The LoCash Cowboys’ time has come.
Finally, the promise shown in their phenomenal live shows comes to fruition on their first powerhouse indie album, LoCash Cowboys. What else would you expect from the duo that co-wrote Keith Urban’s number one “You Gonna Fly,” and “Truck Yeah,” a smash for Tim McGraw?
“As much as I’d like to call this Fifty Shades of LoCash, the Album,” jokes Chris Lucas, cowboy-hat-wearing half of the team, “it’s true. We’ve captured everything LoCash is about on this album. It’s all killer, no filler. With our label, Average Joes Entertainment, it’s the right fit at the right time.”
So much so that acclaimed Nashville hit maker Jeffrey Steele (“What Hurts The Most,” “My Town”) came on board to produce and co-write a number of the tracks. Says the songwriting and performing duo, “He taught us everything about songwriting. He’s our mentor and our big brother.” In fact, Steele calls himself the third LoCash Cowboy.
“Country music really boils down to the power of the song,” sums up the eloquent Preston Brust. “We wanted to broaden our listeners, to reach the older crowd, the younger crowd, and the middle crowd. And we really tried to pick songs that were the best songs we could find to define LoCash. Hopefully we achieve that in this album.”
Though the high energy, roof-raising spirit of LoCash’s live shows (and over 10 million YouTube views) tends to brand them as a party band, LoCash Cowboys, as the new album proves, are super-focused musicians and songwriters. Here, they showcase their light-hearted, fun-loving edge (“Little Miss Crazy Hot,” the redneck anthems “Hey, Hey, Hey” and “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y”), as well as their emotional side (“I Hope,” “Best Seat in the House,” Chris’s tribute to his late father, and “Keep in Mind,” a parent’s loving farewell to a child venturing into the world).
They also offer a tip of the hat to the helmsman of the highways in “Independent Trucker,” featuring the legendary George Jones.
“He sounds amazing on it,” says Preston. “He had me come into the vocal booth with him. I was really nervous to be in there with him while he was recording. But we were just cutting up, and I could tell that he really wanted to achieve a good vocal, because he was into the music, he really likes us, and he wanted to help.” It was a red-letter day for everyone, Chris remembers. “I’d never seen Jeffrey Steele act like a ten-year old boy before, but when George Jones walked into the studio, Jeff was a ten-year old kid.”
LoCash (the named is derived from a group of Preston’s high school friends) got their launch in the summer of 2002, when Chris, a high school all-star football player from Baltimore, Maryland, worked as the entertainment director at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon. Preston, a Kokomo, Indiana, preacher’s son who wrote his first song at age eleven on his paper route, had just arrived in town. Chris offered him a job filling in for him as a DJ.
One night they were goofing around on the mic, not even singing, when their electrifying banter caught everyone by surprise. It made Chris think about how Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin—idols of his grandfather—could hold an audience in the palms of their hands, and make them part of the show.
“It’s something that came naturally to me and Preston. It’s really all about the crowd, about making them feel their lives are changing. That first day on the mike, we were both thinking, ‘Gosh, we’ve got something here, dude.’ I said, ‘I hope you sing.’ And Preston was like, ‘I do, do you?’ And that’s the way it started.”
Yet their musical backgrounds were as different as heaven and hell. Preston, whose great uncle Albert E. Brumley wrote the gospel classic “I’ll Fly Away,” grew up steeped in the blood of the lamb, sneaking into the closet to listen to the only three secular records in the house--Eddie Rabbit’s “I Love a Rainy Night,” Willie Nelson’s “Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground,” and the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Bobbie Sue.”
In contrast, Chris grew up with his ear glued to Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, and Whitesnake. “I was definitely a head banger, man. I loved ‘80s rock and glamour rock, and later R & B. Then Garth Brooks changed my life. I watched his show, and I said, ‘I want to do this.’”
What made LoCash unique from the beginning is their harmony blend. When Chris sings lead, Preston provides the low harmony, and when Preston sings lead, Chris sings high harmony, bringing variety, freshness, and a new edge to the duo sound.
Yet for years, they sat in the Wildhorse DJ booth, dreaming and wishing, watching big name artists take the stage. But soon record labels began recognizing just how much of the total package they, too, had--great vocals, world-class dance moves, a unique look, and charisma to burn, along with a wealth of experience and a work ethic that impressed everyone who dealt with them.
In 2008, they headlined the Redman/Maxim Roadhouse Tour, and in the first time they’d come back to the club, they sold out the Wildhorse.
As if in a scene out of a movie, the two reveled in the excitement and the girls crushing up next to the stage. Then right in the middle of a Jeffrey Steele song, a man with crazy hair and tattoos on his fingers fought his way to the front row and waved Preston down. Just as Preston thought, “Who is this guy? We’re gonna need security,” he recognized the wild man as Steele himself.
“We made eye contact,” Preston remembers, “and he said, ‘I get it! I hear it! I see it!’ And he just started laughing like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He said, ‘Call me. All you need is the songs.’ And he fell backwards into the crowd and disappeared.” Though it took three months to get Steele’s phone number, the search was worth it. They met at his house to discuss their future.
“Boys, if you want to make an album that’s really different and takes risks,” Steele told them, “put your hands in on three. If you don’t, I’m not your guy.”
“Three seconds later,” says Preston, “we were a team.”
It was the break they needed, after years of near success, losing it all, and living off of mac and cheese, tuna fish, and tortured dreams. In 2003, for example, when a record label deal went south, they hooked a U-haul to Preston’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and hit the road, playing three-hour shows at clubs all across the country for five hundred dollars a night. They never broke even, but garnered tons of fan support and sold such an impressive number of homemade CDs that they knew their time would come.
“We leaned on each other, man,” says Chris. “And it’s like a healing process to be on stage, to see people smile and laugh and cry. To know we’re making an impact on people really, truly kept us going.”
However, their darkest year arrived in 2011 with numerous professional setbacks, the death of band member Ryan “Troop” Jones, and the passing of Chris’s dad, the inspiration for LoCash’s new song “Best Seat in the House.”
As Preston recalls, “It was like, ‘What is going on in our lives? Not one good thing has happened to us this year. You start thinking some kind of energy is against us.’ Then all of a sudden you get a phone call, and a voice says, ‘This is Keith Urban. I’m releasing your song, “You Gonna Fly,” as my next single.’ Talk about a light at the end of the tunnel! That’s when it started to change.”
And change it has, both personally and professionally. Chris is now married with a young son, Caden. (Preston is still single, “but looking.”) And the duo, which formerly wrote and recorded the theme song for from Tanya Tucker’s reality show “Tuckerville,” is in negotiation for a television show of their own.
Though the show will likely emphasis the entertainment side of LoCash’s effusive personality, Chris never loses sight of one thing: “We’re very serious musicians. This is our career. There is no Plan B. This is our life.”