- April 02

Over the last couple of years, Local H has been on a rollercoaster ride, now you have a new drummer, a new label, and a new album. A lot of people would have thrown in the towel and got an office job. What kept you going??

I didn't think I was done. I still had things to say. I still wanted to make anther record. I still felt like we had something to prove.

Is there a story behind the new album's title, Here Comes the Zoo

It's an Iggy Pop reference. I was listening to the Lust for Life record pretty much non-stop while we were making this new record and when I was coming home after it was done, I was still listening to it and that's one of the lines in one of the songs and I just really thought that would probably fit.

Compared to your earlier work, Here Comes the Zoo has a harder edge to it with a bit of the space rock vibe thrown in. Was there an effort to kind of go in a new direction or did it just happen naturally?

I don't really like to push things in a new direction. 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.

How was it having Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Cheap Trick) in the studio producing the record affect things?

I don't's really hard to say. He's really good at getting performances out of people, and that's one of the things I noticed about him. Everything was pretty laid back. We had toured with a lot of these songs previous to recording just to sort of get the live feel and get comfortable with the songs, so that helped. I probably would've liked to done that with every song on the record.

For this record, you enlisted the talents of many people, including the Misfits' Jerry Only and Queen of the Stone Age's Josh Homme. How did that come about?

I've just known Josh from hanging out with him when they play and being a big fan of his since Kyuss and we thought this was right up his alley. Somebody like Jerry Only, it was the case that we were in Jersey and somebody brought up the idea "why don't we get him?" and we were like "yeah!" and we made it happen. He was probably the only one on the record that I didn't know that well, but it was a kick for us to have him come in.

Being around the business, I think the song "Rock & Roll Professionals" is dead-on when it comes to major labels and the way they treat their artists. Was this song written in response to the way your career ended at Island Records?

No, I don't think it's about that at all. It's more about the artists, and how they're full of shit. I don't really like using the term "artist" to describe rock musicians or rock stars. They're not even musicians. They believe their own hype and they're full of it and they just turn rock into this business. It's about those people; people who can't wait to sell-out; can't wait to get the song in a commercial. [They] know how many records they've sold every week and know exactly where they are on the charts; what the strongest markets are. It's a bummer. You get these dick-heads that just want to be record executives and they are record executives; they're over-glorified record executives. It's got nothing to do with the labels; they know they're full of shit. It's the people who make the music that really think they're something else.

Pack Up the Cats was released at a bad time when things at Island were very unsteady and the record never got the promotion it needed. What goes through your mind when a label basically turns its back on you and your hands are tied?

I was really proud of that record, and it was a bummer. I kind of wished I never had given it to them; that I have waited and put it out with somebody that had the time to do it. You're also dealing with a lot of people at the label who really don't know if they're going to have a job, and that's what they're more worried about than anything. "Where am I going to be next week?" To get those people to focus on you when they're scared about where their next paycheck is coming from is really tough and you can understand why their attentions are elsewhere.

Your bio says you followed Chris Blackwell, the Island Records Founder, to Palm Pictures. How much of an influence has Chris had on your career?

Those people were the first people to ever be interested in anything we've done. I know loyalty in this business is stupid, but I really do respect what he's done and I respect the kind of attitude that he has, which is "I'm going to do what I want and that's it." I like that, and I want to be around that.

Palm has made Here Comes the Zoo a priority and they are really pushing the record. Are you satisfied with how the label is treating you?

Yeah, it's good. The only way that we work is to have enough time to build and grow and keep going for the long term. If we can't work with a label that understands then we'll always have problems.

You're currently on the road with Chevelle. How have the shows been and how was the crowd reacted?

It's been great, it's really good. I'm really happy. We've been out for seven weeks and I'm not fried at all; I'm totally psyched, having a great time!

Any good tour stories or memories that stick in your head?

We just like to play pranks on people. It's been a good tour, we're out with Chevelle and Burning Brides and they're great. We fuck with their crew all the time, put hot sauce on each others food when they're not expecting it. We're stupid; were just a bunch of over-grown children.

One last question: A lot of people want to know what the deal is with the dummy?

It just comes out as this thing we used to say to each other: "Now who's the dummy?" A friend of mine just went out and got me one of those and had a shirt made up. The way things most things turn out, it just turns out to be the center of everything: marketing, your record; it's just one of those stupid things that take a life of its own.

-Tim Baker