We recently had the opportunity to speak with Lucero frontman Ben Nichols about the band's one-of-a-kind sound, current tour, last year and what to expect from them next. Lucero's members are Nichols (vocals, guitar and keyboards), Brian Venable (guitar, backing vocals), John Stubblefield (bass) and Roy Berry (acoustic and electronic drums).
Independent: Would you say that there are any other groups out there that are playing the same kind of music as Lucero right now?
Ben Nichols: I'm sure there are. (Pause) I can't think of anyone we would fit with perfectly.
Indy: Do you end up playing with a lot of bands with different musical styles than yours' considering that Lucero is rather unique?
BN: It's kind of tough. People always ask me, "Who would be your ideal band to tour with?" I've got my favorite bands, like Against Me for one. I think they are one of the best live bands out there. ... But they've got a very young, very punk rock, very political type crowd who aren't into the drinking, heartbroken type songs that we have a lot more of. It can be an odd mix sometimes. Drag the River is an excellent country band, but we aren't that country either, so if we are playing to a strictly alternative country-type crowd, we might not go over so well there either. We are somewhere in the middle of all that, in the middle of the indie rock crowd and the punk rock crowd and the alt-country kids. It's hard to figure out exactly where we fit.
Indy: You tend to write a lot of sad songs about girls.
BN: Yeah, there's a few.
Indy: Is there one specific girl, or is it more of a collective?
BN: It depends on the song. There are definitely songs that pretty much word for word have happened and apply to a very specific situation with a very specific person. We've been together as a band for six years now, so it hasn't all been the same girl. ... You kind of take bits and pieces from the past and put them together into a song and so they don't have to deal with anyone in particular. But yeah, I've got both kinds of songs. The older records tend to be more specific. The newer records, for some reason, maybe I'm just not as distraught emotionally as I used to be, but lately ... they don't pertain to one person in particular.
Indy: So from your next album, what kind of sound can we expect?
BN: Actually, I wanted to make a slightly more rockin' record. This [album will be] twice as straightforward as [last year's] That Much Further West. There's not a lot of overdubs or extra instruments -- it's pretty much two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. I've been telling everybody [it will be out in] March but that's a little optimistic. We haven't even decided on a label yet.
Indy: Does "further west" have a specific meaning to you?
BN: The simplest answer is, for some reason, I've always enjoyed driving west more than I've enjoyed driving east. I'm not sure if the West is just more wide open or holds more opportunities in my head. There's something much more romantic about driving through the desert than there is about driving through Connecticut.
-- Sara Gallagher
Lucero, Drag the River and Secrets Keep Friends
Navajo Hogan Roadhouse 2817 N. Nevada Ave., 632-5490
$8 advance, $10 day of show
Tuesday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.