The Blue Light Chronicles: Cruise Duke
I had the opportunity to sit down with Cruise Duke(vocals), Seth Lynch (Bass) and Kelly Tucker (Drums) prior to their CD release party at the Blue Light on August 6th. We discussed everything from the release of their first album, “This Side of Texas,” to some of their musical influences, the best place to play in Texas and what they would be doing if they weren’t pursuing music.
Here is the interview, in its entirety, from that day.
99.5 The Bear: You guys have the CD release party of “This Side of Texas” here at the Blue Light tonight, are you pretty excited for this?
Cruise Duke: Absolutely, we’ve been anticipating this moment for the past year, I guess. We’re in and out of the studio just working away on things. We’ve been very fortunate to have Blue Light supporting us, and having us in here for the CD release.
99.5 The Bear: The title track off “This Side of Texas” seems to be gaining more and more air-time, would you say that’s your favorite song off the album?
Cruise Duke: I’d say ‘This Side of Texas’ is just because it’s kind of a dedication song to all the hard working people around this area. In fact it is a dedication song to the hard working people out here. We were all raised in different areas. Kelly Tucker, the drummer in the band, grew up in small town called Chillicothe, Texas. Seth, he’s from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Tommy’s from Houston.
Kelly Tucker: Yeah, we’re all over the place.
Seth Lynch: I’ve been out in Texas for a while so I’m not trying to not claim this as my home, but I think ‘This Side of Texas’ would be the most identifiable song we’ve got on the album. You think Cruise Duke and you’ve heard it on the radio, or hopefully, it’s just one of those things that the crowd really gets into it because they can relate to it because we are on this side of Texas, this is West Texas take it or leave it.
99.5 The Bear: How did you guys end up catching on with John Taylor & Mount Vernon Studios?
Cruise Duke: John had contacted me about two years ago and wanted me to come in and do like a singer songwriter video for YouTube and his website and everything. I went in and that was really the first time I had ever met him. After that I said ‘man I’d really like to come in and start working on a demo,’ and after that we just moved onto the next step and started working on a CD, and a year later that’s kinda how it came together.
99.5 The Bear: How did that band come together? What’s the back-story on you?
Cruise Duke: Seth you wanna explain that one?
Seth Lynch: The long story short; we’re pretty much peppered from a lot of other artist that have been around. Thomas Walker and my self played with an individual named Seth Savage for a while, and that’s where I ran into Cruise Duke. I’ve seen him play and this is a lot of the reaction I get when I first say, “I play for a guy named Cruise” they’re like ‘Cruise Duke? That’s a really cool name’, that’s of course what I thought too. After a couple beers you hit it off and the stars align and you find yourself playing with the people that you know. It’s all about whom you know. I played with Kelly in a rock band for a while and that’s how he came on board. It just sort of lined up and really at first you look at the formula and your sort of apprehensive about how it’s gonna work out, but in this instance I think we knocked it out of the park.
Cruise Duke: Overall a miracle, just a miracle.
99.5 The Bear: How long have you all been playing together?
Cruise Duke: All together with this group, probably about a year or so.
99.5 The Bear: What got each of you individually interested in playing music?
Kelly Tucker: It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s just a lot of fun.
Seth Lynch: Have you ever met someone who’s like ‘I play music’ ‘Oh I’ve always wanted to do that!’ well why not? That’s sort of the way I approached it. My dad always played and I always wanted to and finally just back in high school got with a group of guys and started playing. You find your way into what you wanna do, bass guitar being mine, which is ironic but I love it. After you have that first big show where people start cheering your name or liking your song you’re hooked. It’s almost like a drug.
Cruise Duke: For me I played sports in high school and did pretty good at it all, and then I had two knee surgeries and a shoulder surgery, and one day I said you know what I’m tired of rehab and tired of all these surgeries and stuff so I picked up a guitar when I got to college and never really put it down.
Seth Lynch: I wanted to meet girls too.
99.5 The Bear: What’s some of the best life advice you have ever been given or advice about making it in the music industry?
Cruise Duke: I’d say help each other out. These bands around town that help each other out and in this business are the ones that usually make it the farthest and become the most successful; being arrogant and all that other stuff just doesn’t work in this business. For some people it does and for some people it doesn’t, but we’d much rather be that band that gets along with artist on a personal level rather than just in the music area.
Seth Lynch: I think that’s one thing that sets the Texas Country music genre apart is were so tight knit.
Kelly Tucker: Especially the Lubbock musicians.
Seth Lynch: Yeah, especially the Lubbock guys. It’s just unbelievable with Brandon Adams, No Dry County and William Clarke Green. Will was instrumental in helping us out at first and getting us known. Even beyond that we’ve had the awesome opportunity to play with a little bit bigger and more established artist like Reckless Kelly, we got to play with them in Dallas for the Super Bowl last year. It’s sort of intimidating ‘we’re playing with Reckless Kelly?’ I mean these were guys I listened to back in high school. You walk and you meet them and you find out they’re chill guys like to drink beer just like we do, you know we’re all on the same team. It’s a really cool feeling to be able to hang out with those guys on that kind of level.
99.5 The Bear: Who would you say some of your music influences are?
Cruise Duke: I’d say Reckless Kelly has a big part in it. No Justice, Cooder Graw from back in the day, Matt Martindale from Amarillo is a good friend of ours. All those guys just support us and it’s kind of cool to watch them and learn from them and not make as many mistakes as people do. It’s kind of like they’re guiding us in some way.
99.5 The Bear: Now do you feel like your sound maybe resembles any of those guys or is there anybody out there you resemble?
Cruise Duke: I’ve had people come up to me, especially John Taylor from Mount Vernon Studios, after shows I’d ask him ‘how’d it sound tonight’ and his response would be sounded like y’all, it sounded like the band. From that response I think it kinda sets us aside from any one else’s sound right now.
99.5 The Bear: If you could choose one artist or a band to play with for just one night, who would you choose?
Cruise Duke: I’d say some of these local guys. Brandon Adams, No dry County, but some of those guys from out of town No Justice.
Kelly Tucker: Turnpike Troubadours. We love those guys.
Seth Lynch: Turnpike, those guys are awesome. I wanted to throw a shout out to No Justice too. They’ve been nothing but really helpful. That’s sort of how we got a little more established. I met Steve [Rice] a little ways back through a run in with Seth Savage back in the day. I was sitting there and saw they’re schedule that they were playing in Amarillo at Midnight Rodeo then in Lubbock the next night at Wild West. Shot them an email off the hip, asked them if they wanted an opener, and he was ecstatic ‘absolutely come on out, lets do this’ and they were nothing but helpful and supportive. That sort of helped us go ‘oh we can do this’ so we began to contact more people.
99.5 The Bear: Is there a particular venue you enjoy playing most?
Cruise Duke: As for any Texas venue Blue Light’s the place to be. It’s got the best staff and best owners.
Kelly Tucker: Best sound guys
Seth Lynch: We’re not just talking Lubbock, we’re talking Texas. It is unbelievable what the Blue Light is doing. When I’m not playing here and I have the day off I’m here anyways. They bring in good music from Tuesday all the way through the weekend, and it sort of sucks cause they’re closed on Sunday’s and I don’t know what to do.
99.5 The Bear: What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen while on stage?
Cruise Duke: Bass guitar player for No Justice came in one afternoon for sound check and all he had on were a pair of jort shorts, daisy duke jean shorts I guess you would say, with a number eight Dukes of Hazard shirt.
Seth Lynch: I think he ended up going to Hooters and eating after sound check too.
Kelly Tucker: Yeah, that was kinda strange.
Seth Lynch: With musicians they’re always creative and sometimes the beers flowing, I actually fell through the stage once, not here, but I fell through the stage. It’s just a good time. For lack of a better term it’s almost like you’re partying for a living you’re just having a blast you’re out they’re doing what you wanna do.
99.5 The Bear: You all seem very passionate about it, but if you weren’t playing music what would you see yourself doing?
Cruise Duke: I’d probably be farming a ranch and building a fence right now up on my ranch. Basically just out in the heat everyday, of course this is a comparable job right now I mean you can’t get away from the heat and it’s a lot of work all the time.
Seth Lynch: That’s what a lot of people don’t understand, and I can see why. Playing in a band is hard; there’s a lot of hours. The end product, what the crowd gets to see, is probably just a sixteenth of what we actually put into it. The shows are the culmination of everything we work for, the Super Bowl from the season so to speak. When we were gonna go to the Super Bowl and do this thing we practiced for seven or eight days in a row, and this is after we all get off work so this is like eleven at night to sometimes two or three in the morning, then go back to sleep and back to work then back to practice.
Cruise Duke: Our sleeping schedules are completely messed up that’s for sure, and I gotta hand it to these guys right now I think I’m the only one without a full time job. So they’re working five days a week plus doing the music thing. They work their asses off, especially coming off the road from a long weekend and going back to your job that night.
99.5 The Bear: Lastly, how did you decide on the band name?
Cruise Duke: Well my name’s Cruise Duke and I added on the county road ends part a couple of years ago, but we’ve kinda moved away from the county road ends thing
Seth Lynch: Yeah Cruise had the county road ends part because he lived at the end of a county road, and if you think about it that way it’s a really cool name, but when we had this lineup get together we sort of decided that Cruise Duke standing alone would be more recognizable. People remember that, it’s a weird name I don’t hear the name Cruise Duke all that often.
Personally I believe these guys are destined for great things and will have many more hits to come, and if you get an opportunity to see them live I would recommend it as they put on a hell of a show.
Cruise Duke – Vocals and Acoustic
Seth Lynch – Bass
Thomas Walker – Electric (not present)
Kelly Tucker – Drums