INTERVIEW: LULS - KEEPING ANTHEMIC BRITISH ROCK ALIVE
'At first, I hated having to do it. Now I really quite enjoy it.' Shaun isn’t referring to slowly acquiring a taste for coffee or beer. He’s talking about singing in the band LULS, a guitar-based trio out of London. And though they may be refining their “musical pallet,” their sound is quickly adaptable as one of the better acts of this year. Recently, he took some time to properly introduced us to LULS, explain a little behind the writing process, let out some unexpected influences and define the rather hilarious meaning to their name.
The Peel: First off, really appreciate you taking some time to chat.
LULS: Yeah, really pleased to be doing it. It’s our first interview.
The Peel: Well, we’re honored for that! Can you introduce the band and let us know how you got started?
LULS: Sure. Myself (guitar/vocals), Adam (bass/vocals) and Ben (drums) are based in London where me and Adam started writing together late last year. We all met through friends, and Ben joined us at the start of the year. It’s interesting because our musical tastes are really split, we are all into pretty alternative, slightly odd stuff but also spend a lot of time listening to over-the-top, mainstream pop. As much as I love TV On The Radio, I also love the instant gratification you get from, I don’t know, Katy Perry.
The Peel: I think that type of pop can translate into great influences, like the epic chorus on 'Young.'
LULS: It makes for a healthy mix. I've definitely been through phases of just listening to Sunn O))), Om, The Mars Volta and shunning anything that didn't have an extended jam section or was in 7/5. I still love that stuff but I also love choruses and just general catchiness. Hopefully we have a strong enough internal filter to know the good from the bad/cheesy parts of any influence. So when I listen to Niki Minaj or Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I can enjoy both.
The Peel: It’s safe to say 'Young' nails that balance. It starts with this nice, eccentric prelude that mixes with this incredibly catchy chorus. A crescendo with a great pay off.
LULS: Thanks man. I'm glad you like it. It’s funny to talk with someone about the track who I've never met.
The Peel: Have you guys been out on the road yet or played many shows?
LULS: The first show we ever played as LULS was earlier this month. I think we'd done four shows prior to that under various names, but that was a couple of months ago. But yeah, we start playing at the end of the month, and have a tour with Spector (Facebook) in late October. It'll be a lot of fun, it’s a good lineup and they are great lads.
The Peel: They’ve got a nice remix of Florence’s 'No Lights, No Lights,' right?
LULS: Yeah that’s them, very talented.
The Peel: I’m sure there will be tons of new material at the shows, like the upcoming single 'Swing Low.' How do you feel about the new track?
LULS: Well 'Swing Low' shows a slightly different side of the band. 'Young' has a lot of peaks, it builds, it climaxes. 'Swing Low' just slams in from the start. I guess it’s a bit heavier and isn't very delicate. It’s got this big, slow beat and with the bass, we wanted to do something you'd nod your head to.
The Peel: And there’s a video of it coming soon, with the very talented Ferry Gouw. How’d that come about?
LULS: Ferry used to make these really great flyers for this weekly club night and I just remember seeing them and being amazed that he could keep coming up with new ones week after week. It was around this time I used to go see his band, Semi-Finalists, play. We ended up meeting when an old band of mine played some shows with them. Then once I saw the video he did for 'Hold the Line', with the Major Lazer G.I. Joes, it was clear to me he was a genius. When it came time to do a video for 'Swing Low' he was top of my list. He’s a great guy, with really creative ideas and that's exactly what you want when working on something like that. It was a total pleasure.
The Peel: Very cool. And how about your writing process musically, a pleasure as well?
LULS: Typically I'll come in with some sort of terrible nu-metal-esque guitar that we'll then play around with, kind of creating new sections as we go. Then usually by the time we've got enough sections to make the song, the initial idea has been scrapped. We roughly record it into our computer where Adam and myself spend ages fiddling with it, coming up with vocal parts and just generally chopping the track up until it’s unrecognizable. Once we are bored and have started to hate it, we usually have a song.
The Peel: Creation through destruction.
LULS: I guess the only rule is we always make the music, all of it, before the vocals.
The Peel: That’s set in stone?
LULS: Primarily, we aren't singers. Actually it’s more than that. We aren’t singers [laughs]. So that’s the part we feel least comfortable with. We actually spent months looking for a singer, but in the end just had to step up and do it ourselves, as we couldn't find anyone suitable. So yeah, that bit makes us a little nervous.
The Peel: You have me, and I’m sure many, fooled. But vocals can be the most vulnerable instrument in music.
LULS: At first, I hated having to do it. Now I really quite enjoy it.
The Peel: Trust me, it’s going well. How is it bringing your voice/music to the stage?
LULS: It’s going quite well, though it hasn’t been a seamless process. I guess the real challenge is making it sound like the recordings with just the three of us. It’s hard to take that into account when writing. So there might be a load of harmonies or a tricky guitar part you have to sing over, and the only real option is to just learn how to do it. As I mentioned, aside from some backing vocals, none of us have really sung in bands before so it’s a challenge combining that with playing/hopping on pedals/not looking like your brain is about to melt.
God I use the word 'really' a lot.
The Peel: Really?
LULS: [laughs] Yes…really.
LULS: It’s great, though London can be quite segregated. I think it’s an interesting time here in terms of guitar music. There has been a bit of a lull (pun intended) in people interested in indie/guitar-based bands over the last few years. It's meant that bands have had to get more creative and just generally be better. Bands like Alt-J are a really good example of that. If asked to classify them I don’t really know what I'd say…I guess indie? But the idea of what indie is in my mind verses the sound of most bands coming up are two very different things. I love that classic indie sound but if I want that, I'm going to go to the source: The Smiths, REM, ect. I don't need or really want to hear a band just regurgitating their favorite artists from yester year. It’s refreshing to see new bands embracing elements more often associated with other genres.
The Peel: Indeed it is. Well, before we part, I feel obliged to ask what the name LULS means.
LULS: We didn't really over think it, just thought the word 'lull' resonated. I think my life's been in a bit of lull for a while now. Plus it ties us into that tradition of having a sexual reference band name, Smashing Pumpkins, Buzzcocks. I've always liked those names particularly because as a kid I never realized what they were referring to.
The Peel: I think our American readers might be missing something here?
LULS: 'Luls' means 'cocks' in Danish.