Lazer/Wulf deliver technical metal with teeth
By Tim Anderl
Tipped off to Atlanta/Athens, Ga. trio Lazer/Wulf’s metal chops and technical prowess by Kylesa vocalist/guitarist Phillip Cope, who has been working behind the boards with the band on their forthcoming full-length, the experimental, genre-defying group immediately captured my attention with their virtuosity and spitfire approach. This approach is set to pay off in spades when Lazer/Wulf deliver their noisy, bound-to-be-devastating, full-length debut, which is planned for global release in the spring of 2014.
Dayton City Paper had the pleasure of discussing all things Wulf with guitarist/vocalist Bryan Aiken before the band heads out on tour with Orange Goblin. He discussed road testing their material, the writing and recording process behind their as-of-yet untitled record, manifesting one’s ideas in musical catharsis and proving themselves.
As of late, you’ve been working on your debut full-length with Phillip Cope. What has he been able to lend to the endeavor that has helped to shape the sound of the record?
We’ve always recorded independently, with friends who are experimenting with the sound of our albums as much as we are, but Cope and the entire staff at Jam Room knew exactly what we didn’t know we really wanted, things we couldn’t express. We finished almost an hour of arguably theatrical music in less than 10 days, which could have been a nightmare, including a double-drum song we had to pull off live. But they’ve seen it all. Nothing surprised them or threw them off their game and their support was inspiring. -Bryan Aiken
When did you begin writing for the record?
A lot of it came in short, furious bursts in the last year, so we could have enough time to revise each piece while it’s fresh. Instrumental music is such a balancing act, because with each song we’re trying to communicate a distinct thought or image as wordlessly as we can, while also trying to keep them relatable, interesting as a whole and worth revisiting. The album is in three distinct phases, so we would hastily mold some third of it, then shape it properly after playing it live a few times. The only way to really know a song – its pacing and clarity of purpose – is to play it live and note the crowd reaction. Like a sweaty, volatile focus group. -BA
Is there a concept behind it that ties the record together?
The album is about choice; choosing to change your life, however drastically, if you’re not happy and the realization that even those choices don’t have to be final. You can always go back, choose again. It’s about opposite paths, so the album plays out symmetrically. Some songs refer to or oppose others; some are the same song that we learned to play backwards, but you’d never know. Then there’s the centerpiece of where you stand in the middle. It feels like twin albums that hate each other, but couldn’t exist without their counterpoint. It was just a lot of fun to write and put together, having an outline of what we wanted. Without a clear goal, I feel like our music would just spiral off into nonsense. -BA
When can we expect the record to hit the streets and what label will be releasing it?
We haven’t gotten there just yet. For now, we’re biding the time that being an underground band affords us, building awareness through touring and supporting our most recent EP and multi-media project, There Was A Hole Here. It’s Gone Now. Before we decide on a label, we want to prove ourselves and earn our way. -BA
There’s a level of virtuosity to each of your playing styles. Do you spend a lot of time practicing or running scales? Is it physically challenging to play a Lazer/Wulf show?
Sean and I are self-taught on our instruments, so I’m sure our form is terrible, but we’ve all studied theory in some capacity. It’s important to know the rules worth breaking, so you can do it smartly. Brad actually has a degree in jazz drumming, and joined our band to branch into metal, rather than out, and that’s an important distinction – L/W tends to experiment towards metal from other places, rather than being a metal band that sometimes jumps ship. For me, some songs are hard to play physically for what I’m forced to revisit emotionally; there are some songs I can’t bring myself to play with my eyes open. I wouldn’t have written them if they didn’t mean lot to me, if I didn’t need to say something, and that cycle of catharsis manifests itself through fits of violence onstage, every single time, and it can be scary for me – sometimes bloody. -BA
You’ve got at least one celebrity fan in Brian Posehn. Did you have the opportunity to meet him at the L/W show he attended?
We played his after-party in Athens, Ga. following a set he did there. He had no obligation to show up, much less to stay late enough to see our full set. Plus, he had a long drive to catch a flight mere hours after we finished, and he still came, stayed and tweeted his praise after the show. He’s a true music lover and we’re so lucky to have met him. -BA
Lazer/Wulf will perform Friday, Oct. 25 at Rockstar Pro Arena, 1100 E. Third St. Also on the bill are Orange Goblin, Holy Grail, Neon Warship and Frank Grimes. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 for all ages. For more information, please visit lazerwulf.com.