Another band that was part of the second generation of the indie-rock scene was Cracker founded by vocalist and songwriter David Lowery and guitarist Johnny Hickman. Formed in 1991, Cracker signed with Virgin Records and released their self-titled debut CD in 1992 with alternative rock hits Happy Birthday to Me and Teen Angst. Cracker would become best known for their platinum-selling album, Kerosene Hat in 1993, which featured the hit songs Low, Euro-Trash Girl, and Get Off This.
Lowery and Hickman will head to Northern Michigan on Friday June 24 at Legs Inn (Cross Village, north of Harbor Springs) with a special version of Cracker.
Johnny and I do a stripped down version of Cracker. I cant afford to bring the full band to a small venue in Northern Michigan so this works. we call it Cracker Duo, said David Lowery. It gives us a chance to play out of the way places and we still rock out, we are not sitting on stools we are standing up and jamming. Our fans love this, they view the Cracker Duo as a separate entity from Cracker. This format gives us an opportunity to play a different set of songs, of course we still play our hits.
Lowery was quick to point out he and Hickman are excited about the Legs Inn show.
I know the musical audience that exists in Northern Michigan; in my travels I have heard a lot about Bliss Fest and that whole musical community up there, said Lowery. We are looking forward to making our way there. Mark Smolak (co-owner with his brother Christopher) of Legs Inn has been trying to get me there for years and it finally worked out. We have a show in upper Wisconsin so we are looking forward to that drive through the Upper Peninsula. I have been told it is quite scenic.
Prior to Cracker, Lowery was the founder and frontman for Camper Van Beethoven, the alternative rockers from California were best known their song Take the Skinheads Bowling that Michael Moore used in his documentary Bowling For Columbine. The song remains a staple today on college radio. Camper Van Beethoven disbanded in 1990 but reunited in 1999 and Lowery now does triple musical duty.
After 28 years in this business I have finally started a solo career, he said. Im very fortunate to have musical diversity in that I am in two bands and now am performing solo. I feel that I am in the most rewarding stage in my career at this moment.
Lowery released his first solo album The Palace Gaurds, this past February. So after nearly 30 years in the business why release a solo album now?
Really there are several reasons, first I have been fortunate to be part of two versatile ensembles with Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. Along the way I have written some songs that really didnt fit either outfit, he said. Couple that with the fact I live in Virginia and everyone else in the two bands lives elsewhere so I wanted to make a record where I didnt have to have everyone travel so I decided to do this solo record with guys who work at my studio, they are the behind the scenes guys who have been with me for the past 15 or so years.
Another project Lowery has under taken is the 300 Song Blog, that he started last summer.
My goal is to tell the history of the bands (Camper and Cracker) through writing the backstory about each of the songs that I have written. But equally important to me is telling the story of the indie rock movement that I came out of as I dont think there is an accurate history of the indie rock movement. Writing about each song individually and my observations I think you get a better story about the indie-rock scene, said Lowery. I would like to work it into a book but the book publishing industry is as f----d up as the recording industry just with less money.
Part of Lowerys motivation in writing the blog stems from his frustration with some music journalists.
I have issues with some music journalists or critics, primarily is that typically they have never been performing musicians themselves but somehow they think they are qualified to assess my work, he said. It is no secret that most musicians hate music journalists. It is so easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize.
While Lowery might be critical of music critics one profession he has all new respect for are the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. A couple of years ago Cracker was asked to perform for the soldiers in Iraq.
It was a great and rewarding experience. We got to do a lot of fun stuff including flying around in Blackhawk helicopters and armored personnel carriers. We spent a lot of time with the troops learning about their jobs and playing a few shows for them, said Lowery. One of the most hilarious moments was when we got to spend time with the men and women who have the working dogs. These are the dogs they use for bomb sniffing or to chase down people they are after. They invited us over to their camp. What we learned is these dogs get tired of training on the same people so they saw us as fresh meat so they put us in the special suits and had the dogs bring us down, it was real wild.
Cracker duo David Lowery and Johnny Hickman will perform Friday June 24 at the Legs Inn in Cross Village. Seating is limited and the show is expected to sell out. Advance tickets and additional information at legsinn.com or calling 231.526.2281.