Lucero Shock: King Still Dead!

It’s more a accident of location. Lucero happen to come from Memphis, Tennessee – and say that and most people immediately want to make the Elvis connection.

The band’s relaxed and chatty mainman, Ben Nichols takes it with good grace. “Aw yeah, we’re used to it – any interview I’ve done with the UK, for some reason they’re even more into it. I don’t get that. I’ve got the stock answers now: Yeah, I’ve been to Graceland – it’s kind of creepy. Like, he’s buried in the garden.”

“And let’s say interior decorating was obviously not a Presley strong suit – though lots of leopard skin and black tiles might have been hip in the ‘70’s.”

“But as far as our music goes, this is just where we live. Matter of fact, I’m originally from Little Rock, Arkansas.” Former home of then-Governor Bill Clinton, fact fans. “Yeah, and Bill doesn’t really have much of an effect on our music either – though how is he polling these days? We might be able to make something out of that connection,” he laughs.

So, how does a boy from Little Rock end up in the hometown of the King?
“Aw, the usual reason – the best reason, the worst reason – I followed a girl here.”

And lived happily ever after?

There’s a slightly uncomfortable pause. “Er, well…Let’s say I got some good songs out of it.”

So, just where does the slightly southern, lots rock, some country twang of Lucero’s noise get it’s influences?

“To be honest, what I wanted to be was like an American version of The Pogues,” and this time the uncomfortable pause is on this end of the trans-continental line. “OK, a bit of that, and throw in the country stuff like Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Tom Waits even. There’s ‘country’ in all of them. But yeah, it’s a broad church, isn’t it?,” Nichols ponders.

Yep, so what is the link?

“Alcohol.” Now, that was an answer that came quickly. And fair enough.

Their latest album, the just released here That Much Further West, has got some gushing reviews in their homeland, further comparisons they are happy with including Steve Earle, Wilco antecedents Uncle Tupelo, and Paul Westerberg. American Rolling Stone even going as far as calling it ‘the best album The Replacements never made’.

“Yeah, that is cool, isn’t it?,” Ben sounds rightly chuffed. “But then there’s that one that calls us ‘the alt.country Nickelback’. I’m sure they meant it as a compliment.” You’d hope.

The band is actually in the process of making a new album, as West was actually done in 2003. “The music has moved on a bit, but we’re still finding our way – we’re just learning how to use a studio better, and the technology a bit better.”

But Ben still sees recording as a bonus to just getting out playing. “Nah, we’re a bar band. And that’s where the good – if a bit fuzzy – memories can be. That’s still what a band should be about.”

“Like, imagine playing Memphis on New Year’s Eve – that got a bit wild. But funny, it can get really sloppy and loud, and the audience seems to like it even more. This is why people keep telling us we’d fit right in Australia. Is that right?” Yep, could be.