Tag Archives: Jess Wolfe
Tags: Andrew Burri, Central Park, Dan Molad, Good Grief, Holly Laessig, Jackson Browne, Jess Wolfe, Live Music, Lucius, Music, New York City, Nick Delisi, Peter Lalish, Photos, SummerStage
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Lucius return to New York City to play SummerStage in Central Park on Friday night, and Holly Laessig, one half of the band’s lead-vocals tandem, rang up The House List, from Oklahoma where she and Jess Wolfe were rehearsing for singing background for Roger Waters at Desert Trip, to answer Five Questions.
Plenty of musicians change their sound from album to album. Was that a clear intention in moving from the folkier Wildewoman to the poppier Good Grief? Or was that just how your sound evolved? It’s funny. People comment on how different the two are. But Wildewoman was recorded over a few years, and we were in no rush at the beginning because we didn’t have anything to be rushing for—we were just starting out. And we took our time and made it right. We came out with Wildewoman and we had kind of put the band together throughout and after making that record. So when we toured on it, things started to change, and the sound started to change. And the show got a lot more energetic, and the audience was reacting a lot more to the show than the record. People commented a lot how the live show and the record sounded so different, and that the live shows were so much more energetic. I think by the time we got to the end of that cycle, it was where Good Grief was picking up naturally, but from just listening from a record standpoint, there does seem to be a bigger difference than it felt like.
How was recording Good Grief different than recording Wildewoman? We took a different approach to it. We got off the road—we had been touring for, like, a year-and-a-half straight. And we were exhausted, and we decided to go to L.A. to kind of decompress and start writing. So Jess and I took a few months to write, just the two of us. And we would send the guys rough demos and then they would do their own versions of the same song—and kind of build arrangements around them. So when we went into the studio, we had at least two versions of everything. And we worked with Shawn Everett—he did the Alabama Shakes record with Blake Mills—he’s like this crazy alien angel person [laughing]. He’s one of our really closest friends, and he’s always got these wild ideas. So we were really excited to get into the studio with him. He had an idea to make communication easier with five very strong personalities in the studio. To kind of smooth things over and to get everyone’s voice heard, he thought it would be helpful to come up with a bunch of reference tracks: “For each track that we’re gonna work on, think of a song that you think could influence this.” So it could be “I like the sound of the tone on this Rolling Stones track.” Or “I like the way these vocals were recorded on this West African tune.” And we would all pick one or two songs and put ’em in a box, and he would pick them out one by one—it was all anonymous. And we would listen to everything, like 10 to 15 songs, and write down on a dry erase board everything we like about each one. It could be very specific, as far as a recording technique, or it could be more vague, like a feeling. And once we had this dry erase board of notes, we would then start working on the song. So it was a really interesting way of going about it, and I think we got a lot of good stuff we would’ve normally not even considered.
How did your appearance on Roadies come about? And any chance you’ll be adding “Willin’” to your set list? I mean, I don’t think we could top singing that with Jackson Browne, so probably not. Fair. Rafe Spall, who is one of the actors on Roadies—so the story goes: Rafe’s friend Rafe, which is hilarious to me. The first Rafe I ever met, and I met two of them in one day. His friend recommended our music to him, and he was playing it one day on set. And Cameron was like, “Who’s this?” And Rafe said, “This band Lucius.” And he said, “Well, let’s get ’em in here. See if they want to do an episode.” So we met him, and he’s the nicest guy ever. And we said, “Yeah, absolutely, we’d love to do this.” It was a really cool experience. It was really inspiring to see Cameron Crowe as a director and a leader. Everybody who was there, from the actors to the makeup people to the crew people to catering—everybody—was like, “Yeah, we work really hard, sometimes we work late hours, but we’re happy to do it because Cameron’s the man.” And he really was. We had some lines, and I was incredibly nervous about it because it’s not what we do normally. So there was this one line, and I was like, “This isn’t how I’d normally phrase this.” And I was trying to get my head inside it so I could say it the right way. And I asked him, and he said, “Let’s go over it.” And he dropped everything and took me aside, and he would’ve gone over this, like, one line with me for as long as I wanted—very, very patient. It was great, and we got to sing with Jackson Browne, and Jim James was on the set. It was cool.
For some bands, live shows are like a theater piece in that the set doesn’t change much, but the performers are aware of the subtle nuances each night. And for others, every night’s show is different than the one before. Where do you land on that spectrum? Like as far as each night being different? Yeah, I mean, a band like U2, they play pretty much the same set most nights, but it’s not the same show obviously. But someone like Bruce Springsteen or Pearl Jam, they change their set every night. I guess for each leg of a tour, we tend to stick generally to the same set. Some songs we change a little bit, but it’s nice once you get into a groove to stick with it, the transitions go more easily. But every show’s different regardless, especially because of the audience—not to put it all on the audience—but the vibe and the venue and the city, everything can really make a break a show for the performer. If your audience is really giving back to you, and you’re bouncing off of that, sometimes we have funny banter or things can change, or we’ll decide let’s do this song instead because they’re liking the up-tempo ones. So occasionally, it’s just, like, fly by the seat of your pants. But it’s definitely nice to get into a groove.
What new music have you been listening to? We’ve been listening to the new Angel Olsen record a lot. It only came out a couple weeks ago, I think. We’re excited to be playing with Big Thief in Central Park. And I’m stoked to see them ’cause I love that record. I love Alabama Shakes. We went to see that show at the Greek, and it was so good. That’s a good one to groove to, for sure. Was that with Kurt Vile? Yeah, and I love that record too. And Kurt Vile’s on the bill for One Big Holiday in February. Oh, yeah. That’s gonna be so fun! —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog
Tags: Angel Olsen, Big Thief, Blake Mills, Bruce Springsteen, Cameron Crowe, Central Park, Desert Trip, Five Questions, Jackson Browne, Jess Wolfe, Jim James, Kurt Vile, Lucius, My Morning Jacket, One Big Holiday, Pearl Jam, Preview, Rafe Spall, Roadies, Roger Waters, Rolling Stones, Shawn Everett, SummerStage, U2
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With the recent release earlier this month of the acclaimed full-length Good Grief, Lucius return home to Brooklyn to play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday night. The show sold out very quickly, but The House List is giving away two tickets to see the Brooklyn five-piece. Don’t have any of your own but still want to go? No worries. Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Lucius, 3/31) and a brief message explaining who you think will win the NCAA men’s championship. Eddie Bruiser, who’s got some money on the line, will notify the winner by Thursday. Good luck.
Tags: Andrew Burri, Brooklyn, Contest, Dan Molad, Eddie Bruiser, Free Tickets, Good Grief, Grow a Pair, Holly Laessig, Jess Wolfe, Live Music, Lucius, Music, Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York City, Peter Lalish
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Shortly after becoming one of the founding members of Weezer, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matt Sharp formed another alternative-rock band, the Rentals, in 1994. Over the years, the lineup around him has changed, but Sharp remains the guiding force. Following the release of their second album, Seven More Minutes (stream it below), in 1999, the Rentals (above, in their video for “1000 Seasons”) went on a six-year hiatus. Afterward, Sharp and Co. put out several EPs, but last year—alongside Patrick Carney (drums), Lauren Chipman (viola), Holly Laessig (vocals), Ryen Slegr (guitar), Jess Wolfe (vocals)—the Rentals put out their third full-length album, Lost in Alphaville (stream it below). According to Paste magazine, the LP “retains that fuzzed-out exuberance characteristic to the golden era of indie rock, but little else. Most of its surface springs with major keys, up-tempos and earworms, with warm boy-girl harmonies cooing and coiling together over smiling pianos and power chords, but underneath smolders some ponderous rumblings of distortion and caustic ambient noises from that cathartically raked-over synthesizer, helmed by our auteur, Sharp, who’s at his most contemplative, and, at times, abstract, in lyrical fare here. It’s far from the slapped-together shambolic style of ’90s power-pop; no, this sounds much more arranged, almost like tightened chamber pop if it were clouded by the murk of shoegaze.” Earlier this month, the Rentals hit the road in support of the new album, and you can see them tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Rey Pila and Radiation City open the show.
Tags: Holly Laessig, Jess Wolfe, Lauren Chipman, Live Music, Lost in Alphaville, Matt Sharp, Music, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Patrick Carney, Preview, Radiation City, Rentals, Return of the Rentals, Rey Pila, Ryen Slegr, Seven More Minutes, Video, Weezer
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Lucius – The Bowery Ballroom – December 7, 2013
Having met while majoring in voice at Berklee College of Music, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig seemed destined to join forces, thanks to their complementary wall-of-sound voices and a similar unabashed sense of fashion. So it was no surprise that they became bandmates, along with drummer Dan Molad and guitarists Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri, in the Brooklyn outfit Lucius. “Their charisma and charm helps turn good pop songwriting into an endearing performance,” extolled NPR’s Bob Boilen.
That praise wasn’t in question on Saturday night, the first of two sold-out Bowery Ballroom shows over the weekend. After opening with an interlude of the Beatles’ “Free as a Bird,” the five-piece continued to enthrall fans with “Don’t Just Sit There,” the singers in matching dresses and sporting asymmetrical bobs. Large black-and-white silhouettes facing each other in a perfect yin and yang served as an appropriate backdrop. Treating longtime admirers to “Geneieve,” off their self-titled EP, the vocalists howled, “All you had to do was shut your mouth, GENEIEVE!” And Laessig exclaimed how happy Lucius were to return home to close out their 2013 tour.
The tenor thuds were in full force for “Tempest,” followed by “Monsters” with Jeff Taylor accompanying on whistling duties. The crowd really got into “Until We Get There,” clapping along to the rhythm. But the meat of set came toward the latter half, as Lucius doled out the percussion-heavy tUnE-yArDs-sounding “Nothing Ordinary,” fan-favorite “Go Home” and their full-length album’s title track, “Wildewoman.” However, Saturday’s show was not to end so quickly as Lucius promptly returned for an encore of “Turn It Around” and “Two of Us on the Run” before joining the audience on the floor for a seasonal surprise, an acoustic rendition of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” with fans hovering around them as if encircling a campfire. One couldn’t think of a more fitting ending. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Andrew Burri, Beatles, Berklee College of Music, Bob Boilen, Dan Molad, Holly Laessig, Jeff Taylor, Jess Wolfe, John Lennon, Lucius, Peter Lalish, Tune-Yards
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