Exclusive: Local H Premieres New Song 'Mansplainer' and Talks 25th Anniversary
Local H's Scott Lucas acknowledges he may have leaped before he looked into committing to make the group's new album, Hey, Killer, an 11-track set which comes out April 14.
"We kinda made it happen," Lucas tells Billboard. "In November I was kinda like, 'Alright, yeah, I can have this record done and delivered and ready to go in April. I can do it.' 'Oh, you can? Great.' And I wasn't even thinking about that being right around the corner and what we'd have to do to make that deadline. I hung up the phone and realized at that moment we were going to have to book time at a studio and I didn't really have anything, and I'm thinking 'Aw, fuck, I'm in big trouble here...' "
Lucas' fears proved to be overstated. For starters, he was charged up after a heavy year of touring with new drummer Ryan Harding. Then, during a trip to last year's Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas, Lucas began going through material and "just listened to recordings on my phone that we'd made in the practice space. There were a lot of them on there, and I just went through and counted and there were, like, 20 song ideas, and some of them were really good," he explains. "There were more than 20, actually, but I narrowed it down and said, 'We can work on these things and make something happen.' Then when we started recording I had a notebook on the bed and every day I'd write the lyrics to the song we'd worked on the day before and get a melody together. That's pretty much how it went; it was a little harder than that, but not much."
Lucas considers the hard-rocking Hey, Killer to be "less conceptual" than some of its predecessors, but it's certainly one of the more adventurous projects, tapping into a wider range of influences and following the duo's more expansive ambitions on six-minute-plus tracks such as "John the Baptist Blues," "The Last Picture Show in Zion" and "Leon and the Game of Sin." Meanwhile, Lucas -- who partially funded Hey, Killer via Pledge Music, with some of the process going to MusiCares -- is surprised at the positive response for "Mainsplainer," which he says is "sort of this nightmare fantasy of being stuck at a party with Bill O'Reilly," that Lucas was not particularly fond of during the sessions.
Listen to the track below, which Billboard is exclusively premiering.
"I was really thinking, 'Maybe this isn't so good. Maybe we don't necessarily need to record this,'" recalls Lucas, who's almost fully recovered from throat damage he suffered after being mugged in 2013 in Russia. "But we did it anyway, and I still wasn't too crazy about it. Then I put some slide (guitar) on it, some background vocals, made it more like a psych rock song. Once we mixed everything, that was the song I kept listening to more than any of the other songs, and that was a song a lot of people gravitated towards, straightaway -- which," he adds with a laugh, "goes to show you don't know shit about what's good or not."
Local H will celebrate Hey, Killer's release with a trio of shows the weekend of April 17 in and around the group's home town of Chicago. A more extensive tour announcement is expected to follow soon, and in addition to the new album Lucas will also be celebrating 25 years since the group's first show and 20 years since the release of its first album, Ham Fisted. "That's just weird to think about," Lucas says with a laugh. "I put it into the context of me going to see Cheap Trick's 25th anniversary show and seeing that and not ever really thinking we could ever reach something like that, not even having it be a goal and now just realizing we've been around that long. It's hard to put into words. It's strange if I think about it too much -- so I don't."