Local H's Vitriolic Rock
by Kathleen Wilson
Local H w/Visqueen, Sullen
Fri Sept 26, Graceland, 9 pm, $8.
"The thing that I think most people forget is that this is fun to do."
That's a surprising response from Local H singer and guitarist Scott Lucas, whose back catalogue is packed with songs spewing venom about the music industry.
"I just hate everyone in it," he explains. "I hate some of the bands in it--the way they turned it all into a business. But you've got to realize that it's probably always been like that, and it's always going to be like that. What I just don't want to turn into is one of those fuckin' yuppie types who think the '60s changed the world. I don't want to say, '1999, man! Nirvana! We could have changed the world!' I mean, who gives a fuck? There are so many great bands around right now and as long as you've got something to say, then you should do it. Otherwise, yeah, go ahead, throw in the towel."
It may sound like Lucas is on some kind of bitter tear, but he's just telling me how a band that's gone from major-label gold to just-recorded-album-with-no-label status (over the course of a decade and five albums) manages to stay so admirably enthusiastic. Clearly, he loves making music. "I just had an argument with somebody at a club last night," he continues, "who was giving me the same bullshit. He said, 'The last great rock record was Appetite for Destruction.' I said, 'Fuck you, ya idiot. The only song they wrote that was worth a shit was "It's So Easy"--now shut up.' And I walked towards the bathroom and that was it."
Local H has had a number of songs venting spleen after spleen about the industry over the years: 1996's As Good As Dead had "High-Fiving MF"; 1998's Pack Up the Cats had "All the Kids Are Right" and "Laminate Man"; and their last full-length, Here Comes the Zoo, had "Rock and Roll Professionals." So I ask him, "Are you writing the songs for you, or are you writing them for the audience?" That gets a chuckle out of Lucas before he says, "I'm writing them for me. I probably do have a rage problem, so what am I going to do? I'm not going to kill anybody, because I can't get away with it. I would kill people if I could get away with it. Some of [the songs] I think are more funny than anything else." Most of them are, actually, and it's Lucas' reflective sarcasm that originally hooked me and then kept me a fan. Even Ham Fisted, Local H's 1995 debut, had a song on it called "Chicago Fanphair '93."
In May, the Illinois-based band put out an EP called No Fun that, while paying tribute to fellow musicians (Ramones, Godfathers, Primal Scream, and the title reference to the Stooges), tears the holy crap out of George W. Bush. "We were recording No Fun and it was going to be a five-song EP. But we had this song called 'President Forever' and I thought we should record it and get it on the record. I was kind of pissed that because of the political climate, people were afraid to criticize that asshole, and I think that sucks. So I wanted to do something. And then we got the artwork for the EP and I just thought that was great." Said artwork depicts an American flag made of straight-out-of-the-package bacon. The album rocks harder than ever, and features appropriately caustic lyrics that have our leader, among other things, pissing up and down the walls of the Oval Office and hollering that he wants to "give the French their fuckin' statue back."
Lucas is not all vitriol, but he's long since ceased recording any slow songs ("Manifest Density Pt. 2" off As Good As Dead is very pretty) because, he feels, no one wants to hear them. "I was raised on Led Zeppelin, and they put out albums with songs that were hard next to songs that were quiet. I've always thought that balance was perfect and that that's what people wanted to hear, but obviously I'm wrong. What people want is one thing or the other. Coldplay fans don't want it to get too hard, and people who like Korn just want to hear that rock. The twain shall never meet."