Local H subverts ’90s nostalgia at Rockstar Pro Arena

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Scott Lucas (left) and Ryan Harding of Local H perform May 9 at Rockstar Pro Arena

Dirty flannel, Doc Martens, and light wash jeans are everywhere these days—’90s nostalgia is at peak popularity. Sticker and Trapper Keeper mogul Lisa Frank is doing better than ever with a new clothing line, and the fair hair of Full House’s Uncle Jesse once again graces our TV sets (or, at least, our laptop screens). Even Crystal Pepsi made a brief return to grocery stores in 2016.

The music scene is no different. A flood of bands, whose heyday occurred during the unwashed flannel-wearing years of the early ’90s, is coming out of the woodwork in what appears to be a 20-year cycle of nostalgia.

Within recent years, alternative bands who were mainstays on MTV—back when the network actually played music videos—such as Ride, Lush, and Teenage Fanclub, have embarked on sell-out reunion tours and, in some cases, new recording projects.

With the announcement of a 2017 tour from alt-rockers Local H, you could be forgiven for thinking the band was just the latest in a string of reuniting ’90s acts looking to cash in on the current fad. But unlike most of their peers, Local H, or at least Scott Lucas, never called it quits; the band has been alive and kicking long since its days in the limelight, making new music and touring as much as possible for what seems like an insatiable fanbase. Fans will get a chance to hear Local H live when the band’s tour hits Rockstar Pro Arena on May 9.

Local H was originally conceived as a four-piece in Zion, Illinois, in 1990. Their lead guitarist left in 1991, followed by their bassist two years later. At this point, the remaining members, Scott Lucas (guitar, vocals) and Joe Daniels (drums), decided to carry on as a duo.

“Eventually, [Local H] became a two-piece and we stuck to that,” Lucas says. “We just like it like that…we couldn’t find any bass players without mullets in Zion.”

With only two members, the band had to find a way to flesh out their sound. Lucas decided to modify his guitar with added bass pickup and a second output so he could still get lots of low end, an adjustment that resulted in a fuller sound.

Local H signed to major label Island Records a few years later during a brief period in the mid ’90s when every major record label was scrambling to sign any band that might be the next Nirvana.

Their 1995 debut on Island, Ham Fisted, didn’t move the needle much. However, their 1996 follow-up LP, As Good As Dead, was more successful due to lead single, “Bound for the Floor.” The single, as well as the album that spawned it, smells very much like teen spirit—angst-ridden, nose-thumbing, and grungy, it resonated with an equally angst-ridden nation.

Soon the band was packing houses all over the country. As Good As Dead eventually achieved gold record status, selling over 500,000 copies. The times were fruitful.

In 1998, Local H released their third album, Pack Up the Cats, which failed to ignite the charts quite like its predecessor. At that point, the band parted ways with Island. Soon after, original drummer Joe Daniels left the band. Not one to be deterred, Lucas soldiered on, recording and releasing new records with the help of new bandmate Brian St. Clair, former drummer of Triple Fast Action. When St. Clair left the band in 2013, Lucas recruited Ryan Harding as the new drummer of Local H.

Lucas continues to enjoy writing tunes and lyrics that, while new, still have the same feel of the music he is most famous for. He believes that keeping listeners connected is how Local H stay fresh and relevant.

“I try to have faith that if it’s important to me, it will be important to someone else,” Lucas explains. “I don’t believe in filing off the edges to make things more universal or appeal to the widest audience. The more specific, the better. I find when you do that, it seems to resonate in a deeper way with people. They’re like, ‘Hey! I know what that fucker’s talking about. That happened to me!’ The more watered down your message, the less of a chance you have of making that kind of connection.”

The area where Local H seems to connect the most is their energetic, in-your-face live shows that continue to draw crowds.

“There’s a more visceral thing to be had in a live setting,” Lucas says. “[It’s] hard to get that off a record unless you turn it up really loud. Live, we get to be in control of the volume knob.”

In essence, Local H has been able to sustain a career out of doing what they do best, all while moving forward and not looking back. Lucas is grateful to be able to do so.

“I don’t have any particular use for nostalgia—I’m always looking for the next highlight,” Lucas says. “We certainly don’t take it for granted, and we’re willing to give it our all, no matter what the situation. It’s just an honor that anybody still gives a shit about us.”

 

Local H play Tuesday, May 9 at Rockstar Pro Arena, 1106 E. Third St. in Dayton. Abertooth Lincoln and the 1984 Draft are also on the bill. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. For more information, please visit LocalH.com or RockstarProArena.net.

 

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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