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Scott Lucas is best known as the vocalist/guitarist for the Chicago post-grunge duo, Local H. His bloodcurdling screams and full-frequency-spectrum guitar noise helped the band make its biggest waves in the '90s. That's all ancient history, though, and Local H has stayed quite active over the past decade, with constant tours album releases, including 2008's strong effort, Twelve Angry Months.
A separation from a long-time girlfriend finally put Lucas in the mindset to justify making his first solo album. He put together a backing band, the Married Men, to create George Lassos the Moon, a rootsy collection of post-relationship tunes that quake with desperate honesty. Lines such as "I can barely even dream of the idea of sleep" and "In our time apart, I feel you in my head and in my heart but most of all inside my guts" make Moon a somber, heart-wrenching affair. B-Sides caught up with Lucas to talk about what made this the right time test the waters of a solo career.
B-Sides: Is it strange to be out on the road with more people after doing the duo thing for so many years?
Scott Lucas: That is strange. It's also strange to be working at such a low volume. You find yourself at the mercy of the audience a bit more. It's not as easy to shut people out and shut them up with volume.
What inspired the move to a different dynamic?
I've always been a huge fan of the Cowboy Junkies' Trinity Sessions and Mark Lanegan's first solo record, just quiet records that have a certain mood and sustain that mood. When these songs came together, I realized that what was happening definitely wasn't a Local H record.
Were you conscious that you were putting together an album at the time?
No. I had no intention of putting any of these songs out. There really wasn't much thought, it just kind of happened. When I realized I had all of these songs, it was just obviously a solo record. I just wanted to make a record that was recorded live where we just set everybody up and played until we got it right.
So did you record completely live in a room, like a Trinity Sessions kind of thing?
There are a few overdubs, like vocal things and a horn section and string things here and there, but for the most part we just rehearsed a lot, set up and played take after take.
What made it the right time for you to make a solo record?
Solo records are sometimes kind of stupid because they're usually songs that aren't good enough to be on the real band's records, or they're songs that sort of sound like the band anyway. So [it's like], What's the point? This was something that I felt was completely different and wouldn't even be competing with Local H songs. For a long time I just stayed away, because I didn't want to be a part of that "I've gone sensitive" solo thing. It was just something where I knew it was time to do it because the songs just popped out and it felt natural to do it.
A lot of artists seem to migrate to a more laid-back solo aesthetic just because it feels like a natural career move.
I think you get a lot of people doing things where it's like, "Alright, let's pack this in, because this is something a young man does and now let's do this other thing because it's something that a more mature fellow should do." Plus, it's not like I don't have the freedom to do what I want on a Local H record, but there are always songs that I question whether they fit. But it's never been a case where it was such a large chunk of songs, so there really was no second-guessing it.
Do you plan to continue with this project alongside Local H then or was it one-time thing?
We're finishing up an EP right now with a David Bowie cover and some reworkings of some of the songs on the first record, and we're also four or five songs deep into the next full-length. In addition to that, I'm also working on the next Local H record. So, as of now both things seem to be on parallel courses and I just think that what happens will happen, that's all.