interview by Chip Midnight
Of the many Chicago bands that emerged in the mid-90s, Local H is one of the few that has continued to keep on rocking despite the many unexpected hurdles suddenly thrown in the way. For starters, the duo that made up Local H (singer/guitarist Scott Lucas; drummer Joe Daniels) had a falling out which led to Daniels leaving the band. Then, after Lucas pulled ex-Triple Fast Action drummer Brian St.Clair into the studio, Local H lost its record deal with Island. Not to be deterred, Lucas continued to write hard rocking, meathead anthems and a new album (Here Comes the Zoo) emerged, early this year, on Palm Pictures. Per the norm, Here Comes the Zoo is full of post-grunge angst, thrashing drums, and Lucas's sarcastic and aggressive vocals, though hints of prog rock (Pink Floyd) and stoner metal (Queens of the Stone Age) shine through.
Recently, when trying to contact Brian St.Clair for a project that I'm putting together (more info on that in coming months), I asked if the ex-drummer of one of my favorite all-time bands (Triple Fast Action) would be interested in answering some questions via e-mail for a Local H feature. His response was brief and to the point. "Yes," said his e-mail response.
Now, I've met St.Clair in the past, having seen Triple Fast Action in concert half a dozen times or so over the years. While the two of us never had the in-depth conversations that TFA singer Wes Kidd and I had, we were cordial to each other. In an attempt to break from the standard formula of "Who are your influences?" and "What is the next single going to be?" type questions, I attempted to have a little bit of fun with my line of questioning. I let St.Clair know ahead of time that the questions were intentionally sarcastic and that I didn't really blame him for all the accusations that I made. Within 12 hours of sending the questions, the answers arrived in my in-box. After reading over the answers, I'm not sure whether or not St.Clair was giving me a dose of my own medicine or was truly pissed off at me for asking such obnoxious questions.
Read on and decide for yourself.
Being a part of the Chicago music scene for so long (Wax Trax Records, Rights of the Accused, Triple Fast Action, Local H), what's your favorite Wesley Willis story?
A: I don't have one. I think anything he does is a great story.
I blame you for the break-up of Triple Fast Action (although, truth be told, a lot of it probably had to do with the rotating guitar position filled by various people after Ronnie left). Are you happy? Huh? Does it make you feel good that you broke up one of my favorite all-time bands?
A: Yes I am very glad we broke up. If I didn't want it to end I would have stuck with it. You should really get a life and move on. Find some new music to latch on to. I loved the band too much to let it fall apart in some crappie way. I just couldn't keep going the way we were going. We were in debt up to our ears, no guitarist, and I was moving to NYC. I just had to leave the band. I didn't break up the band, Wes and Kevin chose not to continue without me.
In hindsight, do you think Triple Fast Action could have continued with Scott Lucas joining the band and assuming full time guitar playing duties? Perhaps Triple Fast Action and Local H could have merged and become Local Fast H or something like that and Scott and Wes could have shared songwriting and singing responsibilities.
Between gigs it was rumored that you were a tour manager for Cheap Trick and Liz Phair and that you had auditioned for the Blue Man Group. Did you get the BMG gig and, if so, did you shave your head and goatee?
A: One month after moving to NYC I did start working as Liz's tour manager. I did the Lilith Fair tour and her headlining tour "An Evening With Liz Phair". This lasted about 6 months and then I became Cheap Trick's Drum Technician. I did audition for the BMG but didn't get the gig. They told me to take some acting classes since I had no training, and they were worried I may not really like to act. This would show them that I was serious about the job and would help me get "in". This is something I would really consider pursuing in the future, after the H of coarse (sic).
Also, why did Liz Phair cancel her original AND make-up show dates in Columbus? Is the truth that it was YOU who canceled those shows because you didn't want me to show up and yell at you for breaking up TFA?
A: What the fuck are you talking about?
Because you were responsible for the break-up of one band, I was wondering how instrumental you were in getting Joe Daniels out of Local H so that you could join?
A: You are a little prick aren't you? Maybe you should ask Joe that question. It is not my place to say.
Did Scott audition drummers? Did you ask to join? Obviously, the two of you go way back, so it's not like you had to get to know each other and figure each other out. Was it more like, "Hey, Brian, Joe just quit, want to be in Local H?"
A: Basically that is how it happened.
Shortly after you joined Local H, you went on tour with Creed? How awful was that? Would you ever wish that experience on your worst enemy?
A: Hey kid, you should get your stories straight. We did not tour with them, we played 3 shows. And I had a blast. They were some of the nicest guys I have met. Their show was loud and they had flash pots, FIRE, and loud explosions. They put on a real rock show. You may not like the music, but the show would be hard to cut down.
You've often been compared to the infamous drummer from the Muppet Show, Animal. If you are Animal, then which Muppet best represents Scott?
A: I don't know, I watched the "Electric Company".
The music climate being what it is, would Local H ever consider adding a rap element to the band, either in the form of Scott busting out some mad rhymes or by adding a DJ to the mix?
A: Are you fuckin' kidding?
In the past (pre-Brian days), I noticed that Local H tended to draw a few different types of audience members - the meatheads who think every song is worthy of moshing; the college frat guy with Abercrombie and Fitch clothes and baseball hat; and, someone like myself, who appreciates the big rock sound by an indie-rock sounding band. Is it frustrating to play in front of any of these types?
A: Well I can't comment on the, as you call it "the pre-Brian days". But the Local H fans I have played for are all real. I don't give a shit what they look like, as long as they enjoy the show I did my job. If someone pays their hard earned dollar to see us, they deserve 110% even if they are wearing a letterman jacket or have on a Linkin Park "T".
Being on the road can provide many surprises. For instance, although you probably have access to pre-show sales figures, you never really know how many people are going to show up in any given city on any given night of the week. Does that uncertainty ever scare you? Disappoint you? Surprise you?
A: 1 or 10,000, I'll play the same show. I don't care how many people are there, just that the one's that are there have a good time. But it does feel good when there is a good turnout.
Part of the touring process is hitting the key markets where you are getting radio play. Are there certain cities that you wish you didn't have to play because you either a) dislike the venue, b) dislike the crowd, c) dislike the radio station that is playing your music?
A: If I never had to go to Los Angeles again it would be too soon. But there are fans there, we have to play there. So I suck it up and do go to places like this, because we have to.
How frustrating is it to know that when you ask most radio program directors if they have any Local H songs in rotation, their answer is "Sure we do. We play 'Bound for the Floor' all the time"? Do you ever want to smack those guys upside the head and say, "Listen Slick Shoes, we've got a NEW album out and a NEW single that we'd LOVE you to play rather than the song that everybody knows and is sick to death of"?
A: Well Mr. Slick Shoes, that has never happened.
Scott has been known to play with a number of different bands, play in various side projects, etc. Outside of Local H, what gigs do you have, if any? What are you doing with your spare time when not practicing or playing shows with Scott?
A: I enjoy time at home away from the noise. I go bird watching with my friends and spend time with my girlfriend.
Scott seems to live the complete rock star life. What about Scott's private life would fans be surprised to learn? On the flipside, you seem to be all business. What misconception do you think people have about you?
A: Scott is an alien. As for me? Well, I am all business when I am with the band. I have to stay focused, I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I go to bed as early as I can and try to have the best show I can have every night.
Despite all of the albums you've appeared on, the performances you've been part of, the touring you've done, you will probably go down in history as a subject of Cynthia Plaster Caster's on-going exhibit. Among the other subjects that Cynthia has obtained, were do you fit in sizewise. And, who has the bigger "drumstick" (if you will), Tommy Lee or Brian St.Claire?
A: First off, My name is Brian St. Clair. There is no "E" at the end of my name. If you were such a huge fan of TFA, you'd know simple things like that. Secondly, Tommy Lee was never cast by Cynthia. Thirdly, are you gay?