Low Down & Dirty Q&A with Ben Nichols and John C. Stubblefield of Lucero
By Natalie Rahhal, Staff Writer
Lucero has been playing together for fourteen years and in that time, they have been consistently inconsistent in the best way possible. From their earliest days as precise Memphis punk-rockers, Lucero has sidestepped and wandered across all kinds of genre-lines, but they have always been dependable for a solid sound, and even more solid commitment to playing music they love. For their newest album, Women & Work, Lucero trades in their track record for irreverence to pay homage to the country soul music of their Memphis roots. They manage to reach back into history, add new instruments, and still have a sound that belongs uniquely and unmistakably to Lucero.
Ben Nichols (lead vocals/guitar) and John C. Stubblefield (bass) recently answered some Low-Down & Dirty Q&A for TJ, talking about destroying some bits of the past, resurrecting others and of course, Memphis.
Word is that for the upcoming “Women and Work” music video, you and the band will be destroying your old tour van! What kind of evidence will get destroyed with it?
JS: All kinds of stuff! Can’t wait for everyone to see the video! Just left Ardent Studios and had a viewing of the footage with director, Jonathan Pekar - the footage is awesome! Really looking forward to the edited version. Anyway, as far as “evidence,” you’ll just have to see the video. All I’m at liberty to say is there is a kitchen sink involved.
You’ve toured the whole country; is Memphis barbecue really the best? What’s the best best barbecue joint you least expected?
BN: Memphis has the best pork BBQ. But I have to admit, I like visiting my little brothers in Austin, because there is a whole bunch of amazing brisket down there.
Which artist from Sun Records would you most like to buy a beer? What song of yours would you want him to hear?
JS: Jerry Lee Lewis – The Killah. Might actually be a possibility since he is still alive. They say he is to ‘mean to die.’ As for which song? Probably the piano boogie woogie JerryLee informed tune, “Women & Work.”
On the flip side, which Sun Records artist would you think twice about getting into a bar fight with?
BN: Jerry Lee Lewis for sure. I have a feeling that guy could get meaner-than-all-get-out if you made him angry.
You said in a press release that “having a band in Memphis puts you through a tradition.” What has been the worst, dirtiest, roughest part of that rite of passage?
BN: I simply meant that it feels really cool to be making music in the same spot where a ton of history-changing recordings were made. There is a reason all that good music happened to come from this one spot. I bet a lot of folks have different ideas what that reason is. I’m not sure myself what that reason is. But, I hope Lucero can at least become a small footnote in that amazing Memphis musical history and tradition. So… no rite of passage.
What does your mom have to say about your tattoos (and your lyrics about them)?
JS: She loves them! They all have a specific meaning. So, she’s into that! Her favorite song to this day is “All Sewn Up.”
Who is the father of Memphis music, and what would he say about you and Lucero?
BN: The father of Memphis music that I had the honor of actually working with, was Jim Dickinson. I think he would say we’ve “fucked things up exactly the way we were supposed to.”
How does the title Women and Work relate for you to the album’s ties to Memphis music roots?
BN: Eh. I guess ‘women’ and ‘work’ are simply two of the biggest things in our lives. Most of my time is consumed thinking about one or the other. I figure it’s been that way for most fellas playing music in this town.
What made you and Lucero decide to add horns, of all things, to your band? What’s the one instrument you couldn’t stand to include?
JS: Of all things? In keeping with the Memphis theme that we have been conditioned by, it seemed like the next logical step. All of the Stax and Hi Rythym Records had very distinctive horns. In fact, it was a group of players named the “Memphis Horns.” Our horn players, Jim Spake (sax) and Scott Thompson (trumpet) played on countless sessions with those players over the years and now Jim and Scott are the Memphis Horns. They were even credited as such on My Morning Jacket’s, It Still Moves record. As for one instrument that we couldn’t stand to include? Can’t really say – would hate to limit any possibilities.
You are in Memphis for 24 hours. You have $1,000 and Stevie Nicks. What do you do? Ready, go!
BN: I’d give her the thousand bucks and make her sing songs for me.
JS: Rent Ardent Studios and cut a 4 song EP with Lucero as the backing band! Yep, that’s what we’d do in that totally fictional situation.
Listen To: “Women & Work” from Women & Work
For the latest news, info, and all other things Lucero visit www.luceromusic.com. Be sure to check out Women & Work, available now on iTunes!