The name LOCASH isn’t a nod to the lean years of scraping by in the music industry.
It’s a figure of speech “about a way of life,” said Preston Brust, one-half of the hot country duo ready to tear up the Iowa Speedway tonight, July 9.
“The true meaning of LOCASH is just remembering where you came from,” he said, “and just realizing that we all come from humble roots. When we wake up in the morning we all gotta put our pants on the same way — just keeping our feet on the ground and staying grounded.”
Brust and musical partner Chris Lucas keep their feet on the ground — running up the charts and all around the country.
They met as DJs at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon after Brust arrived in town in 2002.
“We immediately hit it off,” he said in a conference call with Lucas from their Nashville homes. “Then we loaded up my Jeep Cherokee around 2005 and the journey began.”
And what a journey it’s already been. In addition to soaring to No. 2 on the country charts with “I Love This Life” and watching “I Know Somebody” begin its climb, the pair also helped pen “You Gonna Fly,” a 2011 number one hit for Keith Urban, and “Truck Yeah,” a 2012 Top 10 hit for Tim McGraw.
“It just floored us. We were blown away by it,” Brust said of having Urban record their song. Sony/ATV originally optioned it for Jimmy Wayne, but someone secretly played it for Urban, and away it flew. “We finally found out years and years later, who played it for Keith Urban,” Brust added. “Every time we see that person, we give him a big hug and say thank you. It really changed our life. We’ve been really fortunate that people heard the songs and went the extra mile for us, and played the songs for the artists.”
In their new roles as dads, Brust and Lucas do a lot of writing on the road, so they can spend time with their young families when they’re home. They sometimes bring songwriting buddies with them on the road, too, and are eternally grateful to Jeffrey Steele for mentoring their songwriting.
“He’s one of our best friends and kinda like the third LOCASH guy,” Brust said. “He’s one of the greatest songwriters of our time and ever. He wrote some of the biggest hits you ever heard on country music radio, and he taught us how to write better songs. We were already writing songs, but he took our craft and helped us to be better at it, and to be more honest with our lyric and be even better with our melodies. And also with life in general. He showed us how to keep it real. We’ll forever be indebted to him.”
Brust and Lucas classify their sound as rockin’ country, reflected in the bouncy beats of many cuts on their new album, “The Fighters.” Themes explore the many faces of love, from country life, hard work and God to moonlit skies, cool breezes, good times and lovin’ till “they play our last song.”
“Being a songwriter, you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and you can use personal experiences,” Lucas said. “Some of the tougher-written songs are from personal experience. It’s kinda like acting. You get to look through the eyes of someone else and get to be a songwriter, and that’s the cool thing about songwriting.”
Their musical influences are many and varied, but all led the duo to country.
A preacher’s son from Kokomo, Ind., Brust was only allowed to listen to hymns and the few records in his house, by Willie Nelson, Eddie Rabbit and the Oak Ridge Boys. Lucas, raised in Baltimore, listened to Motley Crue and Quiet Riot, but did a total turnaround when he discovered ’90s country. “Hank Williams Jr. was like a rock star anyway,” he said.
“Country influences from all genres are in our songwriting,” Brust said. “We’ve got our own sound. ... It’s hard to put my finger on it and explain it, but I know ‘The Fighters’ is definitely a feel-good album. It makes you want to move a little bit, appreciate life a little bit, and look back at the struggles that you’ve been through in your own personal life, and persevered through.”
Iowa Speedway audiences will hear most, if not all, of that album in tonight’s concert, which features the duo on vocals and their four bandmates on drums, two guitars and bass. Lucas also plays a little guitar and Brust adds some piano.
They also might toss in a couple of cover songs, “because people don’t know who we are yet,” Lucas said.
Nothing’s set in stone night to night.
“We’re known for our high-energy show — lots of having a good time, get your hands up, sing along and getting smiles on everybody’s faces. We like to say, ‘Expect the unexpected,’ because we have a little bit of a set list, but when we get out on stage, sometimes things happen that you just don’t plan on,” Brust said.
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“In fact, every night, things happen that you can’t ever plan for. Those are the special memories,” he said.
“The songs are great, and delivering those songs is awesome, but those special memories of bringing somebody onstage, pointing somebody out in crowd and having a good time with them specifically — those are the moments that people take home with them. So we lean on those things pretty heavily.”