DC Scene Interview: Cracker

 After signing a contract in 1991, it did not take Cracker long to make their way onto the national music scene.

Bursting with talent, Cracker proved it to the world with their self-titled debut album in 1992. One year later, their follow-up album, "Kerosene Hat" produced the MTV hit "Low," which remains today their most popular production. Unlike many bands, Cracker has withstood the test of time and is still putting out new music that is as high in quality as it was 15 years ago. Co-founders and songwritters David Lowery -- vocals -- and Johney Hickman -- lead guitar -- were gracious enough to sit down for an interview after a Cracker Acoustic Duo show at the Ram's Head in Annapolis, Md.

DC Scene: Since your live acoustic acts are so impressive, have you ever thought about making an acoustic CD?
David Lowery: We’ve been playing around with this acoustic stuff for a while and enjoy it. We usually just do acoustic acts when we are home, and have done some experimental stuff. As far as doing an album, well, we don’t want to create one just to do one. Acoustic stuff sounds great live, but if you're not careful, it will end up sounding not as nice as you may want it to -- like just another album.

DC Scene: Being around for so many years and putting out several CDs, now looking back at your career, which album are you most proud of, or in other words, which is your favorite?
Johnny Hickman: That’s a good question, because each one is special in its own way. I guess "Golden Age" might be my favorite right now, but it’ll probably be another a few months from now. I’ll be really into one for a while and it’ll go in cycles. We’re really proud of Greenland, our latest. Changer Kettle is another that I'm been really proud of.

DC Scene: How many original band members are still playing with you?
David Lowery: Well, there is no Cracker, per se. Like nearly all bands, there are usually two or three songwriters who really hold a band together and then there is the outer circle of very talented people like the engineers who are always around and can fill in where needed.
Johnny Hickman: We have had so many fine musical talents as part of the band over the years. Frank, our drummer, and Kenny on keyboards are great and have been with us throughout.

DC Scene: What’s the story with your other band, Camper Van Beethoven?
David Lowery: It's sort of an indie-rock band that has actually been around since the early 80s -- before Cracker. It was very successful then, but has really over the years become a band with a type of cult following, and has grown in popularity.

DC Scene: So would it be safe to say that Cracker really helped introducing Camper Van Beethoven to music fans?
David Lowery: Yeah, we were successful before Cracker, but sure, I’d say honestly that 90 percent or thereabouts of the Camper Van Beethoven following is actually somehow there through Cracker. But, they are in a way much of the time, a different sort of following. We get a lot of requests for those songs and it is fueled by, like I say, a large cult-like following.

DC Scene: Can you tell us about the festival you put on every year?
David Lowery: Yeah, the Campout Music Festival is something we do annually in Pioneertown, Calif. This will be the third year for it. We just came out with a DVD highlighting the first year's event, which we’re excited about and it is a really fun time for us. Every year is a bit different, but something we look forward to.
Johnny Hickman: Yeah, the first year was very small and personal, which was cool. The second year, we had some famous people come in and that was, cool too, but this year there are going to be no Coors banners and cooperate stuff hanging around. Just people we like. Down-homers who just want to have fun and enjoy great music. We don’t want it turning into a big corporate event every year. It’s just a time for people to come out, hang with old friends and enjoy a great party and musical experience.

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