by: Thomas D. Mooney
Yesterday, we briefly caught up with Uncle Lucius drummer Josh Greco to talk about the evolution of the band, the many interpretations of their songs, and their latest release, the excellent and uplifting album, The Light. The five-piece roots band will be performing tonight at The Blue Light (Thursday, Dec 10).
After their last Lubbock performance, a near two-hour exhibition at The Cactus Theater, Uncle Lucius will be bringing their brand of Americana back to The Blue Light, the first place they played in Lubbock. It’s here where you see the talent and range of the band.
They’re a many-faced god, able to perform in a theater where every set of eyes is on them and a honky-tonk affair such as The Blue Light next door where the patrons may be more rowdy and less forgiving. Greco and company are able to play to both styles as though they were made specifically for that room of listeners.
Watch/Listen Uncle Lucius perform “Don’t Own the Right” on Texas Music Scene below. For more with Uncle Lucius, read our last interview with Kevin Galloway here.
New Slang: Being the drummer of the band and not the primary lyricist or vocalist of Uncle Lucius. Listeners typically think of the one who wrote or sings the song as being most connected to it. They’re typically more personal to those. Still, you’re in the band. You’re around these songs and have been introduced to them in a way much closer than any of us are. What songs from this past album do you feel most connected to?
Josh Greco: There’s always a few that I feel more connected to the lyrics and a few where I feel more connected to the music. “Flood Then Fade Away” was one. Kevin [Galloway] wrote that song. We talked about it for months and months about what the vibe and feel were going to be with the song. With some songs that are so strong lyrically, you sometimes do the minimal effort on the music side. I felt that song deserved more. When we started working with producer George Reiff on this album, Kevin was on an acoustic guitar. I was hitting on my hands on the floor. With George, we just talked it out. The whole combination, it turned into some Fleetwood Mac kind of thing.
“Age of Reason” is another. Hal Vorpahl, our original bass player, he wrote that song. We’re still good friends with him and he’s still writing music. We put a couple of his on this record. “Age of Reason” was one where we felt out the vibe of the song musically over the course of a few months before we got into the studio.
A lot of these songs that Kevin wrote on this record, I immediately had a strong connection to. The topics that he covers, we discuss all the time. We’re always trying to learn more through conversation with one another. He writes about moving on and evolving. I immediately connect with that stuff.
NS: Yeah. To me, the record, to describe it in one word, would be enlightenment. There’s obvious a push in the growth, evolving, learning direction from you guys. You guys aren’t singing about going to the bar and drinking, Saturday night flings, and what have you. Do you think as the band has progressed and grown, it’s been more difficult for the average, casual fan to digest y’alls music?
JG: Yes. I’m the kind of person who hears the music first and then goes to the lyrics second. I think there’s those people who do want the lowest common denominator. They want what you do on the weekend songs. That’s great and we need those songs. It seems like with this band, whoever is writing the lyrics, there’s no consideration of what radio wants to hear. There’s never that. It’s OK with us though. We want to hone our craft and help in the evolution it. Maybe we don’t change everything or break down the barriers, but we play our part in making things better–especially on a musical level and as an art form.
It may take a lot more effort to digest, but we seem to have success with eight-year-olds and eighty-year-olds. It seems to hit with people, even if it takes a little longer.
NS: Yeah. I think it’s those albums that demand your attention, those end up being the ones you love more years after. When someone brings a song to the table, do you guys discuss what the song is about or do you kind of like it where you’re able to figure out what it means on your own–maybe in a similar way a listener would?
JG: There’s definitely been a few songs that I’ve had a different meaning in my head than whoever brought the song in had written about. Maybe I didn’t ask because I was thinking about other things or something. But then later, I’ll find out that it’s about something completely different.
Recently, it’s been pretty obvious what the songs are about. Mike [Carpenter] wrote a really good song on Pick Up Your Head called “Fire on the Rooftop.” I had an idea on what that was about for years before finding out. Some people thought it was about terrorists attacks. Some thought it was about camping. I finally heard him talking about it with someone and it being about this one time when his apartment complex caught on fire and they had to evacuate as their apartment burnt down. I thought it had this whole deep meaning and was about other stuff entirely. I love songs like that–where they have a shallow depth meaning and a deep depth meaning. The song “Rosalia,” people think that it’s about divorce, about people getting sick–we’ve heard a lot of different interpretations of it.
NS: Yeah. It’s interesting to see what people get out of songs. I think we typically think the most important part of writing is what message the author is trying to get across, but really, what the listener or reader gets from it–which may be totally different–is just as important.
JG: Yeah. One of our songs that Kevin wrote on this new album, “Taking in the View,” a lot of people hear it and take it as someone retiring. Someone moving out to the country in North Carolina. Taking in the view in your golden years. He explained it though as something different. We were on tour in North Carolina, he got inspired, and was fortunate enough to write the song in one sitting. Just being in the creative flow. He said he was reading a lot of Joseph Campbell at the time. He wrote it about it being a time for a new set of mythos. We need to create our new set of mythology to help with the evolution of humans. He’s writing about Satan, Jesus Christ, and the big figures and pretty much about their retirement. It’s this whole different scale on what he’s thinking on. But you know, it’s also one of my dad’s favorite songs and he loves the idea of sitting back in his golden years and taking in all the beautiful things in life.