The year was 1996 and the radio airwaves were saturated with post-Nirvana clones. 1996 would be forever burned into my mind for one reason: Local H and their record “Good As Dead”. Exploding onto the scene with the radio hit, “Bound For The Floor”, this band was exactly what we all needed to counter all the whiny Radiohead’s out there, loud aggressive rock and roll. After touring relentlessly for ‘Good As Dead’, Local H fell prey to record company restructuring with their follow-up record ‘Pack Up The Cats’ which, ironically enough, was more commercial sounding than it’s predecessor. Now back on track under new label ‘Palm Pictures’, Local H is back to rock your ass with “Here Comes The Zoo”. Shoutweb recently had the chance to interview new Local H drummer Brian St. Clair to talk about their newfound adrenaline and the new record. How could a band that gets their Mom to write their bio not be cool!?
Shoutweb: With the release of this record Local H have a re-tooled line-up with Joe leaving the group and you becoming the new drummer. What happened with Joe that he decided to leave the group?
Brian: Well, I’m kind of unclear on the whole story, as I never actually talked to Joe about it. From what I understand, he was planning on going back to school for something then I heard he was selling real estate then I heard he was in a band out in L.A! (Laughs) I’m not really sure to be honest with you.
Shoutweb: I read a rumor on the Internet that Joe was in a new band.
Brian: Yea, I’ve heard that too.
Shoutweb: How did you come to join the band?
Brian: Well, I knew Scott from before when I was in a band called ‘Triplefastaction’ from Chicago. When we lost our second guitarist, Scott sat in for us for about six months. That was between ‘As Good As Dead’ and ‘Pack Up The Cats’ as he was just sitting around at home bored and we were looking for someone. He was our first choice because he understood feedback! (Laughs) He was happy to do it and I got to know him really well on that tour. So, when Joe left the band Scott was doing auditions and apparently none of them were going all that well and I was on the road as a drum tech for Cheap Trick at the time. I was in town going through Chicago and Scott called me up thinking maybe he could get me in for an audition. I wasn’t actually planning on playing drums again but it just took the right person to call me and get me interested.
Shoutweb: It is a lot more satisfying playing drums than just being a behind the scenes guy?
Brian: Oh, yea! I love being in the band and playing on stage and all that but there was a part of me that wanted to try the other side of music, ya know? For a while, I was tour managing Liz Phair and then right after that I was a drum tech for Cheap Trick. Being on stage and in the band is just a whole lot better than being behind the scenes and like I said it just took the right person to call me to get me interested.
Shoutweb: Did the two of you instantly hit it off?
Brian: Well, I was a little nervous to be honest with you! (Laughs) I had never auditioned for anyone before as I had always just started bands with people before. You go in there and here is this drum set that you never played before that’s set up all weird and Scott asked me what song I wanted to play so I said ‘Cool Magnet’ was cool. We went into it and after the first song he looked at the tour manager and asked me to join right there on the spot.
Shoutweb: So, you were really familiar with the material before that?
Brian: I was a fan. I was a fan of friends more so than like some fan of Scott’s! (Laughs) It’s different, ya know? I wasn’t a groupie or anything like that but I did listen to the albums and liked them because I was a friend of Scott’s. It was kind of strange at first being in the band but it also felt natural.
Shoutweb: Is it about being your own drummer or are you trying to fill Joe’s shoes so to speak?
Brian: I’m being my own guy but with Local H rather than other bands you really have to be over the top! It’s two guys up there on stage and if I weren’t over the top then the stage would be kind of lop-sided. With my other bands, there were dynamics and other people that you could feed off of where as with Local H it’s just over the top power-rock and you have to be the same way. Going back to the whole Joe thing… Joe was a heavy hitter and I knew that going into this that I had to be at least that if not more. I tried to be even more over the top because I didn’t want anyone to come to one of our shows and say, “Oh, there’s a new drummer big fucking deal.” I wanted them to say, “Wow, the band sounds fucking great even without Joe!”
Shoutweb: You have to win back the fans that were already there.
Brian: Yea! I think that all came to play right away and word of mouth spread and people knew I wasn’t playing down the band. Everything was all right.
Shoutweb: Well, the record sounds fucking awesome!
Brian: Thank you.