2119 Young Ave
Memphis, Tennessee 38104


I Can Lick any Son of a Bitch in the House

Young Ave Deli
Memphis, TN
$10 www.ticketweb.com
Indie Rock


No one goes about purposely stacking formidable odds against themselves, but most are aware that this might be an outcome once a particular path is chosen. ?Touring Rock Band? is a career that comes standard with a mind-numbing mountain of adversity, and there comes a point when the parties involved need to decide if the band has the wherewithal and integrity to push everything else aside and drop the hammer on one solid drive. Lucero made this decision a number of years ago, perhaps around the time that local Memphis clubs started to welcome a Lucero show, the band started to establish a backbone of touring options, and when that ever elusive regional to national line was first crossed.

Memphis, TN, it must be noted, is a tar pit, sometimes trapping undeserving artists for their entire careers, sometimes creating legendary cult artists, and infrequently dispersing success stories. We may be on the brink of the latter, relatively of course, with Lucero. And I?m sure that all four members will agree that it?s about fucking time.

Lucero began quite humbly with vocalist/guitarist Ben Nichols and guitarist Brian Venable. They wanted to play quiet country-influenced songs at punk rock shows. Nichols did the obligatory punk rock route playing in a couple of bands. Venable did the obligatory punk route sans the ?playing in a couple bands.? Bassist John Stubblefield and drummer Roy Berry had bounced around local Memphis bands since what feels like the days of the Carter administration; and Berry has had his thumb in just about every musical pie one could imagine. The band started out drummer-less and with a violinist on board, playing to your garden-variety ?20 or so friends? crowds. Parties, the warehouse, bars that are now memories, the usual. Over the years the crowd grew, and so did the touring schedule. Not to mention the band grew into it?s own, broader sound.

Last year, after the release of their third full-length album, 2003?s That Much Further West, Lucero began to break through into their first hard-won wave of success. They toured with a wide range of artists - Against Me!, The Breeders, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The Weakerthans; all reflecting the diversity of Lucero?s appeal. It was in 2004 that the music press also began to take pointed notice of the band - Pitchfork published a rave review of That Much Further West. Rolling Stone included it in their ?Hot List,? noting it as ?the country album the Replacements never made.? Alternative Press named The Attic Tapes, the band?s 4-track debut EP, one of the ?top 5 home recordings of all time.? UK indie bible MOJO listed them among the ?Johnny Cash torch-carriers.?

This praise was drawn on the heel?s of a series of industry setbacks, as their new record label home, New York City?s indie - Tiger Style - closed up shop a mere four months after That Much Further West?s release. This followed several years of label problems, personnel shake-ups, and the musician?s collective hand-to-mouth existence. All this in addition to non-stop touring in support of their earlier releases, 2000?s self-titled Lucero and 2002?s Tennessee, which were both released on local Memphis label Madjack.

The complexity involved in making this album and all of Lucero?s uphill business battles are to be included in the groundbreaking forthcoming documentary, Dreaming In America by New York filmmaker, Aaron Goldman.

In need of some much-deserved forward motion, it was decided that Nobody?s Darlings was to be produced by legendary Memphis musician and producer Jim Dickinson (who has worked with The Replacements, Big Star, Screamin? Jay Hawkins, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones). The record was recorded and mixed in his barn in north Mississippi. ?He calls it the Zebra Ranch,? says Nichols. ?We'd known Jim for a long time, mainly through his sons, Luther and Cody, who play in the North Mississippi Allstars. We'd been on tours together and recorded our first two records with their help. Jim saw us play with the Allstars on New Years Eve in 2004. I think that was the first time he thought we had progressed enough as a band to sign on as producer for our next record.?

Some things to get straight... this record is rock and roll. The last one was rock, but a different kind of rock. Much of the ?indie? is removed in favor of a proud and tasteful regionalism, and the ?country? that folks love to play up about Lucero is now nothing more than a lazy side step from those who don?t pay attention. Nichols says ?The songwriting on the new record differs from the previous record in that these songs were written in a shorter period of time and with a more focused vision. In that way it is more like our earlier self-titled record. Whereas with that record I wanted indie country-rock, with this new one I wanted southern-rock. I had a definite idea in mind when I was writing these songs that I wanted a rock and roll record.?

?Along with his desire to capture us on record as a ?band", Jim also brought a lot of history to the recording process,? Nichols says. ?I think his numerous stories about Alex Chilton, Jerry Lawler, Paul Westerberg, Zolar X and Black Oak Arkansas before they were Black Oak Arkansas had an impact on us as we worked. He made us feel like a real band making a real record, even though at the time we didn't even have a record label. He would tell Brian that his guitar playing reminded him of Bob Stinson. He would tell Roy that he was a mad genius who should be open to taking free reign on the recording process. All of this positive feedback kept morale very high. All that, along with the stories put a certain excitement in us as we played. I think Jim wanted that energy to seep onto the record as well.?

?The way the guitar lines fit together has always been an important part of what we do. Since the beginning, Brian and I both knew we weren't the most technically skilled guitar players. I think maybe even in past interviews we?ve said something to the effect of ?you put us together and we make one good guitar player.? Although this new record is more of a rock and roll record, I think the guitars fit together in the same way they always have. I know that was something Jim paid a lot of attention to while we were recording.?

?Being from the South is important I think. It gives the songs a place. It makes Lucero what it is. The Pogues could never have been from anywhere other than Ireland. Bruce Springsteen could only be from Jersey. I'd like to think where we?re from comes through in the songs.?

I Can Lick any Son of a Bitch in the House:

I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House is (above, from left to right):
Mole Harris - Bass, David Lipkind - Harmonica, Jon Burbank - Lead Guitar, FlapJack Texas - Drums, Mike D - Vocals, Guitar.

Excerpted from an interview conducted by Steve Stav for Ink19 ----
Every great once in a while, something comes along to remind you of what rock 'n' roll is supposed to sound like, to push rock's essence and spirit into your veins and manipulate your heart and mind. I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House -- their full moniker is borrowed from bare-knuckle legend John L. Sullivan's vivid biography -- is a raucous quintet out of Portland, Oregon, and one of those rare throwback-catalysts. For the past couple of months, they have been on an erratic, scorched-earth campaign of the Western states, making instant believers out of audience after audience. I Can Lick's heady mix of Americana and punk reminiscent of Robbie Robertson and the Band, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and Black Flag -- has also converted dozens of marquee-mates, who have learned the hard way that following I Can Lick on the bill is often an embarrassing situation.
At night, Mike Damron exorcises demons -- his own, and often, his audience's -- only to have them return by the next evening, providing for a neverending struggle. Offstage, the band's creator, songwriter and frontman is the nicest fellow you'd ever want to meet, a family man and seemingly normal joe. Behind the mic, however, he's a madman. Stalking the stage like a pulpit-less, barefooted preacher and playing a guitar that looks like it was pulled out of a dumpster fire, Damron rants and shouts and sings his way through some of the most powerful songs you will ever hear. Onstage, Damron will say that his songs are all about "death and fucking," but they're much more than that. I Can Lick's typical set list also covers depression, alienation, heartache, loss, a dysfunctional, lonely childhood; rage, determination, love, and sonic assaults on the right-wing establishment that Damron clearly despises. Together, the searingly personal lyrics and swing-from-the-heels music (played by five ass-kickers who, save for their baby-faced bassist, are so wild and woolly they make Skynyrd look like Ivy League frat-boys) alternately stuns and galvanizes an audience. Indeed, witnessing I Can Lick's live show is akin to a tortured, desperate soul stumbling into an old-fashioned tent revival......

Added by PulpFaction on February 13, 2006

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