California calling: A Cracker interview
In a world of pushing limits, California natives Cracker have been setting the bar for awhile.
Harboring influence from several styles, their most recent project Berkeley to Bakersfield, is the band’s 10th release. The lively dual album showcases their artistic genius not only through unique, spirit-filled tunes, but by letting the listener live through a story of two drastically different but equally fascinating musical phenomenons. Cracker will also be performing at the Cultural Center Theatre in Charleston as part of Mountain Stage on Sunday, May 8.
Guitarist and band co-founder, Johnny Hickman, recently gave Graffiti some insight into the minds behind the music.
Graffti: Cracker recently released a double album, Berkeley to Bakersfield. What was the idea both behind releasing a double album, and the concept in these two cities?
Hickman: Well as our true blue fans know, we’ve always mixed our rock, country, soul, punk, together on all 10 of our albums. It just comes naturally to us like we think it did for our favorite bands growing up. I don’t think the Stones, The Beatles or Tom Petty, for instance, had any second thoughts about mixing their various songs or styles together on their records. This time, we thought it would be interesting and fun to separate the songs into two groups, even recording them with different musicians. (Singer) David Lowery and I both grew up in rural California and so we called the rock disc Berkeley and the country disc Bakersfield. The individual songs reflect a feel for both of those areas that we know pretty well.
Graffti: Your music has been described as various genres, ranging from country to classic rock. How does it feel to know you’ve successfully surpassed usual genre stereotypes over the years?
Hickman: Looking back on 25 years of doing things exactly as we felt, it feels very satisfying. When we started out, there weren’t even terms like alt-country or Americana. We were just making the music that felt good to us and, thankfully, a lot of other people felt that way, too. Most people know us from “Low” or “Get Off This” which are definitely rock songs, but you can certainly hear the country in our blood in “Eurotrash Girl” which was also a big hit for us.
Graffti: What’s next for Cracker?
Hickman: Well, we never really stop touring for too long. We love playing live so we’ll do that as long as we’re able to. Aside from that, we’re always coming up with bits and pieces of music, ideas etc., that eventually become the next batch of songs. We believe that the best idea is to reinvent your band a little as you go along but still sound like yourselves. I think our fans respect that and expect it from us.