Cracker performing at Jones Beach, New York.
|Origin||Redlands, California, United States|
|Genres||Alternative rock, Southern rock, country rock, rock, roots rock, surf|
|Labels||Virgin, Cooking Vinyl, Savoy / 429 Records|
|Camper Van Beethoven, Hickman-Dalton Gang, David Lowery, Johnny Hickman|
Matt "Pistol" Stoessel
Cracker is an American rock band led by singer David Lowery and guitarist Johnny Hickman. The band is best known for its gold-selling 1993 album, Kerosene Hat, which includes the hit songs "Low" and "Euro-Trash Girl."
Lowery and Hickman formed the band in 1991, releasing the album Cracker the following year (which included singles "Happy Birthday to Me" and "Teen Angst") on Virgin Records. The band has been touring ever since, releasing nine studio albums and several compilations, collaborations, solo projects and live albums.
Shortly after Lowery's former group Camper Van Beethoven disbanded in 1990, he began demoing material along with boyhood friend, guitarist Johnny Hickman. After moving from Redlands, California to Richmond, Virginia, Lowery and Hickman recorded a demo tape, later nicknamed Big Dirty Yellow Demos by the group's fans, which included early versions of songs that appeared on later albums. They eventually chose the name Cracker and teamed up with fellow Redlands bass guitarist Davey Faragher. A brief tour with Virginia drummer Greg Weatherford followed.
By 1991, the newly formed band had signed a recording contract with Virgin Records and enlisted the help of several drummers/percussionists (Jim Keltner, Michael Urbano and Phil Jones), issuing its first album, Cracker, in 1992. From the album came radio hit "Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)", which peaked at No. 1 on Modern Rock Tracks, and a second single entitled "Happy Birthday to Me." The album went on to sell more than 200,000 copies.
A year later, Cracker issued its best-selling album, Kerosene Hat. The album included hit singles "Low" and "Get Off This" (both hit singles with official music videos directed by Carlos Grasso), as well as a cover of the Grateful Dead's "Loser." The album sold almost half a million copies that year and eventually almost reached platinum status. Urbano performed on Kerosene Hat and toured with Cracker before leaving the band, along with Faragher. After a short spell with Bruce Hughes, Lowery and Hickman added Bob Rupe, formerly of The Silos, as bass guitarist and Charlie Quintana (Bob Dylan, The JuJu Hounds) on drums. In 1993, Cracker contributed the song "Good Times Bad Times" to the Encomium tribute album to Led Zeppelin (which was recorded after a rendition of "When the Levee Breaks" had been deemed "too weird").
Three years later, The Golden Age was released, with "I Hate My Generation" as the lead single. However, the music scene was shifting away from guitar-driven alternative rock, and although critically acclaimed, the album sold only moderately. Following the long-term additions of drummer Frank Funaro and keyboard player Kenny Margolis, the band returned in 1998 with Gentleman's Blues, with "The Good Life" as the lead single. Although the album received only a lukewarm critical response, it solidified an ever-growing and devout following both in the United States and Europe who referred to themselves as "Crumbs".
In 1995 the song "Whole Lotta Trouble," co-written by Johnny Hickman and Chris LeRoy, was used in the film Empire Records. The same year, Cracker's cover of the Flamin' Groovies song, "Shake Some Action," was used in the teen romantic-comedy Clueless.
Camper Van Beethoven unexpectedly re-formed in 1999, and in 2004 released the critically acclaimed New Roman Times. During this time, Hickman released a first solo recording, Palmhenge, which received "Voices Choice" accolades in The Village Voice by the rock critic Robert Christgau and a positive review in Blender magazine. Since then, Lowery has performed in both bands.
A compilation album called Garage D'Or was released in 2000, with one disc composed of greatest hits and three new songs, and another of out-takes, soundtrack contributions, demos and other obscurities. Rupe departed in January 2000 and was replaced by bass guitarist Brandy Wood. In 2002, the band released its next studio album, Forever which, once again, was met with limited commercial success.
The group left Virgin in 2003 with the independent release Countrysides, composed of eight country and western covers and one new, original song. A collaboration with the bluegrass band Leftover Salmon, Oh Cracker, Where Art Thou? (2003), contained bluegrass versions of many Lowery and Hickman compositions. In 2005, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven started an annual three-night "Campout" at Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace in Pioneertown, California, close to where Lowery and Hickman met, in which they and several other bands perform, including sets by Cracker and Camper band members performing their own music. Previous years' guests have included Roger Clyne, John Doe, Neko Case, Ike Reilly, Ryan Bingham, Vermillion Lies, Jason Molina and Magnolia Electric Co, Built To Spill, Brant Bjork and the Bros, Clem Snide, Gram Rabbit and The Bellrays.
With Camper Van Beethoven bass guitarist Victor Krummenacher replacing Wood, the band released the studio album Greenland on June 6, 2006, and continued to tour extensively. After the departures of Margolis and Krummenacher, the band's lineup stabilized in 2007 around Hickman, Lowery, Funaro and new bass guitarist Sal Maida, who had played with Roxy Music.
Cracker released a new studio album entitled Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey to positive reviews on May 5, 2009. It was the band's first chart on the Billboard 200 in more than a decade, after having sold more than 3,000 copies in a week. This was in part due to the Triple A chart success of the album's lead single, "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me," which was used in the television show Californication.
In January 2011, Lowery released his first solo album, The Palace Guards, on 429 Records. In March, Cracker announced Campout East, the east coast counterpart to their Campout festival, to be held in Crozet, Virginia. The first Campout East was held at Misty Mountain Camp Resort and was co-hosted by Sons of Bill. The second Campout East took place in Buena Vista, Virginia at Glen Maury Park on June 1-2, 2012.
Johnny Hickman released his second solo album, Tilting, in July 2012, while Cracker's song "Low" appeared in the 2012 film The Perks of Being a Wallflower and again in The Wolverine and an episode of Hindsight.
Drummer Frank Funaro was unable to tour due to an injury to his arm that sidelined him for all of 2014.
In July 2014, a revival of the Kerosene Hat era lineup toured China. Lowery and Hickman were joined on the tour by original bassist Davey Faragher and former drummer Michael Urbano. Faragher and Urbano also joined the band in recording roughly half of the double album Berkeley to Bakersfield. The other half was recorded with an entirely new lineup that also became the current touring lineup. The album was released on December 9, 2014 with "Waited My Whole Life" released as a single.
In December 2015, Lowery (along with Camper Van Beethoven) filed a class action lawsuit against music streaming service Spotify, alleging that Spotify knowingly and unlawfully reproduced and distributed copyrighted recordings without obtaining proper music licenses.
|1996||The Golden Age||63|
|2009||Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey||189||429 Records|
|2014||Berkeley to Bakersfield||--|
|"—" denotes release did not chart or become certified.|
|1995||Bob's Car||Compilation||Fan Club Release|
|2002||Hello, Cleveland! Live from the Metro||Live|
|2003||O' Cracker Where Art Thou?||Live||Pitch-a-tent|
|2005||We Don't Suck Live: Live at Wavefest||Live|
|2006||Greatest Hits Redux||Compilation||Cooking Vinyl|
|2007||Berlin (Live in Berlin, December 2006)||Live||Pitch-a-tent|
|2010||Live at the Rockpalast Crossroads-Festival||Live||Blue Rose Records|
|U.S. Hot 100||U.S. Modern Rock||U.S. Mainstream Rock||UK Singles Chart|
|1992||"Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)"||-||1||27||-||Cracker|
|"Happy Birthday to Me"||-||13||-||-|
|1994||"Get Off This"||102||6||18||41|
|1996||"I Hate My Generation"||-||13||24||-||The Golden Age|
|"Nothing to Believe In"||-||32||40||-|
|"Sweet Thistle Pie"||-||-||33||-|
|1998||"The Good Life"||-||-||-||-||Gentleman's Blues|
|"The World Is Mine"||-||-||-||-|
|"Merry Christmas, Emily"||-||-||-||-|
|2006||"Something You Ain't Got"||-||-||-||-||Greenland|
|"Gimme One More Chance"||-||-||-||-|
|"Everybody Gets One for Free"||-||-||-||-|
|2009||"Turn On Tune In Drop Out with Me"||-||-||-||-||Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey|
|2014||"Waited My Whole Life"||-||-||-||-||Berkeley to Bakersfield|