Alt-country/punk/Southern rockers Lucero are true road warriors, spending more than half their days on tour in any given year. The band has earned a die-hard fan base thanks to their near-constant touring and twangy, rough-and-tumble sound. In a recent e-mail Q&A, Up on the Sun asked guitarist Brian Venable about the band's grueling tour schedule, the recent addition of a horn section to their repertoire and how it felt to sign with a major label after 10 years as an indie band, only to be dropped after one release.
Up on the Sun: It took 10 years and six albums before you guys finally landed a major label deal. How did it feel when it finally happened?
Brian Venable: I think with the EastWest deal being done by a major label, we'd already had some experience. The best thing, I think, is being able to tell your family that you are on a label that they have heard of. It makes it more real for them! We have since been let go by Universal, but it was definitely an experience.
UOTS: One of the perks of being on a major label is a bigger recording budget, and your latest album, 1372 Overton Park, is the first to feature a horn section. Was that something you guys had wanted to do earlier, or was there something about this new set of songs that demanded the horn treatment?
BV: I don't know if that is really true or not about a bigger budget. I think maybe if they really want to push you, then yes, but sometimes it's still the average budget of any label. We demoed most of the songs before the horns and we were wanting to see if putting horns on a song or two would be cool in a RFTC (Rocket from the Crypt) kind of way, but ended up loving the horns so much we added them to almost every song. It did help with the direction we chose with the Memphis soul, helped with writing and mixing.
UOTS: Do you incorporate the horns into your older songs at live shows? Are you bringing a horn section with you on this tour?
BV: We bring out the horns as much as possible [but] not on this tour because we were supporting Social Distortion and it was not in the budget. They play on most everything, new and old!
UOTS: Your bio says you play 150-200 shows a year. Is touring still as fun as it was a decade ago?
BV: It can be. I think with any long amount of touring it can get somewhat rough, but that comes with the job, so to speak. I have a family now, so it's a little harder on me personally. It's still exciting to get to see all the friends and family we've made over the years though.
UOTS: Do you have anything special lined up for this tour? Are you playing any cool covers or dusting off any old favorites?
BV: This tour is mostly to get in front of new people or people that haven't seen us in a while. We do requests every night whether we can finish them or not, which makes every night special, so it's a treat either way.
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UOTS: The trend lately seems to be bands playing classic albums in their entirety. Have you guys ever considered that? If you had pick one of your albums to play every night for an entire tour, which one would you choose?
BV: I think people would like to see Tennessee in its entirety, but having seven or eight albums of material, some songs fall between the cracks. Maybe one day we'll try something like that. I think that as a band, some songs are harder to revisit than others, whether it's [because] we just can't remember them or over time we lost interest a particular song. It's tough, but could be fun.
Lucero is scheduled to perform on on Friday, February 18, at The Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe.