Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Lead Vocals, Lyrics
Guitar, Keys, Vocals
Poor Old Lu
is (or was, maybe) one of the pioneer alternative Christian bands in the
Northwest. Based out of Vashon Island, Washington, they began very young
when "Alternative" Christian music was limited to Bryan Duncan and Michael
W. Smith. With a thirst for 'good music' and a 'message for anyone', they
began recording songs seriously, as a threesome without Jesse, in the Spring
of '90. Just sophomores in high school, Nick, Aaron, & Scott playing
under the name 'Bellbangvilla' threw together a 9-song first album named
'In Love with the Greenery'. Although it wasn't much to listen to, it did
catch some attention and landed them some shows around Seattle. A few months
later Jesse joined and things really started to roll.
More recordings and occasional shows kept the band in check. In the summer of '91 the band changed it's name to 'Poor Old Lu' - taken out of the first book in C. S. Lewis' 'Chronicles of Narnia' - 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'. With a couple of fresh new songs, they once again retreated into the studio (this time with drums) and recorded 'Three Song Demo'. The band was no doubt improving, but more was yet to come. After more shows and some scattered reviews, the band kept at it. Two years after the 'Greenery' sessions, Lu decided to do another full-length release. This time, however, they would do nearly all the work themselves.
Spring of '92 was a real turn-around time for everyone in the band. Nick, Aaron, & Scott were all looking to graduate in a few months. Jesse was laying low, and the band had a fresh batch of tracks to lay down on tape. After renting and/or borrowing a lot of great gear, the four ascended into a remote unused classroom in the far reaches of their church. For three days music could be heard almost constantly throughout that wing of the church. With only breaks for pizza and sleep, the band labored over eight songs - bickering and laughing the whole way through. Although Aaron had his hand on just about the whole project, everyone took a turn here and there pressing buttons and moving faders. Taking one day off, the band went back into the lion's den to mix the rough recordings together and pray that something listenable might result. With the expertise of Dan Nelson at their side, the guys mixed up eight songs and paired them with previous 'To Be Awake' & 'This Theatre' songs to make 'Star-Studded-Super-Step'. After graduation, the band played more shows to even larger audiences with great praise for being so young, so original, and with a message that gave total glory to Jesus Christ. A few months later, Randy Stonehill was given the 'Star-Studded' Demo by Aaron & Jesse's Dad, Dave Sprinkle. Randy let the demo sit around for quite sometime, but God finally gave him the urge to give it a listen - he was impressed.
through Randy Stonehill, the demo was aggressively given to music veteran, Terry Taylor. It was Terry who approached Frontline/Alarma Records with an idea to sign and produce these four young guys from Seattle. After a few months of talking, spiritual insights, and dealings, the band signed to Alarma Records. It was the summer of '93 and Poor Old Lu was looking to record an album with Derri Daugherty at the board and Terry Taylor as the brain. This would launch an entirely new era in their musical, emotional, and spiritual lives. Just to stir things up a bit more, Aaron was married that summer as well.
The next few years would prove trying and fruitful. Mindsize was released with critical praise. All of the singles hit #1 on some sort of Christian Music chart. The band played more shows, toured a bit, and dove into the realm of spiritual hardship. The guys quickly learned that being in a well known Christian Ministry was a huge responsibility - and the road ahead would not be easy.
The next summer, the band yearned for a more raw sound from the next album. Teamed up with engineer/producer John Goodmanson, 'Sin' was recorded and released with rave reviews. Not the slick sound from Mindsize, but an aggressive edge gave 'Sin' it's appeal and originality. More singles, more shows, and more touring. Things were on the up and up.
In late spring of '95, the band decided to record a very experimental EP - almost to test their fans and themselves. After about one month of off and on recording, 'Straight Six' was born to the world. With dreamy lyrics and a rough sound, this album challenged anyone who thought they had Poor Old Lu pinned to a certain sound. Hardcore fans welcomed this release with open arms while others stuck to the early stuff and what made most sense. A few months after 'Straight Six', Nick and Scott were both married to their respective belles. Now with three wives, one baby, and a strong foundation, the band faced even more challenges.
With three albums under their belt and an undecided future, the band faced many questions. Confused with the Christian Music Scene, unmet expectations, and where to go from here, Poor Old Lu struggled with choices and decisions. A not-so-successful tour in the summer of '95 dragged the band down a bit. Money was not coming in fast enough to support the new families and most of the guys had to get either full or part time jobs to keep afloat, which in turn meant less time for shows and writing. The next few months seemed to drag by...
In early spring of '96, Poor Old Lu was talking of studio work again, and maybe for the last time. With only a few songs the band entered the ever familiar surroundings of AVAST! Recording Co. and started writing and recording. Gene Eugene was flown up to mix and co-produce the album, and what came out was dark and beautiful. As diverse as anything they'd done before, 'A Picture of the Eighth Wonder' would again challenge even the most unshakable fans. Even as the album was released, the band spoke of the last remaining months as Jesse looked to getting married and moving to New York State. At the same time, other members worked at full-time jobs, full-time families, and side projects that slowly took more and more time.
In November of '96, Poor Old Lu played it's 'Farewell' concert in Wallingford, WA. As a packed house listened for the last time to some of their favorite songs, the band reminisced over lost time, difficult years, wonderful memories, and a strange and bright future. It was a memorable evening.
In the future, a glimmer of a possibility of a hope of a chance that maybe, just maybe, with God's hand of mercy, another album could be recorded and released by Poor Old Lu.
Aaron and Nick took off with Rose Blossom Punch and have had three incredible releases including an LP called "Ephemere," an EP called "Sorry To Disappoint You," and a 7" Vinyl containing the songs "Par Avion" and "Sleepily." Unfortunately, the members of Rose Blossom Punch have already gone their separate ways, splitting up even before their final CD was released independently through mp3.com.
Aaron has released two solo projects on Organic Records on which he played almost all the instruments. The first is titled "Moontraveler" and the second "The Kindest Days," and there are rumors floating around concerning the possibility of an independent EP being in the works for sale on mp3.com. Only time will tell.
Jesse's new band, The World Inside, has put out two full length albums to date. The first is a melancholy alterna-folk piece called "Roobrik" that was released on Organic Records. The second contains a more upbeat sound, originally released as an untitled 10 song demo, later released under the name "Number Two" through mp3.com, and after a couple of song changes is finally scheduled to be released on True Tunes as a split CD with 7 Head Division.
As for Poor Old Lu itself, a lot has been going on there as well. The farewell concert was indeed released on KMG under the appropriate name of "In Their Final Performance." In addition, a Poor Old Lu greatest hits CD was also released, containing songs from each of the four Alarma releases, as well as a few remixes and rarities. But this fan believes that the greatest hits are yet to come, because the Lu boys have just signed a contract to release a brand new album on Tooth & Nail Records later this year, with a few scattered shows as icing on the cake. It should definitely be a year to remember.
If you happen to hear of any exciting news before I do, please e-mail it to me so that I can look into it.