Austin roots rockers Uncle Lucius forge their own path on their latest release.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the guys in Uncle Lucius were all right.
A few years back, I was involved with booking the band for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. While the band was in town, they agreed to play an extra show at a local auditorium . . . . full of elementary school students. Now, being an elementary teacher myself, anyone who reaches out to kids gets a special nod from me, particularly when hanging out with school age children might be out of that person’s comfort zone. These fellas were up early and ready to perform at a time that usually doesn’t register on a rock band’s clock. By all accounts, the students and the band had an excellent time and I have been following the band ever since.
Uncle Lucius returns this month with a brand new record and a new approach to recording. Having gotten shut of their record label, the band ventured out on their own limb and produced what is, in my mind, their best collection of tunes to date.
I recently caught up with band members Jon Grossman and Kevin Galloway to chat about the new record, the freedom of recording without a label, and who exactly Uncle Lucius is.
And, down below, Trail Mix is happy to be offering the premiere of a brand new track from The Light.
BRO – No record label, no problem. How’s it feel to be out there doing things your own way and calling your own shots?
JG – A little like I imagine a skydiver feels – exhilaration and joy mixed in with primal terror. Freedom has its perks, but the big catch to working without a net is the very real chance of falling. As an artist, I feel more authentic taking the risk on personally. Record labels have a parental vibe about them – they make the tough decisions for you, they provide you with whatever they think you need. They’re a buffer between you and the real world. Doing it ourselves feels like a teenager who’s moving out on his own for the first time, ready to take on the slings and arrows.
BRO – All the guys in your band write songs. How do you make sure that all of the best ideas rise to the top without stepping on anyone’s toes?
JG – It’s delicate business, a ballet of sorts. The key is remembering that the band has a vision and aesthetic that’s distinct from any of our individual selves. Though it’s not exactly inscribed in stone, we all have a sense of our collective identity, and we strive to serve that in lieu of our personal agendas. I usually know pretty quickly if a song I’m working on is worthy of the band. There are no quotas or guidelines, though. The best song wins, regardless of who wrote it.
BRO – Who are some of your favorite Texas bands right now?
JG – So many great musicians down here, so in particular order . . . Quaker City Nigh Hawks, a real rock ‘n roll outfit from Fort Worth. Blue Healer, out of Austin, has a great mix of modern synthy sounds with the kind of songwriting country music is rightfully lauded for. Unfaithful Servants, also out of Austin, are also terrific. Midnight River Choir hold it down, as do The Bigsbys from Palestine. Look out for The New Offenders, out of Houston. You said bands, but you can’t forget songwriters like Jonathan Terrell, Lew Card, and Carson McHone, just to name a few.
BRO – We are featuring “The Light” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
KG – This song began as a rhetorical question into the source of who I am. Its answer is in line with my own opinions about the nature of things. It is inquiry into motivation, reaction and intention, and a realization that conditioning and tradition run our lives, as we are creatures of habit. It a bit of a mantra that asserts the possibility of evolving beyond our current state of comfort and limitation by acting intentionally rather than reacting according to learned behaviors. It’s a belief that the power lies with the individual and a call to take personal responsibility, to not rely on someone else’s answers.
BRO – Uncle Lucius . . . would he be more like the cool uncle that might give me a nip of moonshine at the family reunion or the creepy uncle that I really don’t want to sit next to a Thanksgiving dinner?
JG – Those sound like the same guy! He might seem creepy at first, but that’s just the kind of prejudice a moonshine packing uncle has come to expect. I like to think of him as a kind of optical illusion. From one angle, he appears to be a jolly old sage, frothing over with wisdom and insight. In another light, he’s just a babbling drunk, laughing at imaginary conversations and drooling on himself. Spinal Tap would have you believe there’s a fine line between stupid and clever, but I find the two states are really the same. Lucius is the uncle that would impart great wisdom on his nieces and nephews, but for the fact that none of their parents would trust him alone with their kids.
Uncle Lucius is out on the road now to celebrate the release of The Light. Fans out in Texas can catch them in Wichita Falls on June 18th, Lubbock on June 19th, and Amarillo on June 20th. More Texas dates follow, and you can find out when the band hits a stage near you right here.
This week, Trail Mix is also excited to offer you a brand new tune from the brand new record. Premiering right here is “End of 118.” Enjoy, and make sure to take a listen to “The Light” on this month’s Trail Mix.