Lucero could very well be America’s most hard working band. Playing between 150 to 200 shows a year since 2001 definitely puts them in the ranking. While we’re at it they could win the award for most entertaining and down to earth as well. At times lead singer, Ben Nichols can be drunk as a skunk, playing the same song for 15 minutes, and sometimes sweet as cherry pie, with his Southern drawl enchanting every lady (and admit it, most men) in the audience.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Nichols after his show at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. He finished the set, thanked us for skippin’ church on a Sunday, and came down to drink beer and take shots of whiskey with his fans. He stayed till everyone got a piece, and then asked if I wanted to have a seat.
After all your shows do you come out and talk to everyone?
Usually ya, and before the shows. Usually we’re playing at a bar, and I like hanging out at bars. So ya, usually I’ll end up talking to folks before or after.
Where is your favorite city to play?
It’s tough. (Someone hands him a beer.) Thank you sir. There are a lot of really good places. Memphis has always been very nice to us. San Francisco’s one of my favorite cities. And I’m not just saying that. When I started traveling at 19 this is one of the first places I came to and I love Northern California a lot. I even like Florida. I love Austin, Texas. I love New Orleans. So ya, it’s hard to pick one. I love my home state of Arkansas. I’m from Little Rock Arkansas. And it’s always nice to go back to Arkansas.
How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
I was 18.
Which one was it?
It’s this nice Celtic armband right here. (Points to his forearm.) I picked it off the wall. Actually my girlfriend picked it off the wall, because I had picked a really bad one, and she was like, “No you want this one” and I was like, “Ok I want that one.”
Did she get one too?
Nope. And that was 1990-something so that was when you had to go to the bad part of town and find the old biker dude on speed and say “Hello sir will you give me a tattoo?” So it was interesting.
Fans are known to get pretty crazy at Lucero shows… Do you have any particular story you can remember of the craziest fan experience you’ve had?
Ooohh, fans huh. Mmm. (Cracks open the beer.) Eh, it’s kind of the regular stuff. You know, you sign various body parts.
Girls throw their bras on stage?
Every now and again, ya. On the good days, on the good days.
Do you get bad hangovers?
I didn’t used to but I’m getting older, so it’s starting to catch up with me a little bit.
Who would be your celebrity crush?
Oohh, man, that’s a tough one. I’ve always had a thing for Uma Thurman. Ya, for real. Since I was 15.
Do you see a break in touring in the future? You guys have been touring for years.
We have been. And, noooo… we might tour a little bit less than we used to, but no, this is kind of what we do. I think we can keep this going for a while.
Are you working on any record right now?
We’re working on demos. And so hopefully we’ll record next spring.
What about Cory Branan, I know you guys have toured together before, do you see that happening again?
Ya, I’m sure it will. I don’t know when. But ya, we’re good friends with Cory. He’s like family, so ya, I’m sure we’ll do some stuff in the future.
And finally, what whiskey is your drink of choice?
Jameson. For sure.