Music Interviews
2:03 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Luscious Jackson Is Ready For Its 'Magic Hour'

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 5:22 am

"3 Seconds to Cross," a new song by Luscious Jackson, begins somewhere in New York City. The narrator lies awake longing to be in California, though it becomes apparent a New Yorker like her really wouldn't fit in: "It only takes just a little to get yourself lost."

California, we're told, is a land unfriendly to pedestrians, where an L.A. traffic light might give you three seconds to cross the street.

"Well, yeah. You do step off the curb and then it changes to red," says singer-guitarist Gabby Glaser. "And you're just like, 'How can any human being cross the street that fast?'"

Glaser's lyrics suggest her connection to New York — a city where people still walk for miles, or meet people on the sidewalk the way the members of Luscious Jackson once did. The group, known for the hit "Naked Eye," includes Glaser, drummer Kate Schellenbach and singer-bassist Jill Cunniff.

"I think I met Gabby on a stoop on St. Mark's Place, and I believe Kate, as well," Cunniff says.

"We were all about 13, 14, and it was an amazing time, as far as not only bands playing but also the early rap scene and the breakdancing scene," Glaser says. "It was all kind of colliding at the same time."

And in that mix in the early 1980s, the musicians made connections that served them for years.

"I remember meeting Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys in front of the UK Club at a Bad Brains show," says Cunniff. "There were probably 20 of us, all underage, running around to clubs."

In the years that followed, the group would begin playing in clubs themselves, have their songs heard on the radio and sign to the Beastie Boys' label, Grand Royal.

Luscious Jackson's new album, Magic Hour, sounds like a conversation between friends. The band kept that lighthearted feel despite more than a decade off — a time of having kids and trying other careers.

"We're in Brooklyn and we're still making it work," Cunniff says.

The band financed its new album with a pledge drive online. Their crowdfunding brought back a band born in the crowds of New York.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A new song by Luscious Jackson begins somewhere in New York City.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "3 SECONDS TO CROSS")

LUSCIOUS JACKSON: (Singing) Lying awake in New York. Yeah, I'm chasing the light...

INSKEEP: The narrator longs to be in California, though it becomes apparent a New Yorker like her really wouldn't fit in.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "3 SECONDS TO CROSS")

JACKSON: (Singing) Where we get three seconds to cross, and it only takes just a little to get yourself lost.

INSKEEP: California, we're told, is a land unfriendly to pedestrians, where an L.A. traffic light might give you three seconds to cross the street.

GABBY GLASER: You do step off the curb, and then it changes to red. And you're just, like, how can any human being cross the street that fast?

INSKEEP: Gabby Glaser's lyrics suggest her connection to New York, that city where people still do walk for miles, or meet people on the sidewalk the way the members of Luscious Jackson once did.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NAKED EYE")

JACKSON: (Singing) With my naked eye, I saw water falling, ladies coming down on me. With my naked eye, I saw, if I said it all...

INSKEEP: The group, known for the hit "Naked Eye," includes Gabby Glaser's bandmates Kate Schellenbach and Jill Cunniff.

JILL CUNNIFF: I think I met Gabby on a stoop on St. Mark's Place, and I believe Kate, as well.

GLASER: We were all about, you know, about 13, 14, and it was an amazing time, as far as not only bands playing, but also the early rap scene and the breakdancing scene. It was all kind of colliding at the same time.

INSKEEP: And in that mix, in the early '80s, they made connections that served them for years.

CUNNIFF: I remember meeting Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys in front of the U.K. Club at a Bad Brains show. There were probably 20 of us, all underage, running around to clubs.

INSKEEP: Until they were playing in clubs and heard on the radio and produced on the Beastie Boys' label. Their new album, "Magic Hour," sounds like a conversation with friends, like people killing time on a New York street, or maybe catcalling a passing guy.

CUNNIFF: "#1 Bum" is a song that Gabby and I wrote about man booty.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG. "#1 BUM")

JACKSON: (Singing) Your bum is number one. Your bum's number one, number one. And I know just how to get...

INSKEEP: Luscious Jackson kept that lighthearted feel, despite more than a decade off - a time of having kids and trying other careers before returning to their band.

CUNNIFF: We're in Brooklyn, and we're still making it work.

INSKEEP: They financed "Magic Hour" with a pledge drive online. Their crowdfunding brought back a band born in the crowds of New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ARE YOU READY?")

JACKSON: (Singing) Are you ready? Are you ready, ready? Are you ready (unintelligible)?

INSKEEP: "Magic Hour," by Luscious Jackson, is out next week. And you can hear the album in its entirety now on our website: NPRMusic.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.