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August 2, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
In the entertainment industry, longevity is rare. But Cracker, whose hits include “Low” and “Turn On Tune In Drop Out With Me,” which was featured on Showtime’s Californication, has yet to become ungrounded in two decades. The band, a montage of the acoustically refined and the gravelly voiced, takes a break from opening for Barenaked Ladies to perform its second Columbia performance in four years. David Lowery, lead pipes of Cracker, tells how he and his Americana and alt-rock posse keep the beat going show after show.
How did the name Cracker come about?
It was kind of just a working title of the music. My previous band Camper Van Beethoven was from California, and everyone wanted it to have more of a California feel to it. But I was born in Texas, and my dad’s family is from Arkansas, so I wanted it to have a southern feel. But mostly the name came about because it was the early ’90s, and there were a lot of food band names, like Sugar, and my friend had just started Cake.
WHERE: Ninth Street outside The Blue Note
WHEN: Wednesday, Aug. 08
TIME: 7 p.m.
How do you keep the band’s stability after two decades of performing together?
We designed the band structurally around just me and Johnny (Hickman) so we could do what we wanted to do, and it sort of kept the band structure stable.
How do you deal with the pressure to make popular music?
We never try to write anything other than songs that we like with the confidence that there are other people out there who share our tastes. To us, it’s less about a popularity contest. It’s a long-term project, but if you do it, you’ll really have some hard-core fans, and that gives you longevity as an artist.
What do you hope fans get out of your music?
I want us to be more of a live band and for people to feel that feeling when they listen to our music, not like it’s done in a studio.
What’s it like to be a band that sometimes opens and other times headlines?
When we’re opening for BNL, we’re playing a short set of the five to eight hit songs everyone recognizes on the radio from the last 20 years. What we’re trying to do in a set like that is interest their fans in our music. When we play shows like we’re going to in Columbia, we get to do a live 90-minute set and play songs from our entire career.
How’s the tour been so far?
The crowds are great. It’s been fun, but we’ve been playing in this sort of heat wave. We were in Toledo, and it was like 103, and we were like, “Oh my God. Is this how it’s gonna be for the whole summer tour?”
How do you guys psych yourselves up before a show?
It doesn’t really require anything, truthfully. I feel like we’re pretty dialed into what we need to do to get on stage and get warmed up. I mean, we’ve played thousands of shows over the years.
What’s your favorite track to perform live?
It varies for a couple weeks. I’ll like one song, and then there are a couple weeks where I like another. Right now I like “Gimme One More Chance” off the album Greenland.
What expectations do you have for 9th Street Summerfest?
One of my best friends in high school is from Columbia, so I’ve spent some time there. Columbia knows a good band, and people know more than just our hit songs and know something about the band. It’s a nice town to play in because we don’t have to stick with the mainstream hit songs.