Scott Lucas bares his everything on this album.
Well, well, well, shame on me. There was a very important anniversary that took place four days ago, and I completely missed it. On January 24th, 1995, Illinois born and bred two man band, Local H released their debut album, Ham Fisted; and, although this is not the album that shot them into the stratosphere, it’s still very, very important. First, I happen to love the album. When it was released 20 years ago, it was rough, raw, heavy rock. It fit quite nicely in that “alternative” pantheon that gave us Nirvana‘s Nevermind, the Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and Soundgarden‘s Superunknown.
So why is Ham Fisted as important as all those other albums mentioned? Well, it was the beginning of what would be a succession of fantastic albums. They’re timeless records that would never lose their edge no matter how many times you listened to them. Ham Fisted could easily be called Local H’s most “grunge” sounding album. The distortion is at full tilt with this one (dare I say Local H took it to 11?) at its most “grungy“. Local H front man, Scott Lucas bares his everything on this album. The then twenty-four year old Lucas, along with former drummer, Joe Daniels, tore through every song with reckless abandon. There’s so much fucking aggression seeping through each and every song (Scott does give the listeners a tender moment on the last track on the album with a song titled “Grrrlfriend“.)
In 1996 Ham Fisted caught a second wind when its opening track “Feed” was used in the movie The Great White Hype. In the movie, the song is “performed” by boxer/singer of the fictitious rock group Massive Headwound, Terry Conklin (portrayed by actor/director Peter Berg) lip syncs his way through the song “Feed“.
BANG! We’ve reached distorted heaven!
It’s time for a story, Kiddies. My introduction to Local H didn’t happen until a few months after the release of this album. A friend of mine made a mix tape for me consisting of about twenty songs. It was quite the alternative mix, with all of the bands that you’d expect to find on a mix tape that was made back in 1995. This tape was filled out with three songs of each band on the tape. Well… that is until we get to song three on side B of the tape. The distorted guitar comes in with a screeeeeech. The drums layered on top are ferocious and then…
Yeah, I made a promise to love myself
But somehow I don’t think I’m gonna make it.
Yeah, is that me behind the screen?
I see some shapes but I can’t see any faces…
…What the fuck was that? Who were these guys? What the fuck was a Local H? Two EMT’s that decided to form a band as a side gig to saving lives? Smack heads? What?! At the time, matter much what the name stood for, but that song (It was track 2 off of Ham Fisted. A little song called “Cynic“.) “Cynic” was the only Local H song on this mix tape and I think I must’ve rewound the tape back to that song twenty times! I couldn’t tell you then, and I certainly can’t tell you now what about that song stuck with me, but it did. It was so fucking something. Raw? Yeah. Aggressive? Yeah. Was it that it made me slam dance all by myself in my room while the song blared out of my boom box? Well, sure. It must’ve been two or three days after I first heard “Cynic” that I went to my local record store (remember those?) and I purchased my own copy of Ham Fisted. I had my Walkman with me and I pumped out of the now defunct Record Factory (the premiere music shop located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn) with the album ever so sweetly hitting my ear drums through my shitty headphones (but not before fumbling around with the plastic wrapping of my purchase for damn near ten minutes. Remember how much that packaging sucked to get off? I mean it was like, “I want to listen to my tape NOW, fucker!”) Fast forward to ten minutes later, tape in the deck, ‘play’ has been pressed, and then… “I don’t need my ego fed, I don’t need my ego fed, I don’t need my ego fed, I don’t need my ego fed…” BANG! We’ve reached distorted heaven!
It’s been twenty years since that moment of my true awakening of the greatness of Local H. Since the release of “Ham Fisted“, Local H has weathered through line-up changes and Scott survived a brutal mugging by some Russian scumbag after one of the band’s shows back in 2013. It threatened to end the band due to the damaged vocal chords that Scott sustained from the attack, but thankfully, that was not the case. The band did have to cancel three of their east coast dates after the attack so that Scott could get his voice back to ferocious form. Daniels’ replacement, Brian St. Clair stepped down as drummer after fourteen years with the band to focus on his touring company (subsequently, a little bit after Brian’s departure, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. As of this posting, Brian has completed his chemotherapy and is still on his way to recovery), and now Local H is back with new basher, Ryan Harding.
On November 25th, Local H kicked off their Pledge Music campaign. This would be the first time that they released an album without any label support. The funds for the recording of the album were donated by fans of the band. Pledges of the album received an up and close personal look at the making of the album (and depending on how much you donated, some pretty bad ass memorabilia too). A portion of the money raised went to benefit the MusiCares organization, an organization that helps artists in the industry with financial, medical, or personal needs. This is the same organization that Scott turned to after his ordeal.
The band raised the funds for their upcoming eighth studio album, titled Hey, killer, rather quickly. The release date will be sometime this April. With the album now in the can, and with fans like me waiting for its release, Local H will hit the road February 5th where they’ll be bringing the upcoming album to life starting in Elkhart, Indiana.
…remember, rejoice, and rock out to the one that started it all.
Let me close this by saying that it’s been twenty years since we were first graced with the rip roaring sounds of Local H. Although bands have come and gone in those years, for me, Local H has remained the standard. There has yet to be a band to knock them off the number one spot on a list that I compiled in my mind long ago. With every album that the band has released since Ham Fisted, I highly doubt that there will ever be a band as good as Local H. That might be a bold statement to some, but hey, it’s my mental list. Twenty years in and they’ve only grown consistently better with each release that has come since their first offering. Here’s to another twenty years! I invite all of you now to break out your copies of Ham Fisted and remember, rejoice, and rock out to the ones that started it all (if you do not own Ham Fisted, first off, shame on you, but don’t worry, you can hook yourselves up right here. I leave you now with the one that started it all for me…
Want more Local H? Of course you do! Please feel free to check them out here: