A Creative Legacy Larger than the Sum of its Parts

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Artist Feature,   From Issue 791   By: Robert E Martin

29th May, 2014     0

Editor’s Note: The Review is proud to be jumping on-board as a co-sponsor for this year’s 2014 Dirt Fest, which is a groundbreaking and ever-evolving compendium of original music that will take place this year on Saturday, August 9th at The Birch Run Expo Center. Apart from winning honors both last year and this year as the Best Live Festival event at the 2014 Review Music Awards Ceremony, Dirt Fest has consistently grown since its inception sixteen years ago and this year over 40 local, regional & national bands will be performing, with Grammy-nominated band Killswitch headlining the festival.  Tickets for Dirt Fest are now on sale and available by going to www.dirtfest.com.

The Review is proud to present a series of band preview features with notable artists performing at this year’s Dirt Fest, which will appear in each edition leading up to the festival, beginning here with Chicago’s Local H.


Chicago based band Local H is known for building an architecture of full-bodied, gut-quaking music driven by a catalogue of creating clever concept albums and compelling cover songs over the past two decades.

This pioneering two-man band comprised of front man Scott Lucas and drummer Ryan Harding are indeed much larger than the sum of their parts, with Lucas covering both guitar & bass through an extra pick-up in his guitar; while drummer Harding pounds out and anchors the rest of the sound. To their credit, the band has released seven studio albums, a live album, and a gaggle of EP’s.

Harding joined Local H in November 2013 and the re-vamped line-up has written several new songs, which they’ve been testing out to live audiences with great response. Between stints on the road this year they are also recording a string of singles – a move that breaks away from their usual concept album approach. Currently they are touring in support of Harding’s first recording with the band, which is a heavy, rocking re-interpretation of Lorde’s ‘Team’ – the first track from their forthcoming EP, Local H’s Awesome Mixtape #2.

In terms of politically fueled creativity, you have to appreciate the talents of Local H. The band’s most recent album, entitled Hallelujah! I’m a Bum (Slimstyle, 2012) is an epic double-album about the deeply divided political climate that currently exists in the U.S. It carries a dog theme throughout; making it a fitting companion to the band’s wisely praised 1998-concept album, Pack Up the Cats, which earned a spot in SPIN Magazine’s Top 20 albums of the year. Local H was earlier named ‘Chicagoans of the Year’ by the Chicago Tribune for their 2008 break-up album, aptly entitled 12 Angry Months, which followed more than a decade after their breakthrough hit Bound for the Floor’, which ruled the Modern Rock charts.

For Dirt Fest founder Matt Dalton, he couldn’t be more thrilled than to be featuring this incredibly talented and fun-packed duo to the 2014 festival. “Local H were big in the 90s with some of their hits and the way they fit into Dirt Fest is that they are a LOUD two-piece rock ‘n roll band that has some radio success as well as some heavy tunes that will really fit in with bands like Midland’s Beast in the Field, which is another two-piece rock band scheduled to perform this year.”

The group’s discography dates back to their debut on Island Records in 1995 with Ham Fisted, followed by 1996’s As Good as Dead. This was followed by Pack Up the Cats, Half Life EP, Here Comes the Zoo and Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?

Their recent cover of Lorde’s song ‘Team’ has also spawned a video for the song, directed by Lucas that was picked Music Video of the Year at Chicagoist.  Says Lucas, “I remember going down a Lorde rabbit hole on YouTube last summer and this song really stuck with me. The lyrics killed me. They were everything I’d been wanting to hear someone say in a pop song. I sorta teared up a little. I tried playing an acoustic version at a show in January, but quickly realized that the song was an anthem and should be rocked out. Besides, acoustic Lorde is the Boss’s territory now.”

“Rather than wait until we have enough songs for a full length album, we just want to record the songs as they come to us and try and capture that energy when it’s new and exciting,” continues Lucas. “We also want to record the odd cover here and there for our next Awesome Mix Tape EP”.

In addition to the Lorde cover and two new songs, fans can expect to hear the revamped line-ups take on classic Local H tunes like ‘Bound for the Floor’ and “All the Kids Are Right’, along with deeper cuts from their considerable catalog of material.

Recently I caught up with Scott Lucas in the midst of his spring tour to chat about his musical odyssey.

Review: Please tell me how ‘Local H’ came together and what some of your musical goals are for the group. And how do you feel your sound is distinguished from other 2-piece duos?

Lucas: When we started there weren’t many two-piece bands around. There were three that I was aware of – Flat Duo Jets, Chicksaw Mud Puppies and The Spinanes. Out of the three, the Mud Puppies had the biggest affect on me, even though we sound the least like them.

Most two-piece bands end up being of the garage rock/bluesy stripe. And that’s still mostly true. But our goal was to be a heavy rock 2-piece that traded in songs and melody, so we’re probably closer in spirit to the Spinanes. We also took great pains to make sure that the 2-piece thing wasn’t perceived as a gimmick. Seems silly now, but we wanted that to be secondary. We just ‘happened’ to be a 2-piece in the same way that most just ‘happened’ to be a 4-piece.  We were way into 2-piece equal rights, I guess. We’d get shit all the time for not having a bass player. We even blew a record deal because of it. But after The White Stripes, I think it’s safe to say that the world is a much more hospitable place for 2-pieces.

Review: At this juncture of your career what do you feel is the most challenging component involved with advancing your musical goals?

Lucas: I don’t really think of things in terms of ‘career’ and ‘goals’. That kind of stuff is for people who draw up ten year plans for their lives and stuff. I got into music so I wouldn’t have to live my life in that way. It’s very hard to separate myself from my music. It’s not a job and the fact that I’m still doing it – that I still find it so gratifying – is just about all the success I really need.”

Review: In terms of influences what groups and musical schools of thought have most impacted your work and informed the evolution of the band?

Lucas: Everything. I’m pretty open to all of it. When I was a kid the three most important bands to me were Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and ABBA. And they still are. REM was a huge influence. Cheap Trick. In the ‘90s it was everything that Sub Pop and Matador were putting out. Dischord was super important. All those bands really turned my head around. If the band has a musical bible, it would be Michael Azzerad’s book ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’. Totally inspiring.

Review: Are there any highlights of your career thus far that stand out in your mind that have inspired your artistic pursuits?

Lucas: That question might be a bit too broad for me. But feel free to ask any additional questions that my previous answers might have inspired.


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