13 July 2006

Blast from the Past

This is an article I wrote for LEO in May 2004 that was never printed because Local H weren't playing a gig that year in Louisville (once again, thanks, LEO!).

The punchline is that at a Local H show in 2005, I was chatting with/sucking up to Scott Lucas and Jen actually mentioned the fact that I wrote the article and it was never printed and Lucas said, "That was you? That was the best interview I've ever done." Whether this is still true is up for debate, and whether he was blowing smoke up my ass is also up for debate. But I felt somewhat vindicated.

Still, the fact that an interview was conducted and an article was written about the band and it was never actually appeared in print is kind of typical for Local H. They are, hands fucking down, the best live rock band in America and they deserve to be as successful as Fall Out Boy or whoever the kids like these days.

Read it and weep.

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Local H was a two-man band when two-man bands weren’t cool. They weren’t the first self-contained power duo – bands like Flat Duo Jets, House of Freaks and the Chickasaw Mudd Puppies blazed this particular trail – but now that the White Stripes are being hailed for their "innovative" line-up, the H deserves props for carrying the mantle.

Best-known for their minor 1996 hit “Bound for the Floor,” Local H has maintained a highly consistent level of quality in all their subsequent releases, and their brand-new album, Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?, is possibly their best ever. The album is named for actress P.J. Soles, who worked steadily from 1975-85, appearing in many cult classics.

“She’s just someone who would always pop up in movies when I was growing up and I always thought she was cool. I must’ve seen Halloween a million times and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School at least half that. She was in Carrie, she had a great scene in Stripes,” enthuses Local H singer/guitarist Scott Lucas. (Drummer Brian St. Clair is the rest of the band.)

P.J. Soles is not a concept album per se, but it does have a theme running through it.

“There’s some stuff on the record that’s kind of about the whole VH1 “Where Are They Now?” type of crap that you just see everywhere,” Lucas says. “It’s just this attitude of what have these people done lately, and it’s being asked by a bunch of people who never seem to have done anything themselves. You’ll see these people on TV making these snide remarks… Who the fuck are these people, where do they come from, and what contribution have they made? It’s ridiculous.”

All this talk of wistful ruminations on icons from yesteryear might lead the uninitiated to believe that P.J. Soles is an introspective record, and indeed, the title cut and “Dick Jones” are both tearjerkers, but Local H always brings the rock. Tracks like “Everyone Alive,” “Heaven on the Way Down” and “How’s the Weather Down There?” hit like a semi truck full of all the songs that Cheap Trick and Nirvana never got around to writing.

And then there’s “Buffalo Trace,” the album’s majestic centerpiece. Clocking in at a manly 10:14, this Zeppelin-esque behemoth was inspired by Lucas’s love of premium Kentucky bourbon, and it name checks the Bluegrass Parkway, Heaven Hill Distilleries and our own fair city – thanks for the shout-out, Scott!

“I wanted it to be big and sprawling, sort of like a western epic. I read this article about whiskey tours in Kentucky, so I just thought it would be kind of funny to write a Neil Young song about taking a whiskey tour, with cowboys on the Bluegrass Parkway -- drink until we get our fill. I thought it was pretty funny,” he says. Funnier still: Lucas is a Maker’s Mark man, but the name “Buffalo Trace” worked best for this theme from an imaginary western -- “Old Grand-Dad” or “Elijah Craig Single Barrel” just don’t have the appropriate ring

“That’s just what me and a bunch of my friends drink,” Lucas says of his tipple of choice. “A friend of mine owns a bar, and [Maker’s is] all we drink.”

As always, Local H is touring behind the album, but unfortunately, it looks as if the closest they’ll get to Louisville is Covington, where they’ll play at Radio Down on May 13. They’ll never get a Maker’s Mark endorsement if they don’t come closer.

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