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- Posted on Mar 12th 2010 12:40PM by Renee Holmes
How would you describe your sound?
It's a rock band. People know we've been around for almost 20 years, and the time we came up, in the early '90s, people, especially younger fans, refer to us as the alt-rock godfathers, which is fine by us. When we put our band together and started, the main thing that was on the radio was hair metal and hard rock and that kind of thing. Cracker tends to pull from a lot of different styles and genres. We're very proud to be genre non-specific. It's just Cracker music. It also pulls influences from roots music and alt-country. There wasn't even a term for alt-country when we first started playing, but some of our songs sounded that way. We also incorporate a lot of punk rock, which is what we were playing when we first started as musicians in the early '80s. So it's a combination of alt-country, punk rock, a little bit of psychedelia and Brit-rock, sort of melted together.
How did your band form?
The lead singer, David Lowery, and I were friends in punk rock days around 1979 and 1980 and were playing in different bands in a small community in Redland, California. Eventually he formed Camper Van Beethoven and moved up to Santa Cruz, where he was going to college, and I stayed in Southern California. But we kept in touch throughout Camper Van Beethoven's tenure. About six or seven years in, I heard that Camper Van Beethoven had broken up, and he asked if I wanted to get together and work on some music. That started like all of our bands do, just a lighthearted experiment. It worked very, very well. We came up with a lot of songs together in the few weeks and realized this was the way to go, and formed a partnership and eventually built a band called Cracker around it.
What are your musical influences?
It's pretty broad, but the bands that both of us like and that have really influenced us would be the Kinks, probably at the top of that list. Other bands at the time would be Pixies, Sex Pistols, Clash. The Buzzcocks, an early British punk-pop band, was a big influence on Cracker melodically.
How did you come up with the band name Cracker?
Well, it's a little bit self-effacing. When he and I met as kids, as teenagers, we realized both of our fathers were military, at the same Air Force base in California, and so we had both grown up all over the place -- Spain, Puerto Rico, all across the South. We spent a lot of our formative years as kids and as young teenagers in the South, and that music sort of got into our blood stream. Country and Southern rock and Southern soul sort of became who we were as musicians, and that became sort of a bonding thing for the two of us. During the punk rock, new wave days, it wasn't that hip to listen to soul music, but we both liked it a lot, so we sort of joked about it. When it came time to form this band, we were asking ourselves, "What kind of music are we playing?" because it had all elements to it, new wave and punk and sounds, which is also part of our core as musicians. So we decided that what we were playing was cracker soul music. We kind of realized that it related to bands like Creedence Clearwater or Little Feat or Lynyrd Skynyrd, or any number of Southern soul bands at the time. So we called ourselves Cracker. We were thinking for a minute to call it Cracker Soul, but there were way too many bands with the name Soul in it, so we decided to settle on the name Cracker.
If you could meet one musician, who would it be and why?
I think it would be Jeff Beck. To me Jeff Beck is the consummate electric guitarist. He's the best there is. And because he writes instrumental music, he's never really broken through to the mainstream, but he's maintained a solid following through the years. As a song writer, I think Bob Dylan would be at the top of that list. I wouldn't want to bother Bob. I think that Bob's met enough people in his day. I'm just glad that he's there. I'm glad that I live in the same time frame as Bob Dylan. I wouldn't want to pester him.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
Neil Diamond, George Michael, ABBA.
Which records are you really looking forward to?
I'm really excited about the new Fleet Foxes album. I'm a huge Fleet Foxes fan. I got their EP when they first started. I was pleasantly surprised the world embraced them as hugely as they did. I think they're a great band and I'm really looking forward to whatever they've got up their sleeves for the next one. And I'm looking forward to anything that Graham Coxon, the guitarist from Blur, does. I love his solo records. He just writes from the gut and plays from the gut, and he doesn't polish things too much and it sounds very, very real to me. It sounds more real than just about anything going on out there.
What's in your festival survival kit?
A healthy dose of patience, because of course it can be very chaotic and confusing. There are so many bands and so many people there that you just have to keep your wits about you and go with the flow -- at SXSW more so than other festivals. Pack more patience and calm than you do clothes!