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Lucero signs to Universal/Republic

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After 10 years together, local rock quartet Lucero is also making the leap to the majors, recently signing a four-album deal with Universal/Republic.

“It’s got to be one of the most low-key, non-rock-star major-label signings ever,” guitarist Brian Venable muses.

Lucero negotiated with labels — major and indie — at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin in March, later settling on Universal/Republic after being unhappy with the offers from indie labels.

This isn’t Lucero’s first interaction with a major label. The band’s past two albums, Rebels, Rogues, and Sworn Brothers and Nobody’s Darlings, were released under a distribution deal through Warner Bros., allowing the band to retain the rights to both albums on their own Liberty & Lament imprint. But this is the first full-fledged major-label deal for the band.

“The majors are running on a big indie model now, so it’s not tons of money,” Venable says. “A four-record deal really means one record with three options. If it doesn’t sell well, they’ll drop us. In that case, we’d probably just try to do things through our own label.”

Why take the major-label plunge after a decade on the road and with six albums already under their belt?

“I think it just got to that point. Everybody [who reaches that level] tries it eventually,” Venable says. “We’re just hoping for that one two-three month major-label push — the press, the ads in all the magazines, hopefully get on some soundtracks. We’ve been doing this for 10 years. I’ve got a baby on the way. Everyone was like: What the hell, let’s take a shot. It’s not like we’re going to break up.”

In preparation for their first major-label album, the band recently went into Young Avenue Sound studios for a few days to record a batch of demos for the label, experimenting with using horns for the first time, and may work on a second batch of demos soon. The demos, says Venable, “sound better than our first three records.”

Then, sometime in December or January, the band plans to record their next album at Sweet Tea Studios in Oxford, Mississippi, with producer Dennis Herring (Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse, the Hives). — Chris Herrington

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