Mix together two women, three men, an array of bold outfits and a series of infectious pop-driven tunes, and you have the stylish formula that makes up Lucius. The band found its roots in 2005 when frontwomen Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig met at Berklee School of Music, and quickly gelled as both friends and artists; after relocating to Brooklyn, the duo met multi-instrumentalists Peter Lalish, Andrew Burri & Dan Molad and formed the union we see today in Lucius.
Their 2013 debut album Wildewomen recieved waves of praise for being a fresh and interesting take on retro girl groups of the 80’s, highlighting the ladies’ ethereal voices accompanied by luscious synth pop melodies. Now Lucius presents Good Grief to us: their daring sophmore studio album containing seventeen songs, which showcase a little of everything the five-piece have to offer.
We caught up with Lucius’ drummer Dan Molad to get a bit of insight into the making of Good Grief, what musicians influenced each band member growing up, and the meaning of their latest single Something About You…
Dan Molad: We’re in New York, playing The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in a couple days… Nervous, excited and pumped. We prepare like any band, with lots of rehearsals, trying to find interesting ways of performing these songs. Since we were recording the songs without any consideration to how we were going to perform them live, we are figuring out how to make that all work and trying to incorporate interesting ways of presenting these tunes so people have a reason to experience the live show and not just listen to the record.
DC: Are there plans to take the tour further afield?
DM: Absolutely. Everytime we make anything new we are always trying to find ways to challenge ourselves so that we grow as artists and performers.
DC: Where are you most looking forward to playing?
DM: I can’t say. There are so many places (especially in Europe) that we know so little about. I would say that I am always a little more excited to play overseas because its so interesting to see the different cultural differences and how each country responds so differently to different songs.
DC: Your music and the accompanying video clips have quite a unique art pop twist on them. How do you translate this sense of performance and theatre into live shows?
DM: Well, we always try to keep things visually interesting/engaging so that the listener can be more easily brought into our world. I grew up watching MTV and a lot of times the first time I would hear of a band would be accompanied with a music video. I hope that our videos and the visual aspect of the show help more easily translate the world we are trying to create.
DC: Do you have any specific rituals you need to do before you go on stage?
DM: We have a group handshake we do before every single performance without fail! But it is private and personal and I can’t share!
DC: Lucius’ second album Good Grief was released on March 11. Can we expect this upcoming tour to mainly feature songs from this album?
DM: Yes, but we always like to throw a curveball in there like a cover or maybe a twist on a old song ;)
DC: How would you summarise the overall concept and sound of Good Grief?
DM: More intense. More cohesive. More emotional. More personal. More energy. More, more, more. As for the style, I can’t really say. I guess it’s pop music at it’s core, with a twist. I’d like to think we are doing something unique that can’t quite be categorized. I would say that the band is much more unified on this record then we were on the last.
DC: What were a few things you learnt during the making of your first album that influenced the making of Good Grief?
DM: Nothing is ever set in stone. You can remake a song a million different ways and it doesn’t mean any one way is wrong or right. I think we realized that we wanted something that felt more unified, something where the songs all tie together and I think that is definitely evident in this record. It represents a time and a place rather than a “best of” up until that moment.
DC: The album was produced by a few stellar names in the music industry, such as Shawn Everett (Weezer and Alabama Shakes) and Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Kiss and Pink Floyd). What was it like collaborating with them in the studio?
DM: Shawn is amazing. He is a very close friend and someone I have had the good fortune working with for about 5 years now. I met him while working with my old band, Elizbaeth & the Catapult and I brought him in to mix Wildewoman. I have since had him mix a handful of records I have produced and we have come to understand each other’s aesthetics quite well. Now the same can be said for him and the rest of the band. He always brings a wonderfully unique approach to making records that’s full of surprises. I hope to continue to work with him till the end of days! Bob came in early on and had some thoughts about the songs, which he shared – his resume certainly speaks for itself.
DC: Something About You is the third single to be released from this album; what inspired you to write this song?
DM: I didn’t write the song – Jess and Holly did – but I can talk about the production. This song went through more versions than any song on this record, probably 8 or 9 completely different versions of this song exist. It’s hard to believe it ended up where it did considering where it started, but in the end it feels like everyone’s voice is in there. So many very different songs were thrown into the hat for inspiration and some how they all made it in there. I think we have a spotify playlist with all the songs that influenced this one, it’s definitely all over the map!
DC: There’s a fairly surreal music video to support this song! How do the visuals tie into the lyrical content of Something About You?
DM: There is a vagueness to the lyrics where you can’t figure out if this person Jess and Holly are singing about is necessarily good or bad — whether or not the song is happy or sad. Same goes for the harmonic content of the song. It’s not really major or minor, kind of this grey area of harmony which is a little disorienting/unsettling. I think the video evokes that. I like it because you are kind of left on the edge of your seat. Sometimes we have people in our lives that make us feel good and bad all at once. A twist on a lyric and melody that on it’s own could sound like an old R&B tune, but when paired with the video and the harmony it feels like something completely different.
DC: What are some of the band’s main musical influences?
DM: Ha! Main? Too many to list. We all grew up listening to such different things! The girls grew up mostly on R&B and old soul; Pete grew up on Metallica, Black Sabbath, John Zorn and Bob Dylan; Andy grew up on gangsta rap and folk music, and I grew up on Guns & Roses, Pearl Jam and Tribe Called Quest. Oddly enough think there is a little bit of all of that on Good Grief!
DC: What do you hope Lucius achieves in 2016?
DM: I just want to be able to make art that feels true to who we are and hope that it resonates with as many people as possible. I hope that each member of the band’s voice is heard and that we each feel artistically fulfilled individually and as a unit. Jess, Holly, Pete and Andy are some of my favorite musicians on the planet and I just hope we can keep making stuff together that we are proud of.
Good Grief, the second studio album from Lucius, was released on March 11, 2016 and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. April sees the band touring throughout the UK and Europe, with full dates and locations listed on their website.