Local H Look To Discover Dark Side Of The Moon

June 18-1998

Pop-punk duo bears down in studio to come up with more highly stylized tunes a la the Pink Floyd classic.

While he aspires to do great things with his music, Local H frontman Scott Lucas also knows how not to get carried away when it comes to recording a new album. As an example, for the recording of Local H's third album, Pack Up The Cats, in Lake Havasu, Ariz., Lucas held just one goal, big as that may have been -- to make a record as good as the ones he used to listen to as a boy.

"The record I listened to most last year was Dark Side of the Moon [by Pink Floyd] and I hadn't listened to that since I was 13," said Lucas, 28, who plays an electric guitar with a bass pick-up that allows him to double as guitarist and bassist on the album. "It was because of records like Dark Side and records like ones by Led Zeppelin that started us thinking about trying to make a record ... as catchy as a Cheap Trick record." Local H shot to prominence with their last outing, 1996's As Good As Dead, mostly on the broad shoulders of the single "Bound For The Floor," a tune that, among other innovations, dared to rhyme "just don't get it" with "copacetic" over taut guitar and drums.

The remnants of a quartet formed in 1990, the band originated in Zion, Ill., and has earned its reputation for creating hook-laden, pop-punk melodies via Lucas' unique rhythmic instrument. The guitarist plays the specially outfitted axe and octave splitter by slapping at the bass notes on the low strings while slashing away at chords. His raw vocals add to the mix, which -- despite that Local H are just a twosome now -- comes off as sounding as rich and full- bodied as a fourpiece. Despite the popularity of "Bound For The Floor," Lucas said that during the recording of the new LP, which is due in August, he and drummer Joe Daniels, 27, had no interest in trading on its success by pumping out more of the same. "We had another song that sounded like 'Bound For The Floor' called 'Summer Movies.' We decided not to put it on the record," Daniels said. "It's got a really catchy riff with good spaces, but it didn't seem like a good idea to do that." Fans such as 15-year-old Santiago Archila might agree. As the webmaster of Tacoman's Local H website, Archila wrote in an e-mail that he hopes the band maintains its driving edge -- which owes as much to '70s rock stars Cheap Trick as it does to the abrasive grunge of late-'80s-era Nirvana -- and avoids the pop pitfalls that sometimes waylay other bands.

"I think a new album from the band would be great! I sure hope they don't fall into the latest trend of poppy music with bands like Matchbox 20 and college bands like that (I'm sure Local H wouldn't do that to us devoted fans, though)," Archila said. "What I like about Local H are their aggressive, raw sound. Songs like 'Skid Marks' and 'I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are' are perfect examples of this kind of straight-ahead rock."

Instead of settling for what came easiest to the band, Lucas said that on songs such as "All The Kids Are Right," the twosome along with producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, the Cars) tinkered with and sometimes overhauled the tracks until they found the right sound. For instance, the song "All The Kids Are Right" began as a simple tune with country-styled lyrics that focused on drinking, Lucas said. By the time the duo came out of the studio, the words had been revised so that they told the story of a fan who attends a show in which the band is drunk and plays poorly. In turn, the concert-goer launches a smear campaign against the duo via the Internet. "It turned out to be a much better way to go about it than just writing a song about getting drunk and going to a bar," he added. Lucas and Daniels went to similar lengths with the song "Laminate Man," changing the tune from a no-holds-barred punk free-for-all into a mellower track by swiping some of the Beatles' patented recording techniques.

" 'Laminate Man' started off as this fast punk-rock rant and it was kinda like, 'Oh, this isn't interesting,' so we changed it into like a 'Taxman' or 'Glass Onion' type thing where we took the instruments and separated them widely on the stereo like on a Beatles record, where the drums are all on one side and the vocals are on the other and put in some George Harrison-type guitars," Lucas said. "It made the song a hell of a lot better and gave it a sort-of cool, laid-back type of feel." The complete track listing for Pack Up The Cats: "All-Right (Oh, Yeah)," "Cha! Said The Kitty," "Lucky," "Hit The Skids or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Rock," "500,000 Scovilles," "What Can I Tell You," "Fine And Good," "Lead Pipe Cinch," "Cool Magnet," "She Hates My Job," "Stokey," "Laminate Man," "All The Kids Are Right," "Deep Cut" and "Lucky Time."