By Al Kaufman
For all intents and purposes, let’s begin by assuming that Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig are sisters, twin sisters even. So while they are not related and met while majoring in voice at the Berklee College of Music, they dress alike, look alike (when they wear the same wigs and make-up), and sing in such glorious harmonies that that kind of connection must have been conceived in the womb.
Alas, Wolfe and Stone are simply the two sirens fronting Brooklyn’s five-piece Lucius. After their infectious, self-titled EP in 2012, lots was expected of the band for their first full-length. They deliver on Wildewoman. Yes, like current flavor of the month, The Neighbourhood, they can do the Phil Spector Wall of Sound girl group thing. And, with their indie and electronic leanings, they can pop your ears right off (“Hey Doreen”), but they can also get swampy and bluesy (“Go Home”), soulful (“Turn It Around”), and sometimes just downright weird in an Amanda Palmer kind of way, such as on the Vaudevillian-style, just in time for Halloween, “Monsters.” And while it sounds like they sing from the same voice, they also write from the same pen. Their songs of subtle self-reflection and feminism are sharp, witty, and insightful.
Although their debut EP was expectedly sparse, they rev up the production on Wildewoman, bringing a richer, deeper sound to their songs that they convey during their mesmerizing, sometimes off the wall, live shows.
Jess Wolfe took some time to answer a few questions about the band before their show tomorrow night at The Earl.
The two of you write songs together and seem to be in total sync while writing. Is it like this in other facets of your life as well?
When you’ve been with someone as long as we’ve been together, and you’re connected musically the way that we are, it’s only natural for other facets of your lives to synch up. We’ve been lucky enough to know each other so well and to empathize with one another so that our writing sometimes can feel like we’re speaking on behalf of the other. We fill in each other’s blanks.
How did the two of you learn you had this gift for songwriting?
We were always drawn to strong and quirky songwriters, strong melodies, simple yet bold words… Roy Orbison, David Bowie, Harry Nilsson. We started experimenting with writing together 8-and-a-half years ago. We never forced it, but just kept working towards developing a sound and a spirit together. It’s come a long way.
There’s a lot of hype and press for Wildewoman. Does that add to the pressure of the release?
No. Hype is hype. We just want people to come to the shows, experience that live spirit. We are in our true element when we can connect to a crowd, so long as they are willing and open. We’re confident that we can build a relationship with our fans that way, and hype isn’t involved.
You recently recorded two hymns for NPR’s Radiolab. How did that come about and how did you like it?
We played Solid Sound Festival this summer and Radiolab was there doing a live show. It was magic. We’re huge fans of the show and its producers (Jad, Robert, Pat Walters, Andy Mills) — constantly listening from the road. They first featured our song “How Loud Your Heart Gets” for their promo short and then asked us to re-imagine some hymns. It was an honor and a ton of fun.
It’s a great album cover. Where did the design come from?
Thanks so much! The artist is Evelyne Axell. She was a Belgian pop artist. She has an exhibit with Warhol right now at the Barbican in London. We just thought it was bold, feministic, wild and joyful, and that it represented the music that way.
Lucius plays The Earl with Hey Marseilles on Saturday, October 19th.