Jeff Golden, Getty Images Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker frontman David…
- Posted on Mar 9th 2011 2:00PM by Eric R. Danton
"After 25 years of touring and doing records, don't I get one?" Lowery asks Spinner, laughing. "Virtually everybody else in the band has worked on a solo record -- and put out many, actually, between the Camper and Cracker guys."
It's true that Lowery is the voice and primary songwriter of Camper and Cracker. It's also true that each band has always been a collaborative project comprising more than just his own musical taste and influences. It was time, he says, to take full responsibility.
"It's nice, and also sort of terrifying, to put out a record just by yourself with your name on it," Lowery says. "In a way, I thought that from this, people could get a sense of what it is that I'm kind of bringing to the bands."
Although it's his name on the album, Lowery had help from John Morand, Miguel Urbiztondo and Alan Weatherhead, his partners in Sound of Music Studios in Richmond, Va., who helped him put together ideas that didn't work in either of his other bands.
"Over the last four years, I basically stopped forcing certain songs into either the Cracker sort of form or the Camper Van Beethoven sort of form," Lowery says. "I know they're both fairly eclectic and freeform, but they really do have a distinct color and personality. These are just sort of the songs that I do with my studio guys."
Though the songs are neither Cracker nor Camper tunes, they are unmistakably Lowery's, full of the droll wit and sly subversion that has characterized his songs for 25 years. It's a source of bemusement to him that those qualities have pegged him as an oddball in the world of rock 'n' roll.
"Let me set people straight, because they seem to forget this: the American literary oeuvre -- I don't know how to say that word -- but you take Mark Twain or Herman Melville, there's this American narrative that you tell a serious story, but you use other tools like humor and irony and absurdity, or the unreliable narrator," Lowery says. "That's the American voice, and whenever anybody gets in a rock band, generally, they forget all of that, and they write in this narrative style that's like 'What I Did on My Summer Vacation' in seventh grade."
In fact, Lowery figures his approach ought to be the rule and not the exception.
"I'm just baffled that people think it's unusual that I write using these tools," he says. "If you talked to your friends the way you're expected to write in the traditional rock narrative, you wouldn't have any friends. You'd be boring."
'The Palace Guards' is out now via 429 Records.
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