Montana Press talks to Ben Nichols, front man for the iconic traveling rock and roll band.
Lucero will descend on Missoula, Montana on Tuesday, November 13 to play at the Wilma Theater. A quintessential rock and roll road band that’s been touring for over 20 years, Lucero is making one of their many return trips to Montana.
Ben Nichols, lead singer and songwriter for the Memphis-based rock band Lucero on spoke with the Montana Press in October 2018.
Montana Press: How have you evolved to the point you are now in your music over the last 20 years?
Ben Nichols: Yeah, 20 years. It’s been a long time. I think you can hear a maturity in the songwriting now that maybe wasn’t there before. I definitely tried to focus on the craft, the songwriting more with this record instead of just being raw emotion on the page. I was more interested in telling short stories and maybe involving narrators that aren’t myself. It was something I was definitely focused on for this album. I think the songwriting’s grown a little bit over the years or at least I’m trying to go that direction.
Right now, with this record, Among the Ghosts, we’ve stripped it back down to a five piece [band]. We used to have a horn section for a long time and a pedal steel player and, at one point, there were nine people on stage. And now we’re back down to a five piece, but it’s a pretty tight five piece band. So it’s a very streamlined kind of rock and roll sound to go with the hopefully more mature songwriting. It packs a punch.
MP: Tell me a little bit about your touring schedule right now. Where have you been and where are you headed?
Nichols: We just got home to Memphis. I literally just stepped off the bus. The guys are still unloading gear. It was a good first half of the run. We’ve been out for the last three and a half weeks or so. We’ve been up East, some Midwest and Northeast and Southeast. We leave the day after Halloween and head out West through Texas and California to Seattle. And then come back down through Montana and all that. So that’s when we hit you all. We did about almost a month on the eastern half of the country and now in November up until Thanksgiving, we’ll do the western half.
MP: Talk about the Memphis sound a little. Memphis has traditionally been an urban center surrounded by rural communities so rock and roll and country can be kind of the same there. Do you guys consider yourselves musical ambassadors for that sound?
Nichols: Well, yeah. I mean, I love being a rock and roll band from Memphis. It’s really cool. There’s no better place to be from. You kind of soak up the history, you know? You can’t help but soak up all the history. A whole lot of my heroes, rock and roll heroes, are from here. Actually the building that we’re unloading into is actually two doors down from Sam Phillips Studio and a couple blocks from Sun Studios. So we’re just right in the middle of it. It’s really just kind of an honor to be part of Memphis music history. We’ve been doing it long enough now to where at least being a footnote in that history is pretty cool. It feels good to have participated because, yeah, a whole lot of heavy hitters are from this area. Just being part of the game has been rewarding for us.
MP: What can fans expect in Missoula? What can they look forward to at the upcoming show?
Nichols: Well, we’ll do nine out of the ten new songs off the Among the Ghosts record. We’ve been doing about 25 songs a night so that leaves plenty of room for old songs and classic songs that folks want to hear. We’ll dig up a couple of deep cuts, maybe, that we haven’t played in a number of years and polish those off and throw those into the mix as well. So, yeah, old and new. You’ll hear stuff from the whole catalog. But you’ll definitely hear almost all of the new album.
MP: Do you have any particular memories from shows in Montana in the past?
Nichols: I remember the Top Hat always being really fun. Everybody was really friendly to us. It’s a very welcoming place. And they like the rock and roll so it makes for a good crowd. I might have drank too much last time I was there, but other than that, it all went perfectly.
MP: What’s next from Lucero?
Nichols: Right now we’re just on the road. Although my brother, Jeff Nichols, he’s a filmmaker who made "Mud" and "Take Shelter" and "Loving" and "Midnight Special." He was nice enough to come down with an actor named Michael Shannon and a few other great actors and they made this video for one of the new songs called Long Way Back Home. You can watch it on YouTube (watch the short film/video here). It’s the quality of more of a short film. It’s about eight minutes long, and he wrote the script for it and directed it. Just the quality of it is amazing. It doesn’t look like most music videos. It’s worth checking out. Otherwise, we’ll see you in Montana!