Thirteen years ago, Lucero were just four drunk punks with a Southern-rock edge who hailed from Memphis, Tennessee.
In 2010, Lucero, well, still comprise four drunk punks with a rock 'n' roll edge. But now they're on a major label. And the band's last album, 1372 Overton Park, features renowned Memphis studio musicians.
Still, as Lucero frontman Ben Nichols explains, while the band has matured—to an extent—they have no intention of slowing down. Or so he told us in a recent chat.
Are you guys touring as a full band—with keys and pedal steel and horn—these days?
Nichols: It should be the full band. We have a two-piece horn section with us. We'll have some keyboards, and Todd [Beene, from Glossary] on the pedal steel. Those shows are always real fun for me. I love playing with all the guys.
Do you find yourself making adjustments to your routine when you have the full band?
I've been drinking less before the shows—and, possibly, more after. But I have to give my guys credit. Everybody's been playing pretty well. When you're playing with guys like Rick Steff [accordion, keys] and Jim Spake, who's a brilliant saxophonist, they're just so good and so professional. [They] kind of make everybody step up their game. You really don't want to let them down. And we've been playing some pretty great shows; it's going in the right direction.
Since you've been playing with these guys more, have you noticed it having an impact on how you write newer material?
Man, I'm not sure yet. I've been writing all the new songs on an acoustic guitar. And I very rarely ever play the acoustic guitar live. But I've been enjoying writing songs on it. So, right at the moment, I have more of an acoustic vibe going. But once I bring these songs to the band, things could totally change. So we'll see what happens. But right now I've been leaning toward a quieter, acoustic direction. There may be a way to use the full band and still keep the quieter direction. We'll have to get into the studio and see what happens.
You guys have been going at it for a while now, and I know some of you have families and whatnot. It seems as though over the last couple of years we have seen a more "mature" Lucero.
Yeah, I think it is a more mature Lucero. But, really, we're still touring about as much as we always have. We're still doing over 150 shows a year; we're not slowing down by any means. We're lucky to be doing what we do. Everyone's still willing to make the sacrifices that it takes to go on the road and keep the band fully operational. And I don't see us slowing down anytime soon, to tell you the truth. And, hopefully, we'll continue to play more mature shows. Which, I think, means better-sounding shows and actually playing the songs as they were intended to be played. And not fucking everything up all the time.