Lucius w/ Margaret Glaspy

XL102’s Underexposed Presents

Lucius w/ Margaret Glaspy

Margaret Glaspy

Wed, June 15, 2016

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Broadberry

Richmond, VA

$17 ADV, $20 DOS

Tickets at the Door

Lucius
Lucius
What a difference three years makes. Lucius went from being the five-piece Rolling Stone claimed was the “Best Band you’ve never heard of” to the group you can’t get enough of.

Fronted by the sleek and compelling look-alike twosome of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig and backed by their counterpart bandmates Dan Molad, Pete Lalish and Andy Burri, Lucius spent more than 250 days on the road in the past year. They’ve sold out shows big and small, headlined all over the US and Europe, played slots at Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza, End of The Road, Reading and Leeds Festivals and more and shared the stage with a variety of musicians including Roger Waters, Jack White, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Sara Bareilles, The Head and the Heart, Tegan and Sara and David Byrne.

The band’s uphill ascent began when Jess and Holly crossed paths while at college in Boston; more than 10 years ago, Lucius started making music and hasn’t stopped since. Along the way they’ve become NPR darlings, grist for Britain’s prestigious Guardian and favorites of the Nobel-prize winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Since the critically acclaimed release of their 2013 debut LP Wildewoman they have built a stunningly loyal following, and share an intimate bond with their fans. It’s not uncommon to see Lucius doppelgängers in the crowd.

Sitting with Jess and Holly to discuss the band’s sonically-grand and emotionally-honest sophomore release Good Grief, the first thing that strikes you when you meet the frontwomen of Lucius is how fine-boned and delicate they both are. But even more striking is that they don’t actually look alike once you see them offstage. Their builds are markedly different: Jess is curvy, with a generous mouth and eyes that tilt up at the corners; Holly is willowy and angular, serious and with the pale complexion that conjures up the image of a Nordic princess.

But despite the six-inch disparity in their height on stage you could swear they were identical. Of course it helps that they always dress exactly alike, their hair is the same style and shade — right now a warm curry red — and they sing in a strong unison, doubling their high, clear voices and creating a third sound that is as unnerving as it is lovely, like two mirrors, creating an infinite number of reflections that reveal as much as they obscure.

“We wanted to feel like we were transforming ourselves and going into a different head space while performing,” Jess says. “In some way I think what we do is like a fantasy. We wanted to take people along with us for a ride. We wanted to present that visually so when you look at us you’re seeing what you’re hearing.”

What you’re hearing (and seeing) when Lucius takes the stage are two voices becoming one. The band’s distinctive play on duality showcases Jess and Holly’s powerful voices at the center — bolstered and surrounded by the mathematically precise drumming of Dan with the graceful, chiming guitars of Pete and Andy. Together the quintet create a sound the New Yorker calls “seemingly impossible with flawless grace that brings delicate beauty to even the most bombastic moments.”

The recordings on Lucius’ second studio album Good Grief mirror the band’s distinguishing on-stage configuration. One shared figure 8 mic serves as an anchor for conversation between the band’s lead duo, which has resulted in the 11 raw and often heart wrenching songs you hear on the album. Among these is the explosive track “Gone Insane,” which gives a direct look into one of the few arguments between Jess and Holly.

“Some songs really feel like an expulsion of emotions, beyond your control,” Holly says. “The writing of ‘Gone Insane’ was based on the feeling after one of those loose cannon type of heated fights, with helplessness and rage hitting you in alternating waves.”

“But maybe the perfect description of this song comes in the recording process,” Jess adds. “Holly and I have seen maybe three arguments in the past 12 years. But perhaps the biggest of all, came the day we were to record this song. Emotions were running high, and at some point, Holly blew up at me. In shock, I yelled back and we both stormed off.

“This was a prime example of our partnership because a short while later she returned, we apologized, hugged and immediately went to record. It was just the two of us in the dark. There was no plan for vocal arrangement, we wanted to use the intensity of the moment and go for it. The ‘falling off’ part at the end of the song was completely organic, the two of us screaming into the same mic, losing it, together, in song form, as the lyrics suggest. “
“It was definitely one of those magic studio moments you can’t quite explain,” Holly finishes.
A majority of the tracks on Good Grief fall in line with the overarching theme of discovering the goodness that can come from any hardship. The album proves to be a release for the band both physically and emotionally, after experiencing the highs and lows of being on the road for almost two years, the band moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn where the album was recorded during the spring and early summer of 2015 at Grammy-winning engineer and producer Shawn Everett’s studio.
However, a few songs including the first single “Born Again Teen” became what Holly describes as something like “the antithesis of the other things that we were working on, to give ourselves some relief.”

From the first swooping, synthy intro of “Something About You” to the alarm-clock menace of “What We Have (To Change),” there’s a sense that these expertly wrought pop songs are full of emotional depth.

They veer from sassy, soul-drenched vocals to glitzy rhythmic pop to songs that call up the charm and crushed innocence of ’60s girl groups, but in the end there is no comparison to the dark secrets Jess and Holly convey when they put their two voices together.

“There are songs here that are deeply personal and emotional, and in a way we’ve exposed ourselves to reveal parts that are fragile, maybe even a little broken, but not destroyed,” Jess says. “There’s certainly a little bit of humor, and there’s also a lot of truth and sadness.”

The lyrics of Good Grief read like personal journal entries because the friendship and writing partnership established between the band’s cofounders has given the women of Lucius an outlet to express their unusually parallel experiences.

“I always say Holly’s been the healthiest and longest relationship I’ve ever had,” Jess says.

That relationship has clearly blossomed musically into a many-faceted, enthralling sound and image sure to resonate deeply with music lovers everywhere.

March 2016 brings the release of Good Grief, the band’s highly anticipated sophomore effort.
Margaret Glaspy
Margaret Glaspy
"Emotions and Math" is not simply the name of Margaret Glaspy's new debut album. That expression drills right to the heart of the New York singer-songwriter's proper introduction, a mission statement both artistic and personal.
On its surface, the title track talks about being a touring musician and figuring out how to see your partner, looking at the calendar and calculating how you're going to spend time together. But "Emotions and Math," which ATO Records will release on June 17, also sums up an epiphany she had while making the record.
"In a lot of ways, it's kind of how I operate," says Glaspy. "I've always considered myself a free spirit, someone who goes with the flow, but actually I'm not exactly like that. This record really taught me that I'm super analytical and process-driven. I think they really do go together, emotions and math. Nobody is just one thing."
As introductions go, these 12 songs waste no time in cutting close to the bone. This is a young artist with something to say, one who has found her voice, as both singer and songwriter, after years venturing down a crooked path.
After cutting her teeth in New York and Boston, where she was a touring musician and played in other people's bands, "Emotions and Math" signals an assured new direction for Glaspy.
Glaspy, who's 27 and grew up in Red Bluff, California, self-produced the album, which frames her revealing ruminations in shards of jagged guitar rock. Building on its early buzz - Rolling Stone hailed first single "You and I" for its "hot barbs of electric guitar," and BrooklynVegan declared it a "stomping rocker with a DGAF attitude" - Glaspy prepares for a big year in 2016.
She's a fierce believer in the power of specifics to tell universal truths, to capture emotions we've all felt but don't necessarily hear reflected in pop music. Some truths are uglier than others, but Glaspy never backs down.
Take "You and I," which opens with a sentiment so gripping that Glaspy initially worried it would send the wrong message. "Tonight I'm too turned on to talk about us/ And tomorrow I'll be too turned off/ And won't give a fuck/ About you and I," she sings with a punk sneer that turns up often throughout her debut.
"A lot of the songs are so specific but also feel like they apply to so much of my life," says Glaspy. "I realize more and more on a daily basis that if you're given a microphone to share what you have to say, then I hope to God that I don't encourage some fantasy of what we're supposed to be or how we should live our lives."
Glaspy would rather tell you the truth of the matter. On "Memory Street," she envisions her past as a small town dotted with old relationships and memories both fond and painful: "Why remember all the times I took forever to forget?" She salutes her self-reliance on "Somebody to Anybody," reminding both the listener and herself that, "I don't want to be somebody to anybody// No, I'm good at no one."
The album also showcases Glaspy's finely tuned ear for production. Throughout "Emotions and Math," she keeps the recordings clean and urgent, without an ounce of fat on them. She had plenty of practice; having recorded demos of the album twice at home before eventually ironing out the wrinkles at Sear Sound studios in New York. Glaspy auditioned her players and kept the sessions brisk and loose, running through songs a few times with musicians still reading the charts she had written out. "Everyone was on their toes, waiting for the right moment," she says.
That freewheeling vibe ended up imbuing the songs with the same brittle energy and warm intimacy Glaspy brings to her live performances. In a bit of comic relief, "You Don't Want Me" is a duet with herself, an imagined conversation between an insecure woman and a man who has to reassure her. "You don't want me," Glaspy sings dismissively, countered by her own voice, slightly distorted and pitched lower: "I do/ You are on my mind/ Every night of the week/ Stop being so nave," Glaspy sings.
Told from the perspective of a parent to a child, "Parental Guidance" plumbs the fragile psyche of adolescents. "I think a lot of times kids are pigeonholed as being kids, but at the same time it's the most important years of their lives," Glaspy says. "Our view of ourselves is so paramount, and when it gets messed with at a young age, it's lethal."
The closing "Black Is Blue" is a poetic ode to accepting a reality you never knew. The least autobiographical song on the record, it's the story of a couple who were in love, had a kid, and then broke up. "But from far away, Black Is Blue' is about things you thought were one way but aren't really like that at all," Glaspy says.
"It's taken a minute," she admits, "but I'm so glad that I waited to record my debut. I went through so many different phases before I got to where I am now. It feels like it took 26 years to make this album."
Venue Information:
The Broadberry
2729 W. Broad Street
Richmond, VA, 23220
http://www.thebroadberry.com