Where In The World Is Lucky Tubb? (An Interview)

The most common questions I get at the Saving Country Music help desk are, “Where’s Lucky Tubb?” “How can I find his tour dates?” “What’s he up to?” “Where can I buy his albums?” Like many of the brilliant musicians making a living in the country music underground, communication and self-promotion seem like an afterthought to Lucky. That’s where sites like this one are supposed to come in, but even I’ve had historic trouble keeping up with Lucky over the years. Making matters even more complicated, Ernest Tubb’s great nephew, and the torch-bearer of the Tubb name on the performance side of things also signed an exclusivity deal with Lone Star Music early in his career, meaning that the only place you can find his first three albums is At Lone Star’s Lucky Tubb store, making iTunes, Amazon, and other online stores Lucky Tubb-less.

On Halloween when he rolled through my area to play a show with the legendary Don Maddox, I made it a point to sit down with Lucky and let him answer some of our most pressing questions, which he was more than happy to do. Lucky also enlightened us on a new album he’s working on the moment tentatively titled Son of a Bad Man, and on the new faces making up his backing band “The Modern Day Troubadours.”

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The Triggerman: So I heard you say earlier that you’re out touring 220 days a year. But I get so many people emailing me saying, “What’s going on with Lucky Tubb?” There’s seems to be a disconnect of information.

Lucky Tubb: Boy you ain’t never lying about that. There’s a place you can go, it’s real easy. You can go to actionpackedevents.com, or you can go to luckytubb.nl. That will show you all the tour dates. And if you’re looking to buy the CD online, if you’re looking for Del Gaucho and you’re having a hard time, go to CD Baby, and you can get it there. I am doing everything I can to rectify all those communication lapses that have been happening.

The Triggerman: Well and I know you’ve been in Europe a lot. There was one time people were like, “Where’s Lucky Tubb? He’s disappeared off the face of the Earth.” And then I heard from some guy in France who said, “Yeah, I just saw him a week ago. He’s tearing it up out here.” You’ve been spending a lot of time in Europe, haven’t you?

Lucky Tubb: I love Europe. I do spent a lot of time there. I’ve got really great friends there, I have a great road manager. We’ve been over there about 9 times. It’s a lot of work but it’s also so rewarding to play for people who appreciate the music so much like they do. The response is so much better because they don’t get it all the time. It’s the Southern-ness, it’s the realness of it. It doesn’t have anything to do with being an American or even being from the Republic of Texas. They want to hear the legends. They want to hear those songs they grew up on, that were so hard for them to get until my uncle Ernest started distributing records overseas. He was the first one to ever distribute (country) records overseas.

The Triggerman: Through the Ernest Tubb Record Shops?

Lucky Tubb: Yep. That’s a fact. And he was the first one to ever play electric guitar on the Opry.

The Triggerman: And here you are playing tonight with Don Maddox, who toured with Ernest Tubb. So it’s come full circle.

Lucky Tubb: Well you know we’ve played with Red Simpson, we did a tribute for my uncle Ernest in Nashville, Glenn Douglas my uncle, a bunch of the Troubadours were there. An all-star cast. It’s great to see those people. It’s an honor to play with them. Just to shake their hands. Because they can see where country’s going, you know all the different diversities like the Farmageddon crowd, the Hank3 crowd, the Lucky Tubb and Wayne Hancock crowd, they’re all the same crowd, but they’re all these different diversities of country music. Is it bluegrass? Is it cowpunk? Is it hillbilly? Well back in the day it was just country. Is it pop country, or mainstream country? It’s hard to put a face to the name sometimes.

The Triggerman: About a year-and-a-half ago at the Muddy Roots Festival you handed me this album called Del Gaucho that just blind-sided me. I had no idea you had a new album coming out. As I’m driving home from Tennessee to Texas, I pop this thing in and it’s like “Holy shit! Where did this come from?” It was completely out of the blue. It was a new sound and a new direction for you, yet at the same time exactly what you do. Where did the inspiration for that album come from?

Lucky Tubb: It was half recorded in Berlin, and half recorded in Texas. It was about a year-long process. Recording in Germany was different, and recording in Texas was different. Having both those scales of the spectrum, like the studio in Germany was 1934. 1/4-inch reel, no punch. If you mess up, you do the whole song over. It was intense. We’d make a mistake and they’d go, “Nein! Do it again!” There was 28 takes of “I Guess I’m A Fool”.

The Triggerman: Del Gaucho seemed like where it all came together. Like this is Lucky Tubb.

Lucky Tubb: I wanted to be Hank (Hank3) and Wayne (Hancock) on Generations. Those were my idols and they still are. I really drew off of them for Generations. I wanted to sound like them, I wanted to sing like them. And then there was so much time before Damn the Luck was recorded, and I’d written more and I’d toured more. And so I went into the studio and recorded that, and it came out a little bit more like Lucky. And then we did Hillbilly Fever, which was really a fun album. I think that’s my best album to date. But I love Del Gaucho because it raised the bar. I got to really truly do what I wanted to do.

The Triggerman: How about the new faces in the band?

Lucky Tubb: Casey Gill retired from this band after 8 years. He doesn’t even play shows any more, he watches shows. And he’s very happy in Austin. The new guitar player Zach Sweeny, he alternates from me and Wayne (Hancock). He’s that talented to where he can jump on either one. Anything you play, he can play it. And he’s 22 and he’s just going to get better. I have a lot of faith in his career. I’m sure he won’t be with me for a real long time. He’ll figure out there’s bigger, better things waiting for him. He has no vices to speak of. Doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink. Great driver after the show.

The Triggerman: So you’re working on a new record?

Lucky Tubb: Well, I’ve done a lot of time in Europe like we were talking about earlier. I was in Florida, had just got back from Europe and was really drained. And I met this band called “Son of a Bad Man”. And I thought, “What a great title for a record.” So I asked them if they minded if I write a song using their name and they said, “Naw, we’d love it.” So I’ve worked on that song and I’ve got that one in the can. So that’s basically the jest of the album. It’s gonna be more Outlaw, going kind of full circle. Like we talked about. We started with Wayne (Hancock) and Shelton (Hank3) on Generations. This one is going to be different. It’s gonna have a lot of bluegrass in it. Not even bluegrass, but banjo. There’s gonna be some banjo in there. I can tell you that. There’s gonna be twin fiddles. There’s gonna be steel guitar. There’s gonna be lead guitar. And it’s gonna be very torn down, to the point where were looking at the wood. And that’s kind of my plan for this record, to get it as gritty and dirty as possible. So we’ll be doing that one real soon.

We’ve already recorded two tracks in Holland. One is “Feel About You”, the Hank Williams tune. And the other one is “Hotel Prison”, which is basically about how when you’re on the road, even though you have the key to your room, you’re not free, because there’s always someone telling you what to sing and where to be. And your hotel room is actually your prison cell. They let you out to go play, and then you have to get right back in. And being a prisoner, I did five years, I was sitting in my hotel room one night and said, “I traded one for another!”

I mean, this one’s better by all means.

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