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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 9:58 am | Overcast 58º


Jeff Moehlis: Alt-Rockers Cracker to Show Country Side at SLO Brew

Cracker, with founding members David Lowery, left, and Johnny Hickman, will perform Monday night at SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo.
Cracker, with founding members David Lowery, left, and Johnny Hickman, will perform Monday night at SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo. (Bradford Jones photo)

David Lowery is the singer and co-founder of the alt-rock band Cracker, whose well-known early 1990s songs include "Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)," "Low" and "Euro-Trash Girl." In 2014, the band released its ninth studio album, Berkeley to Bakersfield, with the Berkeley disc featuring the band's original lineup for the first time in ages and drawing on their punk rock influences, and the Bakersfield disc in a California country vein. Lowery is also a founding and continuous member of the eclectic alternative rock band Camper Van Beethoven.

Lowery talked to Noozhawk about the upcoming Cracker concert on Monday, July 6 at SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo. Tickets are available by clicking here.

Click here for the full interview, in which Lowery talks more about the new album, his math/computer background, and his and Taylor Swift's efforts to help artists receive fair compensation in the changing technological world.

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Jeff Moehlis: What can people look forward to at the upcoming show?

David Lowery: Well, we have a new album out. It's called Berkeley to Bakersfield. We played a lot of it when we were in Santa Barbara back in December. We're probably going to be playing a fair amount off of that album, as well as songs from our previous albums. We're not a band that doesn't play the hits. We play the hits. You know, we try to play something off of every one of our albums. We don't always do it, but we generally do, and then play some new stuff.

This is the bigger lineup. This is the Bakersfield lineup, the full country lineup, although we don't just play country, we also play rock in this. This is actually the lineup that we recorded the Bakersfield disc with, which we didn't have the last time we played on the West Coast.

JM: Back in that era when "Low" was a hit, in the early to mid-'90s, what was the good, the bad and the ugly about the alt-rock world?

DL: The facial hair [laughs].

JM: Is that good, bad or ugly? [laughs]

DL: Ugly! That's the ugly! That's the stuff that you look back on and go, "Ooo ... the 90's ... Oooo ... Why did we do that with our beards?" Like a little soul patch.

It was a good time, though, in the sense that there were a lot of bands that came out that didn't really sound like things that had come before them, and ended up getting pushed by the music business in general. You know, we can make fun of the '90s and the Grunge sound, but it was actually fairly diverse. I mean, on one hand you have stuff like Hootie & the Blowfish, or Counting Crows doing their neo-classical rock. And, you know, on the other hand you have experiments gone bad, with rap metal and stuff like that.

Rock radio really was playing a great diversity of stuff. I don't know if it was all good. I don't know if you can even really judge it now. I find myself sometimes hearing a band from the '90s, a song that I really couldn't stand, and going, "Wait a minute, this is actually pretty clever" [laughs]. Or listening to something from that time that I thought was really cool, and going, "God, this is actually really terrible. How could I like this?" So there was a diversity.

The good thing was there was a great diversity of sound and style from that time. I don't know if we see as much today, on popular radio. Obviously there's the wide open Internet. In some ways there's never been a better time for a music fan because there's an unbelievable variety of stuff out there to listen to. But as far as mainstream culture goes, I think it was a little broader then than it is now.

JM: What are your plans, musical or otherwise, for the near future? Do you have any albums in the works?

DL: I think we've got about 50 or 60 more shows on this album, including going back to Europe again. We just went over and did one summer festival in Spain. By the way, for whatever reason, the place on Earth where Cracker has always been the most popular is Spain. I don't know how that worked — a very eclectic, strange rock music culture they have over there, in particular the festival in the Basque region. So anyway, we just went over there and did that festival.

That was the only thing that we were doing. We'll probably go back in the late fall and do a few more shows over there. So we'll wind this down just after the new year, and probably start working on another record.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention this. Sharknado 3 comes out in July. I'm actually really proud of this, because Camper loved B horror movies and monster movies and bad flicks and all that stuff.

We have two new tracks in the Sharknado 3 movie. Don't expect high art. Think the first album. The director's very cool, very much more of a Comic Con kind of person than you would think. And they're coordinating it with an anti-finning campaign, sort of a Save the Sharks campaign. So I should mention that — two new Camper songs on the Sharknado 3 soundtrack.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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