Rod Lacy knows how to spin a yarn, and like any born storyteller, he knows what's important about his own story.
Lacy has four kids. He's been married nine years. He worked as a refrigeration mechanic, a trade he first picked up in the Navy, for 10 years. Those are the vital stats on a longtime musician who decided to give the music thing a go about a year ago with his down and dirty alt.country band, The Old Main.
He'd wake up in the morning, aching and hurting. He'd work all day until 6 or 7 p.m. "I’d get to the practice space dog-ass tired and try to pump out some good music with all my emotion, my whole mind." Before he knew what happened, he turned 30. "All of a sudden, I'm like, "Oh crap. I didn't do anything. I didn't make it. I'm not making music for a living." So he quit his job. Just like that. For the second time.
The first time Lacy quit his job, years before his motivation took hold, he didn't show up one day to fix refrigerators and, instead, moved to Ruidoso with his family. This was 2004. He also quit his band, Weldon, and left without telling anyone where he was going. He wasn't trying to make music. He just wanted to hide.
And then ... "I bought a keyboard for 90 bucks at Wal-Mart," he says. "I went there for sundries, diapers for the kids. I was living in this little cabin." Lacy's a huge Tori Amos fan and found the keyboard cured his writer's block in ways a guitar couldn't. "I'm probably the only person in the world that chews Copenhagen and listens to Tori Amos," he laughs.
He got snowed in that cabin one weekend with that keyboard. His family was visiting his in-laws down the mountain and couldn't come home. So he wrote a few songs. Then a few more. Before he knew it, Lacy had an album—one he wrote, recorded and played all the instruments on himself.
Lacy moved back home. He hooked up with Zoltan Szekely, formerly of Rakes of Mallow, and Mojo Atzberger of Atomic Love Medicine. And he got a job at the Metropolitan Detention Center fixing the jail's kitchen equipment, which spurred the idea for his band's name. The Old Main is a building at the New Mexico State Penitentiary where the riots took place in 1980. He talked to plenty of down-and-out inmates while he worked at the jail. "Hearing all these stories and seeing all these people—those guys ain't shy to tell you about what they did. It reminded me a lot of my own stories, how close I've always been to getting into real deep shit."
The son of a coal miner, Lacy's trying to prove to his dad that he can feed his family with music, that he can make a living with The Old Main accompanied, for now, by some light refrigeration repair work on the side.
Lacy's never been an in-it-to-win-it kind of competitor, but now he has to be. "All I need to do is get some recognition for being a songwriter, being a performer. Because if I didn't, my entire life would just be worthless."