The media came out in droves in the Door County region of Wisconsin to help promote Cracker’s May 5th appearance in Fish Creek (which should be noted that this will be the first time in Cracker’s 20 years as a band that they’ve played in this area (hope they have time for a Door County Fish BoilTM and a few New Glarus Wisconsin Belgium Red Ales).
DOOR COUNTY ADVOCATE (Door County, WI daily) – Feature story w/Johnny interview to preview show (This same story was also syndicated in the Green Bay Press Gazette and the Wassau’s Daily Herald).
Still alt after all these years
Cracker brings its ‘mixed bag’ of rock to DC Auditorium
It may seem weird for a band that was called “alternative” when it burst onto the music scene more than 20 years ago to still be called that today, but Cracker has kept its sound fresh and ever-changing through those years.
Maybe that shouldn’t be so weird, given that it draws its inspiration and sound from rock, country, Americana, psychedelia, punk and even glam and surf rock. The band brings its unique “Cracker sound” — and maybe a few of its “Crumbs,” the fans who follow Cracker from concert to concert — to Door Community Auditorium for a concert Saturday night.
Longtime friends David Lowery (lead singer) and Johnny Hickman (guitar) formed the band in about 1990, after Lowery’s run with ska band Camper Van Beethoven, and their musical ideas, songwriting abilities and sometimes twisted, sometimes ironic humor led to Cracker becoming one of the pioneers of what is now called alt-rock.
“When we came out, grunge was the big thing,” Hickman said in a phone interview last week. “Alt-rock, alt-country, that wasn’t a term yet. The record company wasn’t sure how to label us. They wanted to know what category or genre to put us in. I’m pretty proud of that.”
Apparently, the record label — Virgin Records — figured out what rack to put the CDs into at the stores, as the 1992 self-titled debut album spawned the No. 1 rock single “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now),” and the follow-up album a year later, “Kerosene Hat,” became the band’s biggest seller to date, featuring the singles “Low,” “Eurotrash Girl” and “Get Off This.” Cracker has recorded seven albums since, most recently 2009’s well-received “Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey” on the independent label 429 Records, and toured when Hickman and Lowery weren’t involved with solo and side projects.
Hickman said changing up the band’s sound comes very naturally to him and Lowery.
“I think Dave and I would go a little crazy if we had to be constrained with one particular kind of music. Cracker’s always been a mixed bag,” Hickman said. “Whenever we put an album out, it always has a little different sound — but it always sounds like Cracker … We make music that entertains us. We know in our hearts that there are people out there who will get it. I know bands that try so hard to sound like whatever sells at the moment, and that’s a mistake.”
And while other bands of that independent style might dodge the “alt-rock icon” label that appeared in Cracker’s promotional materials, Hickman said he appreciates what it means.
“It’s OK,” he said. “I also heard us called the ‘godfathers of alt.’ That’s sweet.”
In fact, Hickman said he and Lowery often help young bands looking for advice. Lowery, who has a business degree from the University of Georgia, teaches a music business class, and Hickman recently sat on a panel of musicians for a class on the issues young bands face when touring and recording.
“Dave and I are both at the point where that happens fairly often,” Hickman said. “It’s a really fun thing to do, telling musicians what to do. More and more, you’re seeing young musicians educate themselves.”
That includes encouraging bands to take control of their own futures. Like other bands of the early ’90s, Cracker did much of its own work to get the word out on concerts and albums, and it continues to do so today, Hickman said.
“We do things on our own, in an indie sort of way,” Hickman said. “It’s similar to back then (in the ’90s), when you’d put up a flyer for a concert, get word of mouth going — now, it’s the Internet. I always tell young bands to do as much by yourselves as you can. We’ve always been sort of our own networking and publicity machine, and I’m proud of that.”
The band has gone through personnel changes — other current members are bass player Sal Maida, since 2006, and drummer Frank Funaro, since 1996 — and Hickman and Lowery have recorded solo albums along the way. Yet, the two co-founders have kept Cracker together, even when it wasn’t necessarily active in music at the time.
“No, we never split up,” Hickman said. “David and I have always been together, stayed together as the songwriting core of Cracker. We’ve been lucky — we got enough attention that when we put out a solo album, it’s tended to do well.”
Hickman’s new solo project comes out July 3. It’s titled “Tilting,” a reference to Spanish fictional hero Don Quixote “tilting at windmills.” Hickman said it’s a more personal album for him, dealing with middle age and a little bipartisan politics while maintaining his, and Cracker’s, usual wry humor.
Cracker itself is going on the “Last Summer on Earth” tour — a reference to the Mayan predictions that the world will end in 2012 — with Blues Traveler, Barenaked Ladies and Big Head Todd and the Monsters in July and August. Hickman said the tour may offer him and Lowery some ideas for a new Cracker album, perhaps to be recorded next year.
Undoubtedly, the self-labeled Crumbs will follow Cracker on tour. Hickman described them as similar to what the Deadheads are to the Grateful Dead, and it might not be a surprise for Fish Creek to get a few extra out-of-town visitors for Saturday’s concert.
“They follow us around,” Hickman said, “share lyrics, share set lists, we let them tape us live. We like to stay in touch with our fan base, unless they get stalker-y (chuckles). It’s a lot of fun for me.
“Part of the reason for what we do is the people. We just pride ourselves in being a great live band.”
106.9 THE LODGE (Door County AAA Radio) – PD Mike Mesic confirmed spins and on-air show mentions for the show. Also posted this show preview on their site:
Saturday, May 5 7:00 pm
Door Community Auditorium: Fish Creek, WI (MAP)
The iconic alt-rock band Cracker blends rock, punk, glam, surf, blues and country aesthetics to create a brand of music that is entirely their own. Irreverent, sharp-witted and anthemic, Cracker burst onto the scene in 1993 with the platinum-selling album Kerosene Hat and the hit songs, Low, Euro-Trash Girl and Get Off This. Since then, the band has toured continually and released ten studio albums. The quirky musical sensibility and quick intelligence of Cracker cofounders David Lowery (formerly of Camper Van Beethoven) and Johnny Hickman make Cracker’s trademark style of guitar-driven rock just as compelling today as it was when they made their debut.
Tickets: $22 / $28 / $35
GREEN BAY GAZETTE (Green Bay, WI daily) – Show mention
Big names, regional favorites lead Door County Auditorium fare
After a preseason concert May 5 by alt-rock heroes Cracker, the auditorium officially kicks off the season with a June 15 performance of “Buckets of Rain: The Music of Bob Dylan,” performed by some of Door County’s favorite artists.
EGG HARBOR DOOR COUNTY (Door County online A&E site) – Show preview with band photo
May 5, 2012 [Sat]
Main Stage Presentation: Cracker
Cracker, the alternative rock icons best known for their platinum 1993 album, Kerosene Hat, and the hit songs Low, Euro-Trash Girl, and Get Off This, is heading to Door Community Auditorium for the Door County Half Marathon Weekend! Mixing rock, punk, alternative country, psychedelia, blues and folk, Cracker features David Lowery (formerly of Camper Van Beethoven) on vocals, Johnny Hickman on guitar, Frank Funaro on drums, and Sal Maida on bass. Tickets: $35 / $28 / $22. Door Community Auditorium, 3926 Hwy 42, Fish Creek. 920-868-2728
PENINSULA PULSE (Door County, WI daily) – Show preview with band photo
Alt-Rockers Cracker Kicks Off DCA Season
April 27, 2012
In conjunction with the Door County Half Marathon and Nicolet Bay 5k, Door Community Auditorium (DCA) will present a soulful performance by iconic alt-rock band Cracker on May 5 at 7 pm. Cracker’s unconventional blend of rock, punk, glam, surf, blues, and country music will make their concert a memorable event for runners and non-runners alike.
Irreverent, sharp-witted, and anthemic, Cracker burst onto the scene in 1993 with the platinum-selling album Kerosene Hat and the era-defining hit singles “Low,” “Eurotrash Girl,” and “Get Off This.” Since then, the band has toured continually and released 10 studio albums, attracting a devoted following of fans who call themselves “Crumbs.” Still touring and making music today, Cracker has also developed a following among a younger generation of fans, many of whom first heard Cracker’s music on the radio as children.
Nineteen years after their debut, Cracker endures as a musical force to be reckoned with. The quirky musical sensibility and quick intelligence of Cracker cofounders David Lowery (formerly of Camper van Beethoven) and Johnny Hickman make the legendary band’s trademark style of guitar-driven rock just as compelling today as it was then.
Spin Magazine writes that Cracker’s latest album release, Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey, shines with “piercing intelligence” and “genuine soul.”
Tickets for Cracker’s concert range from $22 to $35. For more information or to purchase tickets call 920.868.2728, visit www.dcauditorium.org, or stop by the DCA box office, located on Highway 42 in Fish Creek and open Monday through Friday from 12 – 5 pm.