Back in the day when Matt Lawlor and Roger Fingar were baby-faced, wide-eyed, devil-may-care punk rockers, going on tour meant quitting your day job and hoping to get hired back a month later.
These days, things are just a little bit different.
“It’s nice when you get paid when you go on tour,” Fingar said. “Like, ‘Yeah, I got 10 days of (paid time off), sweet!’”
Fingar, 30, Lawlor, 39, and Elliott Abbott, 29, may not be as baby-faced as before but they’re still rocking, and somewhere on their journey through adulthood they’ve managed to not just land consistent day jobs but also put together perhaps the best musical project of their careers. The trio makes up the Flathead Valley-based psychobilly trio The Lucitones, and after less than two years together the group has landed a contract with Hairball8 Records and has plans to take the act on the road in the near future to promote its new album, which drops later this week.
Still, the boys aren’t about to kiss their steady paychecks goodbye and hope for the best when they get back.
“We’re keeping our day jobs,” Lawlor said with a laugh. “Our individual careers are probably more important to us than the band, but … I want to make music until I’m dead, so, hopefully that will be a long time.”
“I guess to see how far it can take us while maintaining what we’re doing,” Fingar added.
THE LUCITONES credit some of their rapid success to their experience and perspective. All three were and still are parts of bands in Northwest Montana.
Figar went to Whitefish High School and was part of the popular punk band El Pollo Diablo more than a decade ago before joining another punk band, Truckasaurus, in Denver. And Abbott and Lawlor have played together in two other bands — Badger Hound and Death Wagon — before coming together for this project.
“You know what you want to get out of it,” Lawlor said. “You’ve not just there like, ‘oh, let’s jam for a while.’
“We all click on our music tastes and where we’re going, and just hammer out the details.”
The Lucitones’ perspective has also created an uncommonly harmonious relationship between the members. The band recorded its album at Crash Pad Studio in Denver and spent 10 days on the road together, playing a few shows along the way. On their way back, driving through the night from Denver, the bleary-eyed band stopped for breakfast in Wyoming.
“We were all recollecting on the trip and said, ‘man, we didn’t get pissed off at each other once,’” Fingar said. “There was absolutely no drama. That was the most important thing.”
“We’re all pretty easygoing and on the same page,” Abbott added. “And there’s no drama queens or anything. It’s just hanging out with friends and making good music.”
A RECORD release party Friday night — which also happens to be Abbott’s 30th birthday — at the Silver Bullet Bar in Columbia Falls is the first chance to pick up a copy of the self-titled album, released by HairBall8 out of Austin, Texas.
The band sought out the label since it had promoted some of their favorite acts and they launched a successful a fundraiser via Kickstarter to help pay for the studio time in Denver. When the tracks were finished, Fingar sent the music to the Lone Star state and didn’t have to wait long for a response.
“I thought he would like our music because of the bands that he’s signed in the past,” Fingar said. “And he definitely dug it right away and we signed a deal with him.”
“I feel like 80 percent of American psychobilly bands from like 2000 on have been on HairBall8 at some point,” Abbott said. “It’s a great place for us.”
The 12-track release — featuring Abbott’s original artwork — is a major accomplishment for the nascent group.
“I’ve played in probably seven bands and this is the first time I’ve ever gotten something released by a label,” Abbott said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
The group came together after Fingar moved back to the Flathead Valley and took a job working as a brewer at Great Northern Brewing Co. in Whitefish. One day Abbott — who had heard about Fingar from a mutual friend — stopped his future bandmate in an alley and said, “I hear you play music. Do you want to get together sometime?”
Not long after, the two realized they shared a passion for psychobilly, and Abbott and his unique instrument were a crucial piece of making that happen.
“I didn’t know what to expect but I realized that he played upright bass and I’ve always wanted to be in a band that involved upright bass,” Fingar said. “So it was pretty awesome.”
Fingar (guitar and vocals) and Abbott (upright bass) later recruited Lawlor (drums) to join the group and the band has been rolling along ever since.
The free album release show, also featuring Weaponeers, Sunless and Bozeman’s Goners U.K., is Friday, June 30 at 7 p.m. After that, the band plans to get back to writing new music and, it hopes, scheduling a tour to roll through the Southwest and eventually Texas to play for their new label.
No matter how that tour goes, The Lucitones’ top priority is keeping people happy — both each other and their fans.
“What I always want to get out of a band is just to not be bored,” Fingar said. “It’s just something fun to do and it keeps my mind occupied; something I can focus on beside work, wherever that takes it.”
For more on The Lucitones, visit www.thelucitones.com.
Entertainment editor Andy Viano can be reached at (406) 758-4439 or email@example.com.