‘Two Jimmies,” says Holly Laessig with a laugh. She and Jess Wolfe have settled on the same drink, the Jimmy El Camino, after deciding together which flavor combinations sounded most appetizing on the General Greene’s drink menu. “[It’s] a spicy, sweet mixture,” explains Wolfe.
See also: It Takes A Lot To Get Lucius Down
As co-frontwomen of the Brooklyn-based quintet Lucius, Laessig and Wolfe have crafted their signature sound out of doing things in unison. When performing onstage, the two wear matching, mod-inspired outfits while intertwining their belting, booming voices along to their band’s folky lyrics and pop-minded musicality. “People would comment so much on the two of us being one voice,” says Wolfe. “We really wanted to enhance that and do something to visually represent that.”
The incarnation of Lucius we see today, which is as pristinely and professionally packaged as an emerging band can get, has taken several years and interesting phases to get to. “It’s seen many lives. It’s like a cat,” jokes Wolfe, who cringes alongside Laessig as they remember “the Portishead, jazz phase of Lucius” and folkier, more stripped-down versions of their former selves. “Every phase that we’ve had has been an important one because we take the best of those things and continue moving on and incorporating it,” says Laessig.
Laessig and Wolfe met in 2003 at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. For them, crossing paths was more destiny than luck. “We both came from places where we didn’t feel like we were really part of a community,” says California native Wolfe. “When we found each other, there was such a sense of peace and happiness.”
“We were not the cool girls in school,” says Laessig of her experience growing up in her native Ohio. Both women say they wanted to carve out a community for themselves, and once they encountered one another and the rest of a strong group of girlfriends they cultivated during their time in Boston, they were able to do so together.
Wildewoman, the band’s debut album, is the most direct descendant of the social network the two wove together from college onward. The album’s title and title track felt like a natural fit for music created by two women heavily affected by the strength of other female figures in their lives. “We both were acknowledging the fact that we surrounded ourselves with women that were individuals and that were goofy and wild-spirited,” says Wolfe. The word “wildewoman” came most directly from Laessig’s nickname “wildegirl,” bestowed on her by her mom.
The album’s title track begins the record with a message of empowerment. For Lucius, “Wildewoman” is their opening statement as a band. Before the current and most permanent lineup—which includes Dan Molad, Peter Lalish, and Andrew Burri—Laessig and Wolfe had released a folkier set of recordings featuring just the two of them. Though still around on Pandora, the band made a conscious decision to make it unavailable as they prepare to reintroduce themselves, this time more fully formed. “I think it’s important that people understand who you are,” explains Wolfe. “That’s important to us.”
What Lucius is now came after the ladies made the move from Boston to New York in 2007. By that time, they had one NYC show at the Bitter End under their matching belts and were frequenting the Open Mic nights on Tuesdays at the now-closed Bar4, not too far from their place in Windsor Terrace. Inspired by the city’s burgeoning songwriting scene, Lucius took cues from influences like Little Dragon as they began growing, writing, and working on their sound.
They moved to Ditmas Park and, with seven other musician friends, rented one of the large Victorian homes that Brooklyn neighborhood is known for. As it turns out, their new abode had a rich history: It had been a music school and recording studio for nearly 70 years. Wildewoman was largely fleshed out in the home, and the album was, in part, recorded there.
“We don’t pigeonhole ourselves,” says Laessig about the group’s varied and always-changing sound. As Wolfe sees it, both it and their look “can be sweet, then super sassy.”
They sip their spicy, sweet Jimmies, and the omnipresent oneness continues.
Wildewoman will be released October 15 via Mom+Pop.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 9, 2013