Nichols' sandpaper vocals sound just as great on a country weeper, as they do on a soul stomper. Usually performing wearing just a simple T-shirt and jeans, Nichols comes off as a modern day working class hero, with a slew of songs drawn straight from the heart. Yep, much like a young Springsteen.
Lucero began experimenting with horns while touring just prior to releasing the album Women & Work, and the band naturally segued into more horn-saturated sounds when it came time to track the new record.
Ben Nichols: No. Not really. I think we're more of a rock and roll band that has Americana influences, roots influences. So I like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. But then again, I also like the Clash and the Replacements just as much. And then, yeah, I like classic rock. I love Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd and all that stuff. So yeah, you take it all, and with the new records, you know, we've added the horn section, so like Stax stuff.
Songfacts: Yeah, that's very different for you.
Ben: And the Sun Studios type of stuff, the Jerry Lee Lewis piano. Just put it all in a big bag and mix it up and it comes out like Lucero.
Songfacts: How has the songwriting changed by adding a horn section? Has it changed the way you write songs?
Ben: Not really. They're so talented in there. Our keyboard player and the horn player, they're so professional. Really anything I bring to them, they can figure out what's appropriate and what fits and what doesn't. So it's a pleasure working with them.
Songfacts: Do you write all the lyrics?
Ben: Yeah. That's the tough part. We could write songs all day long musically, but it takes weeks and months to find the right lyrics. Lyrics that you either haven't written before or that somebody else hasn't written before, and are worth singing. It's tough to find stuff to sing about.
Ben: No, not really. The lyrics are their own separate world. I think there's always been a soulful quality to the lyrics, even in the really old early stuff. And so the horns just kind of accentuate that now.
Songfacts: Let me ask you one last question. What is your favorite song on the new album?
Ben: Ooo, man. I've got a couple of them. We didn't have time to do it tonight, because we only had a limited amount of time. But we've been closing the set with a song called "Go Easy," which is a totally separate direction from what we've done before. It's got this real slow kind of a gospel feel to it, which that's territory we haven't experimented with. But it's fun to play, and we usually play it every night. So "Go Easy" is a good one.
October 2, 2012. Get more at luceromusic.com.
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