Loud Lucy Makes a Racket
During the course of a show at an off-the-beaten-path bar at Austin's SXSW festival last month, Loud Lucy's Christian Lane did three interesting things. He delivered an agitated, oddly emotional speech about sexism. A few songs later he whipped out another broadside, this one railing at the music industry and the music press but filled with the same genuine pain and heartfelt emotion. And finally, before the last song, "Breathe," Lane turned to his childhood buddy, bassist Tommy Furar. They grinned at each other and shook hands broadly, and at song's end they efficiently demolished their instruments, heaving guitars and pieces of Mark Doyle's drum set across the stage.
All the fireworks would have been less interesting had Lane not seemed to have absorbed the verities of 90s pop-rock so effortlessly and naturally. Without sounding imitative, he efficiently manipulates a Cobainesque musical palette of light and dark colors: soft, sometimes lilting verses that suddenly burst into roaring emotional choruses. His lyrics avoid self-conscious artiness and concentrate instead on conveying youthful emotions--love, hurt, anger--simply and straightforwardly. His gift for songwriting harnesses these two forces and grafts them onto direct, no-nonsense melody lines with his malleable, sometimes whispery, sometimes howling voice. You can see Loud Lucy once or twice and find yourself recognizing every song.
Lane's first outburst that night had its genesis on an Austin street that afternoon. A Chicago friend, Louise Post--who was in Austin to play with her own band, Veruca Salt--was accosted by a man who verbally harassed her. She was upset, and Lane was pissed off. Hence the lecture on sexism.
The second came out of a state of affairs that's been dogging the band lately. Now in the enviable position of being the most sought-after Chicago rock property since Liz Phair, Loud Lucy had hooked up early on with Jack Endino, producer on many seminal Seattle works, including Nirvana's Bleach. He set the band up with an agent named Sandy Roberton, who represents many prominent rock producers. Through Roberton the group talked to some labels, but then the rumor started that they'd been picked up, specifically by PolyGram. Lane and company, who hadn't signed anything, started feeling cramped. In Austin, Lane recalls, he was dismayed to hear label reps from some very large operations say they weren't even going to come see the band because it'd already been picked up. At the same time less-desirable industry types were still milling around. "People come up to you and say, 'I don't have your tape yet, but I hear you guys are hot,'" Lane says. "You think that sort of thing is just a parody, but it's not." Tired from the trip, upset about Post's experience, and repelled by the density of the looming industry, he lashed out.
And that led inevitably to the instrument smashing, which is fast becoming a Loud Lucy trademark. ("It's getting to be expensive," Lane admits.) He bashed at his guitar a few last times and headed offstage. "I started throwing up as I went off," he recalls, "but I sort of held it in until I got outside." He brightens. "It was kind of good, though, because none of the A and R guys were bothering me after that." He pauses. "I should have thrown up on them."
Lane grew up in downstate Peru, which is right next to Oglesby, where Furar grew up; they've known each other since first grade. They made their way up to Chicago after high school. "I always hated that town," Lane says of his home. After an obligatory few years of drummer problems, they met up with Doyle. "We played like ten songs the first day. It started to feel real good real quick. I love my band."
Chicago's March Records loves Loud Lucy too: it's putting out a single--"I'll Wait" and "I Don't Think"--in about a month. In the meantime the band's still groping around in a sea of offers. At Thurston's Friday night the trio wowed a jostling crowd that included reps from Geffen, Sony, RCA, several publishing companies, and smaller labels as well, most notably Maverick, a vanity label owned by a certain someone named Madonna. Indeed, her manager, Freddie DeMann--object of the diva's incessant complaints in Truth or Dare--watched the band closely from the back bar. Lane says he's over the pressure and feels like the band has the opportunity to take things a bit more slowly. "If we do fail," he says, "we want it to be because people didn't like our music, and not [because] we made a bad decision."
Loud Lucy plays an 11:30 PM show Friday at Metro with Veruca Salt.
The "special surprise guest" on the bill with Rodan Saturday night at Lounge Ax is widely rumored to be Steve Albini's new outfit, Shellac. Club booker Sue Miller, however, denies it. ...Speaking of Lounge Ax, the three-night stand by Uncle Tupelo there last week may have been the band's swan song. Word is that Jay Farrar, who wrote and sang with partner Jeff Tweedy, is leaving the band. The band's manager, Tony Margherita, says the band will play shows through May 1 and then "reassess."...Jim Ellison says Material Issue's free midnight show at Foxy's last Sunday was intended to be just that. He apologizes to fans for the $3 fee at the door.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brad Miller.