Lucero's Brian Venable: I grew up loving the Replacements
Lucero may call Memphis their home, but the hard-working band spends at least as much time in the bus. Already several tours deep into support of last year's Women & Work, the band also just released a new four-song EP of mostly acoustic material, available only from the band's web store and at their live shows, including Friday's date at First Avenue -- a venue that the group has seen a lot of during their 15-year history.
Speaking with guitarist Brian Venable as the band neared Reno, NV, Gimme Noise caught up on the band's status.
Lucero at First Avenue, 4/4/12
Gimme Noise: You've been on the road since December. How is the tour going?
Brian Venable: It's going good. Definitely a little tired, but that's just part of it. I think, technically, this tour's only three weeks old but when you tack on all the other dates and Europe and Australia, we've been touring forever.
The Minneapolis show is in your last week of the homestretch. What's the mindset coming into that week of a tour?
You've still got your head on the ground, so to speak. Minneapolis is still up north. It's when you're, all of the sudden, "I'm in Louisville, Kentucky. I'm four hours from home." You're not watching the calendar. I can't even tell you what day it is, most days.
Well, it's snowing here. It doesn't feel like April.
We had a day off in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago before we headed to Canada. It was pretty cold. I was 17 years old the first time I went up there. It was snowing in October. I was a Southern boy who'd never left home and it was like, "This is where people go to die. It's insane." But you get used to it.
What do you remember of your first Minneapolis show?
I think we opened for North Mississippi Allstars at First Avenue. I lived up there for a year or two and then didn't go back forever, so I think my first time back playing was less about the music and more about the "Holy crap! I haven't been here forever."
When did you live in the area?
Like 1992. I was a teenager, but being that kid that grew up loving the Replacements and all that kind of stuff -- and being a punk rock kid, so Profane Existence -- it was always that cool place. Somebody's always offering, "We know the people that live in [the Replacements' Let It Be] apartment if you want to go sit on the roof and get your picture taken." But you never get a chance to.
No off days this time around to do it?
We have a friend that owns a shop called Aloha Monkey in Burnsville. It's a pretty famous tattoo shop and our last day off we went down and hung out, got tattoos, visited and such. That was the one day off doing that. This time it's pretty much going to be: get into town, hang for a second, play the show, and then drive overnight to the next town.
You've played here a lot over Lucero's history. What stands out about playing to Minnesota crowds?
It depends on the club. The Triple Rock shows were rowdy, beer-drinking freak-outs. Those were always fun. Everybody loves music up there, so whether they're freaking out or not, they listen and they enjoy it. A lot of places, people freak out but they don't really listen to the music, or they talk over the music. There's a history of really good crowds for all types of music.
In an older interview I came across, you mentioned that at one time you had a guitar where you'd attached a stolen bottle opener from First Avenue.
I forgot I stole that. Damn, I'll get in trouble. I don't even have that guitar anymore. I think that was our first show with North Mississippi Allstars and I had a Telecaster at the time, a Thinline. You get drunk, you think "How cool would it be to have a bottle opener on your guitar." But really nobody has ever done it before because it's a terrible idea. I bolted it to the front of my guitar and people would reach out and try to open their beers on my guitar. It would be a weird angle while playing and it would just spray all over my pick-up. It looks really cool, but it's fun in theory not in practice.
On the tour now are you playing primarily Women & Work or are you mixing in new material?
By the time we get to Minneapolis we will have a new EP. We always mix it up. We'll do two hours and fifteen minutes and we'll do a lot of stuff from Women & Work, we'll do a lot of the old stuff with horns, and then in the middle Ben and I get acoustic. It's still a full band but he kind of takes it down and plays a few songs acoustic like on the EP. We play a lot from Women & Work, but we're not necessarily on the Women & Work tour anymore, I think we're just on tour. We've been going back and trying to learn some older songs that might have fell by the wayside to keep it interesting for everybody.
How is it to revisit the old songs? Some of them you wrote... long ago.
It's awesome in its simplicity. Playing them is not as bad, you have the horns and you can do a little bit. When you're listening to it back, trying to learn them it's like "We should go back and re-record everything."
Do you have anything that's been a favorite to play right now?
We just re-learned "San Francisco" and that's a fun song to play [mimicking the guitar line].
Lucero play on Friday at First Avenue with Langhorne Slim and The Law. 8pm, 18+, $20