Luscious Jackson

by Lauren Viera
Mean Street
January 1997

Smooth, sophisticated female lyricism served up hip hop style with jive flavor. What’s the 411? None other than New Yorkers Luscious Jackson and their eagerly awaited return to the main stream music scene. 1994’s Natural Ingredients and its 200,000 record mark may be tough to beat, but the ladies are already no their way with the follow up, Fever In Fever Out, which sold over 42,000 in less than a month. Through all media – air, video and live performance – Luscious Jackson are back in the court and geared for their second wave of popularity.

Not that some things haven’t changed in the time between albums. From a pay phone at a local YMCA in San Francisco, guitarist Gabrielle Glaser discusses the band’s evolution of style over their five years of existence. “The very first record [In Search of Manny EP] was pretty sample heavy, so by the second one we kind of geared more towards live. And then with this record, it’s more about the song-writing from a different standpoint.” Her last statement is the most evident on Fever. Most songs were written with stripped down bare minimums – guitars and vocals – as opposed to previous collaborations in full. Famed producer Daniel Lanois, whose past projects include U2 and Bob Dylan, among others, was recruited to work with the band on rearranging the album to its present, luscious state. “He is a perfectionist; he wants things to come out right,” Glaser says of Lanois’s extensive mixing and layering. “but he does it in a relaxed way so you don’t feel like you’re dealing with the Gestapo or something.”

Aside from the immaculate perfection that went into that went into their latest album, Luscious Jackson are a fairly laid-back group of women. When asked about their video for “Naked Eye,” the first single, Glaser says, “It was pretty fun. We’re all wearing this like psychotic shirt-dress thing and running around…y’know, it’s a hoot; it’s kooky.” As far as seeing herself on MTV’s heavy rotation, cable-free Glaser needn’t worry. “I wish I could just get the basketball games when I’m home, but then with cable you get everything else, too, and forget about it. I guess I’ll just keep on goin’ to my mom’s house to watch the games.” Glaser and drummer Kate Schellenbach, as the former says, are “obsessed” with the game, from which stemmed the band’s title – Lucious “Luscious” Jackson played for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 60’s. Enough said. Releasing records on the Grand Royal label and favoring basketball, hip hop and the New York scene, several parallels draw Luscious Jackson to their supposed male counterparts, the Beastie Boys. “When we first had our demo tape, we were like, ‘OK, we’re friends with Mike [D]; maybe he knows a label that would like us,'” Glaser recalls of the two bands’ friendships. “Instead of saying, ‘Why don’t you go to this label,’ he said, ‘I wanna start a label. Why don’t we put this out?'” And thus the bond was tied. Without hesitation, Glaser admits being label mates with the Beastie boys definitely helped Luscious Jackson along their journey to earning credibility in the hip hop genre. Starting off small with Grand Royal proved itself to be a good decision. The band felt that giving in to any larger labels would have left them in a black hole amongst the majors. It is almost ironic, then, that the evolution of Capitol’s taking over Grand Royal has been beneficial, but Glaser notes that wider distribution is hardly a bad thing. “Making sure people can actually get the record,” she says, “is the most important thing. That’s that.” Before leaving again for extensive touring overseas, Glaser enjoys here few days of relaxation. “It’s funny, I’ve been at the Y’ for like three hours now,” she chuckles. “But y’know, when you’re on tour and sitting in vans on your fat ass, you start feeling like a piece of lard or something. So s soon as I got out the basketball, I was just drooling to have fun.” Reprinted without permission, if you want something taken down, just ask and i’ll oblige

©1996-2007 The Luscious Jackson Source