.
So I have to assume that some memories came flooding back the first time you guys actually played a song together. So question one, what was the first song you practiced and two, is there a memory that you recall?
We just started kicking off the record on that first practice so you know it starts with the little 50-second piece from me and then we go right into Bound [For The Floor] so Bound was the first song that he played. Then I was kind of like, “Oh yeah, this is the way it’s played, these are his parts.” That was the thing, I don’t know, I think the memories are more about playing some of those songs and not playing them in a while. Songs like No Problem or we were working on Scott-Rock for the acoustic set. Just kind of listening to those songs and going, “Huh,” or Freeze Dried (F)Lies was something that was interesting to me because I was like, “Wow, I was pretty honest about myself at 26, the 26 year old me, and not that it did me any good, but just to be singing those lyrics and thinking about where they came from and what they meant. I was like, “Oh, the 26 year old me kind of knew what was up.” Most 26 year olds are full of shit and that guy was okay for that one three and a half minutes of his life.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you guys have played, back in the day, As Good As Dead in its entirety before. So what makes the second time around even better?
Well it’s funny because Joe’s last show was As Good As Dead, we played it from beginning to end, pretty much the way that we’re doing it now. So it was funny that his first show would be doing the same thing at the same venue. Now it’s, I think time, ya know, is mainly, like how people sort of perceive the record and what they think and that kind of thing.
You labeled this the Two Balls and a Dick Tour and for the Metro shows, or now that they’re over, have you said to yourself, “What was I thinking playing with two drummers?” jokingly of course.
No. To me, that’s the best part of the show and that’s the part where I’m kind of waiting to get finished with all the other stuff to get to the ice cream.
I’m not going to lie, I was there both nights and it is an amazing thing to witness. So speaking of the Metro shows, how did it come about that Ryan would play bass on two of the songs on As Good As Dead and that Ryan and Joe would play in the encore?
That was the idea from the beginning. The idea was that you’d walk in and there would be a drummer on either side of the stage and then we’d play one set with Ryan and then we’d play another set with Joe and then at the end they’d both play. That was the whole idea that made the thing of playing As Good As Dead exciting to me. I was like, “Okay, if everybody can get on board with this idea, I’m down. I can do this.” As far as playing bass, he can play bass, he’s really good and those songs have some guitar solos that I wanted to play and it’d kind of be pointless to do if you don’t do the guitar solos.
Alright, so you have dates through June celebrating the anniversary of the album [As Good As Dead], I’m assuming everything is going to go the same as the Metro shows?
Maybe. The thing about the Metro shows is I barely remember them. It was almost like it was too easy. It was such a kind of a blur that I’m looking forward to playing, going on tour with the thing where I can sort of relax and enjoy it.
Do you think you’ll change up the first set every show or kind of follow the same…
Maybe. Probably. We changed it up completely those first two nights but I don’t know if we’ll change it up that much, but we will. I mean it’s one of the only things in the set that we can change up so we’ll take the opportunity to do that as much as possible.
Again, speaking of the Metro shows, I was surprised to hear how often you’d tell the crowd you were nervous and to me, you don’t seem like the kind of person that gets easily rattled. So, overall are you happy with how the shows turned out? All three of them?
Yeah, yeah. It went well. It was good.
What was your favorite part of the weekend?
I don’t know. Like I said, it was kind of, it almost felt like I didn’t even do anything. I just felt like it was too easy and I don’t like that. I like there to be some push and pull and nothing really stands out as being, you know, it really does all feel like a blur. There are parts of the acoustic set that I thought went really well. I don’t know. It was a good show. I knew it would be and I’m glad it is.
So, speaking of acoustic, a small amount of fans got to witness that set on the fourth floor of the Metro. How did that idea come about and how did you decide what songs would be played?
That was Joe’s idea because he really wanted to do an acoustic show, because we used to do them. We just kind of picked songs that would kind of work in the acoustic environment and we also picked songs that maybe shouldn’t work in the acoustic environment. It was pretty easy to pick the songs that would work. There was maybe one song I wanted to cut, Lovey Dovey, but I just couldn’t resist the image of Joe with a kazoo in his mouth. It was good.
It was a nice surprise to get four from Ham Fisted. I’m not sure if a couple of those are the ones you’re referring to.
I think one of the better songs of the show was Scott-Rock. I think that really worked out well. It was nice to play Grrrlfriend, but yeah, it was nice to play those Pack Up The Cats songs, that worked out really well. That was something, we hadn’t done any acoustic Pack Up the Cats songs before, a lot of those other ones we had, so that was really cool that it happened.
I’m guessing that Pack Up the Cats is well liked by yourselves because you played four of them Friday night as well.
Yeah, we do like that record and it was good to get something in there. We have to play As Good As Dead, we have to, that’s kind of part of the deal so it’s nice to stick in as much of other stuff as we can.
Well, for anyone that was at all three shows it was almost like you got a bonus album because there were so many songs played from that.
Out of the whole weekend you got 45 songs.
Which is awesome. A line from one of your songs [Hit The Skids Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Rock], caught my attention and the line is, “I’m in love with rock ‘n’ roll but that will change eventually.” How would you define your relationship with rock ‘n’ roll today?
Pretty good, you know, we change it up. We do some role playing once in a while, you know, just to keep things fresh. Sometimes I can sort of see that, you know that line works on a lot of different levels and I think that a lot of bullshit takes away from people that are musicians, takes away from their love of the music but I think, just to people that listen to music, they grow older and it’s not as important to them any more so it’s not as much of a rock ‘n’ roll insider line as sometimes I think it is. There are times when I think it’s actually really universal for a lot of people.
I’ve seen Local H a few times over the years and it just seems like there’s always a lot of younger kids at your shows. Have you found that they’re the children of your fans from back in the day or are these kids just discovering Local H some other way?
Maybe. Maybe it’s both. I mean, I’m very proud of that. My favorite bands when I was growing up were Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and those bands started before I was born so I think maybe there’s some of that. There are certain bands that, that’s the kind of music you listen to when you hit 13 or something like that and then they get into that and that is cool and if we are one of those bands like that, I’m just grateful to be in that group.
Recently, Moments In Sound ran a piece that you guys were looking for the kids in your Bound For The Floor video. How did that turn out? Did you find anybody?
We found one, yes. We’ll be publishing an interview with him very soon.
Really. Dare to say which “kid” that you found?
No. It’s still a surprise.
Hey, you can’t blame me for asking. After being in the business over 25 years and experiencing a variety of situations, how do you personally define success?
Doing what you want to do and being able to sleep at night. Not having to apologize. There’s a lot of people who define their worth by how much they are in the public eye or whether or not they’re on certain magazine covers and as you see all that kind of stuff start to fall away and not be that important, you really start to wonder about those people’s motives and even more, how they feel about it. It’s got to be kind of a crushing blow to measure yourself by how popular you are and then not be popular anymore, you know? I think people don’t give a fuck about that. You’ve got to find other ways to sort of measure your worth.
After all this time, do you still having anything left to prove whether it’s to yourself or your fans or anyone else?
Sure. I think part of the really interesting thing about what you have to prove the longer you do it is the fact that you should still be doing it and that you still have something to say and that’s when I think things get really interesting, to me, for the bands that I like. It’s like, how do they stay themselves without necessarily becoming a caricature of themselves. There’s plenty of bands that have no real reason to do it other than the fact that they’re still raking in a bunch of money. But the thing is, it’s fun. It’s great. It’s a wonderful thing to do so I don’t think you need a lot to justify it.
Is there any new Local H music in the works?
No. We were working on something last year and stock piled a lot of stuff but nothing’s really been sort of put together and sort of shaped or anything like that. So it’s just a bunch of riffs just waiting to be worked on.
So do ideas just come to you and you jot them down or do you have a process where you’re going to focus?
Well, first what happens, if a riff comes you just put it down or if a melody happens you just put it all down and then if you get a lyrical idea, I just write it down. You just collect all this stuff over the year and then when it’s time to do it you just go in and you focus and you go, “Oh, this sounds great,” or “Oh, I forgot all about this,” and you start putting it together and then it starts to take shape and it’s been a pretty good way to work. That’s pretty much how the last record fell together.
So is that your process way back with the first album or have you kind of evolved a pattern or something over the years?
I don’t know, like on the first album there was this thing where a lot of those songs were written over the course of two or three years and so there were some songs that, I think that first record would have been better if we had had a rule that anything that was over a year old had to go because you hold on to things and I think I’ve learned a lesson not to do that. An album is supposed to be what it is. It’s a snapshot of where the band is at the time so that record was stock piling of everything we wanted to put on a record and not all of it was killer.
Speaking of killer, I do have to say, Hey, Killer is a phenomenal album.
The songs, I think, translate really well. Do you think you might go in that direction or are you just going to change it up and do something totally unexpected?
I don’t really know what that is. We’ll see what happens. The songs, I certainly like, I loved the process of making that record and I liked what it was like. Maybe we’ll do that but making that record was exactly the process I’m describing now. We just stock piled riffs and at the end of the year, it was like, “Alright, let’s see what we got,” and it turned out we had some stuff that we really liked.
Find all Local H tour dates and ticket links here.