New Slanged: Kevin Galloway of Uncle Lucius
By: Thomas D. Mooney
Uncle Lucius is back in town. I’d like to believe that everyone had at least one uncle who was their cool, hip uncle who was always blasting 60s and 70s rock music. He’s the one who introduced you to all the important “Jimmys:” Hendrix, Page, Morrison, not Buffett…If not, I’m sure Uncle Lucius will take you under his wing.
One live Uncle Lucius show, and it’ll catch you up like Sparknotes. But be a lot more entertaining, obviously.
They’ve been able to at this point in their early career mesh together the best of Southern blues (Allman Brothers) with modern Midwest blues-rock (Yes, the Black Keys).
New Slang caught up with Uncle Lucius vocalist/guitarist to discuss these influences and what’s new with the band, which is primarily the recording of their next album.
Uncle Lucius is playing The Blue Light tonight (Feb. 11).
New Slang: You guys get a lot late ’60s-early ’70s southern rock and soul comparisons. Feels like that’s those are the “go to comparisons” for you guys. And while there’s nothing wrong with them, do those comparisons ever get old?
Kevin Galloway: I don’t think it gets old. I take it as a compliment. Personally, I think the music from back then had a little more substance to it. It’s cool that it’s familiar in that way, but also given a little bit of a modern twist. Kind of pay homage to it, you know? It’s interesting that you say that, but when you get out there, it’s different people’s perspective on the music, you hear so many people telling you that you sound like this or that you sound like that. It’s very eclectic. It’s people going back to stuff they’re familiar with. You’d be surprised by how many people say we sound. It’s very diverse. But, it’s always a compliment.
NS: As I understand, you started out as a singer-songwriter before Uncle Lucius was formed. How was that transition? How’s the songwriting progressed and changed?
KG: Yeah, it’s changed dramatically, especially with the band. I mean, I still do my own thing, but then, this band, we’re all fortunate enough to have quite a few songwriters. So we all write our own songs and bring them to the table. And, we started writing songs together. And I think you get better in that sense because you get to filter through four or five songwriters. So it’s changed for the good. Everybody has learned something. And you learned to kind of let the ego go.
NS: With that change, are you still the main lyricist or has that gone to being more of band songwriting process as well?
KG: Yeah, still on most of them, yes. But, I’m not the only one. The bass player, Hal Vorphal, writes the second most amount of lyrics. And we have a new keys player and he writes songs. The guitar player writes songs. But for the most part, since we are doing a lot of the songs together the last year, the music is coming and then the lyrics just will kind of come down. I guess that’s why I am first and foremost, a singer-songwriter when it comes down to it.
NS: It definitely feels like you guys take a lot of pride into what you’re actually singing and what the lyrics are. I think when you look at the two genres you’re most connected with, southern rock and Texas country, lyrics aren’t exactly top priority with bands. A lot of bands are more concerned with the “sound” of a song, but when hearing your songs, you don’t feel cheated by the lyrics. What do you feel makes a song a good/great song?
KG: Sure. I really appreciate you saying that. And yeah, its very intentional. It’s very important to get across [some meaning]. It’s poetry, you know? It’s going to be out there and when you’re doing the whole big, loud thing and playing a live show, people are out there enjoying themselves. They might catch all of the lyrics, but subconsciously they are. And then if they get an album, when they sit down and listen to it later on, it’s going to hit them in a different way. They’re going to make sense of the lyrics. And then they’re going to creatively think about it and everyone is going to have their own perspective with what the song is about. And it gives the songs substance. So yeah, in the songwriting process, we try and make the songs “make sense” and with a good song, you want to say something but without saying too much. Kind of leave it open in that sense and we definitely take pride in that. That’s very important part of what we do. You could sing about the same old shit. You know, drinking beer and having a good ol’ time, this is where I’m from and all that. It’s almost like a showy thing. It’s almost just a copout, in my opinion. I’m not judging anybody. Everything has it’s place.
NS: I recently read on a blog post by you guys, that we “should keep our eyes out and ears open” for the next album in spring. What’s this new album going to be “sounding” like?
KG: It’s going to be eclectic, for sure. It’ll still be the Uncle Lucius sound. We play a lot of different types of music and go in different places. Trying to come across like that where it’s all an idea. So we’re spreading our wings a little bit…It’s still Uncle Lucius, but it’s still coming from a lot of places. We’ve got some straight-up singer-songwriter stuff, some stuff that’s going to have some string sections and that get a little psychedelic. Kind of all those things that we want to represent. I think it’ll all go back to that older stuff that you’re talking about.
NS: Have you guys started recording anything yet? And where?
KG: We start recording Feb. 14. We’re recording right outside of Nashville. We were looking for a place where we could leave town and sort of hole up and be away from everything. We’re very excited. We had the producer come in last week for a couple of days and we did a lot of pre-production, really trying to narrow it down to ten or 11 songs for an album. We’re excited, man. There’s some powerful stuff on it.
NS: While I’ve not been to an Uncle Lucius show yet, I’ve heard that they can get pretty wild and entertaining. What’s going through your mind while on stage?
KG: I’m trying to not look at them, man. I mean, I look at them, but I find that the best thing to do, is when you’re in that moment and everyone’s clicking, and you’re watching and feeling everyone else, it really comes across. Doesn’t matter if you’re playing for 2,000 people or 20 people, you don’t worry about them and just do your thing, you’ll get your message across. That’s what we try to do.