That â??70s show 

Rock is not dead, and there will be no hip-hop coup d'état. So proclaims Scott Lucas, singer/songwriter for the Chicago-based duo Local H. Lucas can speak with authority on the subject of music-industry survival, considering that the '70s-rock-inspired act emerged intact from the recent spate of music-industry megamergers that led to the consolidation of his label, Island, and Mercury Records -- an event that sent hundreds of less fortunate bands scrambling for new recording contracts.

Lucas is confident that his band's sound has staying power. "There are a lot of people running around saying that rock is dead," he says. "But I think they are listening to too much radio and watching too much TV. I don't think hip-hop will replace rock, because it just doesn't sound that good to me."

Lucas is more fixated on the classic sounds of Queen and the Rolling Stones than the hard-edged decibels of today's heavier acts. He and his partner, drummer/whistler Joe Daniels, rounded up '70s icon Roy Thomas Baker to produce the songs on Local H's third album, "Pack Up the Cats" -- and then link those songs with cool segues that include meow choruses and murmuring answering machines.

"I really like old Pink Floyd records and how that band used segues between songs," he says. "I'm `also` looking at more of the classic works like the Stones' 'Sticky Fingers' that have a raw edge -- with attitude and a certain timeless quality."

In selecting a producer, Lucas says that the basic criteria was the desire to make a more classic-sounding recording. "The only people we were interested in working with were people who we admired who had made records a long time ago." But they didn't exclude invitations to more modern hired guns. Lucas and Daniels also recruited the Stone Temple Pilots' Dean DeLeo to come in and lay down a tasty guitar solo on the song "Cool Magnet."

Local H began 10 years ago as a quartet with two guitars, bass and drum. Eighteen months later they were down to one guitar, and soon thereafter the original bass player bailed, too. "We didn't know anybody else, and we didn't want to wreck the chemistry," says Lucas. So he got some alterations made on his guitar. With some bass pickups added, Lucas can cover the range of both a guitar and a bass.

The solution seems to be working. In addition to gaining airplay for the singles "All the Kids Are Right" and "All-Right (Oh, Yeah)," Local H will have a track in Drew Barrymore's next flick, "Never Been Kissed," as well as a contribution on a forthcoming Pixies tribute CD. And then there's their deal with NFL and NHL to blare Local H's music during football and hockey games throughout 1999. "We're just that fuckin' good," says Lucas.

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