With all the brouhaha over the guitar/drum novelty of the White Stripes, the fact that the Zion, Illinois duo Local H has been playing the same game since the early '90s somehow gets lost in the hype. Well, the band did
start as a four-piece, with guitarist Scott Lucas, drummer Joe Daniels, guitarist John Sparkman, and bassist Matt Garcia forming Local H in 1987. But after the band released a series of singles and demos in 1992, Garcia and Sparkman left, and Lucas and Daniels carried on as a duo. Eventually they signed with Island Records, releasing their full-length debut, Ham Fisted
, in 1995 to very little effect. Their 1996 sophomore album, As Good as Dead
, got a great deal more acclaim, with the provocative hip-hop grunge thunder of "High Fiving MF" and the radio-ready anthem "Eddie Vedder." The ensuing Kurt Cobain comparisons never bothered Lucas; in 1997, Local H dressed as Nirvana for a Halloween gig and played nothing but Nirvana covers.
After accruing a staunch following through much roadwork, Local H assembled the brutal Pack Up the Cats album in 1998, with Stone Temple Pilots guitarist Dean DeLeo guesting and legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker behind the console. In 1999, Daniels left Local H, first for med school, then for a series of new band gigs. (He currently plays with the Black Panels.) He was replaced by Triplefastaction drummer Brian St. Clair. With the shakeup at Island, Local H signed with the Island subsidiary Palm Pictures/Rykodisc in 2000, in anticipation of its next album. After working with yet another production legend in Jack Douglas, the band is set to release Here Comes the Zoo in February. In the meantime, Local H continues to pound the street on the 6 Ways to Sunday tour, which is named after the fact that everything on the tour -- tickets, T-shirts, CDs -- will cost $6.