“If the band wouldn’t have taken off, I probably would’ve gotten into making comic books for a living,” says Ben Nichols, principal songwriter of Memphis-based roots rockers Lucero.
Now over two decades into writing, recording and touring with the five-piece band, the newfound time off the road afforded Nichols the opportunity to dive back into the art studio to sketch out the lyric music video for “Outrun the Moon”, the first single from the forthcoming When You Found Me.
“I got ahold of an iPad with a Pencil and let the juices flow, the result being kinda like a comic book put to a song. Which is my dream, you know…rock & roll and comic books colliding. Rock & roll stories always fascinated me; the images, the visions that come to mind when you hear your favorite songs.”
In the 1980s, however, the concept of an iPad or any i-device would’ve been deemed science fiction. Ben grew up diving into any art class he could enroll in at public school, and had an affinity for angle and design. For enjoyment then and now he doodles characters (Dungeons & Dragons characters, specifically), and other self-dreamed figures.
With influences ranging from timeless pop Marvel superheroes to social and political justice comic book artists like Jaime Hernandez (“Love & Rockets”), Joe Sacco (“Palestine”) and Nate Powell (“March”, the autobiography of late Congressman John Lewis), Nichols compares the marriage of song and sketch to filmmaking.
“I kinda like the idea that songs can be your own personal soundtrack, and you can dream up the visual narrative. That’s how it was before MTV. With comic books you can read them at your own pace, absorb the page and frames on it as long as you like; with you movies you’re kinda along for the ride.”
As with many things in life, there’s the financial aspect to consider in the creative process, too.
“We made a full-blown music video for the lead single off our last record, Long Way Back Home, that was and probably will be the closest we come to making a full blown music video. My little brother Jeff is a filmmaker and we had a blast making that video. But I was like, I can do ‘Outrun the Moon’ myself.”
That video is available to watch anytime at the band’s YouTube channel, and will serve as the focal backdrop for Nichols’ first appearance at Tulsa’s Mercury Lounge.
“I’ve never played there (The Merc), but I’ve definitely drank there,” he laughs. Lucero’s business trips to Tulsa landed them in another historic venue across town, Cain’s Ballroom, where they’ve headlined once and shared bills with the likes of Drive-By Truckers and Ryan Bingham.
“Ben Nichols Solo at Mercury Lounge Live: A HiFi Pay Per View Streaming Event” was recorded on Nov. 5, 2020, and will stream at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13. For tickets and information on this streaming concert event and more, visit www.mercuryloungetulsa.com/shows or follow them on your favorite social media platform.
As for plans between now and the eventual tour for When You Found Me?
“Drawing a lot with my 4-year-old daughter. That’s the best.”
Joe Mack is the former Editor-in-Chief of Currentland Magazine and Northwest Arkansas Entertainment Magazine, and is currently a multi-media marketing specialist at Tahlequah Daily Press. He resides with his wife Pam, their four dogs and three cats on five acres in rural Cherokee County in Northeast Oklahoma.