INTERVIEW: Holly Laessig of LUCIUS talks about “Good Grief”, the band’s song-writing process, and performing in Louisville!

Brooklyn-based indie pop band Lucius are set to perform at Louisville’s Waterfront Park this week as part of WFPK’s Waterfront Wednesday series.  They are currently on tour promoting their new record Good Grief, an album that I am currently infatuated with.  Singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe are the driving force behind each dance-tactic song with their beautiful, larger than life vocals and crafty pop sensibilities.  Watch the music video the band made for their song “Born Again Teen” below:



To get you properly hyped on seeing Lucius this Wednesday, I reached out to Holly to see if she’d be willing to answer a few questions; thankfully, she kindly responded. Read on as we talk about Good Grief, the band’s song-writing process, and more…

Never Nervous: If someone asked me what Lucius sounds like, I’d tell him/her that your band is a vocally driven vehicle that combines modern indie pop elements with a twinge of 80’s pop.  How would you explain your sound to someone that hasn’t heard you?

Holly Laessig: We usually don’t, we just play the music and let them decide for themselves. It’s coming from so many different influences and places its hard to say one way or another. In a very concrete sense, you can say it has strong soulful vocal melodies over engaging, percussive, arrangements.

NN: How did you approach your new record Good Grief differently than you did with Wildewoman?

HL: Being our second record, we only had one previous to compare it with, and to compare would be unfair. The first time around we didn’t even know we were making a record at first, so there was less pressure for time and for perfection. To attain perfection is impossible of course! But for the second record we placed a lot more intention and deliberation in a much smaller time period. We wanted to stretch ourselves and delve deep with this material and are quite proud of the outcome.

“For the second record (Good Grief) we placed a lot more intention and deliberation in a much smaller time period.”

NN: As a band that features two lead singers, how exactly does the song-writing process work? Are the two of you the main proponents behind the music or does everyone get involved?

HL: We start with the two of us (Holly & Jess) writing the melody and lyric, basic song structure. One will bring material to the session and the other will fill in the blanks, or we’ll both start from scratch; it really depends on the song and circumstance. Once a basic form is in place, we bring in the guys, and full arrangements ensue. From that point on we have quite a bit of fun collaborating as a group.

NN: I’m fascinated with band names, and how the people in each collective come up with them.  Is there a unique origin story behind “Lucius”?

HL: It was Jess’ former bulldog’s name! After a list of 200 something names, we settled on that one for the fact that it was pleasing sonically, and he was so ugly that he was kinda cute. It was the perfect juxtaposition.

“Lucius was Jess’ former bulldog’s name! After a list of 200 something names, we settled on that one for the fact that it was pleasing sonically, and he was so ugly that he was kinda cute.”

NN: I’m not much of a fashion aficionado, but it’s hard for me not to notice your unique, ever-changing style.  Is there a direct inspiration behind the way you present yourself on stage?

HL: The two girls are drawn to a very similar aesthetic, that is to say vintage; mod; futuristic; science fiction inspired. But I’d say there is an equal amount of intention as freedom; it allows us to pursue something that is deliberate, but with the ability to grow and move forward.

NN: Having performed in Louisville in recent years, is there anything in particular about our city that you find endearing?

HL: I’d say the way it feels like a hometown, when it’s not any of ours, is pretty great. The people have a way of making us feel so welcome every time.

NN: In a perfect world, every show at every venue in every city would go off without a hitch.  Having said that, I’m sure there have been times for you where everything seemed to go wrong.  Do you have an interesting story about a show gone wrong?

HL: As I write this, I am lying on a bed in a hotel room in Lisbon, Portugal. We just played our first show/festival here, and it definitely came with a hitch (is that how you’d say it?). We already have an unconventional setup, so some confusion is expected; but when the soundguy thought Jess’s name was Danny after 30 minutes of line check we knew we were gonna be playing out on a limb. Luckily, although the limb had a lot of feedback, it didn’t break, and we made it through.

NN: What is your favorite record of 2016 thus far?

HL: Big Thief – Masterpiece… I also love Mitski – Puberty 2.

NN: Outside of music, what has inspired you in the last month or so?

HL: Going back home to Ohio. Sometimes remembering who you are and where you came from is the best way forward.

“Sometimes remembering who you are and where you came from is the best way forward.”

NN: Before you go, give the people in Louisville one good reason to go see you perform at Waterfront Park this Wednesday.

HL: We headbang so hard you may just get to see our wigs fall off..