“I encourage people to listen to their kids’ music and kids to list to their parents’ music too,” said Hickman, whose early influences include Black Flag, Led Zeppelin and Merle Haggard and whose musically inclined parents never told him to turn it off or keep it down.
In Cracker, which will play July 7 at The Palms, Hickman and co-founder David Lowery, have a sound inspired by SoCal soul (both grew up in Redlands), punk, new wave, rock ’n’ roll and country (specifically, The Bakersfield Sound).
Since 1992, when the group’s self-titled first album was released, the band began creating what Hickman calls “the Cracker Sound” – a little country, a little alt rock, a little punk and a little soul.
“It just comes naturally to us,” Hickman said. “It’s a little broader musically then a lot of bands will go, definitely. It’s easier when the band is based around two songwriters and we both play guitar.”
We change the shape of a show often. Not necessarily because of the venue or the city we’re playing in, just because it feels right to do.
Hickman sums up his relationship with lead singer and guitarist Lowery as “brothers for life.” In the late ’70s and early ’80s the men played in the “casual ensemble” the Estonian Gauchos when Lowery came home on breaks from UC Santa Cruz.
“The Gauchos experimented with our interpretations of ska, European folk, pop, old-timey country, rub-a-dub reggae, whatever felt fun,” Hickman wrote in a blog post, “Redlands California,1979: How I met David Lowery.”
Cracker records all of its songs in a ’50s recording-style set-up: a full band with the clock ticking. This allows the band members to listen to each other while they play, creating music in-time that they might otherwise never capture digitally.
“There’s something very immediate and passionate about doing it that way,” Hickman said. “There’s a different energy that comes with playing together.”
Lowery is a music business lecturer at University of Georgia, so Cracker tours during the summer.
This summer the band is touring in support of its 10th studio album, “Berkeley to Bakersfield,” a double album that explores the distinctive alt-rock sounds of the Bay Area and the country twang of the San Joaquin Valley.
The seasoned musicians, who’ve been in the business for more than 30 years producing, singing, songwriting and playing guitar, will play a spontaneous set at The Palms. Fans also can expect older hits like “Euro-Trash Girl,” “Low” or “Get Off This” because Hickman said the band is always aware that there could be someone at their first Cracker show who will identify with its hits.
“We change the shape of a show often,” Hickman said. “Not necessarily because of the venue or the city we’re playing in, just because it feels right to do.”
- When: 8 p.m. July 7
- Where: The Palms, 13 Main St., Winters
- Cost: $20
- Information: 530-795-1825 palmsplayhouse.com