Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Current Release: Wildewoman (out 10/15 via Mom + Pop)
Members Jess Wolfe, Holly Laessig, Dan Molad, Peter Lalish, Andrew Burri
For Fans of: Feist, Dirty Projectors
It’s tough to say what makes Brooklyn-based Lucius stick out. Their delicate blend of intoxicating harmonies and fierce lyrics is only magnified by the entire band’s chemistry on stage—a display that employs collaborative percussion, eye-catching stage props and a symbiosis of themselves and their audience, turning any venue into its own ‘60s-rooted power-pop experience. Vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig may look like sisters, and clearly their friendship predates any musical collaboration.
“We sort of connected on our similar musical upbringing,” Wolfe says. “Which was ‘60s rock-n-roll and old-school soul music: you know, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder.”
A fitting match-up in more than just influences, Wolfe and Laessig command audiences at every show with twin outfits, often coordinating with the rest of the band and tailoring the atmosphere to reflect the energy of their performance.
“It’s basically a visual representation of the music,” Wolfe says. “We’re two voices singing as one, the band is this sort of machine where every part is integral to the next. Each part works off of the next part in order to make the music that we make. And I think that it has that same sort of symmetry, that same sort of visual. When you’re looking at the stage there’s this uniformity.”
The band doesn’t even have a traditional drum kit; they split the parts between four people, using them the same unity and off-handed charm on-stage that they have with each other on the road. It’s not just Wolfe and Laessig, after all—the band also includes Dan Molad, Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri.
“I can pretty much guarantee that anyone who comes on the road with us is wildly entertained. Or freaked out. Either one,” said Wolfe. “We play pranks on each other, we make up games in the car. I mean Holly got a call this morning and realized her ringer had been changed to fart sounds.”
Their goofy demeanor in person only makes the their forceful lyrics feel all the more relatable.
“I feel like a lot of songs that maybe seem like super powerful and feminist songs are us giving ourselves a pep talk,” says Wolfe. “Figuring out a problem and then writing it down and being able to see it and then share it. I mean we’re lucky that we’re able to sort of complete each other’s sentences, and we’ve had very many parallel experiences and are able to relate to each other in the writing process.”
That’s not to say that the undertones of female empowerment are unintentional. Their forthcoming full-length, Wildewoman, embodies that same pep talk mentality in everything from the lyrics to the cover art, a painting by Evelyne Axell.
“She was really at the forefront of the pop-art scene in Belgium,” Wolfe says. “She was obviously a feminist, and it was really important that that aesthetic and that feeling was sort of projected in the artwork. It might be bold for some people, but that was the point.”
This deliberate boldness reveals itself in each track, whether it’s sonically powerful like “Turn It Around” or lyrically dauntless like “Go Home,” each track seems to have a different way of revealing Lucius’ strengths.
“There’s no real formula for all the songs, each song has had its own unique inception,” says Laessig. Wildewoman in title alone reveals much of what the music has been about from the beginning.
“Holly and I grew up sort of feeling outcasted and feeling like we were different than other people and didn’t really know how to vocalize that, how to feel comfortable,” Wolfe says. “When we met, it was the first time we actually felt that we were in a place that we felt comfortable with ourselves, that we could really figure it out. And we just wanted to honor that sort of free-spirited, awkward, uncomfortable aspect of youth and growing up and being a woman.”
In continually switching up their set to fit the atmosphere, which has ranged from tiny clubs to rustic cabins to big festivals like Bonnaroo and Solid Sound, Lucius has found a consistency in their breezy vocals and powerhouse percussion. Beyond the strong songwriting, the band operates like a well-oiled machine, with each part integral to the next. The support within the group mirrors that of their community of artists and fellow musicians in Brooklyn.
“It’s so important, as an upcoming band especially, to have people that understand where you’re coming from and how hard you have to work,” Wolfe says. “It takes a lot just to get just a little bit of recognition. If you don’t have that support, if you’re not supporting your fellow musicians, what’s the point, really? You have to be inspired and you have to inspire.”
And when it comes to inspiring, Lucius is just getting started. With many tour dates ahead of them this fall and their debut full-length Wildewoman set for release in October, the band’s commanding presence is only bound to reach more ears as they continue to produce meaningful, infectious songs.
“I think we are very much talking to ourselves,” says Wolfe. “And if that helps other people well then, you know, mission accomplished.”