Local, laid-back yearling Left Hand Lucy plays for the gusto
Forming a rock band is a lot like home-brewing beer. Both activities start with a few like-minded people, a little equipment, and sometimes, a garage. Half the fun is in talking about the project or coming up with a name and label design, but sometimes the right mix of ingredients delivers a better product than anyone expected. And then there’s no turning back — the experiment has to continue. That’s the story of Left Hand Lucy a year after three San Antonio natives formed the hard-rocking band.
|The ‘fugees: Eric Cabello, Caroline Rippy, and Kevin Jung fled uptight bands and formed a kinder, gentler, hard-rockin’ group.|
Drummer Eric “Evol” Cabello is a veteran of a slew of local bands. He and bassist Caroline “Lucy Lushous” Rippy were in the punk band Cathlick Pussy and the experimental-noise band Ichou together. Rippy has the most musical training. Her grandfather made bajo sextos by hand. Music has always been a part of her life, and she has been playing in bands for more than 10 years. She’s currently bassist for the punk group Second to None.
“In the bands that Caroline and I were with before, there’s been drama and tension, but it was never between her and I,” Cabello says. “Musicians are like any artists. A lot of them are hard to get along with.” Rippy and Cabello added another easygoing musician, guitarist Kevin “Seabass” Jung. He’s the ex-boyfriend of Rippy’s sister and a former member of the metal band Such Is Life.
“There are only three of us, so there aren’t that many people to argue,” Cabello jokes. The trio, he says, seems to have all the elements it needs to make music. This configuration also gives the members a chance to sing and showcase their own music in a way they hadn’t experienced with their previous bands.
Cabello and Rippy sing their own lyrics, and all three work on the music together. “I guess I’d compare it to a collaborative painting ,” Cabello says. “Each person lays down a stroke and it ends up being something that’s not from one individual’s mind, but collectively everybody’s.”
The heavy-metal and punk backgrounds of the three San Antonio natives lay the foundation for Left Hand Lucy’s stripped-down and noisy garage-rock sound. It’s not music for the faint of heart or sensitive of ears. All three play with raw energy, while Cabello and Rippy trade off lead vocals. Rippy’s voice is stunningly intense, especially compared to her tentative, almost childlike speaking voice. On stage, she emotes powerfully, like a cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Patti Smith. Bass and drums give an insistent push to each song.
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“None of us has to be exceptionally good. We just fit well together, so we do what we do well,” Jung explains modestly. But all three are notably skilled on their instruments. Cabello picked up the drums relatively late, at age 21, but he made up for lost time by playing in numerous bands for more than a decade. Before forming Left Hand Lucy, he took a two-year break from gigs. “I realized once I started playing again how much happier and more complete my life feels since I’m playing. I’d love to make a million dollars, but ... ” Cabello laughs at the prospect of getting more than entertainment out of the shows.
Jung says he enjoys playing music so much that he forgets they get paid. That might also be because the three are putting all of the money from shows back into the band. They’re making music just for the enjoyment and therapeutic release — they’ve had enough experience in other, more uptight bands to appreciate the “what the hell” philosophy embraced by Left Hand Lucy.
Cabello says, “Right now, we like being a bar band because you feel like you’re just jamming for your friends. I like being able to see the people I’m talking to, the people who are heckling me,” he explains, laughing. “We have a blast up on stage, and I think that’s what people enjoy seeing.”
“We draw off the crowd and the crowd draws off us,” Jung adds.
A measure of just how much fun Cabello, Rippy and Jung are having is the frequency with which they play weeknight gigs, despite the fact that all three have demanding daytime jobs. Cabello is a surgical technician, Rippy is a web designer, and Jung is a carpenter. The late nights are hardest on Jung, who has to wake up at 5:30 a.m., but he says the shows are worth the slight inconvenience of losing sleep.
Jung has been playing guitar since he was 13, when his uncle showed him how to play Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” Amazingly, he doesn’t currently own a guitar.
“People may think I own an entire collection,” he says. “It’s just because I borrow them.”
With some helpful friends, then, brewing good music (or good beer) doesn’t require an investment in equipment. But with the right ingredients, a willingness to experiment, and realistic expectations, something as dark and delicious as Left Hand Lucy could be fermenting.