After Hours with Cade Episode 9: Lucavi
SOUTHWEST OKLAHOMA (KSWO) - On After Hours with Cade, 7News sit with local artists to discuss Lawton and Southwest Oklahoma’s impact on their career and how it’s helped shape their artistry.
My ninth guest is Lucavi, a metal band local to Lawton featuring David Dodson, Garrett Glass, Dakota Hooper, and Francis Balliet.
Dodson, Glass, and Hooper are Lawton natives who met at various times in life and ended up working on a cover band project called Nacho Cart, which eventually became Lucavi.
“Me and Garrett met through junior high, been friends ever since, and talked about doing a band since basically we met,” Hooper said. “Then, 15 years later, we finally did it. Coming through here and seeing all the local bands, we met David, he’s been a musician in the town for 20 years, and Francis as well. Once we all started talking and vibing, we just knew it was right.”
“Actually, I was a custodian for Lawton public schools. I’ve been with them for 15 years,” said Dodson. “These guys were going to Eisenhower when I first started working for LPS, and I noticed he [Hooper] had a Metallica shirt on, and I was like, ‘cool shirt,’ and he just kind of blew it off. It’s funny. Oddly enough, you know, a few years later, we’re in a band together.”
Meanwhile, Balliet grew up in Sacramento, California, making his way to Lawton after being stationed at Fort Sill.
“I got stationed here about 28 years ago, went to a party on the east side of town, and met the love of my life,” Balliet said. “I’m still here with her with two kids. I met these guys actually through other things. Then we got to playing together, and it just turned into what it is.”
Collectively, they all fell in love with music at a young age, with rock bands like AC/DC, Rush, and Metallica being some of their first loves.
“I’ve been playing drums for 30 years; I just taught myself,” said Dodson. “My dad was actually really cool enough for me to be able to sit in the garage and sit there and just learn how to play.”
“Once I discovered rock, metal, and stuff like that, my first major band that I really liked was KISS,” said Balliet. “Me and my sister used to try and paint our faces like the guys and stuff. I always dreamed of doing the rock star thing. In high school, I got into theater and found that that was a lot easier than playing a trumpet.”
“Eventually, when I joined the military, I got out of the theater because I promised a friend that if he ever got good enough to play, I would learn how to play a guitar and play bass for his band. About a year after I said that he was actually good, and I had to pony up. Since then, I’ve had numerous projects, and then they called me in on the third generation of the Nacho Cart, and it’s been probably the happiest I’ve been. Not that I haven’t been happy with the other bands, but this is the happiest I’ve ever been with this group of guys. We’re really, really tight. We talk every day,” Balliet continued.
“It was Lamb of God for me,” said Glass. “Lamb of God, Pantera, and I remember watching the documentaries of bands and just falling in love with the connection that it all had. The music just hit me; it was there throughout the hard times and the great times. Being a part of it now, it’s definitely a dream come true. I love that I can be a part of that or be in this with these guys. It’s amazing.”
Being around the music scene in Lawton for most of his life and being in multiple bands since the age of 13, Dodson says that the influx of bands in the area has helped mold him into the artist he is today.
“It’s just been an insane amount of talent in this town for the size that it is,” Dodson said. “All the other musicians around here are so good that you have to step your game up every single time you go out there. And that’s what this is all about; getting better, making the best kind of music that you can, and with everybody else’s style around here, nobody else sounds the same. There’s a lot of diversity in this town alone, and that’s what definitely has molded me into the musician that I am today.”
Growing up in Sacramento, Balliet was able to see a wider variety of bands come and go, specifically bands like Rush and Metallica, who he related to on a deeper level.
“Once I found metal, it was my identifier,” said Balliet. “The guys looked like me, had the same issues as I had, and all that stuff. I didn’t get into playing music, though, until I got out here, and I’d been out here for a while. I think if I had gotten into music out there, we would have been a little fish, big pond.”
“Like he was saying, the talent pool out here is amazing. Great group. It’s a wonderful, supportive family, and it allows little fish like us to be big fish in a big pond. It’s helped shape my outlook on rock and metal. David and I, of course, are a previous generation to these two, but I still love the new stuff that’s coming out. I’m not an old fuddy duddy. I like the new stuff. I love hearing scream vocals, blast beats, and all that good stuff,” Balliet continued.
When it comes to approaching their music and own sound, they say their connection is the most essential aspect. Connecting on a certain level allows them to create the best product they can.
“We’re in a group chat, we talk every day, we’re always bouncing ideas and coming up with themes and what we want to do,” Hooper said.
After forming close to a year ago, Lucavi recently released their debut EP, ‘UNPARALLELED,’ in February, and say the response from the community has been mostly positive.
“Playing out these Vaska shows, like we did last week, it seems like people are really into it. I think people are having fun,” Hooper said.
“We get rather positive responses from it,” Dodson added. “We’ve been selling a lot of merchandise lately, just due to the logo itself. The EP is taking off a little bit, not as much as we want to at this particular time, but it’ll eventually gain ground. We’re working on new material for another EP. We’re about halfway there so far. So we got quite a few things to look forward to.”
“A week or two ago, we played a demo version of one of our new songs, and it got a good response,” Hooper said. “So, that’s more fuel for us. I would say we’re about a quarter into the full process, so maybe a year until there’s an actual single and release date.”
They say their favorite part about performing in Southwest Oklahoma is constantly seeing new faces in the crowd but also receiving constructive criticism from the community and their peers.
“We want to see new faces,” said Glass. “It’s always fun to perform in front of your fans, friends, and family, but new people we’re aiming for. That’s what we’re looking for. We want to open up new eyes, new ears, and really present what we have created and just have a blast doing it.”
One reason they love playing in Lawton is because of the feedback they receive from the community and their peers, whether it be good or bad.
“A big reason why we do like playing here quite a bit is that we have some of the toughest critics from our own hometown,” said Dodson. “Believe me when I tell you that they are going to let you know if it’s good or not. When we pop out something new, and they just soak it in, that’s something else that really gets your juices flowing. The people around here love them to death, but they will tell you if it’s good or if it’s not.”
“This town is 50/50. You could have a huge event get advertised everywhere, and maybe 15 people show up, but if they really dig what you’re doing, you’re gonna be able to get people to come out. And we’ve been lucky enough to be able to pull some people in. And it does help us grow. We’ve gotten so close as a band and so tight solely due to hearing opinions on how we sound,” Dodson continued.
The band would love access to more venues in the Southwest Oklahoma area, specifically outside venues and more kid-friendly environments.
“I’d like to be able to play bigger shows, zoo amphitheater shows, go on a tour, diamond ballroom shows, more than just regional,” Dodson said. “I’d like for us in five years to have one or two albums that are out there that are quite known.”
“It’d be cool to have an outside amphitheater. I know they have one that’s being built over at the park. So, when that becomes a thing, I would love to be able to get to go out there and make a big deal of it. I think that alone would be the one biggest thing that I think everybody around here would enjoy the most. More support and having a venue where we can all play,” Dodson continued.
“We definitely want to stretch our legs, be able to travel more often, and play shows with other bands,” Hooper said. “We get people from out of town here all the time, and we tell them all the time that we want to play with them in their hometown.”
Metal bands like Lucavi are helping fight the stigma that a prevalent sum of the population seems to have with the genre and showing the community that it’s not exclusive to one type of person. They are actively fighting to help improve the Lawton music scene so the area becomes more of a hotspot for other bands touring.
“If you ask an outsider of Oklahoma, they probably wouldn’t expect there to be such a thriving metal scene in the state, but Oklahoma City for sure is on a big way,” Hooper said. “Tulsa has always had an abundance of good bands. And even in all the little small towns all around, bands are just popping up and blowing minds. So, probably here in the next few years, I think Oklahoma is going to be on the map for metal bands.”
“I’d like to see Lucavi put Lawton on that map, to be able to make a name for ourselves,” Dodson added. “I think what separates us from a lot of other bands, especially in the scene here, is that we’re so tightly knit and so close. Nobody’s stepping on anybody’s toes around here. We’re just actually going out and helping each other out and trying to, you know, be good and trying to get everybody else to get on a certain level so we can make this place a destination for musicians to be able to come and go through.”
“Something I’d like to see in Lawton is for the community to be less dismissive of metal music,” Hooper said. “Upside Down Entertainment, which is Brandon Kramer and Scott Golden, they’re putting in the legwork to get all ages shows. There’s been a lot of support, and if it keeps growing, it’ll just be better for all music in this town.”
“There’s a stigma, I guess you can say,” Balliet said. “You say the Railhead [Saloon], and it’s ‘Oh, oh, I don’t want to go there. I heard it’s rough.’ No, like, you’re gonna be hugged more than you’re gonna be punched in the face.”
“Most of us, when we were coming up in the 80s, we were fringe,” Balliet continued. “We were on the outside; we weren’t part of the popular crowd. I know I wasn’t; I was a nerd. I was goofy, and metal gave me some sort of belonging. It’s just something that stuck with me. It’s not a phase; it’s a lifestyle. My children go to sleep to it. My daughter falls asleep when she hears hard rock. If she hears anything other than hard rock and she’s like, ‘whatever.’ So, when someone comes in that’s new, we don’t go, ‘You’re not wearing what we think you should be wearing.’ None of that.”
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