Lou Ford – Southern accents
“People think that if you’re from the South you’re a dumbass or a hick,” says Lou Ford’s vocalist/guitarist, Alan Edwards. Like the band’s namesake, the evil Barney Fife-like character from Jim Thompson’s book The Killer Inside Me, the members of Lou Ford are used to people underestimating Southerners.
They tried resisting their heritage. Alan moved to New York City, his brother Chad to Boston and bassist Mark Lynch to Los Angeles, but it was back in the South where they found each other, as well as their musical niche. “It was like coming back and realizing what you really are and separating yourself from the stigma of what people think of the South.”
Once they accepted their roots, they began to use them, creating a distinctly Southern blend of rock, honky-tonk and blues. Alan and Chad (guitar/vocals) began playing with Mark; soon they added drummer Shawn Lynch (no relation to Mark), who sought to join the band after hearing them.
“We put a flyer in the bathroom at a local hole.” Mark says of the smeared and faded paper still stuck to Shawn’s refrigerator, “the boy defaced it.”
“Tore all the phone numbers off the bottom,” Chad adds.
With the addition of Shawn, the band started to sound the way the Edwards had originally imagined. Producer Mark Williams helped bring that sound alive on their debut album, Sad, But Familiar (released in the spring of 1998 on their own label, Sorry Ass Records).
Although Williams has worked with Southern Culture On The Skids and R.E.M., the 30-year recording studio veteran is best-known as a gospel producer. His gospel background helped nurture the band’s soulfulness, highlighting the honesty that Mark believes attracts his band’s fans. “Alan will bring a song to practice and I’ll hear the lyrics and go ‘Do you really want to say that?'” he says. “It’s not sugarcoated or wrapped in metaphors or flowery language.”
The band also aimed to give Sad, But Familiar a cohesive feel. “We very decidedly wanted to make a record, not a string of songs,” Alan recalls. “Listen to records from the ’60s and ’70s and each song works together.”
Mark predicts the next Lou Ford album will be less depressed and more pissed off. They agree it would be nice to have a label behind them, but aren’t in a hurry to sign a deal. “We want to build an Indian fire, not a white man’s fire,” Mark explains. “Indians build small fires that keep you warm all night. White men build white hot bonfires that burn out in 20 minutes.”