Spin Magazine Feb 97

You can take the boys out of the small town, but grunge duo Local H can't take the small town out of themselves.

"When Joe and I met in high school, we had this very big idea in our heads," says Scott Lucas, the 26-year-old singer/guitarist of Local H. "We started recording a double album on our four track -- it was going to be our version of The Wall. It was a pretty grandiose idea, but even now, our current record is kind of a small-town concept album." The record he's referring to is Local H's latest, As Good as Dead (alas, a single album: "We did the arena-rock-star thing already," deadpans drummer Joe Daniels). The small town is Zion, Illinois (population 20,792), where the two grew up, met, and couldn't wait to leave. "It's got a nice nuclear power plant," offers Lucas, although the songs on As Good as Dead paint Zion as the kind of place where people marry early ("Don't you hate it / When people are in love"), alienate a chosen few ("I feel like I'm the only freak in this town"), and, as you'd expect, don't give a shit about local bands ("If I was Eddie Vedder / Would you like me any better?").

Lucas's bitter but observant lyrics are alternately whispered and shouted through powerful minor chords and crashing drums, all wrapped around poppy singalong choruses. The two aren't the only ones who realize that the formula comes dangerously close to one made famous by Nirvana. "There are some things we can't escape," Lucas admits, "but we also have things in common with Tad and the Pixies." He's so poker-faced it's hard to tell whether he knows that Nirvana, in fact, swiped from both of those bands. "But if the same five million fans want to buy our record," he says, "go ahead."

Though that figure is a work in progress, Local H (a name taken from a road sign for Local Hospital) have a fervent following comprised of mosh-driven guys who may or may not be in on a bit of irony aimed right at them. "High-Fiving MF" regularly creates a frenzy in the pit even as Scott sings, "You're just a walking billboard for all the latest brands / You've got no taste in music and you really love our band." While clever enough to level irony, Lucas, it seems, has a harder time transcending it. "We may not even realize it," he says, "but maybe we're really making fun of ourselves."

by Suzan Colon