Lucero played our first show in April 1998 in a Memphis warehouse across the street from the Loraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Brian Venable and I (Ben Nichols) decided to start a country band. The idea of “country” being somewhere between the Pogues, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, and Tom Waits. Brian said early on he wanted to be in a pretty country band that could play hardcore shows and piss off the punk rockers. Most of ‘em liked it though.
Neither Brian or I had played guitar before being in Lucero. Brian had never been in a band before and I had only played bass and sang in a Little Rock, AR band called Red40. This was the first band for both of us in which we played guitar. This meant keeping the songs simple and straightforward. Most of the early songs were very slow as well. Bands like Ida and Calexico were big influences at the time.
We decided to record some songs in Brian’s dad’s attic on his Tascam Cassette 8-track. During this recording process we found Roy Berry to play drums and John C. Stubblefield to play bass. I ended up mixing down the tapes on New Year’s Eve 2000 and Brian had a few hundred vinyl records pressed up. He screened the covers himself and we sold them at shows until the screen broke and most of the LPs ended up in a closet somewhere. This stuff became known as “the Attic Tapes” and was later released on CD by Soul is Cheap Records.
Around the same time we recorded a 7” record for Landmark Records in Arkansas. The record included our cover of Jawbreaker’s “Kiss the Bottle”. This choice of a cover song ended up being more important in defining the idea of the band than I thought. It kind of summed up what we were doing (playing punk rock songs in a southern rock kinda way) and put our songs in perspective for people.
Also around this time we were nominated by the Memphis chapter of NARAS for the best New Band at their Premier Player Awards. We got to go to a fancy dinner and watch Sam Phillips rant for what seemed like forever about Jesus and Johnny Cash. We lost.
So we played anywhere in town as often as we could, sometimes several times a week. We opened for many of our heros including the Drive by Truckers, the Dirty Three, Alex Chilton, Otha Turner, and the North Mississippi Allstars.
It was our friendship with Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars that led to the recording of our first proper CD. They invited us down to their place in Mississippi where their father (Jim Dickinson) had a barn full of junk and recording equipment. The piano that sat in the old Stax offices was rotting outside the door to the barn. We helped move it to earn some extra recording time. They cut us a pretty good deal. Over the next year we’d come down for a few days here and a few days there and we recorded our self-titled record. Luther and Cody both added some guitar to the record and Jim himself played piano on a few songs.
Madjack records, a brand new local Memphis label, released the record in December 2000. The following year I bought a van and we started playing out of town. In the spring of 2002 we went on a three week tour with the North Mississippi Allstars. This was our first long tour. We kept going and ended up playing almost 200 shows that year.
Our second full-length CD, “Tennessee”, was recorded during the summer of 2001 again at the Dickinson’s barn in Mississippi. Madjack didn’t release the record until August 2002. We did our first full-U.S. tour that Fall after playing a CD release show in Memphis at the Young Ave. Deli to almost 700 people.
During all the touring of 2002 we started getting a little bit of press. Articles in No Depression, Billboard, and Rollingstone.com topping the list.
The touring also took it’s toll. Brian Venable, who started the band with me, decided to quit. Too much traveling, too many bars, too much business talk. There is plenty of stuff in this game not to like, and Brian couldn’t ignore it quite as well as the rest of us. Steve Selvidge filled in on guitar for the first months of 2003, but by the time we played the SXSW festival in Austin, we’d found our permanent replacement in Todd Gill.
Todd had played with a band called the Paper Hearts in Fayetteville, AR and Lucero and the Paper Hearts had played a lot of shows together. He learned fifty of our songs in a month and hit the road with us. And since the only way we can afford to pay rent while on tour is to live together, he even moved into our warehouse in Memphis. Elvis used to take Karate lessons in our place. You can see it in the videos at Graceland. Todd got the room with the metal gym-lockers in it.
It was also during this time that we started talking to Tigerstyle Records in New York. We agreed to do our third full-length record with them and recorded it in May 2003. While the original musical influences on the band are still there, other ideas have become more and more important. Added to the Pogues, the Replacements, Jawbreaker, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash are now Bruce Springsteen, the Band, Niel Young, and Wilco. The new record is scheduled for release on September 23rd.
Please click here to submit the latest Lucero biography
Best band ever! | Reviewer: Lindsey | 10/5/10
I honestly could not say anything bad about lucero, they talk about some real issues. There lyrics are very deep. Ive showed friends of mine there songs and most of them liked lucero... I cant wait to see them here in Florida, only a month away now. It will totally be worth going to and im sure that everyone there is going to have just as much fun as me or maybe more.
awesome emotions | Reviewer: josh | 4/11/10
not all to often you hear a band so honest and true! I can only be thankful I came across their music. It has a emotional sensation, so evident in their way of portrying life, love, and things that matter most to us. You can get lost in their lyrics, their mood...Lucero is a top player in my music.
I Almost Missed This ! | Reviewer: Mary Ellen | 3/20/10
And I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Lucero. Lucero! Ben and Brian, you are the key to whatever it is happening for ya'll now; (I am from Arkansas),and if you shared a dream or just each had your own, you have found the "thing" that puts a soul and a memory in the music we live. I can see you live or listen to an album and I feel the same stirring within me every time. The songwriting is almost sacred the way it is a reality everytime!The sound is ever climbing to new levels as these guys evolve and grow , and again; the songwriting is often nothing less than the choice to just breathe one more time as the words pass thru me. There, I reviewed you. You guys are the real McCoy, and rock-n-roll has been needing and waiting for you to take your spot in it's space of time and existence. Damn!!I'm so glad to be here!
Awesome | Reviewer: Stephen H. | 11/4/09
Lucero is one of those bands that you just get addicted to... I remember hearing them for the first time riding around with good friends getting drunk in Southern Arkansas... it was the perfect soundtrack to our night. I love their early stuff like "The War" and "Nobody's Darlings", but they keep pumping out good stuff with every CD.
They are relevant, too. I go see them every time I can in Little Rock. The last show I saw was an impromptu concert at the Rev Room that benefitted a kid that had some serious health issues. It was an awesome show that they put on, and on top of that they squeezed it in between dates on a tour they were in the middle of.. that just made me like em even more. Go see em or buy any album. You won't regret it.
honest and true | Reviewer: josh | 10/31/08
Lucero is one of the most honest bands of our time. They dont complicate their songs with a lot of un needed crap. i mostly listen to older punk rock, but these guys won me over immediatley. If you like Lucero check out Ryan Adams, another honest musician.
pure greatness | Reviewer: eric halka | 11/12/07
I first heard this band in a props bmx video. i think the song was little silver heart, and i just fell in love with them. you can listen to their music no matter what mood your in, depressed lonely excited getting pumped up. me and my friends normally just scream the lyrics while driving in the car. too good.
I love Lucero!!!!! | Reviewer: Alayna | 3/9/06
I 1st started listening to lucero last year and ever since I heard their cd Tennessee I immediately fell in love with it. Their songs make me feel relaxed and the words connect to what goes on in real life. Lucero should come play in Texas they would make a lot money because their are a lot of people that listen to them.
love it!!! | Reviewer: jessica | 2/1/06
I didnt no bout this band til one of my friends missa put a couple of songs of theres on a cd she made for me. but recently my ex-boyfriend passed away in a car accident due to drinkin and when i heard that one song not sure bout the title but something like drink til were gone and it reminds me of him so much. i think u should atleast give this the band some props cuz they r reality. <3 jessica leeann*
Thank God | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/30/05
Lucero is a great band! It's the type of band that anybody can connect with because they sing about issues that we've all experienced. The songs are deep, but not too complicated; the type that you listen to when you need to get things off your chest. I fell in love with them when I was in a weird situation and what do ya know. . .Lucero had a song that fit the situation perfectly. I love this band. They inspired me to pick up the guitar and now i'm addicted. Listen to it. You'll see what I mean. And while your at it e-mail me to listen to my brothers band(Euphonia). They both rock.
The following area is only for review,
Recommend the artist to your friends.