LUCIUS - Love So Deep Tour
Visulite Theatre (16+ (Must have ID) - Under 16 with Parent Only)
Doors Open: 7:00 - Show Starts: 8:00
Tickets: $28.00 (Advance) / $28.00 (Day of Show)
ON SALE NOW!
Every Lucius song begins with what Holly Laessig calls “coffee talks,” in which she and Jess Wolfe share what’s on their minds—and in the spring of 2020, they had a lot to discuss. Since 2007, Laessig and Wolfe have written this way, learning each other’s stories by heart before weaving them into the lyrics and chord progressions of their inventive indie-pop anthems. Onstage, they’re two identically-dressed and coiffed halves of the same whole, the mirror image of each other at the microphone; off-stage, they step into their respective lives—separate, but close—as chosen family. They’ve shared countless joys as they’ve seen the world while touring behind their 2013 debut album, Wildewoman, and its follow-up, 2016’s Good Grief, but they’ve weathered profound losses and lows together, too. And when one of them experiences a seismic shift that shakes their world, the other is there to listen, and reflect, in order to help write through it.
“Holly and I are actual witnesses to each other's lives,” says Wolfe. “Not only are we able to talk about these things and offer perspective, but she has this unique view into my life, and I into hers. We have been together almost constantly for the last 16 years.”
Second Nature, Lucius’ third album, is the closest thing yet to the musical versions of these intimate conversations. “We’ve gotten so used to helping each other write about very personal things,” says Laessig. “It’s funny, because Second Nature makes perfect sense as a title: it’s become second nature to write for each other. A lot of what we wrote about on the record were things we hadn’t talked about before: there wasn’t a readiness to face some of those things.”
The period between Good Grief and Second Nature is the most transformative—and tumultuous—one Lucius has faced to date. In the fall of 2016, Laessig and Wolfe, along with their bandmates, multi-instrumentalists Peter Lalish and Dan Molad, were dangerously close to burning out after three years of relentless touring behind Wildewoman and Good Grief. On top of that, Wolfe and Molad, who had married months before Wildewoman’s release in 2013, had hit a rough patch in their relationship. It was then when Roger Waters invited Laessig and Wolfe to join him on an international tour as his supporting vocalists. The benefits were clear in that urgent moment: if they said yes, this detour would give them an opportunity to explore new sounds in a musical world outside their own. It would also give Lucius the rest it desperately needed in order to survive.
“It was time to keep Lucius intact, but step away for a minute, just to get some perspective and a breath of fresh air,” says Wolfe. “We made a deal with the guys, and let them know this was only a short-term thing—something we felt that could help the band, but also give us some new-found inspiration. That turned into three years. Roger is someone who creates every moment in his mind-blowing show to be something meaningful. To take that and be able to see our own project with new eyes – well, that’s the whole purpose of learning from the people around you, your heroes. It’s to gather all of these wisdoms and put them to use for your own art.”
Their experience with Waters surpassed their wildest dreams, but they were eager to return to Los Angeles—and to Lucius, even though they were unsure as to what, exactly, they were returning to. Molad and Wolfe separated in 2018, but they remained devoted to their creative partnership, even as their marriage dissolved and ultimately ended in divorce. In spite of what was happening at home, Lucius kept working: they recorded and released Nudes, an acoustic album that reimagined previously released material and covers, and Laessig and Wolfe continued to collaborate with the world’s favorite rock and pop stars. They remained busy, but the need to write—and to put all they’d learned, and endured, into their own music—felt stronger than ever.
“People caught wind of us as supporting vocalists, and a lot of artists started inquiring if we’d sing on their records,” says Laessig, who, alongside Wolfe, recorded with Sheryl Crow, Harry Styles, Ozzy Osborne, John Legend, The War on Drugs, and Brandi Carlile, to name a few, before the close of 2019. “It was flattering and honorable to sing with so many people we've admired, but after a while, there was an urgency to get back to focusing on the record we needed to make for ourselves. Just as we were doing that, the pandemic hit.”
Co-produced by Carlile, their longtime friend, collaborator, and champion, and Dave Cobb, whose production credits have earned handfuls of Grammys and industry-wide accolades, Second Nature is a new chapter for Lucius in more ways than one. They left Los Angeles and decamped to Nashville in March of 2020, where they crashed with Crow (and wrote their first song for the album, “The Man I’ll Never Find,” on the piano in her living room). They opened themselves up to co-writing, which they’d never done before, and incorporated voices besides their own (both Carlile and Crow contributed backing vocals). Laessig and Wolfe also met separate, but substantial, inflection points while bringing Second Nature into being. Laessig became pregnant with and welcomed her first child. Wolfe and Molad, who had not seen each other since finalizing their divorce, reunited in the studio. There, they commenced with their new normal as bandmates, and proceeded to navigate these songs that were directly inspired by what they’d just lived through.
When the time came to tap into these painful conclusions and hopeful new beginnings, Laessig and Wolfe found themselves gravitating less toward the folkier inclinations of Wildewoman or the experimental urges of Good Grief to express themselves, and more towards the four-on-the-floor inclinations of dance-pop. Carlile encouraged them to push their immense vocal power to its max in order to create “grandiose” moments: “She’d say, ‘You’ve got this in you, you can push this further, let’s go for it, let’s make a thing out of this moment.’ That happened all over the record,” Laessig remembers. Cobb, mostly known for his exceptional work across country and folk, eagerly embraced the chance to direct them to the dance floor.
“Dave at one point said, ‘I wanna make a disco record!’” Laessig recalls. “The fact that was coming from him, it wasn’t something you expected, and it was exciting because it was like “Oh, we’re all gonna do this thing that we’ve never done. That sounds really enticing and fresh.’ After being in lockdown for so long, it felt like we wanted to dance. I don’t think anyone wanted to mope around too much at the end of this.’”
Second Nature fuses funk and disco (which pulses through the title track and “Next to Normal”) with ‘80s new wave (“Heartbursts;” “LSD”) and millennial club catharsis (“Dance Around It”); it draws a throughline from Abba’s unabashed dance floor devotion to Kate Bush’s cerebral art-pop and the vibrant vulnerability of Robyn, all without sacrificing an ounce of Lucius’ own style and ingenuity. And though many of the melodies are synth-laden and steeped in endorphins, the lyrics are very much anchored in the uncertainty, fear, and difficult epiphanies Laessig and Wolfe faced as they wrote through their experiences—direct lines of dialogue seemingly pulled from their coffee talks. “Promises” pairs a sunny acoustic guitar line and sing-along chorus with the play-by-play of a break-up (“Promises, empty like the bed you sleep in/Broken like the spell you’re keepin’”), while “The Man I’ll Never Find” stuns with its poignant apologies (“I thought that it would be you/I wanted it to be you/And I’m sorry I was always looking for the man that I’ll never find”) as much as it does its grand, symphonic arrangement. When Molad first heard the latter, so clearly inspired by the heartbreak they shared, he told Wolfe it was the best song they’d ever written.
Many of the truths of Second Nature are hard to confront, but Lucius learned that there’s so much more to gain from facing the impossible than shying away from it—especially when you’ve got someone standing by your side through it all.
“It is a record that begs you not to sit in the difficult moments, but to dance through them,” says Wolfe. “It touches upon all these stages of grief, and some of that is breakthrough. Being able to have the full spectrum of the experience that we have had, or that I’ve had in my divorce, or that we had in lockdown, having our careers come to a halt, so to speak—I think you can really hear and feel the spectrum of emotion, and hopefully find the joy in the darkness. It does exist. That’s why we made Second Nature and why we wanted it to sound the way it did: our focus was on dancing our way through the darkness.”
Start Time: 8:00
About Danielle Ponder & Some of Us Are Brave
Bravery can take many forms. For Danielle Ponder it took the shape of a leap of faith: leaving her successful day job working in the public defender’s office in her hometown of Rochester to devote herself full-time to sharing her powerful voice with the world.
The singer-songwriter’s mesmerizing eight song debut Some of Us Are Brave reinforces that her faith was not misplaced, and her leap has been rewarded with a safe landing.
Written and recorded over three years, the album is a refreshingly original, shiver-inducing mix of pop, R&B, blues, rock, and moody trip-hop topped by Ponder’s celestial voice— an instrument that can plumb melancholy depths with a heartsick murmur and scrape the sky with hurricane force wails.
The sixth of seven children, Ponder had always been musical but chose to pursue a career in law after her brother received a 20-year sentence due to a “three strikes” law. But even as she became a tireless advocate for justice in her community—first as a public defender and later as a diversity, equity, and inclusion officer in that same office—the music was never far from her heart as she played in bands and wrote songs, first between classes, then between cases.
“I loved being a public defender, I loved standing next to my clients and advocating for them,” says Ponder. “But it came to the point where I had to choose.” And so, she leapt.
Was your family musical growing up?
Yes, my dad is a pastor, and he plays piano and sings. I didn’t really sing in church, I spent most of my time sleeping on the back pew. But, we had a raggedy yellow piano on our porch, and I loved playing that piano! I didn't see music as a career until much later, but it’s always been something that's made me feel good.
Who were some of your influences?
We couldn't listen to secular music so, I was listening to a lot of gospel early on, like Shirley Caesar, John P. Kee, the Blind Boys of Alabama — a mix of old and new school stuff.
I really think that not being allowed to listen to pop music is a little bit of where my songwriting came from, I would pretend to know secular music. In school I would say to my friends, "Did y'all hear that new Mariah Carey song?" And then I would just make up words to the little bits and pieces I heard. [Laughs]
As I got older, my father became less restrictive about the music we could listen to. So, In my teenage years I purchased music through the Columbia House record club. You could order 10 CDs for like .99 cents and next thing you know you owe them a million dollars. [Laughs] I got Pearl Jam, Alanis Morissette, Lauryn Hill, The Roots. I fell in love with alternative rock and hip-hop
However, the blues is where I really developed a desire to sing. Listening to Big Mama Thornton and Koko Taylor, I wanted to know how to do that.
What was the catalyst for finally pursuing music full time?
We formed a family band when I was 16 and when I would come back from college breaks, I would play with them. I was in a band in law school too and part of me knew that I loved being on stage. But I always had this fear of being a starving artist. I grew up with a father whose income wasn’t always stable so, I wanted a solid job.
But through law school and even practicing, I would still play. I can’t believe how much I was doing. I would do a small tour in Europe, come back, and on Monday I'd be in court like nothing happened. But it just got to the point where I was like, "Man, I can't do both.” And the choice could never be giving up music, I am absolutely in love with the stage. I knew it was time to completely surrender. This is what I need to be doing."
How did you begin to take the next step?
In 2018 when I initially left the public defender's office, my focus was on writing a new album. I’d been writing songs with my friend and keyboardist Avis Reese and working with a local producer Dave Drago, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted my sound to be. Even though I had been performing and writing for so long, I still had these insecurities. I felt that my voice sounded like an old lady, and the production I was interested in was modern. I felt to fit the vibe I had to sound “cuter.” [Laughs]
I was hitting a brick wall, Dave told me, "You have it within you. I think you know the songs you want to write. Take this keyboard and go home and figure your shit out." And so, I did! I tried to get out of my head about what the sound should be and just write. I would call Avis over and she is great at helping me get the songs to the finish line.
For the most part these songs lived in my laptop. In February 2021 Chris Douridas, who is now my manager, called me and asked that I send him the music I was working on. I was hesitant to send him what I felt was just my bootleg attempt at producing, but he loved the songs! Chris brought in my co-manager Tom Windish — an agent who has worked with artists like Billie Eilish and Lorde— and since then my life has not been the same. We met with a lot of labels and signed with Future Classic.
The album has such a gauzy, enveloping vibe musically. Where did the idea to marry so many sounds come from?
This is a vibe I really resonate with. I think my sound is just an intersection of all the sounds I grew up with. I love the heavy beats of East coast ‘90s hip-hop. I love the moodiness of the blues, and the guitar sounds of alternative rock. My influences range from Portishead to Aretha Franklin. And I think somewhere I realized that I didn’t have to choose a sound.
“Biggie” will probably resonate with a lot of people as you sing a lover’s lament about a one-sided relationship as one person is the giver of unconditional love and the other purely a taker. Where did that song come from?
I wrote these lyrics so long ago, when I was in a situation that was so stupid. One of the ones where the man is with somebody else. And it's funny, I tell the story at our shows, and people look at me sideways. And I'm like, "Well listen, people having affairs out here. So, one of y'all in this room going to have one." [Laughs] But this was years ago, in my mid-20s and that line, “a broken heart is the only way out,” was just true. I knew that was how it was going to end. It's not going to end with him getting rid of his girlfriend. It's going to end with me crying. That’s definitely not a present-day situation. But I've had a lot of those moments in my love life where I was just chasing the wrong thing.
On the other hand, “So Long” is this powerful anthem of resilience, you are simply immovable.
I wrote “So Long” when I was recording in LA. For the first time in my creative space there were multiple people and many opinions, which is how it works. I have the greatest team. I really love working with them, but I was just finding myself lost in “What do I want?” I wrote the song I needed for the moment, the song that I needed to get through the situation, which was like, “You know what? I don't know who these motherfuckers are. I know who I am, and I'm going to write my songs the way I want to write them. I’m going to sing them the way that I want to.” It wasn’t because people were saying “You can’t do this.” It’s because I was letting myself get confused by all the suggestions and worried that people would be disappointed in me. I wrote it for my inner voice to tell myself “You got this, don’t be afraid!”
Then “Fray” has this bone deep sense of exhaustion and raw nerves that will likely feel familiar to everyone given what’s been happening the last few years.
“Fray” is probably my most personal song on the album. I have been reflecting a lot on my struggle to receive love and where that resistance comes from. When being loved doesn’t come easy, there is a sense of always being on the edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop. To me writing “Fray” was a step toward healing that part of myself.
Where did the title track come from?
I read a book in law school All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: But Some of Us Are Brave. I first fell in love with the title, I immediately felt seen. The book is essentially one of the first to address intersectionality. Often when we talk about feminism, we forget the issues that uniquely impact Black women and the same when we speak about race. The book is a collection of Black women writers pushing against invisibility, speaking loud and clear and telling our unique story. To me, this song was just a moment to pause and pay homage to Black women. The album is named that because that's where I get my biggest inspirations My biggest cheerleaders are my sisters, my mother, Black women. And I think bravery is what I’ve needed to become a full-time artist.
Given your background as an attorney and advocate some might expect that your songs would concern themselves with social issues but Some of Us Are Brave really delves into romantic and emotional spaces.
Sometimes it is in my music, like the song “Darker Than Blue.” But I don’t feel a burden to write conscious music. I am passionate about my activist work and work around criminal justice reform and I have many ways to express that. I was going through a lot of personal shit these past couple of years, lots of introspection and trying to understand my heart and find my footing in relationships. I write the songs I need to survive the situations I am in, and these are those songs. There was a time in my life I wouldn't write about relationships because I felt it wasn't righteous enough to be talking about, "You broke up with someone? Who cares, girl? People are in jail, write about that." But Nina Simone is one of my favorite artists, and she's really given me the permission to write whatever I feel. She said, “Don't put nothing in it unless you feel it." So, she sang about heartache, but then she would also record a song like Randy Newman’s “Baltimore.” This is where I am right now.
What do you hope people take away from Some of Us Are Brave?
I want people to take away whatever they need at the moment. I think these songs can mean a million different things to a million different people. But I hope there are songs that make them feel encouraged, songs that make them feel brave, songs that help them feel seen and even songs that they can just cry to. That’s what this album has been for me, a collection of sounds and a collection of feelings, but all me.