One of the most renowned live bands from Austin, Texas; Uncle Lucius are set their highly anticipated first album in five years, ‘Like It’s The Last One Left’ on December 8th through Boo Clap Records/Thirty Tigers which is available to pre-order/pre-save HERE.
Following a farewell tour in 2018, Uncle Lucius went on what became a five-year hiatus. Despite the time away, the passion of their fans never waned. In fact, it grew exponentially, especially following the 2018 placement of their song “Keep the Wolves Away” in an episode of Yellowstone, which propelled the track to gold then platinum certifications. In 2022, the band members got together and found there was a whole new chemistry, fresh perspective, and a new well of ideas to pull from. The result is ‘Like It’s The Last One Left’. Ahead of the release, Jamie spoke to lead singer Kevin Galloway over Zoom to hear all about the new project and the band coming back together. I guess I came across you guys as a band from the song that I guess a lot of other people have discovered you too. However, I came across ‘Keep The Wolves Away’ in a different way because I have never actually watched Yellowstone and only recently realised that it was a different place to Jellystone where Yogi Bear lived. I first heard the song when I went to see a guy called Jackson Dean, who is really set for big things and he was covering the song in his set. It was a song I didn’t recognise so checked some things out and it led me to your version and Uncle Lucius as a band. “I love that. It blows my mind how the world has taken that to places but the internet, the algorithm or somebody doing a cover of it is surprising. Thankful but surprising.”
When that episode came of Yellowstone came out, that wasn’t too long after you guys broke up which we are now calling a hiatus and it was when the programme was really new. I just wanted to ask about sync in this scenario. You have had other songs that have been placed before, but given the circumstances, this is slightly different so how does your recorded version end up in the show? Does someone like send you an email saying, “Dear Mr Galloway, we really like this song of yours and think it would be a good fit for this new series starring Kevin Costner, so can we use it?” or did it just magically happen? “Well, this one was very magic. It’s almost like winning the lottery! Honestly, their music co-ordinator reached out to our old record label which that song was on, about using that specific song. It was nothing that we did, we didn’t pitch it and I had never even heard of Yellowstone at the time. They reached out to our old label, who had been bought out a couple times since we were on there but they were still on fifty percent of the publishing and they said yes, then there it was. I really didn’t know too much about it until after it happened.”
The show has obviously gone on to be huge and it has opened your music up to more people off the back of it where it got heard by an audience that likely wouldn’t naturally have come across the band. Then when people were wondering who are this Uncle Lucius but at the time, Uncle Lucius weren’t anything anymore. “It’s quite ironic really. You call it a hiatus and it’s a hiatus now but when it was done, it was finished. In 2018, we had accepted that it was all done and did a seven month farewell tour, dropped the microphone and walked away. Only a bit later after Yellowstone, where they count streams and YouTube views towards sales and aggregates, we saw this was quite a few sales now and all of a sudden it is a gold record, which has gone platinum since. When we found out that it was a gold record, we got together to celebrate and this was two and a half years after we had broken up. We realised we still like each other and maybe the iron is hot so let’s discuss this, which we did and decided to get back together. It took that and we were more popular than ever, all we had to do was quit ha ha.”
Staying with the predictable topics that everyone asks you guys about, with the band name, I sort of read somewhere that Lucius was a guy one of you met down in Louisiana and in a roundabout way he became the inspiration for the band name when you were looking for one? “I love how there are so many myths out there about who Uncle Lucius is, it’s a beautiful thing because in the beginning, I had purposely made up this whole outlandish story and just let it roll. The truth of the matter is that when we were looking for a name for the band, we had lists and lists of names, then we got invited to a dinner with a family. We’re all rugged looking and we’re sitting at this long table with a really nice family and their extended family who are all from south Louisiana. They started telling this story about their Grandpa called Lucius, who is a very eccentric kind of a Mark Twain type character. We loved his stories, his name and we named it uncle Lucius instead of Grandpa Lucius but it just kind of stuck.”
You had said that now it is a hiatus but five and a half years ago, it was just done for the band and here we are again at the back end of 2023 with a new album. I know you have put out a couple of solo projects since then plus the pandemic being added to the mix for good measure but recording and releasing music is very different now to what it was back then. “Yeah, there was definitely a ramp up to it. Six months prior we got in a room together and knocked the dust off the old songs and started working with the new material. The producer, who was the first bass player and co-founder of the band is no longer in the band but he still produces and writes songs and he had a whole batch of great songs so, we threw them all there and figured out what we were going to do. We really ramped it up and spent some time with it, let go of some old songs, incorporated some of the new ones and even evolved some of the old ones as we have extended the band by adding a second guitar player. That has really opened some things up and I’m actually honestly really excited about where this is going to evolve from here.”
From listening to ‘Like It’s The Last One Left’ there is definitely a lot of diversity in sound and not just different sound elements but almost eras of sound if you know what I mean. You have some older bluesy rock type vibes, then things people may hear more seventies or eighties type elements but it comes together as something that is really cohesive. You mentioned the production, you hear bits of synth and strings along with all these pieces that pull it together so it just feels really free when you were making it, where you were coming back at it, wanting to do what you wanted to do and making something that felt really good to you. “Definitely, I would argue that it is very familiar to what Uncle Lucius has always been, I feel like we are an American roots band and over the years we have delved into all parts of American roots which is a big umbrella. There’s country, rock, blues, soul and even a little psychodelia sometimes so we wanted to be a mix of those things and not be pigeonholed as one thing but also to make it a familiar thing and pay homage to the shoulders that we’re standing on.”
Towards the end of the record is “Draw The Line” which is an instrumental track, why did you guys decide when you were putting it together that it felt right to have a track without vocals on there? “It just felt right. It was one of the pieces of music brought to the table and all of our members got to sus it out and make it their own thing. You may notice that one has a lot of songwriting credits because all of the instrumentalists did a thing on there. We have always tried to make full albums, not just singles but cohesive ideas where that just felt like a good place and especially before ‘Trace My Soul’ which is the next track. It feels right, it’s just a time to breathe and pause before we go into that rocker, you know.”
You guys have a reputation of being a great live band and putting on a proper show, which this record definitely has a feel of something that is made to be played and heard live. Is that something that goes into the process of putting the record together where there is more consideration of the best sounding songs rather than just the songs themselves? “We recorded this, mostly all together in a room like people always used to so, there is a live feel to it. We would do a few takes at once and pick the feel of the best take, even if there is a little mistake or something but if the overall feel was there, that’s the one we went with. I think that’s always in the back of our mind to go with the one that feels the best no matter what it is and move forward. I will say this and I think this is always the goal, all of these songs on the recording are played a little bit different now, probably a little bit better and I phrase some of the things a little bit different but that is how it goes. It evolves and that’s the point.”
When you were writing songs during the gap and working on your own records, did you ever feel you had some songs that if you were to come back together as a band may be better suited to Uncle Lucius rather than your own projects? Do you think about things differently for a Kevin Galloway record compared to an Uncle Lucius record? “A bit. There are things that I have written which have not seen the light of day that I think I would like Uncle Lucius to try and tackle. They may have evolved beyond where we are and what we have done so far but Uncle Lucius is the perfect avenue I think for those things. There are a few like that but at the end of the day, we just want to pick as a team, the best ones and play to each song.”
Lastly, you’re talking with me and I’m guessing you will be speaking with a few other people that aren’t scared of putting the letter U in words and drive on the correct side of the road. Have you managed to spend much time over here at all in the past? “Yes, I was actually there last summer doing some solo shows, well myself and another accompanist as two guitars doing my songs with a few old Uncle Lucius tunes that I had written, then in 2016 Uncle Lucius was there as a band doing a full European tour. Actually, the last time I was there, from London Heathrow, I rented a car and for the first time ever, drove on the wrong side of the road and hoped for the best. I do believe we are now looking at coming back over at the end of October and early November 2024, so they are our plans at the moment.”
The new album ‘Like It’s The Last One Left’ from Uncle Lucius will be released on December 8th through Boo Clap Records/Thirty Tigers and is available to pre-order/pre-save HERE. You can find more about the guys by checking out their WEBSITE or see what they are up to on INSTAGRAMFACEBOOKYOUTUBE and X.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks