By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The title of Lucy Loves Schroeder's album says it all: Lucy is a Band. Lucy is not the name of the woman who sings and plays guitar on the majority of the songs. Schroeder is not the bass player, the drummer, Lucy's boyfriend or, like the Peanuts characters they're named after, a musician Lucy is infatuated with. Instead, Lucy Loves Schroeder is a trio that writes songs together, plays shows together, records together, shares inside jokes together, gets drunk together and crowds into a van and goes on tour together. Lucy is a Band is also Lucy Loves Schroeder's take on the Blondie live album title Blondie is the Name of a Band, since both of them mean, "Hey, stop looking at the chick and pay attention to the music."
In the case of Lucy Loves Schroeder, the chick is singer-guitarist Sara Radle, and she's joined onstage by bassist-singer Andrew Binovi and drummer Rob Schumacher. And the music combines the fast tempos, simple chord structures and snarls of punk rock with hooky riffs, Radle's sometimes crooning, sweet voice and talk of love, love turned bad and spending the night alone in what the band likes to call pop-punk. They've been compared to The Muffs and That Dog, but in a genre so small, it's easy to draw comparisons just because a girl is at the mike.
And within the local music scene, where there are fewer female-fronted bands than there are rap-metal bands, Lucy Loves Schroeder is a bit of a novelty. But that's not to say the trio wants to use it as a gimmick. "We're not a band that relies on using women for kitsch value or for just the sex aspect," Binovi says. "That's not to say there isn't that there, but we're not a band that has double entendre lyrics. We're not a band that wears leather bras onstage or shit like that. We're not that band. And we're never going to be that band."
It also doesn't mean Radle wants to avoid all the obvious girl associations either. Lucy Loves Schroeder volunteered to play Women Rockin' 4 Women, an annual music festival of local, female-fronted bands raising money for local charities helping women in abusive relationships. But, good intentions aside, the band members were let down by the groups they shared a stage with. "We've played that Women Rockin' 4 Women thing a couple of times," Radle says. "It's a benefit for a women's shelter, which is why I wanted to play it when they asked us. And, at first, I thought it was really cool that there were enough female-fronted bands in Dallas to be able to put together a festival like this. But then when we saw the bands, we were disappointed because a lot of them relied on very scantily clad women." There were the other girl-band stereotypes, too, she says, with those token chick bass players and the front woman who is really just a puppet for the band's male mastermind.
But playing beside bands more interested in push-up bras than power chords isn't the only drag of being a female-fronted band. Radle says Lucy Loves Schroeder has endured rumors and accusations since she and Binovi moved to Dallas from San Antonio, recruited Schumacher and started playing small shows around town. Some people assumed the young band only got on bills with national acts because of who Radle was dating at the time. Words were exchanged on message boards and in clubs. It carried over to Fred Savage Fanclub, Radle's solo recording project turned live band that released an album on Denton's She's Gone Records at the end of 2000. Though the situation got better the more often they played, a second wave struck 18 months ago when Radle began dating Josh Venable, host of The Adventure Club and now KDGE-FM's assistant music director.
"When Josh and I started dating, he was already playing Lucy Loves Schroeder, and he was already playing Fred Savage Fanclub on his show," Radle says. "And then we started hanging out, and then we started dating. And when we started dating, I said, 'Hey, maybe you should stop playing Lucy Loves Schroeder and Fred Savage Fanclub.' And he was like, 'Why?' And it was like, well, people have a habit of talking about me, and I've heard so many rumors about me that couldn't be further from the truth. I don't want to have to deal with it. And people know we're dating now and you're playing us on the show. I don't want people to think you're playing us for the wrong reasons even though you played us before."
The week Radle and Venable started dating, Lucy Loves Schroeder played the Barley House, and gossip began to spread. Strangers approached Radle not to talk about the band, but to congratulate her on her new beau. So, when she, Binovi and Schumacher took the stage, Radle followed her usual, "We're Lucy Loves Schroeder and we're going to rock your balls" with "and we don't care who you're dating." Indeed the album cover and the buttons the band hands out say "Lucy is a Band" for a reason. This isn't a star and her rhythm section. This isn't The Sara Radle Experience.