3 Rounds With LoCash: Good Music, Fine Wine and Country Critics
Chris Lucas and Preston Brust of LoCash hop down from their jacked-up truck bursting with energy and enthusiasm. This is nothing new — two, well-ice-creamed toddlers wouldn't be able to keep up with the country duo. If they've made an enemy in the music business, it's hard to believe it was their doing. It certainly wasn't because of any lack of work ethic.
Over the last decade, few acts have toured as hard as LoCash, who officially dropped the 'Cowboys' from their name late last year. The Taste of Country Festival performers are a reliable live act, if not a dependable radio act, yet. They're confident "I Love This Life" will change that. Now on Reviver Records, the song is gaining traction at radio. Programmers who've always loved this duo are now finding a song their listeners can quickly access. To date, "Keep in Mind" is their biggest radio hit, and and this song steers down a similar road.
Brust stands and paces behind the bar stools as Lucas sits talking about the new LoCash record deal. Together, they look over the bar menu. First, drinks are ordered. Both offer a wave to a familiar bartender. There's talk of Shishito peppers and other duos in country music.
As songwriters, these two are known for penning songs for Tim McGraw (See Round 1) and Keith Urban ("You're Gonna Fly"), as well as Scotty McCreery and many more. They know the ins and outs of Nashville and the country music industry because they've written with just about everyone. If you want gossip, order up a few rounds and turn off the tape recorder.
Fortunately, the on-the-record stories are just as entertaining.
Round 1: Vanilla Java Porter (Atwater Brewery, Detroit, Mich.)
Topic: "Truck Yeah" — "Truck Yeah" was a Top 10 hit for Tim McGraw. His fans love it, and it sounds great live. As for critics ... most in the industry were quick to dismiss it as a sign an aging star was losing touch with what fans wanted. Lyrically, it's not "Gentle on My Mind," and Brust and Lucas will admit as much.
"I’m gonna tell you how that song was written, it takes two seconds," Brust says. He's the more excitable of the two. Lucas is conversational, but more of a natural listener.
"Our publisher stuck their head in the room and said ‘No songs about trucks.’” LoCash was gathered with Danny Myrick and Chris Janson to write, and their publisher felt truck songs were not en vogue.
That guy saved our lives, because the other driver would have killed us.
“Danny Myrick goes, ‘Did that just happen? I say we write a f—in’ song about trucks!’ And he started playing his guitar. Chris goes ‘I’m in.’ Chris Janson says “F—k yeah!” and I went No, ‘Truck yeah!’ and we all started laughing."
An hour later they had a platinum single. Of course they didn't think someone like McGraw would cut it at the time, and they certainly didn't think critics would embrace it. That's something most fans don't realize. Artists know when they've got a good song that is going to zip by the turned-up noses of those who deem music worthy of airplay. The conversation turns to Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup."
“I talk to the Warren Brothers and they’re like, ‘It’s the worst song we’ve ever written,’" Brust says, "and I’m like ‘Your bank ain’t saying that.’”
Before the bottle is empty LoCash pull up the Taste of Country review of the song. The reviewer — feeling loose and somewhat daring after a full-bodied, caffeinated brew —offers to read it aloud himself.
“Four and a half (stars) out of five?” Brust shouts. “I’m taking it!"
"I’m drinking to that!" Lucas adds. And they do.
Round 2: Sierra Nevada Nooner (Chico, Calif.)
Topic: The Hippie Who Saved Their Life — Two years ago, Lucas and Brust were traveling from the Taste of Country Music Festival to a show in Marinette, Wisc. when a front tire blew on their bus, sending them across a median and oncoming traffic into a ditch. At the time, Lucas said the bus driver was the hero, but the story turns almost mystical. It starts a few minutes before the accident.
“We stopped at a truck stop so the drivers could switch, and I went into the bathroom and I was walking down by the food and there was this was this guy standing there with long hair,” Brust says. The man was singing the Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling" as he checked out CB radios or some other sort of truck stop swag.
Ten miles down the road they wrecked, and Mr. "Peaceful Easy Feeling" was at the wheel.
“That guy saved our lives, because the other driver would have killed us," the duo say. He held on long enough to get them over a bridge, steering them into the most favorable of all the bad possibilities. No one was seriously hurt. Lucas says he broke a pinkie finger and Brust recalls being tumbled all around in the bus's bathroom. Afterward, they tried to find him to say thanks.
“He disappeared. He was on the first flight home,” Brust says.
"He came in, he saved our lives ..." Lucas adds. They never saw him again.
Round 3: Cabernet Sauvignon, Red and Expensive
Topic: Fine Wine — It started with a girl. One of Brust's girlfriends was the wine expert at a restaurant, and she backdoored him into good wine with a Port. From there it was a slippery slope. The girl is gone, but the habit-turned business venture remains.
“She was ready to get married,” Brust says.
“She was a good chick,” Lucas adds.
“She was a really good chick, but she just wasn’t the one.” Lucas is married with kids. Brust isn't, but is in a committed relationship with someone within the music industry. He's optimistic about their future, and looks forward to relaxing for a few days next week when Shipwrecked launches in Lodi, Calif.
The label is a partnership with Stonum Vineyard and will include the release of a Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Syrah over the next three years. The label looks like Australia, and that's what most people guess. Really it's Davidson County, LoCash's Tennessee home.
When it comes time to choose a bottle for dinner, the duo is disappointed to find their favorite — the Ferrari-Carano which at $68 a bottle is the most expensive at Tavern Midtown on Broadway in Nashville — is out of stock. So they choose an alternative and concur that while the dry red is good, it's not great. The Taste of Country writer nods in agreement, smart enough to know he'd never get hired by Taste of Wine should that internet publication rise from the dirt of California's wine country.