Local H '93
This interview took place on New Years Eve 1993 after a show they played in Hoserís basement. I came to know Local H not too long ago when Matt, then their bassist, handed me a copy of their 7Ē. I caught them live at a show in Gurnee and since then they have become one of my favorite local bands.
Present at this interview are SCOTT and JOE, the core (and only) member of Local H for the moment. Gabe Rodriguez is also here who came by to help them out. Oh yea, and theyíre from Zion, Illinois. Thought you should know that. If there is one band who knows where the hell they want to take their music, these guys are it.
So sit back and take it all in. Maybe youíll learn a thing or two in the process.
JES: Ok so where have you guys been?
SCOTT: You mean in the last year or so?
SCOTT: Well, just getting over the fact that we donít have a bass player. Writing songs, recording, trying to get the two-piece thing down.
JES: So what happened to Matt (Garcia) after all?
SCOTT: Matt moved to Arizona.
JOE: To pursue a career in being a hippie (laughter).
SCOTT: Well, like I was talking to you about it before- You get to this age and youíre like ďWhat the fuck am I going to do with my life?Ē and itís like, you donít know. So Matt went out there hoping that he could find something and it wouldnít be the same, but it doesnít matter where you go, unless youíre doing what you want to do, youíre going to feel that way.
JES: How long has it been since he left?
JOE: September. August.
SCOTT: Heís been out of the band for like a year now, so itís been us writing songs, recording.
JES: You guys donít want to get another bassist? Are you happy the way you are now?
SCOTT: Well, we tried to get another bass player for a while and we didnít do anything. It was just like, nobody was right. We had to do something so we rigged up this thing so I could play bass and guitar at the same time. And itís worked. At first, we couldnít play without a bass player, but now I donít think we could play with a bass player.
JES: Did all three of you get along?
JOE: yeah, but we didnít really hang out. Matt has his own group of friends, you know what I mean?
JES: So Scott, for us less technically inclined people, could you explain how your guitar/bass works?
JES: Where did you have it made?
SCOTT: Well, we had a friend of ours, Toby Fletcher, do it. We were talking to him about it and we came up with the idea to install a bass pickup into the guitar to pickup the bottom two strings, and then have another jack coming out. That jack goes into an octave pedal, lowers it an octave to the bass frequency, goes into a bass amp and another cord goes into the guitar amp. So itís like every chord has a bass root note in it.
JES: Did you have to re-learn how to play it?
SCOTT: Well, the only problem is that I canít play an open ĎDí chord. I have to make sure all the chords start on either the ĎEí string or the ĎAí string. Itís not that hard.
JES: How did people initially react to you not having a bassist?
SCOTT: The reactionís been betterÖ.
JOE: Iíve actually had people come up to me and say they like it better than when we were a three piece.
SCOTT: We started out as a four piece, and every time weíd lose a member it was like, why try and replace him?
JOE: Me and Scott have been playing since í88. Then John Sparkman used to play with usÖ now itís just us two.
SCOTT: And I figure weíll be at our best when itís just me- itíll be just great.
JOE: He keeps saying that so I think heís working on it (laughter).
SCOTT: Yeah, Iíll do whatever I want. No arguments.
JES: So when was it that you guys started out?
(Joe and Scott debate this one for a looong while)
JOE: It was like 90/91 when we started out.
JES: So you guys are talking to some labels now? Whatís up with that?
JOE: Well, Interscope came up to see us play back in SeptemberÖ.
SCOTT: Well, we sent our tape out to all these independents and itís just like, what about Interscope? We like some records that are on Interscope like Rocket from the Crypt. Weíd love to be on a label with those guys.
JOE: And this was like the same week when I was going to move back to Chicago and go back to school.
SCOTT: And then no independent called us back, but then a major label called us and it was just weird, you know? And since then itís kind of like snowballed. All the people hear that theyíre into it and itís like sharksÖ
JOE: Lawyers are calling youÖ itís all weird.
JES: Are you guys looking for a certain label?
JOE: Yeah, we wonít sign to just anythingÖ bullshit. Weíll sign with whatís cool.
SCOTT: All major labels look guilty. Interscope has 4 Non Blondes and stuff like that; theyíre all guilty of something. Itís like what does it matter? I canít work at Subway for the rest of my life. Iíve got to move out of my parents house.
JOE: Iím not knocking punk or anything when people say corporate rock sucks; if you sign to a major label you are a sell out. But itís like, what are we supposed to do? Weíre beating our brains out. Iíd rather make some money off of it.
SCOTT: Yeah, weíre getting too old.
JOE: Yeah, if somebody wants to pay me to make an album, sell it and fly all over the world to play- playing is what I like to do, why not?
JES: Do you think it should be the bandsí decisionÖ?
JOE: You mean you shouldnít let the crowd or the fans decide for you?
JOE: Well, as far as the fans go, they donít speak for me. I speak for myself. We do what we want. Either you like it or you donít.
SCOTT: Most people making those kind of decisions are like sixteen or something like that. Youíre still going to high school. Itís very easy for you to call people a sellout. Weíre 23 and I donít know what Iím going to do with my life. Iíve got people who are my friends and my peers whoíve gone to whatever corporate jobÖ. no one can call me a sellout. Most of the people who I did punk rock bands with back when I was sixteen are selling fucking cars now. Itís like, what am I supposed to do? Sit here and suck eggs for the rest of my life and go Ďpunk yeahí? Iím not going to do that.
JES: So you guys work on all of your material together?
JOE: SCOTT usually brings in a riff or a song then we put it together.
JES: Iíve noticed watching you guys that you work more off of like a feeling.
JOE: Yeah, you hit that right on the button. To me, the way we play and, I should say, the struggle weíve been through, how can you not put any feeling into your music? I mean, thatís how we feel when we play. How you see us on stageÖ thatís how we feel.
SCOTT: I like intense songs. Iím never happy when weíre playing our songs. The songs are just soÖ so hard. Itís just a miserable experience.
JES: So what do you think about ďalternativeĒ music going mainstream?
JOE: Iím glad itís being noticed because it opened the doors, not just for those bands, but for everybody. Itís a big thing now.
SCOTT: But on the other hand, now all of a sudden everybody is being marketed as ďalternativeĒ. Youíve got stuff that sounds like En Vogue and itís being marketed as alternative. Just refuse to use the word Ďalternativeí cause you know the only thing it is is corporate businessmen trying to make you think youíre listening to something different, but actually, youíre not. Youíre listening to the same old bullshit Allman Brothers stuff and itís just called Blind Melon. And you think youíre different, but how can you be different when a million other people are listening to the same stuff as you?
JOE: I think that band Stone Temple Pilots is the biggest joke of all (laughter). Theyíre just a rip-off of other bands.
JES: So tell me about your first 7Ē (for some reason, they start to laugh at that question leaving me to wonder if it was a stupid one- JES)
SCOTT: Itís on One World Communications. They still got plenty of them, so if you want someÖ
JES: Wasnít it called Elephant?
SCOTT: No. It was called Drum, but it had Elephant on it.
SCOTT: It got two mediocre reviews in Maximum RockNRoll.
JES: Whatís with One World Communications?
SCOTT: It was somebody Matt knew who wanted to start a label. We were to do that and a comp with 7 Seconds and Black Train Jack (?) but that never happened.
JES: Is that guy still around?
GABE: I think somebody else took the label over.
SCOTT: Yeah, itís kind of clean. Itís too poppy. It sounds like a Green Day record or something like that (laughter).
JES: How old is it?
SCOTT: From Ď91
JES: Did you put out anything after that?
SCOTT: We started putting out just demo tapes.
(At this point, everyone on the planet comes into the room during our interview and various conversations take place which Iím not going to try and transcribe, so Iíll go to the next easiest question- JES)
JES: What would be the ultimate show you guys would like to play in? The ultimate bill.
SCOTT: Rocket From The Crypt, Iceburn, Quicksand, Rage Against the Machine, Liz Phair, Pavement, Betty Severt and Bon Jovi. Yeah, Bon Jovi so we can all get together and throw darts at him.
JES: So Gabe, are you like their alternate singer?
JOE: Gabeís like our sideshow (laughter).
(For those of you wondering who Gabe is, he fronted the now defunct hardcore band Good & Plenty and ran a Ďzine by the same name out of Winthrop Harbor, Il. Ė JES.)
SCOTT: You know, weíre like thirty five minutes from the new year?
JES: Do you have any resolutions for the new year?
SCOTT: I resolve to bomb a Lollapalooza stage (laughter).
JES: JOE, how long have you been playing drums?
JOE: Iíve been playing since I was three. My dad played drums so he put me on drums when I was three. I played sports up till my senior year in high school; then my dad bought me this $8000.00 electric drum set which I hated.
JES: Is this the first band youíve played drums for?
JOE: Yeah, well, all of my relatives played music and we as kids grew up playing in our little family bands. But as far as bands go, yea, this was my first. I believe in commitment.
JES: How about you Scott, when did you pick up your first guitar?
SCOTT: I picked up the guitar when I was thirteen. I just learned a bunch of heavy metal songs and I played in heavy metal bands. I got together with some people who were in a punk band.
JES: What was that band you were in?
SCOTT: The Family Cruisers. Ever heard of them?
SCOTT: They rocked. It was like Descendents, Ramones, Dead Milkmen type stuff.
JES: How about heavy metal bands?
SCOTT: We never had a name. We just played parties and played just Metallica songs. Then after that I started writing my own songs. I met JOE and weíve been writing songs together since like í88.
(More conversations take place between the ten people who are in this room which I wonít write about Ďcause Iím too lazy.- JES)
JES: Are you guys concerned with making a change at all?
SCOTT: Well, I think Iím an asshole and Iíd like to change that (laughter). I think Iím not the greatest person to be around and I donít like that.
JOE: Us two, you look at us play together but we clash.
JES: Are you guys concerned about world issues...?
JOE: I know youíre not talking about the news Ďcause I could care less. My thing is talk shows (laughter).
SCOTT: Itís like we donít know enough. Itís kind of insane to ask someone whoís in their early twenties to formulate a world political view, stick to it, and write songs about it. I mean, I donít know. Iím going to change my mind tomorrow about whatever I want. We just write about whatís going on; what we feel. Personal stuff that you write about yourself that someone else could feel.
JES: Got any words of wisdom to the people of this wonderful world?
SCOTT: I guess I can speak for JOE when I say this- our words of wisdom are: Kiss our asses! Those are our words of wisdom. Kiss my ass! Pucker up and kiss!
About a month or two after this interview was done, Joe calls me up and tells me that theyíve signed a deal with major label Polydor Records out of New York. He tells me they received a hefty six page or so contract which included a six album deal, total creative control (of course Polydor has the last say), music videos and an advance check to record their first release to be out soon. I know theyíve been working on this for a long time and Iím glad itís finally paid off. Best of luck guys, donít forget all of us here at home!!