By Stephanie Fang
The only part of music-making that Lucius enjoys more than producing new records is connecting with the audiences that follow them, an experience that the Brooklyn band eagerly anticipates before each show they perform.
On tour to promote their forthcoming debut record Wildewoman, out Oct. 15 via Mom + Pop Records, Lucius feels that the most invigorating prospect about this series of shows is connecting with a new audience each night — especially those who attend shows in smaller towns.
“That’s what excites us: playing for people who are music listeners and music lovers who go out and support large music,” singer Jess Wolfe enthused in an interview with Frequency. “I think that’s really the best thing.”
Lucius formed after Wolfe and Holly Laessig — who share the spotlight as frontwomen and the band’s primary songwriters — met during their time at the Berklee College of Music. Like a storyline ripped from the pages of a indie-pop fairytale, Wolfe and Laessig began to jam together after they discovered an extensive collection of mutually-beloved musical inspirations.
After forming their “automatic kinship” over a shared love of artists like David Bowie, Sam Cook and Little Richard, the then college-aged Wolfe and Laessig decided to collaborate on a Beatles-inspired project. They re-arranged and planned to re-record all the tracks on the Beatles’ White Album but only managed to get through “Happiness is a Warm Gun” before calling it quits and choosing to write their own music.
The rest is history.
Now, 11 years after they first met (at arguably the most fortuitous college house party they ever attended) and nine years after they began to play together, Wolfe and Laessig are gearing to release Lucius’ first album..
The creative process took a total of three years to complete as the friends and band-mates grappled to find a definitive sound.
“We were looking to explore our sound further in the studio — trying to experiment and throw spaghetti at the walls and see what stuck,” Wolfe said. “We had no true intention. We had no refined goal in mind. It was just to play with sound.”
However, the two were in no hurry to finish the record — believing instead that the quality of their music trumped all else.
“We’ve never tried to rush anything,” she commented. “We’ve never tried to put the cart before the horse. [We wanted to] nurture the craft and write beautiful songs and when they were ready, make sure they were documented in some way.”
Wolfe and Laessig wrote many of the songs for Wildewoman while living in Flatbush’s Ditmas Park neighborhood in Brooklyn in what they called the Brahman House, an old, Victorian-style home they chanced upon while browsing Craigslist.
As their work on the forthcoming record progressed, Wolfe and Lasseig began to meet and recruit new band-members, adding Danny Molad, Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri to the line-up.
Wolfe remarked that the rest of the band, which she referred to as one “[complete] family” has become integral to the sound that she and Laessig have cultivated.
These days, Wolfe and Laessig have moved past their early affinity for soul music and glam rock, and the tracks on Wildewoman reflect the band’s light-hearted, doe-eyed and bushy-tailed flirtation with twee-pop and art-house rock styling.
The sweet, vibrant vocals create a sound similar to Zooey Deschanel’s bubble-gum-and-rainbows crooning for She & Him. However, each song’s content and electronically charged buzz makes the record reminiscent of Grimes’ Visions (2012) — appropriate given that the Canadian artist is one with whom Wolfe is “particularly in love right at the moment.”
Consequently, Wildewoman possesses more of a girl-power quality — though underneath all the layers of edginess is a certain self-consciousness that pulses poignantly on each track.
This is perhaps because Wolfe and Laessig wrote their songs while focusing on similar experiences of loneliness they’d faced in the past.
It was also this similarity in these struggles that Wolfe and Laessig encountered that added not only to the cohesiveness of their friendship but also to the songs that each wrote for Wildewoman.
“I think we both grew up very lonely and that’s something that has connected our songwriting,” Wolfe noted. “Even though we come from very different backgrounds, we’ve had so many parallels in our life challenges and our relationships. So, we’ve had an easy time sort of speaking for one another and relating to one another because of that.”
However, Wolfe is reluctant to pigeonhole Lucius’ sound into any particular category of music due to the band’s “neverending,” constantly changing stream of musical influences and favorites.
“We’re all so strongly influenced by so many different genres and different bands. It would be hard to discount anyone,” she cautioned. “The list is really endless, and I think you hear so many different influences in the music that it’s really just not one or two.”
Wolfe did mention that she thought the record was “bold” and “melodic” and that it possessed “a strong element of preciousness.”
These qualities, she claimed, make it nearly impossible to place Wildewoman or Lucius into a specific genre, despite critics’ mischaracterization of their music as “indie rock.”
With the weariness of an artist who likely must repeat this opinion more often than she’d like, Wolfe added, “I think everything is everything these days and to say indie rock is, in my personal opinion, a waste of words because you could say anything is indie rock.”