Local H looks to kick it into high gear at Copper Dragon

Make no mistake; Local H is about rock and roll. They're not out to distinguish their image as a Nirvana rip-off.

"I mean I guess that that isn't totally unjustified," said front man Scott Lucas in a 2002 interview. "I don't really have too much of a problem with it because I think the more records we put out I think when we started out people tended to fixate on it, and I've seen it get less and less with each record. I think at some point people are going to stop. But either way I don't really care."

They're also not fans of our current commander in chief, as orchestrated with a song titled "President Forever" (sample lyric: "Daddy look at me I'm a big boy now / A brat to the manor born / Who wants to go back to war with Iraq / Who wants to shoot a slingshot full of rocks of crack/ Laugh in the face of the national debt/I wanna build the free world and make them pay back rent/ I wanna take the statue back from the f**king French") on the band's most recently released "No Fun EP" on Thick Records.

But make no mistake; these guys are about rock and roll and will express this when they perform at 10 p.m. Friday at Copper Dragon.

In its most ferocious howls, in its most moody breakdowns and in its purest form, Local H embodies what rock desperately needs and craves right now. The group produces a sound that's fun as all get out, produced by a balls-to-the-wall, vintage rock and roll band movement.

Drawing out of lead singer and guitarist Scott Lucas' extensive, if not encyclopedic, knowledge of classic rock and unmatchable drive to keep his band afloat, the band has, since 2001, shed a longtime drummer Joe Daniels, shaken away the "Nirvana rip-off" label and had to change virtually every record label they've signed with between each album since they parted ways with Island Records after the release of "As Good as Dead."

Scott Lucas along with new drummer Brian St. Clair head out to Carbondale Friday to dish out their brand of old-fashioned aggression with their highly anticipated live show. As far as where the chunky riffs and powerhouse rock come from, Lucas can only put it in the simplest of words.

"I think that it's just raw, you know. I just think that there's a lot of screaming and a lot of noise, and it works," Lucas said in a May 25th interview for thehcorner.com.

After being in the business and on the road longer than most medical majors' Local H has a good idea on how to stage a well-balanced rock show.

"You know, you just try to put together something that really flows well. It's the same kind of thing as putting a record together. It's just something, you know peak, then take a break, then you go back up, stuff like that," Lucas said.

When it comes to crowd participation and requests, the band is just fine with a little suggestion from the audience, but they hope for a little originality once in a while.

"It depends on how good of a mood we're in, you know? I mean, its fun to play something that we're not planning on playing that somebody shouts out, so I would totally encourage that. But I would also encourage people to be creative and not f**king shout out for a song that they know we're going to play anyways."

The musical style of the duo has varied throughout the years. From the AC/DC and Iggy Pop-inspired "Here Comes the Zoo" to the sorrowfully neglected concept album "Pack up the Cats," the boys in the band have never tried to box itself in or change its style conscientiously.

"I don't really like to push things in a new direction," Lucas said in a 2002 interview with RockStarNews.com's Tim Baker. "I like things to just happen, and hopefully you keep growing and keep trying to get better and write better songs. You will change, but not in a stupid, pre-meditated way that just feels phony. To me, they all seem pretty much the same, but if they do sound different I'm pretty happy about that."

The band has had its ups and downs. With the merger of Universal Records that eventually swallowed up Local H's then-comfy studio home Island Records, and drummer Joe Davis' loss of desire for the rock lifestyle, the band was in really bad shape.

"Joe just didn't his heart wasn't in it; didn't want to do it anymore," Lucas said. "And I think I realized I didn't want to stop. I thought for a second about starting another band, and I realized I wasn't done with this and I wasn't going to write songs that were any different."

Most rockers who have had as much trouble as the H would have just thrown in the towel and become real estate agents (which is literally what Davis did after he quit Local H, believe it or not). As far as filling the shoes of Daniels, St. Clair is more than up to the challenge of keeping up with Lucas' stage energy and musical enthusiasm.

In an interview by Shoutweb.com, St. Clair remembers how he came to replace Daniels in the duo: "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! 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."

Since that time, St. Clair has recorded a full-length album and the newest EP with Scott and shows no sign of letting up.

With the recent release of the band's first EP in two years and the fact that Scott Lucas has been in the band for more than 14 years now, the sound shows no sign of rustiness. The EP consists of three originals and three covers that include The Ramones, The Godfathers and Primal Scream.

There is something a bit more to this effort. There?s a dash of biting cynicism, a bit more ferocity and more of a social and political mind. You get the feeling you could have a really good conversation with Lucas about the current events that have enraptured our news and social consciences in the past few years.

The choice of covering "Birth, School, Work, Death" by The Godfathers is an awesome sing-along anthem that everyone can appreciate, a song you can just hear the audience howling and chanting along with. The production is not sleek and tidy. This is a hardcore effort. Rough and tumble, the boys chunk, smack and scream their way to rock greatness by the time" F*** Yeah, "That Wide!" rolls around.

Any way you slice it, Local H has proven it will still be around to rock through thick and thin, come hell or high water, and when they take the stage Friday night at Copper Dragon, they will make sure all the effort was worth the trip.

Sean Loftus Pulse reporter Daily Egyptian Fall '03 Edition