Geffen Loves Lucy
During a galvanizing performance opening for Elastica at the Vic a week or two back, Loud Lucy's Christian Lane tried but finally despaired of keeping his guitar in tune. Most rockers in his position would simply change guitars, but Lane didn't have an extra--this due to both the band's relative penury and its frequent habit of wrecking its instruments at the end of shows. Lane finally shrugged his shoulders and delivered more than slightly out-of-tune covers by Guided by Voices and Ween. But this young and emotional trio--which just a few years after a move from downstate Quincy to Chicago is seeing its recording debut being released by Geffen--managed to pull the show off. After a few months on the road, first with superstar of the moment Alanis Morissette and now with Elastica, the band has an authoritative punch that gives Lane room to move. As bassist Tommy Furar and drummer Mark Doyle thump, the flamboyant 23-year-old can step out to do the odd over-the-head guitar solo or knee drop. "It's been a very emotional tour, and the guitars have been taking a walloping," Lane says. "I was really trying not to, but I had a little breakdown in Vancouver and stuck a guitar through a speaker cabinet. I really feel that despite how much torture we've been through we've been able to keep our heads cool otherwise."
The debut is a low-budget charmer called Breathe. On display are Lane's blithe, uncomplicated songwriting skills, nothing too far removed from the soft-loud, hard-soft dynamics Cobain and company introduced a few years back. There are also a couple of left turns, like a low moaner called "On the Table" and an almost rural sounding ballad, "Meet You Down." Most bands would like having their first album released on Geffen, not to mention getting a plum opening spot on the tour of a new sensation. Why the talk about torture? Breathe, as it turns out, was actually the product of a major career convulsion. Loud Lucy laid down the album with Jack Endino, the producer of Nirvana's Bleach and an early supporter of the band. But Lane didn't like the result. "I love him. He's a great man," he says of Endino. "But in the end it didn't have the spark and life we were looking for." What he wanted, Lane says, "was the sound of the band playing in your living room."
"We have to do this again," Lane says he told Geffen. "We have to do it with Brad." Brad is Chicago's own Brad Wood, of Idful Studios. Fortunately, the band hadn't used up its recording budget, so the label went along with the request. The much-in-demand Wood cleared some time. "He really came through for us," Lane says. After recording was finished, similar things transpired when the group took the record to New York for mixing--an arduous process that can take weeks. It's generally done by outsiders--"You need a fresh set of ears," Lane says. The band found that process unhappy as well. "I called Brad from the studio in New York. 'What should we do?' We brought it back to him and, I swear to God, it took five days. The whole thing was just a big dream process."
The band shot the album's first video, "Ticking," around town a couple of weeks ago. "It has us in different locations, basically killing time and being confused, or us rocking out while people walking by ignore us," Lane says. Postproduction is supposed to bring in some Woodstock-style stereophonic split screens. The band tours with Elastica for the rest of the month, and then rejoins its new pal Morissette for a few larger dates. Lane won't talk about his rumored involvement with the woman who put the sin back in cinema-going, though at the Vic last week he did dedicate a ferocious version of "Down, Baby" to "a special friend who couldn't be here tonight."
After several weeks of discussion, the Hitsville board of governors somewhat reluctantly awards a Quincy to the Tribune's Richard Christiansen. The award, memorializing the infamous punk-rock episode of the Jack Klugman sitcom, honors those who say stupid things about rock 'n' roll. Christiansen earns the distinction for a recent installment of his banal Sunday "Arts Afield" column. In the October 29 thumb sucker "Finding an Art Amid the Chaos of Rock 'n' Roll," having previewed an upcoming TV documentary on rock music, he marvels at the coherence of the people behind the music. "Maybe, it dawned on me, these people knew what they were doing," he concludes. Among 40 years of geniuses, from Chuck Berry to Polly Harvey, the cry goes round: "At long last, Christiansen approves!"
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Andrew Campbell.