Chances are you've never heard of Lucius. Their debut album, Wildewoman, was released a little over two years ago in the latter half of 2013. In that short time, however, the group has found their own niche in the music industry, being widely lauded by critics from Rolling Stone to The New York Times, and NPR Music, performing live with rock legend Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and singing at a variety of music festivals, including Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and Newport Folk Festival. Lucius is fronted by the dynamic female duo and co-founders of the group, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, who are best known for their hyper-stylized matching outfits and flawless vocal harmonies. Multi-instrumentalists Peter Lalish and Dan Molad complete the quartet, adding infectious percussive beats and guitar riffs to the catchy melodies.
Lucius's second album, Good Grief, was released earlier this year. The band is now on the road and will play Park City Live on November 15. We caught up with Wolfe ahead of their Park City performance to chat about where the band's name came from, how they're handling their quick rise to fame, and the inspiration behind she and Laessig's matching outfits.
Park City Magazine: Is there a story behind the name of your group?
Jess Wolfe: The name Lucius actually came from my dog. He was this English bulldog with a crooked underbite and he had this jovial and goofy personality where he would get lost all the time and run into walls. We just kind of liked that juxtaposition of humor mixed with a bit of darkness and it seemed fitting for what we were trying to do.
PCM: One of the most distinctive features of your group is the matching outfits you and Holly wear when you perform. What's the reason behind that and is it something you've always done?
JW: We've always coordinated since we started singing together and a lot of it has to do us both having a very strong visual for our music and being inspired by other artists who do so as well. We wanted to create not only a musical landscape for our audiences, but a visual one has well. It's similar to when a choir dresses all in black so you can hear them as one, we're just a little bit more quirky.
PCM: With several people in the mix, how do you go about writing your songs?
JW: There's no set process or formula we have, but Holly and I are the ones who begin writing the songs. A lot of times we have separate ideas that magically happen to marry together really well, especially since we spend so much time together. Once we have a firm sense of the melody and lyrics we bring it to the guys who help give it life and create a strong palette on the arrangements. In the recording studio it's definitely a more group-oriented process, but Holly and I start it off.
PCM: You have a very distinct, stylized sound and look, particularly in your music videos, where does the inspiration come from and how do you go about achieving what you want?
JW: We're always looking for people to collaborate with, of course, but much of it comes from our own very strong visual perspectives. For our videos we've always been really lucky to find talented people to work with who can help us bring our visions to life.
PCM: Do you think it's more challenging singing as a duo or on your own?
JW: Holly and I have been singing together so long now, it's actually really strange to sing alone. Recently we were with a group of friends and we started singing some songs and I almost felt naked, in a sense, with having just my own voice instead of being kind of lost in her voice; it's a very strange thing.
PCM: The music industry isn't always the friendliest place for women. Do you think you've run into any extra challenges as women along the way?
JW: I do think that women have to work harder to get to the same place as men in almost every field, but thankfully we've had a really warm reception. People have been very friendly and we've been super lucky to have such welcoming experiences in general.
PCM: The group has come a long way in the last couple of years, do you have any favorite or crazy memories from writing music and touring so far?
JW: I think performing at Desert Trip (a music festival held over two weekends last month in California) was one of the best. Especially, being just one of a few women there with all these iconic legends was a really remarkable experience.
PCM: So you've already had the chance to work with some really famous acts, like Roger Waters from Pink Floyd. Are there any other artists you're really hoping to work with in the future?
JW: We've been very fortunate with our collaborations and there's tons of great artists we've also had to pass up on working with at the moment, but doing something with Dolly Parton or Linda Ronstadt would be a dream come true.
PCM: There's obviously been a lot of great moments in your journey the last couple of years, but what's been the most difficult part of touring and finding success?
JW: I think it would just have to be the relentlessness of it all. When you're in all of this, you don't really have a moment to catch up or reflect on what's going on. Overall, we've been really fortunate to have great people with us along the way and because of that it's been the easiest it could be considering the difficulties of life on the road.
PCM: Do you have a favorite song that you've written?
JW: So much changes over time, it's really difficult to say. There are definitely songs, even many of the older ones that I still really love singing like "Go Home" and "How Loud Your Heart Gets" from the first album. From the new album "Dusty Trails," even though it's one of the sadder, more painful songs is one of the ones I'm most proud of.
PCM: Do you enjoy performing or recording in the studio more and why?
JW: Performing live, no question. It's just amazing to connect with an audience and see how your art affects them.
PCM: Are you guys working on something new or just focusing on the tour? Do you have any ideas of where you the music will go from here?
JW: We're actually wrapping up the tour and are just beginning to write again. It's impossible to predict what the sound of a new album will be, but we're really excited about the prospect and we always want to give people something new.
You can catch Jess and the rest of Lucius on stage at Park City Live on November 15th. The group is known for putting on fantastic show and with very danceable tunes so it's one you don't want to miss. Grab your tickets for the show here.