A Q&A with Scott Lucas
by Terence Cawley (Biology), published November 7th 2016
Scott Lucas, the singer/guitarist/songwriter behind Local H, will not be stopped. A mere two months after touring behind the 20th anniversary of As Good As Dead, their brilliant concept album on the rage and dejection engendered by small-town life, Local H is back on the road opening for Helmet. It’s a fitting pairing, as both bands are hard-working warhorses from the heavier side of ‘90s alt-rock. They’ll be coming to the Brighton Music Hall in Allston this Thursday, Nov. 10, but before then you can read this interview with Lucas to get his clear-eyed take on the As Good As Dead tour, the need for cultural preservation and why Local H isn’t going away anytime soon.
Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): You’re currently on tour opening for Helmet — how did that lineup come together?
Scott Lucas (SL): We both toured together before with Filter, and we got along really well. We just kind of got each other’s jokes and dug each other’s bands, so that was something that kind of never went away.
TMM: You were on tour earlier this year playing your breakthrough album As Good As Dead in its entirety for its 20th anniversary — what was your takeaway from that experience? How has your relationship with those songs changed?
SL: There were some songs we hadn’t played in a while, so it was kind of interesting to break those out. To sort of revisit where my head was at, that’s an interesting, strange bit of therapy — to go, “Oh, there are issues that I’m still having today.” That was, for me, probably the most interesting thing about it. It was fun, you know, people seemed to have a good time. It was cool playing a show that big.There was a certain challenge to it that was cool.
TMM: Your current drummer, Ryan Harding, has been in the band for about three years now — how is working with Harding different than working with Local H’s previous drummers?
SL: I don’t know, there’s a certain shot of energy but it’s hard to say that that’s any different.
TMM: So it hasn’t affected things songwriting-wise?
SL: Yeah, I would say [it has]. I think making the last record was a really enjoyable experience. It was certainly a lot more laid back and enjoyable than Hallelujah! I’m a Bum was, or even 12 Angry Months, the record before that. But that could have something to do with the subject matter: this record feels a bit lighter. It’s hard to say.
TMM: The lyrics on your latest album, Hey, Killer, aren’t nearly as explicitly political as they were on the previous album, Hallelujah! I’m a Bum. Do you feel any desire to return to more pointedly topical subject matter after the insanity that has been this year’s presidential election?
SL: Well, I mean that record was explicitly political and conceived just for that reason alone. But there’s always been political things in the lyrics. Like the stuff in “Half-Life,” “President Forever”— that’s on The No Fun EP, there were explicit politics on that record as well. Even stuff like the class issues of “Fritz’s Corner” and “Bound for the Floor,” I mean that was political. I think some of the songs like that, the message is just easier to ignore. This record has political stuff in it, songs like “Mansplainer” and “Leon and the Game of Skin” are very political, but there’s also stuff about religion…we didn’t hammer it home. To be honest, I didn’t want to spend every interview talking about it; I got tired of it.
TMM: You’ve always been a vocal, passionate fan of rock music — how has the gradual diminishing of rock’s status in popular culture affected your relationship with the genre, both as a musician and as a fan?
SL: I don’t know about pop culture and I don’t know about diminishment, that sounds like bullshit to me. The people I’m surrounded with are just as into rock as they’ve always been. All my friends, everyone I know, they’re more excited about the new Red Fang record than…than I couldn’t tell you who else, I don’t know.
TMM: You’re also a vocal, passionate fan of movies and an occasional film critic — should we take “The Last Picture Show in Zion” as indication of your dissatisfaction with the current state of film?
SL: No, not with the current state of film; maybe with the current state of film exhibition. That song is kind of about a specific thing that happened where I grew up, our movie theater being torn down, but it also speaks to a wider thing about the lack of interest in culture in smaller towns. I think when culture goes away things get stripped; it’s something very important and if we don’t protect it you kind of lose something. And that’s not limited to small towns; that’s also what I see in cities like New York and Chicago, with people trying to turn cities into suburbs and shit like that…. It’s important to protect those things, and people don’t give a fuck because they’re chasing the dollar, which turns us into something I’m not proud of.
TMM: Do you think you’ll ever “retire” the Local H name, or can you see yourself writing albums and touring with Local H forever?
SL: I mean, I’m lucky; I’ve got a job that isn’t just a job. You can ask me about stuff, and I can speak my mind, and I can look at those songs and go, “This is sort of like a diary entry,” or, “This is what I think about certain issues.” So that’s not something I could walk away from.