Local H frontman Scott Lucas said he took his cues from the cinema while recording Pack Up the Cats -- the follow-up to the rock duo's second album, As Good As Dead.
For Pack Up the Cats, Lucas explained, he looked to create an album that had a definite rise and fall, one that would grab people's attention and make them listen to the record all the way through.
"[We were going for] something like 'Boogie Nights' and 'Goodfellas,' where things start off great, and they end up going to sh--, and at the end, there's a little redeeming moment," Lucas said. "I figured people actually do sit down and watch movies all the way through, so to structure [an album] like a movie, maybe that would work."
The group's approach seems to have paid off. Lucas said he noticed it recently in the reaction of the crowds packing the clubs on Local H's first tour in support of Pack Up the Cats.
"I'm kind of happy to see the way the audience is receiving us. They want to hear all the songs and not just a couple of radio hits," said Lucas, 28, who plays an electric guitar with a bass pickup that allows him to double as guitarist and bassist.
"We do a lot of these festival shows and you see some of these bands just aren't prepared. They've got one hit on the radio and none of the kids seem to be buying into their act. It's kind of cool not to fall into that category."
Hailing from Zion, Ill., Lucas grew up idolizing bands such as prog-rockers Pink Floyd and power-poppers Cheap Trick. Those groups were known for assembling solid, fully realized rock albums. He and drummer Joe Daniels, 27, now work to create the same kind of complete recordings, Lucas said.
Local H began as a four-piece but, after losing a guitarist and bassist, Lucas and Daniels decided to make a go of it as a duo.
Saturday in Philadelphia at the Theatre of Living Arts, the twosome began a fresh spate of 26 dates in support of Pack Up the Cats, which was released in August. It includes the tongue-in-cheek single, "All the Kids Are Right" (RealAudio excerpt), which climbed to #11 on the industry magazine Radio and Records' active-rock chart and to #15 on the rock chart in the trade publication, R&R.
According to Lucas, he and Daniels are particularly proud of "All The Kids Are Right." When they first wrote the song, they thought it was "pretty cool, but the lyrics were kind of stupid, like a country song or something," said Lucas. "So we changed it to make it about some kid coming to see us play a show where we're really drunk, and it's a really bad show, and they form this smear campaign against us on 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."
Along with "All the Kids Are Right," Pack Up the Cats features fist-pumping guitar-rock anthems like "All-Right (Oh Yeah)," and the rock-star-on-the-road lament, "She Hates My Job."
For Jim Kerr, editor of the alternative publication, Radio and Records, the reason for the success of "All the Kids Are Right" is simple: "It's a great song. Generally, great songs do well because audiences like them."
With the help of producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, the Cars), Local H complemented the album's straight-ahead rock with quirky touches, including short musical vignettes and cat yowls.
"There's little sections of songs that you think, 'Whoa, what was that? Is that a minute of some song they didn't finish?' And at the end, it reprises itself into a whole song," Lucas said. "If you're listening, that's the kind of thing you pick up on."
Local H's first album, Ham Fisted, failed to generate much attention. But with the catchy single, "Bound for the Floor," from their 1996 LP As Good As Dead, the twosome suddenly found themselves propelled into the national spotlight. The song got stuck on MTV and radio playlists and made the top five of the Billboard modern-rock chart.
Suddenly, the pair, still based in Zion, Ill., were opening shows for grunge-rock torchbearers Stone Temple Pilots and Silverchair -- and even for Cheap Trick.