Local H Look To Discover Dark Side Of The Moon

Pop-punk duo bears down in studio to come up with more highly stylized tunes a la the Pink Floyd classic.

While he aspires to do great things with his music, Local H frontman Scott

Lucas also knows how not to get carried away when it comes to recording a

new album.

As an example, for the recording of Local H's third album, Pack Up The

Cats, in Lake Havasu, Ariz., Lucas held just one goal, big as that may have

been -- to make a record as good as the ones he used to listen to as a boy.

"The record I listened to most last year was Dark Side of the Moon [by

Pink Floyd] and I hadn't listened to that since I was 13," said Lucas, 28, who

plays an electric guitar with a bass pick-up that allows him to double as guitarist

and bassist on the album. "It was because of records like Dark Side and

records like ones by Led Zeppelin that started us thinking about trying to make a

record ... as catchy as a Cheap Trick record."

Local H shot to prominence with their last outing, 1996's As Good As

Dead, mostly on the broad shoulders of the single "Bound For The Floor," a

tune that, among other innovations, dared to rhyme "just don't get it" with

"copacetic" over taut guitar and drums.

The remnants of a quartet formed in 1990, the band originated in Zion, Ill., and

has earned its reputation for creating hook-laden, pop-punk melodies via

Lucas' unique rhythmic instrument. The guitarist plays the specially outfitted axe

and octave splitter by slapping at the bass notes on the low strings while

slashing away at chords. His raw vocals add to the mix, which -- despite that

Local H are just a twosome now -- comes off as sounding as rich and full-

bodied as a fourpiece.

Despite the popularity of "Bound For The Floor," Lucas said that during the

recording of the new LP, which is due in August, he and drummer Joe Daniels,

27, had no interest in trading on its success by pumping out more of the same.

"We had another song that sounded like 'Bound For The Floor' called 'Summer

Movies.' We decided not to put it on the record," Daniels said. "It's got a really

catchy riff with good spaces, but it didn't seem like a good idea to do that."

Fans such as 15-year-old Santiago Archila might agree. As the webmaster of

Tacoman's Local H website, Archila wrote in an e-mail that he hopes the band

maintains its driving edge -- which owes as much to '70s rock stars Cheap Trick

as it does to the abrasive grunge of late-'80s-era Nirvana -- and avoids the pop

pitfalls that sometimes waylay other bands.

"I think a new album from the band would be great! I sure hope they don't fall

into the latest trend of poppy music with bands like Matchbox 20 and college

bands like that (I'm sure Local H wouldn't do that to us devoted fans, though),"

Archila said. "What I like about Local H are their aggressive, raw sound. Songs

like 'Skid Marks' and 'I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are' are perfect

examples of this kind of straight-ahead rock."

Instead of settling for what came easiest to the band, Lucas said that on songs

such as "All The Kids Are Right," the twosome along with producer Roy Thomas

Baker (Queen, the Cars) tinkered with and sometimes overhauled the tracks

until they found the right sound.

For instance, the song "All The Kids Are Right" began as a simple tune with

country-styled lyrics that focused on drinking, Lucas said. By the time the duo

came out of the studio, the words had been revised so that they told the story of

a fan who attends a show in which the band is drunk and plays poorly. In turn,

the concert-goer launches a smear campaign against the duo via the Internet.

"It turned out to be a much better way to go about it than just writing a song

about getting drunk and going to a bar," he added.

Lucas and Daniels went to similar lengths with the song "Laminate Man,"

changing the tune from a no-holds-barred punk free-for-all into a mellower track

by swiping some of the Beatles' patented recording techniques.

" 'Laminate Man' started off as this fast punk-rock rant and it was kinda like, 'Oh,

this isn't interesting,' so we changed it into like a 'Taxman' or 'Glass Onion' type

thing where we took the instruments and separated them widely on the stereo

like on a Beatles record, where the drums are all on one side and the vocals are

on the other and put in some George Harrison-type guitars," Lucas said. "It

made the song a hell of a lot better and gave it a sort-of cool, laid-back type of

feel."

The complete track listing for Pack Up The Cats: "All-Right (Oh, Yeah),"

"Cha! Said The Kitty," "Lucky," "Hit The Skids or: How I Learned To Stop

Worrying And Love The Rock," "500,000 Scovilles," "What Can I Tell You," "Fine

And Good," "Lead Pipe Cinch," "Cool Magnet," "She Hates My Job," "Stokey,"

"Laminate Man," "All The Kids Are Right," "Deep Cut" and "Lucky Time."