For those of you who aren’t familiar with the name Lucius, we promise that after this you’ll be thanking us for bestowing their authentic musical genius upon you. This is one group that you definitely will not be forgetting in a hurry.
Two phenomenally talented ladies from Brooklyn, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig front this quintet. We caught up with Jesse ahead of their headlining gig at the The Workmans Club, Dublin, this Saturday night to chat about the group’s distinctive image, not doing things “by the book”, the European crowd and of course that amazing Rolling Stones review.
After meeting at Music College, Holly and Jesse became inseparable, and so too did their soaring vocal harmonies. The rest of the band pieced together sometime later with three gentlemen joining forces.
“Holly and I were singing together for six years and we started writing music that had more depth, and we looking for more percussive elements. Danny is an engineer and a producer, he had just parted way with a band that he was playing with for many years and so it was just an ideal time for us to make music together.
“We asked him to record some of our songs, not knowing what it was going to be, it was like throwing spaghetti at the wall, we were open minded.”
One year later, the three quickly became a five-piece after meeting Peter Lalish and Andy Burri through other music productions and at that the band was complete.
When it comes to the songwriting, the ladies had it covered.
“Holly and I wrote the songs and we were just looking to work on arrangements and work on the recording. We were always very open to seeing where the songs were going to go and experimenting in the studio.”
The girls first connection came via their mutual musical influences, which then transcended through to their image and stage persona.
“We both grew up listening to old school soul music like Otis Redding, and 60s rock n’ roll like the Beatles and The Monkeys. We’re very much on the same page about influences and together we both formed our love for bands that had very strong visual elements to their projects.”
A work ethic that runs throughout the group is that everything is “about the whole show”, which is something Jesse promises will come to fruition at The Workmans gig on Saturday.
“We’re just trying to transport ourselves and therefore transport the audience and if we can take people into our sphere for a minute in an all encompassing journey, visual and aural, then it makes it a more and more thrilling experience.”
If their impressive percussive post-punk musical power wasn’t enough, Jesse and Holly are very much in-sync when it comes to fashion.
“Because our sound is about the two of us singing as one together it kind of paints a picture easily that way because of all the symmetry. It’s easy to have that visual element to represent and dress the sound.”
Lucius released their debut album, Wildewoman, at the end of March – a record that has been in the works for quite sometime.
With a title that referenced a nickname given to Holly by her mother as a young girl, Wildewoman carries a message of strength, defiance and independence.
“Pave your own path, do your thing and don’t be concerned about what other people think about.”
“For a long time being unique and weird is not cool, especially as a young girl, and it is about getting to that moment knowing that those things are positive,” Jesse added.
Jesse’s favourite lyric that she and Holly ever penned together is taken from the song that’s shares its name with the album.
“’We’ll only be bound by the things we choose’. It’s not necessarily my favourite line but it represents the record as a whole.”
‘Turn It Around’, the latest track from album Wildewoman. We challenge you not to hit the replay button.
The five have just embarked on their European tour and according to Jesse we are a hospitable bunch – we’ll not argue with that.
“We’ve only toured in Europe once before and it was an amazing experience. The treatment and respect we received was unparalleled. That feeling that you’re welcome somewhere leaves it that you can rest so much easier. We’re very excited to get back there.”
A standout moment for the band came just last year in a small Cathedral in Texas.
“Luckily we’ve had a few highlights. Last year in Texas we played at the Cathedral and you could hear a pin drop. There must have been about 600 people there and it was just silent and it was so incredible. I don’t even remember specific moments in the show, I just remember looking at my band mates after and thinking what a tremendous experience this was. We were lost in that moment.”
We’re not the only people fawning over Lucius. The band received an exceptionally warm welcome from legendary US television host, Conan O’Brien, and the Rolling Stones magazine have labeled them ‘the best band you may not have heard of yet’. How excited did that make Jesse?
“The 14-year-old in me is screaming like a little teenager. It’s very exciting. I never expected those things it’s very heartwarming. Holly and I having been working on this for a very long time and finally feel we’re in a place that is ours and there is this momentum building that I can’t really describe and for the reassurance from other people from fans and the press, is just a very positive feeling.”
An incredible acoustic set for NPR Tiny Desk Concerts.
So what does the future hold for Lucius? Although the band have been together for quite some time the process continues to unfold in directions the group were not expecting.
“We did everything sort of backwards in this record. The band was formed after the album was actually recorded and then we had to go back and rerecord. There was so many things done not by the book and because of that we are excited to see how the process continues unfolding.
“We’re just excited that we get to do it all over again.”
We will admit, pigeonholing this group into a musical genre is difficult. With elements of folk, soul, punk and even country, we left it up to Jesse to do it for us.
“I have a really hard time with that because I feel like we take from so many different influences and we nod our head towards the past but we’re looking forward to the future. There are so many influences involved. We never think that ‘this is the type of music that we’re making’, we just make music that makes us happy and hope that it inspires other.”
When asked to sum up the band in three words Jesse chooses, “spirited, soulful and honest.” We couldn’t have put it any better ourselves.