Best known for their unorthodox two-man lineup, hard rock act Local H have made a career out of straddling the fine line between indie and classic rock, cleverly framing their sardonic lyrics with a generous helping of power chords and feedback.
Scott Lucas (vocals/guitar) and Joe Daniels (drums) began playing together in high school in their native Zion, Illinois. Finding a suitable bassist proved an insurmountable challenge, so the industrious Lucas eventually devised a way to install bass pickups into his six-string. Armed with this intriguing novelty setup, Local H signed with Island Records and made their recording debut on 1995's Ham Fisted, a rather unoriginal disc that had some detractors tagging them as Nirvana wannabes.
Its follow-up, 1996's much improved As Good as Dead, was another story, however, considerably expanding Local H's sonic palette and firmly establishing their identity as Midwestern ironists supreme. Led by well-crafted power pop radio singles like "Bound for the Floor" and "Eddie Vedder," the album was eventually certified gold and helped earn the Local H their alt-rock cred, while simultaneously validating the duo's contradictory ties to classic hard rock. Though less focused and not quite as immediate, 1998's still solid Pack Up the Cats seemed set to maintain the band's rising momentum. But record company woes (Island's parent company, Polygram, was in the process of being absorbed by Universal Music) effectively clipped the band at the knees, the album became lost in the shuffle, and Local H went on a near three-year hiatus. In the interim, Daniels left the band under amicable circumstances and was replaced by former Triple Fast Action drummer (and Bun E. Carlos drum tech) Brian St. Clair.
Lucas and St. Clair returned in 2000 with a new album and a new label. Here Comes the Zoo was released by Palm Pictures, an offshoot of the former Island Records, and it featured more of the Midwestern angst and cutting satire that had always defined Lucas hard rock, but added the busier drumming style of St. Clair. Incessant touring followed, and in 2003, the duo returned once again with the angry and aggressive No Fun EP, released by the Chicago punk label Thick Records after Local H fell out with Palm. The band's fifth album, Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?, arrived in Spring 2004, and was another loose concept album about coming to terms with that most would regard as failure. Local H's hard-hitting live show was documented for the ages on 2005's Local H Comes Alive (which included a new studio track, a beefed-up cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic"), and three years later, the group teamed with Shout! Factory to release 12 Angry Months, another concept piece, this time about a relationship gone sour. In 2010, Lucas and St. Clair indulged their fondness for idiosyncratic covers with the EP Local H's Awesome Mix Tape, Vol. 1, featuring eight tunes from the likes of TV on the Radio, Pink Floyd, Concrete Blonde, and the Misfits; the EP was released through the band's own label, G&P Records.
In 2012, Local H delivered another concept piece, Hallelujah! I'm a Bum!, about the politics of daily life during a cold winter in Chicago. While touring in support of the album, Lucas was mugged after a show in Moscow in February 2013; the incident left him without his phone, wallet, or passport, and with damaged vocal cords that forced him to cancel several shows. Several months later, Local H were back on the road, but in October 2013, Brian St. Clair played his final shows with the band, amicably parting with Lucas to devote more time to his tour production business. St. Clair's final recordings with Local H, a second Awesome Mixtape of covers, dropped in December 2014. Lucas wasted little time, announcing in November 2013 that Ryan Harding, who had played with Brüder and Ghost Towns of the West, was the new drummer. The new lineup soon hit the road, and in April 2014, the band released its first recording with Harding, a single featuring a hard-rocking cover of Lorde's "Team." In November 2014, Local H launched a crowd-funding campaign through Pledge Music to finance the recording of their next album. The plan was a success, raising 176% of the band's original goal, and the album, Hey Killer, was released in April 2015. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia & Mark Deming, Rovi