I’ve written about Local H more than any other band. I wrote about them in my high school newspaper at 17-year-old and at 31-years-old for this site. In the last 15 years I’ve written roughly 15,000 words on the band. Thankfully, it hasn’t been a series of nostalgia pieces.
If you’ve been following Local H’s career you’ve been treated to excellent concept albums about the end of relationships, life in a city and the absurdity of elections. Between LPs they’ve released a handful of cover-friendly EPs. Front man Scott Lucas has also put out two albums of his other band, Scott Lucas & The Married Men, collections of originals of the alt-country variety.
If you haven’t been following Local H’s career, you might know them as that band with that song you still hear in stadiums and on alt rock radio.
You should be following.
I spoke to Scott Lucas about Local H’s new drummer Ryan Harding, a David Letterman DJ night and more. If you’ve been following, you might like it. If you haven’t been following, I’ve sprinkled in some songs that may inspire you to see the band this weekend.
Scott Lucas: You’re supposed to do an interview and your phone’s dead?
Brightest Young Things: I know!
I mean get with the modern world!
I never got the confirmation of who was calling who and all that good stuff, man.
All I know is you were supposed to call me.
I was never told that.
I sat around like a bitch for a half an hour, waiting for you to call me!
That’s bullshit and you know it.
I don’t think so. I’ve been staring at the phone. I haven’t done one thing but stare at the phone, willing it to ring.
I’m looking through the emails right now, and I don’t see any of that shit.
Well, I’m thinking…maybe you got the email and your phone went dead or something like that.
No, it’s not. I’m blaming you completely. How’s the new drummer?
Great! Really great.
So interview over.
Here’s the band’s 2008 cover of TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me.” RiYL: TV on the Radio but louder with fewer people
What’s the biggest difference. You were with Brian a really long time. How does this guy hit? You had kind of like an Animal from The Muppets, classic rock style, and I mean that in a good way, drummer.
He’s a monster too. I mean he doesn’t play exactly like Brian and that’s fine. Before the show I was super nervous, and then all through the show I was kind of like, “Aw, this isn’t working,” and I was really bummed out, like, “Fuck! Everyone is out there not digging this,” and I just couldn’t look at anybody. And then, at the show I got out there and I started playing stuff and everyone was like, “Oh, he’s amazing! He’s perfect! Where’d you find him?”And I was like, “Cool.”
So, you genuinely did not feel it the first night?
Well, I was just a nervous wreck. I couldn’t get out of my own head, so I was just kind of thinking, “What is everyone else thinking?” And I was just thinking the worst.
Here’s Local H with their new drummer performing Lorde’s “Team.” RiYL: Lorde but louder and sung by a dude.
The reason I ask how he hits is because you’re playing with Jimmy Chamberlin too and that guy is not a rock drummer. He’s a jazz drummer through and through, and he’s a great jazz drummer, but that’s got to be a little different to approach it.
Yeah, completely, and the thing about Jimmy is he’s always there to catch you, which is super cool, but he’s not real set in the way he does things and that’s kind of the idea, is where he’s coming from.
And doesn’t the Jimmy thing have an entire film element to it as well? (Lucas and Chamberlin are collaborating for shows as part of the Chicago Music and Movies Festival)
Yeah. The thing about starting bands from scratch is kind of weird. You kind of go in there and unless you have an exact way or direction you want to demo, say, “Hey, we want to sound like the Faces,” so everyone knows you wanna sound like The Faces, but with this I kind of didn’t know. I was thinking, “How do we get this thing going to see if it works?” and I was like, “Oh, we’ll just do a soundtrack to a movie.” Kind of like the old Pink Floyd record. It’s an old, silent, it’s Battleship Potemkin, so there’s plenty of stuff. Opportunities for heavies or riffs, just bloody Russian revolution.
I would include a video of Lucas and Chamberlin performing Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” from 2013 at Metro but it’s from a phone video and isn’t great so here’s some audio of Lucas on NPR in 2013. RiYL: Neil Young’s sad stuff, being sad, feelings.
Local H has been established as yours completely and you’re still okay with that, correct? Like, Wilco is Jeff Tweedy for better or worse, there’s one other guy that’s been there from the start, and you’re Local H, I mean, you are that band.
I’ll say this, I feel comfortable in Local H, I mean you can ask any member of a band and you can ask them what they think and that’s not necessarily gonna translate to the band that they’re in. I feel like, you kind of don’t even have to ask me what I think, It’s in the lyrics of the songs. You’ll never have to wonder. It’s there, so everything that I’ve thought and gone through is kind of etched in those records. Not etched, but you know, whatever.
Who should people be listening to now? Who have you seen recently or toured with who you’ve really dug that maybe not a lot of people know about?
All I can say is that I really like that Angel Olsen record a lot.
That’s a very good record.
I’ve listened to that almost non-stop, so that’s terrific, and RADKEY is pretty cool.
You’ve gone on these tours a billion times, how do you maintain any joy out of it other than the just playing the show part because that’s what, 90 minutes at most? Isn’t it mostly shitty travel?
It’s impossible for me to complain about what I do because I see people who have to go to the same shitty office every day, and some of them have to sit in a cubicle, and I see the traffic that they have to go through every day, and I mean, sometimes I have to sit in traffic but at least it’s in a different scenery. I don’t see myself in a position where I can complain about any of this stuff.
We used to play this game where we’d eat Subway everyday and then we found out they put shoes in their bread, and I don’t give a shit about it. Just put yoga mats in everybody’s bread! And nobody’s eating at Subway, unless it’s like the one without a certain amount of accidents in the workplace, so you try to find a place and that’s interesting. Every day is kind of like, you wake up and we’re like, ‘Ah where are we gonna eat?’ And then we get to the club and we’re like, ‘Ah is there a working toilet?’ and then you figure out where you’re gonna eat after that. It seems like it’s a lot of fun or it’s interesting and it kind of is. It’s a challenge.
Here’s the title track from their 2004 album Whatever Happened To P.J. Soles? RiYL: The Replacements, The Ramones.
Who should replace Letterman? I know you’re a big fan. (This chat was conducted before Stephen Colbert was announced as Letterman’s successor.)
They should just close down late-night TV.
It should just be a blank screen for an hour every night in honor of Letterman?
They should just do that. I think what they need to do is if CBS and NBC could just put their shit aside and start the 24-hour Letterman channel.
Just non-stop repeats?
Stuff from the early days, just anything you can get in there. They should have like, Letterman DJs, like, ‘all right, coming up is some classic Dave from 1983 where R.E.M. came out and played for the first time,’ or classic Dave where Joe Johansen talks about bullshit.
You should just do a night of that somewhere and see how it goes. Like a live DJ set of clips, of Letterman clips.
Welcome to Classic Dave!
That wouldn’t be that hard to do, I mean, how much of the NBC stuff is on YouTube? I know there’s a ton on CBS. I was able to find like 10 Amy Sedaris clips from the past 10 years. There’s enough to easily fill a six-hour DJ set.
You could cause like crazy cultural whiplash on this channel if you wanted to. Just go back and forth between new Dave and Old Dave. It’d be insane.
I think if you did this anywhere with a screen, with 15 minutes of comedy and interviews and then a song to break it up, I think you could maintain attention the entire night.
You’re right. Somebody could pull it off.
Fuck it, I’m gonna do it at Delilah’s (punk rock whiskey bar in Chicago). There’s enough screens there.
When I think Delilah’s, I think David Letterman.
They’ll play anything early enough in the night. I might just take this.
You’re gonna take it?
Is it mine or yours? The DJ night is mine but the channel is yours. I’ll credit you.
I’ll see how it goes and then my lawyer may or may not be in contact with you.
Last song, track 1 from the 2008 album 12 Angry Months, “The One With Kid.” RiYL: Spaghetti Western soundtracks, QOTSA, Libertines.