FOLLOWING the release of Brooklyn indie-rockers Lucius’ latest album Good Grief, the band are out on a UK tour taking in Bristol’s Thekla on tonight. Lucius are lead by co-founders and vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig accompanied by multi-instrumentalists Andrew Burri, Peter Lalish and Dan Molad. Wolfe and Laessig met in 2005 while attending Berklee College of Music.
Since forming, Lucius has toured extensively, playing headline shows worldwide, as well as major festival appearances including Reading and Leeds, Bonnaroo, End Of the Road, Lollapalooza, Pukklepop and Rock En Seine. Andy Howells recently put questions to Peter from the band.
How did the band form and get signed?
The band was, for a long time, in an ever evolving state with a fairly large rotating cast of characters.
It started a long time ago when the girls first met each other at school – there was a version of Lucius with many jazz musicians, a version with a lot of acoustic instruments, a version with a mandolin player – eventually the girls met Danny who engineered and produced the first EP and much of the Wildewoman record. The girls had been finding their voice together over the years but it was really around that formative time with Danny that the experimental sonic landscape was starting to really broaden with Danny’s guidance.
Not long after that I joined the band and then Andy.
It really felt like it was a unit then, not just the girls with a bunch of rotating members – every person had found a special place in the band to show their strengths and all of those could come together as one and the girls could channel that energy and project their voices through it.
We had already been touring for a good couple of years with our EP and feeling very proud of the album as well as feeling more and more confident about playing live shows. It was sort of a natural progression of finding the right members of this family to work along side us IE. our managers and booking agent and many others. It took a while to decide on the right label but it was pretty apparent when Mom & Pop, Dine Alone and PIAS approached us that these were the labels that we wanted to be associated and working together with.
Who or what has inspired you most on your musical journey?
Wow that’s a big question. We feel very fortunate to have been starting to work on this music at a time when we were living in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn where it just seemed like around every turn was just another incredibly inspiring and loving musical soul. We feel so lucky to have been in Ditmas Park and to call all of those great humans our musical peers – Lapland, Pavo Pavo, The Spring Standards, Frank Locrasto, Clara Nova, Frances Cone, San Fermin, the list goes on and on.
I think once we started touring that playing to a gracious and welcoming crowd of people every night began to fuel this bands fire, more than we could have imagined. We are always amazed when we show up to a town we’ve never been to and there are people there that know our songs – what could be better than that? The reaction from the audiences is feels so ernest that it really keeps us inspired to be a band - beyond that it really gives us a reason to be a band - writing and recording music is wonderful and we feel so lucky to be able to call this our “job”. But really, it’s playing live shows is the bread and butter of this band and the audiences are what keep us feeling inspired and fulfilled night after night.
Can you give us some background about your new album?
It came after two years of straight touring. We had been away from our home for so long that I think many of us forgot what it felt like to come home to your own bed. In fact some of us are still doing that – the lifestyle of touring had taken over our lives. I think we missed our community and saw that many people had moved on to new cities and when we got back home it felt very different.
We decided to record with our good friend Shawn Everett on the West Coast at his studio in downtown LA. By the time we got there and really started exploring what the new songs would sound like - we realized how much growing and discovery we had all done over the past two years of touring.
We finally had a moment to stop and reflect on that. I guess when you look at many bands second record the themes usually relate to those subjects. There wasn’t really any point in avoiding what we were all feeling.
Longing for a home, missing our friends and dealing with many of the personal hardships that being away from those things for a long time bring.
Are you enjoying touring?
Heck yes! Every time someone comes up to us after a concert to share how much it meant to them or how far they traveled to get there it means so much., because it’s the same on the from our perspective – We love playing for other humans, having a chance to bring this music to life onstage, but it would feel lifeless to play to an empty room, so give us a venue, some beers and a handful of supportive (or even non-supportive strangers) and we are like pigs in slop, HAPPY CAMPERS. The only downside of touring is giving up on ever getting a good night's sleep again. But it’s worth it, sleep is over rated – being a walking zombie is the way to go.
What can people expect from your Bristol gig?
Some loud songs, some quiet songs, maybe a costume change here or there. Mostly just a lot of fun.
What are you enjoying listening to at the moment?
Right at this very moment I’m listening to a record that I’ve fallen deeply in love with by Robert Stillman called Rainbows. It’s so beautiful and has a touching, heartbreaking story behind it but it is also incredibly uplifting – so so pretty.
- A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment section The Guide on April 8, 2016.
- For more on Lucius visit their official website.