Hickman and Lowery draw close to second decade together as Cracker

 :: Cracker :: Fox Theatre :: November 15 :: Bluebird Theater :: November 16 :: Aggie Theatre :: November 17 ::

By Brian F. Johnson

Johnny Hickman’s been sitting at a Mexican border crossing for five hours. He’s without cell service, internet or any means to contact the outside world. He’s just trapped in what seems like a never-ending scene from a Robert Rodriguez film. Hickman isn’t the hold-up. He gave up drugs too long ago for the patrol officers to give a shit about his suitcase, but still he sits.
By the time he finally gets through, he’s missed his scheduled flight and nearly missed his late-night flight, which finally gets him home at 4 a.m., with only a few hours to spare before taking his boy to school.

When he finally can check his messages, he’s got a dozen from his publicist and some asshole reporter he’s never met wondering when in the hell he’s going to finish the interview he promised.
If Hickman were new to the game this could be it for him, but the fact is, this is all in a day’s work for the man who helped found Cracker a decade-and-a-half ago. “Sorry. I was stuck. I was forced to party in the streets with a few thousand music fans for several hours…poor me, eh?,” he said.
Cracker doesn’t have a new album out, but from their schedule it appears like they’re touring on a pop-sensation style juggernaut with little time to catch their breath. Their latest CD, Greenland, was released in 2006, and according to Hickman was a departure from the way that he and his fellow founding member David Lowery (Camper Van Beethoven) normally do things in Cracker. “Not that there is a set pattern in the way we work, but the making of Greenland was done over several years while both David and I were involved with other musical projects. He with New Roman Times with the reformed Camper Van Beethoven and me with my solo record Plamhenge. I usually contribute a lot more writing and arranging, but this one was really David’s baby,” Hickman said.
While Lowery and Hickman, the only two remaining founding members of Cracker, have seen success with tracks like “Eurotrash Girl” and “Low” getting major radio play, years later the band is now considered “underground.” While that might bother some artists, Hickman said that although he and his musical partner veer from side-to-side at times, the two have had a motto from their early days that they’ve stuck to. “David and I came up with our own motto years ago and that is ‘Stay the Course.’ We know very well how fortunate we are to have loyal fans and friends all over the world and we simply like to work,” Hickman said.
While the music business has changed drastically in the years since Cracker first formed, Hickman has a refreshingly positive outlook that things aren’t that different from what they used to be. “Needless to say, the entire paradigm of recording, distributing and promoting music has changed in the last five years. Almost all of it is for the better, too. Young bands can and are doing nearly everything themselves. Aside from the advent of the internet, it’s very similar to how things were back in the ’80s, at least for ‘alternative’ or ‘indie’ bands. Even though Cracker has never had anything you could call huge success, we’ve been fortunate enough to get played on the radio and that got us noticed — still does. Even that took a few years of relentless touring and work. The facts are that if we sucked live or were whiny, poncy rock-star types, expecting everything to be perfect the way some bands do, we would have disappeared long ago,” he said.
Two years ago Hickman moved to Colorado after touring through the state for years. Part of the move was due to the fact that his wife is from Loveland, but the military brat, who’s lived in countless locations, said he’s finally found a home. “After living all over the place my entire life, I feel like I’m finally home. The music scene in this state is great. And the people are as tough as New Yorkers only much more laid back and that suits me perfectly,” he said.
Hickman has had no problem ingraining himself into the Colorado scene and his side project the Hickman Dalton Group features Denver’s Jim Dalton from The Railbenders. The two released a CD titled Volume 1 and Hickman said that they already have most of Volume 2 written. “It’s just a matter of getting the time to record it all,” he said.
Cracker’s most updated bio has some impressive stats: “17 years, eight albums, four Gold records, 21 countries and eight bass players.” It’s a list that Hickman is proud of, and he said that when all is said and done, he only wants to add one more thing to that list: “Stayed together and played a great show the night before they passed away in their sleep from natural causes.”

:: Cracker ::
:: Fox Theatre :: November 15 ::
:: Bluebird Theater :: November 16 ::
:: Aggie Theatre :: November 17 ::

Spectate if you Gravitate:
• The Railbenders
• Uncle Tupelo
• The Jayhawks

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