Cracker's modus operandi since Johnny Hickman and David Lowery founded the group in 1990 has always been to "mash up" its various influences from rock, country, soul, blues and folk.
But on the group's new "Berkeley To Bakersfield," the duo deliberately, and uncharacteristically, separates them into separate rock- and country-focused discs, respectively.
"We had a lot of material," says Hickman, 58, "and David said, 'This keeps feeling like two different albums.' So I said, 'Let's put one out and then put another one out six months or a year later,' but the farther we went into it we realized we could do two discs and put them together and it would be a cooler idea.
"So we said, 'Let's make two distinct records with two distinct groups of musicians,' and I just love the way it turned out. We recorded them in two different places, too, and you really get to hear the two styles."
For the "Berkeley" disc, meanwhile, Hickman and Lowery reunited with Davey Faragher and Michael Urbano, the rhythm section from Cracker's top-selling album, "Kerosene Hat," a 1993 release that spawned the hit "Low" as well as the fan favorite "Euro-Trash Girl." The initial impetus for the reunion was a documentary that was being made about Lowery, who's also a member of the group Camper Van Beethoven, but the opportunity to record again with Faragher (who's now with Elvis Costello's Imposters) and Urban was a welcome bonus.
"We still talk to those guys and see them once in awhile," says HIckman. "They were really excited to do this, so we said, 'OK, let's book some studio time in Berkeley and see what happens,' and we came in with a lot of ideas and the album just blossomed immediately, like the four of us had never been apart.
"There's just a lot of chemistry with us four guys in the room. It's instantaneous. We're all better players now, for starters, which was a great way to make a record. And they're a rhythm section to be reckoned with. It was just so much fun; I didn't want it to be over, so hopefully we'll do some more together own the road."
Tuesday, Dec. 1. Doors open at 8 p.m.
The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.
Tickets are $20.
Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.
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