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Sometimes the best ideas are unplanned. Lucius is one of those ideas.
Best friends and lead singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe have been working together under the name “Lucius” for about seven years. But it wasn’t until they were recording Lucius, their first EP, with some friends did they truly become a band.
“We just brought in friends of ours, people we respected, and as we were recording there was musical chemistry.”
Unplanned, based on the natural chemistry they found within one another, these different musicians who were recording to help out their friends suddenly became a band. They became Lucius.
A blending of differing hometowns and musical influences enlighten a unique sound from Lucius. Although the bandmates, Danny Molad, Peter Lalsih, Andy Burri, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig are from all over the country, they found themselves united in New York City. Their music — two drums, two keyboards, guitar, and hauntingly intertwining vocals — reflects the variety of where “home” is within the band.
Upon looking for a new home, Holly and Jess stumbled upon an old Victorian mansion. Similar to the untapped chemistry Lucius found in the recording studio, this old home held unexpected wonders. When Holly and Jess walked inside, they not only found bedrooms and a kitchen, but also 80-year-old instruments and a rich musical history.
“We discovered that the house was a music school and recording studio for something like 80 years,” Holly explained.
Much like how the vocals in Lucius often seem to be two voices working as one, Jess continued by saying, “It was like some sort of cosmic intervention.”
One of the most exciting aspects of this discovery was a 1920s grand piano that was left behind, almost as a cosmic gift. Given all of the musical history radiating from the walls of their new home, Holly said that, “It was a very natural and nurturing place to start writing.”
The new tenants and old instruments married one another into a new sound.
“A 2012 Yamaha piano is going to give you a different tone than a 1921 grand Steinway. It will give you a different type of palate,” Holly said. By embracing this palate and tone, Lucius was able to create a new sound of their own. Not quite rock, not quite soul, but a beautiful blend that is effortlessly united by the lead singers.
Being best friends allows Lucius to function on a closer level than many other bands. Holly explained that, “Having experiences as friends, and sometimes finishing each other’s sentences, has made for a very seamless and natural songwriting process.” Instead of each band member bringing in different experiences and expressing it as a group, Holly and Jess are able to work off of the same moments and similar feelings. This togetherness tightens the group and makes their music have a stronger emotional pull than most other new bands.
While their music reflects their intelligence and maturity, the bandmates of Lucius still know how to have fun on the road. They are currently on their first large scale tour as band, which means hours of sitting in their 12 person van.
“We are the king and queens of inventing ridiculous games,” Jess admitted. Some of these games include Catchphrase, a non-strip version of Padiddle and musical games. “We listen to a lot of different records. When we change the record we have to sound exactly like what’s on the record as quickly as possible.”
Not only do they imitate vocals, but the band also challenges them together on the van. Often times they will listen to a song backwards, and then recreate and record it as it sounds backwards. Once this step is done, they take the backwards version they recorded and play that backwards. That way playing the version they recorded backwards sounds like the original forward version, or so they hope. Jess explained that the challenge within this game is “to see how accurate we can get it.”
Although this exercise may seem silly and fun, it is a testament to Lucius’ talents. Their games show their dedication to exploring new ways of creating music in the studio and on stage. While discussing these quirky experiments, Jess said, “We are such open-minded people when it comes to the recording process... Anything could happen.”
In the recording studio Lucius explores new musical sounds, but the stage allows them to explore visual aspects of performance.
“Musically, there is a lot of symmetry,” Holly explained, “and we like to explore that visually for the live show. We face each other on the keyboards and the guys are drumming on either side of us.”
Symmetry is found in their stance and also in their outfits. Holly and Jess wear matching, retro and vintage inspired outfits at all of their concerts. One of the distinctive sounds of Lucius is Holly and Jess’ ability to be two voices and sound like one. “We really wanted to play off of that visually,” Jess said. “What sets bands apart is the experience you get when you’re seeing them live. It’s an extension of the symmetry, of the two voices as one visually and audibly.”
Lucius is excited to be touring, finishing their first album, and becoming involved in the visual proponents of making music, such as creating music videos. Though Holly said it, Jess and the rest of the band mates fully agree, “We’re excited to continue making videos and adding things to the vault that we share with the world.”
Lucius will perform with JD McPherson Saturday at Radio Radio.