By LORIE HOLLABAUGH
© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.
The LoCash Cowboys have been down on their luck more than a few times during their 10-year career. But the high-energy, fun-spirited duo is still betting that the odds are in its favor as it prepares to release its first album.
Preston Brust and Chris Lucas met when they were working as DJs at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon. Soon, they landed additional work at Tootsies Orchid Lounge. But when they were offered the coveted Friday night gig at Tootsies, having signed with the booking agency Buddy Lee Attractions, they elected to hit the road.
“I saw a wild side in them that maybe had not happened in Nashville or Country Music for a while — or ever, to be honest,” said Tony Conway, then CEO at Buddy Lee. “I was impressed with their humor and the vision and the dreams they had. Lots of record company folks thought they sounded and looked like the Mötley Crüe of County Music, but in fact they were exploring and developing the style they would fine-tune and have down completely today.”
They landed a deal with DreamWorks and then lost it when the label was sold. But they had made a fan in label head James Stroud, who later offered them a shot on his own Stroudavarious label. Through all of this, Brust and Lucas kept burning up the road. In 2008, they were picked to headline the 12-city Red Man/Maxim Roadhouse Tour. This led them back to the Wildhorse.
“John Rich was host of our concert that night,” Brust said. “He brought Jeffrey Steele with him. We start singing a Jeffrey Steele song that we love, so that perked him up. He works his way to the front and waves me down in the middle of the song. I’m like, ‘Who is the crazy guy with the crazy hair?’ So I go down there and he screams, ‘Man, I get it! Call me and let’s get this thing together! All you need is the songs.’”
Calling Sony/ATV the next day to locate Steele, the guys were offered a publishing deal, thanks to Steele’s interest. That same day, they headed over to his house. “There was something bigger than the music going on with the three of us,” Brust said. “Not only did we find our producer and he found an artist to work with, but we found a brother and we began to lean on each other for the next four years.”
”That’s the cool thing about having a duo,” Lucas agreed. “When I would be down, Preston would be there to cheer me up. And I would do the same for him. The most important thing in this industry is to have a backbone and be ready to be stomped on. When I say I lost a house and a car, I really lost a house and a car. I lived on tuna fish and mustard for two years.”
“You can’t have a Plan B,” Brust added. “You just have to go for it and know it’s going to work, because if you have a backup plan, you’re going to go to it because this gets grueling sometimes. We’ve never had a backup plan. I was with my dad the other day, showing him the parking lot where I lived in my car for a while.”
“During that time I had my lovely wife and a little baby, but we lost our fiddle player (Ryan ‘Troop’ Jones) at 28, and before that I lost my dad, who was my best friend and my backbone,” Lucas said. “So I’m sitting there on my couch in our apartment that was too small. I remembered my dad saying, ‘Never give up! Stay positive!’ But it’s hard to stay positive in this business when I don’t know where I’m going to get the money to take care of my child. I’m in tears, looking up and saying, ‘You gotta give me something.’ And I promise you, five minutes later, I get this call from a DJ in California who says, ‘I’m sitting here with Keith Urban and he wants me to tell you he’s making your song his next single.’ And I jumped up and screamed as loud as I could, hugged my wife and said, ‘Thanks, Dad. I don’t know what you did, but you did good.’”
That cut — “You Gonna Fly,” written by Brust, Lucas and Jaren Johnston — lodged for two weeks at No. 1. Brust and Lucas followed with “Truck Yeah,” which they wrote with Chris Janson and Danny Myrick and went Gold for Tim McGraw. They’ve struck gold as artists too, having signed with Average Joes Entertainment, which released their newest single, “Chase a Little Love” (Jaron Boyer and Brust) this week.
“I’ve always told these guys, ‘You are going to be great songwriters,” said Steele. “’I know you want that ride, the fame and the big thing, but whatever happens to you on the other end of this thing, remember, it all starts with the song. It all ends with the song. And if it’s good, you’ll rise.’”
Visit CMACloseUp.com for more on LoCash Cowboys, including Jeffrey Steele’s perspective on their success.