Talk Music: Uncle Lucius follows its bliss
Oct. 30, 2013 at 5:30 a.m.
With a smattering of Southern rock, R&B and soul, Uncle Lucius takes the story a step further.
In the midst of a tour across Texas, frontman Kevin Galloway caught up with Get Out to talk about his fascination with Dia de los Muertos, his approach to songwriting and his attraction to the human story.
You guys just played the Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Fest. How was it?
It was pretty great. It's a very beautiful venue. It's on a meadow on a mountain, so that was wonderful, and the weather was perfect. We were only there Thursday because we had to head out, but we saw some good acts.
Your songs step it up on the storytelling aspect. What's your philosophy to songwriting?
It's a little bit different for every song. We're pretty wide open. There's no specific template.
I write, but we had a bass player who just recently left the band, and he wrote; our guitar player writes; our keys player writes like 400 songs a year. It's all different. It just depends on the song, really.
The overlying thing would be something that's genuine and comes from either a real-life experience or something that could be a real-life experience.
Whatever is the human story.
If you're having a problem songwriting, you should take some in. I'm always on blogs looking at things; I read a lot of Joseph Campbell, Carl Gustav Jung, some of the philosophers. I like (Charles) Bukowski as well.
Bukowski? That's dark. What do you think influences your writing the most?
Bukowski can get dark; I was into him a lot more a few years ago than I am now. I like the way he tells a story; he can make something dark sound beautiful as well. He can see the beauty in it.
You get inspiration from the way people put things into words. But with a lot of the philosophers and such, it usually begins with a line of questioning into something that leads you to them. That becomes the filter through which you write.
Look out into life and question things.
How did "Keep the Wolves Away" or "I Am You" come to be? Did they start with a question?
"Keep The Wolves Away" is a true story. That's from life experience. That's a story about my father.
We grew up south of Houston around the chemical plants, just like the song says. He was hurt pretty badly when I was a teenager, and that shaped the way our lives turned out.
Then "I Am You" is a question to the nature of things. The realization of that song is that I am everything I love, and we are all connected to it.
Do you consider yourself a romantic?
I think so, but as a songwriter, you have to have many masks.
It's almost like being an actor, especially when you're a performing songwriter. You have to become that character for it to come across.
Changing the beat here - are you more of a Halloween guy or a Day of the Dead guy?
Definitely Day of the Dead - Dia de los Muertos.
Two years ago, we did a whole Day of the Dead show in Austin. We dressed up in Mariachi suits and had on decorations.
We had our horn section painted up like skeletons; they marched in from behind the crowd.
I like the celebration of it, rather than the darkness that comes with Halloween. It's a celebration of those who passed on. Just like birth, death is a part of it. It can be a celebration, too.
Sounds like you guys have a lot of fun with it. What's the best thing about playing with this band?
It gels. Once it's all going, the live shows are the best. I'd say that right now, but we started writing literally yesterday. We met for five hours, and we're writing all new tunes.
There's a new creative process going on. When it all gels and everybody's playing together, doing their part all on the same level, it's magical.
It's something you can't do on your own. It's a co-creation that goes beyond anything you could imagine doing singularly.
It's that timeless place that they talk about. That's what I really enjoy about it.
It's been a few years since Uncle Lucius put out a new album. What's on tap?
We've already planned far enough ahead. We're taking the month of March off in 2014, and that's when we're going to record our next album here in Austin.
Our guitar player is having a baby in March, so we need him to be close.
It's time for us to do another one.
Our approach is just grooming what we have, just start working new ideas, jamming on things and letting them go where they need to go. If it sounds right, everybody feels it.
We'll weed them out through the next five months. We already have more than we can put on one album. We're still talking to different producers; we've got it narrowed down.
It's an organic process. You have to ride that balance of the control and letting it become what it needs to be.