Arts District

Q&A with Chris Lucas of LOCASH

Baltimore native returns home for WPOC's "Weekend in the Country."

If you’ve ever cranked up WPOC while cruising back roads in your truck, then you’ve probably heard something from Chris Lucas and Preston Brust, the duo making up LOCASH, one of country music’s biggest up-and-coming names. And when Lucas heads to Merriweather Post Pavilion on Oct. 3, it’ll be a homecoming of sorts for the Baltimore native. As their single “I Love This Life” continues to climb the charts, we talk to Lucas about LOCASH’s first Top 25 record and life on the road for these honkey-tonk highwaymen.

What did it feel like to get your first Top 25 record?
Man, it’s surreal. We’ve been trying at this for 10 years. And coming from Baltimore, to where we [are] now in Nashville, we’ve been all over the country. It’s a surreal feeling; it’s amazing.

How does it feel when you come home to play in Baltimore? Do you feel a different kind of energy?
Oh, I love it. I love being home, seeing all my friends and family, and fans, and talking to them . . . It’s one of my favorite things to do, to come home and play.

Do you have a favorite venue in Baltimore?
[We] love everywhere we play. The other night we played Chesapeake Beach and it was different, but it was one of the prettiest venues that we’ve ever played. And we played Rams Head in Baltimore, and in Annapolis. But now, for the first time, we’re getting ready to play Merriweather. That was a dream of mine as a child.

How did country become such a big part of your life growing up?
I know a lot of people don’t think Baltimore is big on country, but [it has] one of the biggest radio stations in country music, WPOC. [WPOC DJ] Laurie DeYoung was one of the first. I used to listen to her show and I thought it was so cool. I’m an ’80s rocker, I love ’90s R&B. I just love good music. So when Garth Brooks came to town, my dad got me tickets and he said, ‘Go see this guy, I got you tickets, you’re in the third row.’ So I went and saw him and I fell in love with country music. He’s a great entertainer and that really got me into it. I started digging karaoke shows because I played baseball on the road. One day I sang and there was someone in the crowd that said, ‘Hey man, I work for Kings Dominion and we’re looking for singers.’ I was like, ‘What? I play baseball, come on,’ and then he told me how much money I could make, so I was like, ‘This is fantastic!’ And that was it—the start of my music career.

That’s such a crazy story.
Yeah, I called all my baseball friends and said, ‘You guys think women are into? Baseball? Nuh uh, check the entertainment industry!’

Okay, so I have to know—where does the name LOCASH come from?
LOCASH came from Preston, and he had a so-called ‘gang’ of buddies, kids that hung out. They were called the Locash Money Boys. [It was about] the best things in life are free and you remember where you came from. I love that mentality, and I said, ‘What if we were the cowboys, the Locash cowboys?’ And now we’re just LOCASH because everybody started calling us LOCASH anyway. But I thought it was a cool thing. It doesn’t mean you’re poor, even though we were back then, it just means you remember your roots.

Speaking of Preston, he’s from Indiana, and you’re from here. How did you guys come together?
We [met] each other at the Wildhorse Saloon [in Nashville] and we ended up working together. One night we had this band on the microphone and people were loving it and I was like, ‘Do you sing?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, man do you?’ and I said ‘Yup.’ So I tried to line us up a few record deals, but they really fell through. First thing they say, when you get a deal and then lose a deal, ‘Welcome to Nashville.’ We’re on our third one, and this one is the bomb. They put a lot of belief behind us and a great team is working on our record. It’s taken us 10 years to do it.

You guys have written for Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. How did those collaborations come about?
I write a lot with my brother and a couple other guys in Nashville and we just got blessed. We had ‘You Gonna Fly’ on hold for two years. We wrote it and didn’t think anything of it, and then Keith calls one day and says, ‘Hey man, I want to cut the song’ and we’re like, ‘Holy cow!’ Then you hope he makes it a single, and he did make it a single, and it changed our lives. Four months later, Tim McGraw called for ‘Truck Yeah.’ We write for ourselves, but we can’t record everything we write, so we hope that other artists will pick up some of our material.

How has the release of “I Love This Life” been?
It’s so cool because I wrote that with Preston and guys named Chris Janson and Danny Myrick, the same writers that wrote ‘Truck Yeah.’ That song was on hold for other artists, but we took it off hold, and we got a new record label and the record label was like, ‘Hey man, this is the song we want,’ and we were like, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to take it away from us.’ So we called the artist, and he was cool about it, he let us take it and here it is. It’s just one of those songs that’s a pick-me-up, a feel-good song. There’s a lot of negativity in the world right now—Baltimore’s going through a tough time and I truly don’t believe our city is like that. But we love the song ‘I Love This Life’ because there’s a lot to love, more than there is to be negative about.

That’s a great mantra to have. And the music video looks like an absolute blast. Is it all fun and games?
Absolutely not. [laughs] I mean, the stage shows, yes, it’s always fun and games. It’s always great because you’re in front of fans and you’re living for that moment. So all that work in between is for that hour on stage to perform. People don’t understand the inside scoop, the stuff where you get up at 4 a.m. to fly out to a radio station in San Antonio and fly into Fresno that same night, and the next morning you’re flying over Toronto to New York. We’ve been on 72 flights this year and we’re touring this album on a bus, so the hardest thing for me is being away from my family.

What do you say to people who brush country off as silly songs about beer and trucks?
‘Bro country’ has changed country music for the better. I don’t know why people call it bro country, maybe because it has a beat behind it. Country music has been singing about trucks, drinks, and girls for years. Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, ‘There’s a Tear in my Beer.’ It’s always been there, and I just think when something gets so popular, people tend to be negative. Music is going to evolve, as the world should evolve, and people will evolve. Taylor Swift brought a ton of young girls who never would’ve listened to country music before, and I think country music also has respect for different genres. Country music is wide open for any artist, even rappers. It’s very welcoming, and open-minded, and it didn’t used to be.