An Update with Austin Lucas


NTSIB’s good friend Michelle Evans checks in with road report on Austin Lucas. Midwestern Ohio NOTE: Austin is playing Zanesfield TONIGHT. More details below.




I was able to catch up with Bloomington, Indiana musician Austin Lucas this past weekend before his set at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville, where he and his back-up band for the past couple of weeks, Glossary, opened for alt-country Tennessee rockers Lucero. It was a line-up made in heaven, for which people from all over the country drove and flew in. We talked about what it was like for him touring with Glossary, his European fan base, and what’s ahead.

You can catch him with his family band in Zanesfield, Ohio this Friday, November 25th at 7 p.m. at the Mad River Theater Works Studio, and/or next Friday, December 2nd at The Bishop with Murder by Death in Bloomington, IN. I don’t recommend missing these shows; he won’t be touring the U.S. again till next year.

How’s it been touring with Glossary?

Amazing. It’s like being on tour with five stand-up comedians. We just laugh a lot, and I mean a lot. Usually, I laugh a lot on tour, but it’s not often I go on tour with a band that’s been together 15 years and really knows each other and really gets along and also has so much camaraderie between them, and they’re dynamic is really good. They’re all really funny people and all really sweet people. Fitting in with them could’ve been really daunting, ya know, like a 6th wheel, but in this case, the 6th wheel runs real smoothly. It was the most natural tour experience I’ve had with another band.

How long have you been on tour with them now?

Two weeks. It was a short little tour.

How did y’all mesh musically, like with them playing your songs?

For me, great. In my way of thinking, really great. A lot of people at the shows were like, “Holy shit, I wish they were your band all the time.” At least the people who said anything to me felt that way. I’m sure there were people who thought, “He didn’t play any of his old songs,” or “He didn’t play very much acoustic,” but that happens.

Now, Todd Beene was with you that entire time, correct?

Yeah, of course. He was with Lucero up until our tour and then with us, and now these two shows with both of us. He prioritized Glossary and Austin Lucas. It was very sweet of him.

What’s ahead?

A lot of resting. I’m going home. I don’t have any dates, really, until I go to Mexico and then Europe, so I don’t have anything going on till then. I’m going to write songs, get in the studio maybe around January, something like that. We’ll see.

And you’re bigger in Europe, right?


How does Europe generally treat you? Like what are your favorite spots?

Finland’s my most favorite place to play in the world, without a doubt. Finland, the UK, and Germany are my three biggest markets, and in the UK, it’s really the south where I do well, like in London, Brighton, and pretty well in Leeds, but I haven’t really broke in the west and the north as well. In Europe, I sell out quite a few venues. At least I have on my other tours.

Which folks do you or have you toured in Europe with? Anyone we would know?

In the past, usually, I’ve packaged up, like with Chuck Ragan, Mike Hale, and Josh Small. Also Drag the River and Cory Branan. The last tour was with Digger Barnes. He’s a German guy, and he was Chuck’s bassist for a while. He was originally my bass player in my band Austin Lucas and The Pressmen, my back-up musicians. Then he met Chuck, and he played with us on Bristle Ridge and was on the first several tours. He’s awesome. He’s amazing, and he’s got his own solo stuff. We did a tour together last year.

So who’s playing with you on this upcoming European tour?

I’m just going to bring my back-up band, The Bold Party. We don’t have anybody supporting. It’ll be the first tour I’ve done over there in a long time where I wasn’t packaged up and ensured that the music quality was really good every night. There aren’t a lot of acts over that that play what we play or Americana or alt-country or whatever, so we’ll see. Should be a great time no matter what.

Austin Lucas at Blue Moon Café, Shepherdstown, WV, 8.26.11

Happy to have another guest post from the lovely and talented Michelle Evans (Dear Ben Nichols, The Vinyl District: Washington, D.C.), this time a live review of Austin Lucas and the Bold Party.



I discovered Austin Lucas a couple years ago, but I had yet to see him live. When I heard he was going to be at the intimately set Blue Moon Café in Shepherdstown, WV, with his brilliantly talented back-up band The Bold Party and opening acts Matt Kline (of The Fox Hunt) and Marcellus Hall (from Brooklyn), I packed up my ’89 Honda Accord (with pop-up headlights!) for a road-trip north to see some awesome music (oh, and my sister too).

I am very much a voice and lyrics person. I often say that if I can’t understand what someone is singing, I’m not likely to be very interested in what the singer has to say (although there are, of course, exceptions). While initially drawn by the overall tone and sorrowful beauty of Lucas’ voice, I came to find bluegrass, country (the real kind), mountain, and Old Time influences in his music – some of my favorite genres. But that’s not all I found. On his new full-length album, A New Home in the Old World, Lucas has employed the use of electric guitar, as can be heard on one of my new favorite songs by him, “Thunder Rail.” Some of my other favorite songs he performed that night included “Somebody Loves You,” “Go West” (below), and “Wash My Sins Away” (also below), all of which can be found on both Somebody Loves You and Live from the White Water Tavern.

Austin Lucas is by and large one of the alt-country genre’s unsung heroes. He not only has a beautiful, soulful voice that propels along a story, but a knack for constructing and writing songs that are both emotive and smart.

Recently coming off a tour with Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown, Austin Lucas is currently headlining a tour with The Bold Party as well as touring as support for the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. If Lucas is performing within a few hours radius of where you live, see him (and definitely see him with The Bold Party, if you can). It won’t be long before he’ll move from intimate saloon settings to theaters, and you’ll regret not seeing him when.


Austin Lucas - Go West @ The BlueMoon Saloone 08/26/11


Austin Lucas - Wash My Sins Away @ The BlueMoon Saloone 08/26/11


Austin Lucas - Wild Boar @ The BlueMoon Saloone 08/26/11


Austin Lucas Official Website

Austin Lucas @ Reverb Nation

Austin Lucas @ Facebook

A Conversation with Austin Lucas, Part II

NTSIB friend Michelle Evans (Dear Ben Nichols, The Vinyl District: Washington, D.C.) concludes her conversation with Austin Lucas. If you’re in Seattle, you can catch both Austin and Drag the River this Friday at SoundFest



It seems both Austin Lucas and I are quite the chatty pair, which is great for y’all, because we discuss the country music scene, Lucero, Cory Branan, and everything in between.

So what are your thoughts on country music?

I listen to a lot of country radio. I appreciate the songwriting, even though most people hate the songwriting, but I listen to it, and I’m like, “This is so catchy. This person is such a clever, intelligent songwriter.” What a lot of people don’t understand about pop music, in order for something to stay with someone after hearing it one time, it has to be extremely catchy. The average music listener isn’t really a music fan. They want image. They want to lust after somebody who’s a star. So the thing is, if you don’t reel them in with a really, really catchy hook, they’re not interested. Trust me, writing really, really dumb and catchy stuff is a lot harder than you think. There’s a certain amount of genius that goes into doing that. A lot of people are hateful towards pop music and very spiteful, and the way I feel about it is, it’s there, but you don’t have to pay attention to it or give money to it, and maybe spend less time being upset about that stuff and more time discovering bands that are worth giving money to and are great. On the other hand, as a songwriter, I just respect the fact that people can do that. And, I mean, who are we kidding? Everyone likes a certain amount of that stuff.

Yeah, there seems to be some pretentiousness out there with certain groups of people regarding pop music or music on mainstream radio.

Yeah, it’s like this pretentiousness exists in people to be nit-picky. When I was young, and I think when everyone’s young, and we’re first exposed to music, everything they hear, they like, pretty much. I used to see the shittiest bands just because they were local and they played kind of the style that I liked. Any band that came on tour, I would go see. Anything I could get into at the all-ages clubs, I’d see. Or a house show, I was there. I would just sit in the record store and be that annoying guy asking what’s good. The point that I’m getting at is that as we get older, we get so pretentious. Our tastes get refined, and we learn to be pretentious, because everyone else is pretentious. I’m guilty of it too. We all are at some point, but the truth is, I feel like I have to have an opinion about all the music out there, even if I don’t really care either way about it. I hate the fact that I’m like that – that I’m the way that I hate how people are.

You just came off Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown. What were some of the highlights?

Everything was a highlight at the Throwdown, but I think that the biggest highlight was probably the first night that I went on stage and sang with Willie Nelson. I just remember how it felt. It’s weird. I did it seven times. I was definitely counting, because that’s what you do when something that spectacular is happening to you. But the first time that I did it, it was in Arkansas, and Travis from Last chance Records – my record label boss – was there as well as my wife, so it was so cool to run out on stage and be like, “I’m doing this, and these people that I care about are here!” And I looked over, and Willie Nelson’s there, and I swear to god, and everyone told me I was crazy, but I swear he looked over at me with a look that said, “What the fuck is this fucking freak dude doing on the fucking stage right now?” [laughs] I mean, because for the first week of that tour – and this is no joke – everybody thought that I was on the crew, because it’s Warped Tour personnel, so all the stage managers and lighting people and tour managers are all punks and all tattooed, so everyone just assumed that I was part of that menagerie of the circus. It took a long time before everyone realized I was a performer.

Did that make you feel extra special?

Well, it made me feel very special in a lot of ways, but it also made me feel like an outsider, which I was. The people I performed with were great, but there were press people specifically who had no desire to talk to me and who were talking down to me. They’d cut interviews short or say really rude things to me like, “So you’re not part of the country music scene.” And I was like, “Actually, I’m part of the alternative country scene which most people would probably argue is more like country music than the country music you’re talking about,” and he countered with, “Well, you’re not in Nashville. You’re not going to be on the radio,” and I’d just be like, “Yup. That’s true.” I dunno, it was funny for me, because I don’t take things that seriously, so I would just make jokes about it usually. There were some really nice press people too, though, who saw me as a good story. You know, the guy who’s not from Nashville and who doesn’t live in Nashville and not part of the corporate country music establishment, and yet I still have a career, and I’ve toured Europe, so a lot of the people from the press were excited to talk to me. It was just kind of a mixed bag, and I really just thought it was all funny. What was really funny is that I always get that I’m “too country” in the punk world, so it was funny going into the country world and be told I’m not “country enough.” [laughs]

You started out in the crust-punk scene with your band Guided Cradle, which is as metal as punk can get, and now you play folk/country music. I’m interested to know who some of the bands are whom you admire or of whom you are a fan.

Well, one of the bands is Lucero. And I know a lot of people love Lucero, and I know a lot of people hate Lucero, but the truth is – and I don’t think there’s anybody who would disagree with this on either side – but Lucero really were a game-changer. They fought to become as popular as they are, and that’s probably why they’re going to be popular until they decide to call it quits or until they die. Every single fucking fan that they ever had, they had to fight for. They won them by constant fucking touring. You know, they were playing country music in a scene [the punk scene] that was totally not interested in it, and in a lot of ways, made people interested in it. I think that a lot of the interest that happened in country music and roots music in the 2000s happened as a result of Lucero hitting the scene and working their ass off. I mean, there are a lot of other factors, but I think they are a very heavily influential band and a very important band, and if someone who’s not a dick writes a book about the scene one day, if they don’t give Lucero all those props, then they’re leaving them out because they personally have a pretentious idea of what is and what isn’t important. Them and Drag the River, actually, are both important.

Anyone else?

Cory Branan is another one. He is probably the best songwriter of my peers. And I don’t think that – I know that that’s true. The guy is a fucking genius. He’s a great performer. I hold him in such a high regard. He’s definitely one of the genre’s unsung heroes.

Last but not least, tell me about your current tour.

The first two weeks are just headline shows with my back-up band, The Bold Party. Then we’re main support on tour with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band who is from Brown County in Indiana, right next to Monroe County, which is where Bloomington is, which is where I’m from. They have a lot of days off, so the days off are going to be filled with more headline shows. Basically, it’s half a support tour and half a headline tour. It’s gonna be awesome, because I’m going to be out with people from my home turf.




Austin Lucas Official Website

Austin Lucas @ Facebook

Austin Lucas @ Twitter

A Conversation with Austin Lucas, Part I

We continue our interviews from good NTSIB friend Michelle Evans (of Dear Ben Nichols and The Vinyl District: Washington, D.C.) with the first part of her chat with the lovely Mr. Austin Lucas. Check out Austin, Drag the River and many more at SoundFest in Seattle, which starts today and runs through Sunday.



I was able to catch up with Austin Lucas just after his tour with Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown. We talked about punk rock. We talked about bluegrass. We talked about the music industry. We talked so much, in fact, that we’re splitting his interview over today and tomorrow, when we’ll resume talking about things like his current tour with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, his experience with the Country Throwdown, and Cory mother-fuckin’ Branan.

I’m of the ilk that while I want the people I love making music to do well and sell records, I wouldn’t wish fame on anyone. It just seems like the worst fate imaginable to me (but that’s just me). One of the things I appreciate most about you is your accessibility. Is that something you make a point of doing?

Sometimes I feel like when I’m doing a show, I’m there to see the people at the show and not the other way around. I try to be as open and interactive with my fans as possible, personally. The thing is, it’s not like any of us are famous, you know. I mean, some of us more than others. But even if you go see the stuff that you love in an up to 500 capacity venue, and even if it is sold out, that’s 500 people in that town, and if you think about what it’s actually like to be famous, it’s like being in awe. I mean, being at this level allows a certain amount of interaction, and that’s a beautiful thing about it. You can still be interactive, and you can actually become friends with the people who listen to your music rather than have just a bunch of nameless faces that are buying your product.

Though buying your product is great. You deserve to make a living doing something you love. Some people hold a viewpoint that opposes that, and I don’t understand where that comes from.

I think there are a lot of people who frown upon it. I don’t personally care for those folks, especially the band folks that pretend that’s not what they want and kind of cast off people the more popular they get. That’s always been something that’s really bothered me personally. You know, everyone wants to be popular, and everyone’s gonna ride it as far as it’ll take them. I mean, not everyone wants to be mega-famous, but people want fans at their shows. I mean, it’s depressing to show up in a town and have nobody there. Absolutely nobody fucking wants that, and, you know, I think that it’s a really interesting dichotomy that, like, it’s okay of 200 people come and see you, but it’s not okay if 500 people come and see you, or it’s not okay if a thousand people come and see you?

I’m not gonna lie. As a fan, do I love it when I go to a show, and there are only, say, five other people there? Sure. Yeah, that totally rocks for me, but I understand that it may not necessarily rock for the band trying to make a living.

I mean, it can be really, really fun, depending on the situation, but if you’re talking about making a living and the repercussions of there only being six people at a show, there’s more going on than a lot of people think about. There’s the fact that you’re probably making less money or making no money, and there’s a guarantee, and there’s a promoter, and they lost a bunch of money on it. The odds of them doing another show for you go down dramatically. Also, the odds of other promoters doing a show for you also go down dramatically. Trust me, I know, because that’s my life.

So how did you start playing music?

I’m naturally a very lazy human being, which is why I’m a musician in a lot of ways. You know, because I had no interest in going to school, and it was the only thing I was naturally, predisposed to being good at, and I’d already been playing music my whole life, since I was a little child, so I just kind of fell into it. It was kind of, like, well, what can I do that requires the minimal amount of effort with the most payback? All right, well, I’ll play music. I’m gonna keep doing that. It’s fun, and I was always good at it. I mean, maybe not the greatest in the world or anything like that, but it was something I was always decent at.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the bluegrass influence in your music.

Well, I’m definitely not at all real bluegrass. I mean, I definitely have bluegrass influences and stuff like that, but as a genre, serious bluegrass fans would definitely not call me bluegrass. The only people who ever do are people who don’t really know but maybe hear the banjos and the fiddles and call it bluegrass. Bluegrass is a very, very specific style of music, and I might utilize a lot of the motifs that are involved, and I’m definitely very heavily influenced by bluegrass, but more honestly by mountain music. That’s really more of what inspires me, at least for my first several records.

That’s true, which is why I said “influence.” [laughs]

I’m used to people calling me bluegrass, and I’m always like “uh-uh”. For me, I’m just immediately like, “Nope.” Honestly, I like to educate people musically, which is why if somebody asks me what I do, I always say, “I’m a folk singer,” or “I’m a country singer.” I consider all of it to be folk music, truthfully. I consider everything that’s made by people that aren’t fucking, like, ridiculously wealthy to be folk music. [laughs] And I know that’s, like, a poor dude being biased against rich people, which admittedly, I kind of am. [laughs]

So I’m curious then, how did you find punk rock?

I’m from southern Indiana. We had a rock station that back in the 80s and 90s played what we consider to be classic rock now, but they were pretty diverse. They had a radio show on Thursday nights called “Brave New World”, and it was all punk and all alternative, college rock stuff. I’m from Bloomington, which is a university town, and I grew up about six miles outside of the city in the woods, but the county seat is Bloomington, so I’m going to school there and going to shows and stuff like that. We have record stores. I was very lucky in that regard. I mean, our record store may not have carried everything, but it carried enough to give me a pretty good musical education as far as stuff outside of what was on the radio. I also have an older brother seven years older than me, and he was into punk, so that’s how I got into it. The first shows that I went to were scary. You didn’t know what was gonna happen. There was always crazy fights, and being 12 years old and seeing a circle pit and trying to get in it is pretty intense. [laughs]




Austin Lucas Official Website

Austin Lucas @ Facebook

Austin Lucas @ Twitter

Bits: Booker T. Jones, Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown, The Kills, Strand of Oaks, The Imperial Rooster,

  • Booker T. Jones’ new album The Road from Memphis is out today. You can see and hear his recent Tiny Desk Concert for NPR here.
  • Fantasy Records will be putting out a Buddy Holly tribute album, Rave On Buddy Holly, on June 28, and the contributor list is wild. You can hear the Black Keys’ contribution, a cover of “Dearest”, here. And if you visit Liza Richardson’s May 7 KCRW show, you can hear Modest Mouse’s take on “That’ll Be the Day” (at the 6:00 mark) and Cee-Lo doing “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” (around 36:35).
  • A free 8-song sampler from artists on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour, including Austin Lucas, is available from iTunes.
  • Take a trip over to Vinyl Hounds to see a cool mini documentary about the Kills.
  • KDHX has a live in-studio set from the always beautiful Strand of Oaks.
  • A reminder that our friends The Imperial Rooster will be playing at El Farol in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on May 10 at 6 PM MST and the set will be broadcast live on Radio Free Santa Fe (you can catch it on the web at the Radio Free Santa Fe website or in the Santa Fe area on 98.1). They will also be a part of the Thirsty Ear Festival going on in Santa Fe June 10-12. They’ll be joining the likes of Calexico, the Handsome Family, the Cedric Burnside Project and many more.

Austin Lucas: Constant Sound of Thundering Rails


As has likely become obvious to regular NTSIB readers, I’m a sucker for a good voice. A voice full of pathos and urgency – and especially one that has been roughened with whiskey and cigarettes – will get me every time. Austin Lucas has a classic bluegrass voice. “High lonesome” is a good phrase for it. And while this sort of voice would seem best paired with quiet instrumentation and pretty guitars, as Lucas has often used in the past, on his latest album A New Home in the Old World, Lucas shows that bringing up the intensity of the music to match the intensity of the voice benefits both the singer and the song. Check out a little of what I mean on my favorite song from the album, opening track “Run Around”.


Run Around by Austin Lucas


It’s a sharp smack in the face of an introduction to an album that pulls a taught thread of emotional intensity throughout. Later on in the album, such as on lead single “Thunder Rail”, electric guitar is pulled into the mix, recalling some of the best roots-minded alt.rock.


Thunder Rail by Austin Lucas


Lucas is an earnest songwriter, but New Home doesn’t fall into the usual singer/songwriter trap of using the music as nothing more than a bed of lettuce for the entrée of the lyrics. This is not a poetry reading. This is music flowing with blood, guts, yearning and hope.

You can purchase the album directly from Last Chance Records (my advice is to purchase directly from the label whenever possible – they’ll put much more care into your order than a megawarehouse would and often at a better price), where a live album from Lucas is also available. You can also catch him on Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown 2011 Tour that starts up toward the end of this month.


Austin Lucas Official Website