Lucius in the Wilde

Published August 13, 2013

ABOVE: LUCIUS. IMAGE COURTESY OF PETER LARSON

The ladies (and gentlemen) of Lucius are quite the cast of characters. The band, which has varied in numbers of members over the years, has finally found its happy medium with five: Jess Wolfe, Holly Laessig, Dan Molad, Peter Lalish, and Andrew Burri.

Lucius—originally started by Wolfe and Laessig—came after the duo met in college at Berklee. Together, they released a record in 2010 called Songs From The Bromley House, but the band has changed enough since then that it still feels appropriate to call Wildewoman, out October 15, its debut. Until then, Lucius will be touring throughout the U.S., stopping in Williamsburg tomorrow night.

Wildewoman is filled with bubbly indie-pop gems, fuzzy guitar riffs, and luscious lyrics. The band has found inspiration from ’60s girl groups on some tracks, but has managed to create magnetic songs and indie-rock ballads alike.

We spoke with Lucius over milkshakes in Madison Square Park about being a stylish band, its new label Mom + Pop, and musical romance.

ILANA KAPLAN: You’re a live band of five?

ANDREW BURRI: There’s actually 17 of us, so we can be in more than one place at once. That’s the whole costume.

KAPLAN: [laughs] So, you’re clones. Good to know. The matching outfits are great. Jess and Holly, did you guys always have similar haircuts?

JESS WOLFE: Well, they’ve always been similar lengths or we’ve had similar up-dos. We’ve never really cared before. We’d put a lot of hairspray in it, tease it, put a bunch of bobby pins in it, and call it a day. We’ve decided that we wanted to make our hair rockable. So, we cut it. We’ve been asked many a time if we’ve been wearing wigs.

KAPLAN: Have you ever just told people that you’re wearing a wig for the fun of it?

DAN MOLAD: No, because then they’d try to rip it off your head.

HOLLY LAESSIG: We should!

MOLAD: We should tell people a bunch of different things. We should just tell people all sorts of things. We should just say things to confuse people.

PETER LALISH: My mom says your wigs look good. She has no idea.

WOLFE: We also had matching peach hair for a while. Really, people thought we were wearing wigs. We like to keep people guessing.

KAPLAN: How did you guys meet? I know you guys all went to Berklee, but how did you guys become a band?

WOLFE: Holly and I met at school. Everybody went there, but at different times. We met in New York. Pete and Danny were in a band for five years. A completely separate band. They also met at Berklee. Holly and I were really a duo for six years with a rotating cast of characters before we decided to make that we wanted to make it a family. We birthed these little boys.

MOLAD: I was producing a record a couple of years ago with this girl who goes by the name of Annie and the Beekeepers, and Andy was playing with Annie. We got along really well in the studio. Our ideas were very much in sync, and I was like, “Want to play with Lucius?” He was like, “Yes.” That was that. The rest is history.

BURRI: I know how to make decisions when they need to be made.

KAPLAN: How has it been signing to Mom + Pop? What’s it like signing to a label after six years?

LAESSIG: It’s our only label sign.

WOLFE: There was no reason to sign before. We were developing our act, our show, and we were getting our stuff together. We never wanted to be signed. Now it makes total sense. We need a marketing team. We need a label with a team that can assist us with things. We can’t be doing all of those things ourselves, which we were doing for six or seven years. They are great. They’re really excited about the music. If you have a team that is very supportive of what you do and the decisions that you make for your art, that’s all you can really ask for.

KAPLAN: How were you guys approached about signing?

MOLAD: I think we were developing what we were doing and just really focused on getting the music to as many people as possible. Out of everyone we were talking to, they just seemed to resonate the most in every aspect. There are a lot of things that you look for when you’re giving your music to someone. There were certainly really cool people we talked to. Mom + Pop just felt artistically the most in line with the statement we were trying to make and still respected the company we kept.

KAPLAN: Awesome. You guys are obviously really influenced by the ’60s. How has that evolved into your style?

LAESSIG: Yeah. That’s an influence. We love the mod stuff. We initially wanted to match each other to visually represent the symmetry of singing. The guys, the way they’re set up on the stage, is very symmetrical. The mod scene is something we’ve always been attracted to, but it’s not something we’re tied to.

KAPLAN: Did you guys find yourselves re-branding over the past few years?

WOLFE: I think it’s only natural to imagine the visual elements of performance and show because people are so drawn to the visual. It’s almost like they need something to connect the music and aesthetic. In many ways, it’s an automatic connector to the audience. It’s an automatic uniformity that we create when we’re in our outfits. We’re automatically synced up before we even play a note.

MOLAD: I feel like I remember playing music in old bands, not in this group, and how I sort of envied the idea of getting up and going to work, putting on your suit and tie and there being this structure to your life, which you don’t really see in your artistic venture. It creates this structure like, now it’s time to play and put on a show. Now it’s time to do what we do.

BURRI: I’ve heard of these guys through my friends. The group was always two girls with beautiful voices. It’s always developing. Personally it’s fun for me. As the music is changing, to what Danny was saying, you kind of re-imagine what the live show is. It helps people re-market the music. Hopefully that elevates the experience.

WOLFE: Hopefully it’s cinematic in some way.

KAPLAN: I can’t say I’ve seen your live show, but I will next week. Is your concert with Frances Cone a one-off show?

WOLFE: Yes, it’s a one-off show. Danny actually produced her record. We thought it was a nice little fit there.

KAPLAN: Where do you guys live in Brooklyn?

WOLFE: Ditmas Park, which is Victorian Flatbush. Very musical community. The four of us live there. Andy was living there.

KAPLAN: Must be convenient for band practice. How did you guys come up with Wildewoman as your record title?

LAESSIG: [laughs] It’s one of our songs. The idea was “wild beast.” I was talking to Jessica when we lived at The Bromley House. We started talking about the song. My mom used to call me “wild beast” and “wild girl.” I liked that idea. We’re both different girls, but the same. We kind of grew up not quite fitting in with the other kids. We wanted to do our own things. Now we grew up and we’re still the same girls.

WOLFE: Now we’re like “wildewomen.” That’s kind of a cool idea. A lot of the women we surround ourselves with also share those same qualities: very free-spirited, very much feminists, strong-minded, strong-willed and strong-charactered people.

KAPLAN: I definitely can sense that throughout the record. Has inter-band romance ever gotten in the way of being in a band?

LALISH: [laughs] Danny and I have a lot of issues.

MOLAD: Do you know that we’re…

WOLFE: Married?

KAPLAN: No! Oh, cool.

WOLFE: We were together before he got involved with the band. He’s the first gentleman that got involved in the band as an official member. We also work together outside of the band. We have a recording studio. He’s a producer/engineer. We have always supported each other.

MOLAD: In every single possible way. I think it’s only natural in a band when you’re working with someone you really respect, think is talente, and you are really attracted to them—you’re going to want to be involved in every capacity. She respects that I’m an artist, I respect that she’s an artist. It’s only natural for us to do it together.  It doesn’t always work, but some people make it work for a long time.

WOLFE: [laughs] When Holly and I started the band, Holly’s ex-boyfriend was playing with us. It was also fine.

LALISH: [laughs] I’ve watched the Fleetwood Mac Behind the Music VH1 special one too many times to go there. It’s a very tricky thing. When you are a musician, you’re gone from the people you love so much, so you can’t help but look to the people around you for emotional support. It’s a natural thing that happens, but then we’ve all learned a lesson from Fleetwood Mac: that works sometimes.

LUCIUS WILL PLAY MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG WITH FRANCIS CONE TOMORROW, AUGUST 14. THE BAND’S DEBUT RECORD WILDEWOMAN COMES OUT ON OCTOBER 15.