April 22, 2010

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Making it with Craving Lucy
Focus pays off for local band
By Michael Witthaus music@hippopress.com

Steve Archambault has one word of advice for anyone thinking about starting a band: patience.

“Don’t set your expectations too high, except for yourself,” says the singer from his Manchester home. Archambault and his band Craving Lucy have relentlessly followed that philosophy.

“Focus is kind of everyone’s middle name at this point,” he says as the interview begins, and the payoff has been sweet. The title track from the band’s debut disc Therapy is getting airplay on the Sirius/XM Octane channel. The song frequently turns up sandwiched between active rock heavyweights like Chevelle and Nine Inch Nails — a remarkable achievement for an unsigned band. They’ve been in rotation for the past nine months on the satellite outlet, which has generated fan mail from Norway, Australia and other far-flung countries.

“Because it’s a universal listening audience, we get them from a lot of people,” Archambault said. “It’s amazing, it can reach every single person on the planet.”

Old-school radio also took notice of the independently released effort. It hit the Radio & Records trade paper at number 40 with a bullet last summer, and 25 stations added the track. It made the top 15 at a half dozen of those, including Manchester’s Rock 101.

“Getting played in your own backyard, that was great,” Archambault said. “You can never describe the feeling that you have when you hear your own tune on rock radio.”

They’re putting the finishing touches on a new single, “Changes,” due for release next month, and have a few local shows coming up, including one Thursday, April 22, at Mad Bob’s Saloon in Manchester.

By the time he was five years old, Archambault was singing along to his brother’s Van Halen and AC/DC records and thinking about being a rock star. He formed his first band in high school; as a senior, his group was asked to play the junior prom. On that night, for better or worse, his future became clear.

“We played three hours to 400 kids who were losing their minds to our music,” he recalls. “I can’t even tell you how intoxicating it was.”

Though he’d applied and been accepted to a few colleges, Archambault came away from the experience resolved to take his shot. “It was something that just flipped the switch and told me, college isn’t going to prepare you to be a rock star,” he said. “That was definitely the turning point, I was about 18.”

Eventually, Archambault met guitarist Mark Fitzpatrick, and the two began writing together. They formed a band, Bionic, and made a four-song EP with Collective Soul producer Anthony J. Resta. The effort garnered regional airplay, and with it a chance to make a full-length record.

At that point, the pair recruited current band members Justin Pacy (drums) and Nate Comp (bass). During sessions for the first album, the band learned that copyright problems prevented them from continuing as Bionic. Archambault looked to an unrequited love from his teenage years as inspiration for a new name, and Craving Lucy was born.

“She was 17, I was 14. After about 10 minutes, I knew every inch of her face. After a full year, she barely knew my name,” Archambault recalled. “Her real name is Lisa, but Lucy was more colorful.”

Many of Craving Lucy’s songs are high-throttling rockers reminiscent of Nickelback or Sevendust, punched up with studio “soundscaping” effects — sequencing, loops and the like. “It’s basically ear candy,” Archambault said. “It’s part of the brand we have on Therapy and it’s what we’re continuing with.”

But one of the band’s biggest strengths is their stylistic flexibility. The melodic “I’m Alive” begins with a power ballad whisper and ends with a scream. On “Burn,” a tune added to the 2009 re-release of Therapy, they deliver a near-homage to Scott Weiland, a vocalist Archambault counts among his major influences.

“We’ve never been considered a pop band, but we’ve written some songs that … could be on pop radio,” Archambault said, and one of the record’s best moments is also its quietest. The reflective “One Last Time Around” was recorded as an acoustic duet with Fitzpatrick; later, they added a cello. “It started out as a full-bore electric song and we stripped it down,” Archambault said. “Sometimes naked is better.”


Craving Lucy
What: Craving Lucy, with Soundtrack to Monday and Myths of Darrah
Where: Mad Bob’s Saloon, 342 Lincoln St. in Manchester
When: Thursday, April 22, at 9 p.m.
More: www.cravinglucy.com