My girlfriend's response to the recent news that Cracker was on the verge of launching another tour was, "What? Those guys are still around?" You can't blame her. It's been almost three years since Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey, Cracker's last studio album, and three years is an eternity in today's record industry. And with front man David Lowery busy in the studio working on the next Camper Van Beethoven project, a band that died, gave birth to Cracker, and then somehow came back to life, Cracker fans will have to wait until the end of next year before they hear anything new.
Cracker is back on the road. They'll be playing a solo gig tonight at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. If the point of a Cracker Von Camper tour now is to pad the retirement account, along with other ancient acts like Blues Traveler or Bare Naked Ladies, then so be it. But most of us non-Crumbs (read: Cracker fans) pretty much remember Cracker for only two songs: "Low," possibly their best ever, and "Teen Angst." Anything after that and I find myself vacuuming instead of listening. Then again, that may have been the point.
"I have never written songs with the audience in mind," Lowery once told me. "I write songs for me, or, for the other band member's entertainment." This could explain Camper Van Beethoven, a band that truly sounds like an inside joke.
But inside joke or not, the most news David Lowery has made in recent times came after he published an essay earlier this year about the evils of Internet piracy. He titled it "Meet the New Boss: Worse than the Old Boss." Music industry analyst named Bob Lefsetz immediately went on the defensive. He referred to it as the "David Lowery Screed."
"David Lowery is not gonna make a difference," Lefsetz wrote. "He's speaking in an echo chamber." After, he encouraged Lowery to make a great record. Easier said than done. In order just to get Milk and Honey finished, Lowery says he applied a measure of discipline
unusual in the music-making process. He calendared mandatory band creative sessions.
If that sounds grim, not so. Lowery claims in fact that the whole last 29 years or so in music has been anything but. "My approach has never been really serious. I'll say let's do this one last tour, or let's do this one last record. There's been no pressure to make this a career.
And ultimately, I had a career."