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Local H: Rock and Roll Professionals

Having only two members, Local H already sets itself apart from the rest of the rock world anyway. According to lead singer/guitarist David Scott Lucas, that's not such a bad thing, either.

"We get a lot of double-takes and odd looks when we're playing live, but those same people giving looks hopefully end up digging us by the end of the show," he says. "At the very least they'll remember who's in the band." Rock fans will have a chance tonight to either give strange looks or bang their heads to straight-up rock music when Local H performs at the Bluebird as it gears up for its nationwide tour this fall.

"Local H came here over the summer and the turnout was good," says Bluebird and Axis owner Dave Kubiak. "They seem to have a strong fan base, which will hopefully make for another good show."

Local H's fan base began building early on with the highly-successful 1996 release of As Good as Dead, after which an almost cult-like following developed. The early buzz on the loud and highly energetic rock duo found its way to Nick Riley of Stamford, Conn. Riley, who considers himself a die-hard fan, posts often on message boards about Local H. He says that As Good as Dead propelled the band's popularity to a higher level. "They sold something like 500,000 copies of that album, which at the time was only their second release," Riley says. "That's not bad for a sophomore effort." What specifically drew Riley to Local H was the band's overall sound. "I was just amazed at how much music they were able to conjure up," he says. "There are quintet rock bands out there that don't even come close to digging up as much sound as Local H does."

With only two members, it might seem strange that Local H has the capability to do what they do, but it's not rocket science, Lucas says.

"In order to create the bass element in our songs, I simply have a bass pickup hooked up on my six-string guitar that picks up the low-end frequencies that a regular bass guitar would normally do," he says. "Then the bass sounds are just fed into a bass amp." After the release of Local H's previous album, Pack Up the Cats, the band took a hiatus while searching for a new record label. Universal Music Group bought out the group's old label, Island Records, the same week Cats hit stores. Record sales for that album weren't stellar, despite critical praise.

When Local H's original drummer, Joe Daniels, left the band in 2000, Lucas set out to find a replacement for the other half of Local H. His search led him to Brian St. James, the drummer from a lesser-known band called Triple Fast Action. "He's one of my heroes and is responsible for some of the greatest rock records from back when I was a kid," Lucas says. "It was a lot of fun recording with him, and his professionalism in the studio echoes on the new album."

St. James can be heard on Local H's newest album, Here Comes the Zoo, released in March. Palm Pictures, Local H's new label, is headed up by ex-Island CEO Chris Blackwell. Zoo features producer Jack Douglas, a legend in the recording industry who is responsible for albums from Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and John Lennon.

While the band's label may have changed, Lucas' cynical lyrics have not. Poking fun at everything from complacency in relationships to the fake-plastic workings of the record industry, Lucas makes no secret about the way he feels.

"I don't like being taken too seriously," Lucas says. "A lot of times people would get too caught up in whether we were trying to be serious or sarcastic on our records. I'm basically just a smartass, but it's a far cry from being an asshole, I think." As the group's fall tour begins, Local H looks forward to promoting its recent album and hitting the road. With a dedicated fan base rocking in its wake, it looks to be a long but rewarding experience.

"That's our job, you know?" Lucas says jokingly. "We write songs and put out records, and then we go out to support of those records. It's a vicious cycle." While Local H may not have the media exposure it once enjoyed, the band is still going strong and looking to rock the house at the Bluebird before trekking across the country. Local H performs live tonight at 10:30 p.m. at the Bluebird. Cost of admission is $10.

by Andy Garrison