Revisited: Ben Nichols (Lucero) Talks with Jeff Nichols on the Talkhouse Podcast

There's a Cormac McCarthy-sized scoop in this brother-on-brother talk

On this week’s episode we’ve got two guests who might know each other better than any two prior guests of this podcast ever have: brothers Ben Nichols and Jeff Nichols.

Ben Nichols is the singer, guitarist, and chief lyricist for the long-running Memphis band Lucero, and when I say long-running, I mean it: Assuming you’re listening to this podcast the day we release it, the band played its first show exactly 25 years ago today, on April 13 of 1998. In that time, they’ve released an even dozen albums, making the journey from punk-influenced country—or maybe that’s country-influenced punk—to soul to straight-up rock and roll. I’ve always felt like Lucero was the Southern version of The Hold Steady, purveyors of great story-songs and always an incredibly good time live. The newest Lucero album came out in February, and it’s a very intentional back-to-basics rock record called Should’ve Learned By Now<. Check out “Macon If We Make It” from that record.

Ben’s younger brother Jeff followed a similar independently creative path, but down a different road: He’s a successful—and incredible—film director whose credits include Mud starring Matthew McConaughey, a drama about the real life battle over interracial marriage called Loving, and my personal favorite, Take Shelter, in which Nichols’ frequent collaborator Michael Shannon plays a family man who may or may not be coming unglued. Each is very different from the next, and each is excellent. Jeff Nichols next film is called The Bikeriders, and it will star Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, and Jodi Comer, among others. It’s very loosely based on a book of the same name that Jeff was introduced to by Ben. As you’ll hear in this conversation, it’s not the only time the two have influenced each other. They talk about how Lucero songs have found their way into Jeff’s movies, about how the brothers came upon the same exact story in different ways, and about Jeff’s potential future as the man who may attempt the impossible: adapting some of Cormac McCarthy’s more complicated books, including Blood Meridian, for the big screen. Enjoy.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Ben Nichols and Jeff Nichols for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all the great written stuff we’ve got at This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

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