"There’s a certain madness that comes with living in a city like Austin, Texas” Kevin Galloway says. “People, like ants, move to and fro upon an infrastructure that will never catch up to the pace of population growth. Sometimes the cacophony and gridlock can be overwhelming. Sometimes you just want to drop everything and run toward the peace and tranquility of nature".
The singer of Uncle Lucius is talking about the band’s new single, ‘Civilized Anxiety’, taken from their forthcoming album due out in December. The band’s first album in five years, Like It's The Last One Left, captures the sound of a rock band reborn - bigger and bolder than ever before. Their peculiar brand of king-sized Americana and dirty, rootsy rock ‘n’ roll comes with extra grandeur and grace this time around. Emerging from their five-year hiatus with a renewed sense of purpose and a swaggering resolve.
“My hands are shaking and my skin is crawling outta my skin” Galloway croons, stammering and stuttering amidst the frantic, rolling backing of a hammering piano over a pounding, punishing drumbeat. “There’s no mistaking for the shape that things are taking my friend / My eyes are twitching and the situation’s sifting pretty thin”.
"'Civilized Anxiety' was written about feeling the pressure of overpopulation and the experience of that pressure sometimes being too much to take,” the song’s producer and behind-the-scenes songwriter Hal Jon Vorpahl explained.
“I wrote the song after having an experience like this in a packed grocery store very early post pandemic" Vorpahl continues. "Fighting for a parking spot, fighting for a grocery cart, fighting to get down the aisle for some oatmeal.... it all became way too much, way too fast. I left my cart in the middle of the aisle, went home to grab the dog, and headed out to the middle of nowhere East Texas for a couple of weeks. I had everything cooking in my head on the way over, I stopped at Lightnin's statue in Crockett and cut a quick phone demo".
It’s a fitting spot to have recorded the demo for ‘Civilized Anxiety'. The Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins statue on South Third Street in Crockett, Texas, memorialises the legendary bluesman, who was born on a farm west of there and played music along the avenue in the 1930’s and 40’s when it was known as “Camp Street".
Nearly a century later and Uncle Lucius - dutiful chroniclers of the darkest sides of modern life - are in full-on hellfire-and-brimstone mode with their own unique take on blues indebted rock. Bombastic and disorderly, a panicked, apocalyptic fervour runs through the song as they rage against the dying of the light.
There’s always been a profound belief in the power of escapism in the music of Uncle Lucius, and as 'Civilized Anxiety’ unfurls slowly and majestically towards its close, that escapism becomes quite literal.
“Out behind some pine trees / That is where you’ll find me”, Galloway sings at the song’s denouement. “Taking my time and just trying to breathe / Back behind some pine trees / Just trying to hide from society”.
It leaves you with a brief but powerful feeling that there might still be hope out there somewhere.
The visualiser for Uncle Lucius' 'Civilized Anxiety' is premiering exclusively on Holler below.
Uncle Lucius originally stepped away from the spotlight in March 2018, capping off a whirlwind decade that saw the band releasing four critically-acclaimed albums, wearing out five vans and performing everywhere from New Braunfels to Norway.
The band were some of Austin's most celebrated exports, supported by a cult following that rallied around signature songs like ‘Keep the Wolves Away’ and ‘The Light’.
During the years that followed Uncle Lucius' so-called farewell tour, the band's audience increased rapidly, bringing new generations of fans into the fold. 'Keep the Wolves Away' even showed up in an episode of Yellowstone and went viral, earning gold and platinum certifications along the way. As Uncle Lucius' legacy grew, so did the desire to get back together.
Months later, the bandmates found themselves back at EAR, the beloved Austin-area studio where they'd previously recorded their breakthrough album, Pick Your Head Up, during the late 2000s.
The band cut the forthcoming album to analog tape, with everyone playing together in real time, emphasising the raw energy and pure electricity of a live performance. During the months that followed, they layered the recordings with orchestral strings and background harmonies, adding new dimension to the material.
The result is Like It's The Last One Left; without a doubt Uncle Lucius' finest record yet.
Like It's The Last One Left by Uncle Lucius is released on December 8th through Boo Clap/Thirty Tigers.