Put on Lazer/Wulf‘s latest LP The Beast Of Left And Right and you’ll be yanked into a world where possibility is the norm. This is not a band to sit around and let genre or uncertainty derail them from riffing on towards finding solutions. Very competent musicians, the Athens trio are poised to make a bigger impact on the scene via their new partnership with Kylesa’s Retro Futurist label.
Click here to read a chat with guitarist Bryan Aiken about the growth of the band, Metroid, Lady Gaga and Refused, among other topics.
How are you today? Where are ya and what are you doing? Wearing anything sexy?
Great, man! I’m finishing up the paintings for the CD version of the Beast as we speak, so it’s getting pretty exciting here in our den right before our first big release. Bedrooms tend to reflect our state of mind, and right now mine is scattered to the brim with Lazer/Wulf debris. Also, my room is. As for your last question, I’m wearing a Super Metroid tee shirt. I’d often rather talk about video games than my own music, but that’s probably not in the cards with our first album finally in the oven. But let me know if you have any follow-up questions about Metal Gear timelines, because I’m in.
Ahh, Metroid. Two words my friend…”Justine Bailey”. I’ve been trying to get my friend Devin to cosplay as Samus Aran, haha. So…Do you prefer playing shorter, spazzy songs like “The Triple Trap” or “A Conflict of Memory” (my favorite on the album, very unique) or longer, epic shit like “Who Were the Mound Builders”? That last one must have been a real workout to track!
Haha, the short songs are definitely fun to play and write, and they serve an important purpose in the flow of the album or live set, but the longer songs have time to earn their weight. My favorite part of writing music is creating tension or discomfort, leading to some big, scary, cathartic… I dunno, moment. Dynamics that have the space to sneak up on you, on a much longer gradient. That’s when live music is at its best, to me. And it’s hard to do that with a burner. So songs like “Mound Builders” or “There Was a Hole Here” get to accrue pressure until it all comes to a head and hell breaks loose. Other people can do that in three minutes, but I’ve never been good at it.
As someone who has been in many bands and had one person fuck it up or other things happen, i wanna know…how did you find like minded, open minded fellows to comprise the Wulf of the Lazer? Shit, I just found out like half of that cool thrash band Warbringer quit. It isn’t easy. And it seems you all share eclectic tastes.
That’s so funny. Yeah, the three of us don’t listen to music the same way, or agree on what’s important, or even listen to the same kind of music, and that’s what makes it fun to write songs together. I’ve been in so many bands with a singular objective, and that’s super fun, but in Lazer/Wulf, there’s so much analyzation from different perspectives, that we never know how a song is going to turn out. We work really well together, but our musical backgrounds are so different that no one of us can’t predict where a song will go. And if we find something all three of us, different as we are, can agree on, then I think we’ve found something really special and worth showing people.
Do you find people kind of stare at you in awe on stage or sort of flail and gyrate more often?
I’d love to get to a place where people know the songs, and can unwind during our show! Right now we’re pretty unknown, so most audiences have never heard of us before, so they look at us with focused, scientific intrigue. Like it’s a zoo, and the three of us throwing poop at each other. We’ve only played a handful of shows where anyone actually knew lyrics or where the dynamics change, so I can’t wait to get to that point! I’d love to see people lose their minds the way I do!
How did your friendship form with Kylesa and the deal with their new label Retro Futurist come together? Every release so far has been stellar. I fucking love Jagged Visions.
Man, they’re our guardian angels; they’re all so amazing and supportive of independent artists. Phil saw us play a small show to a few people on a tour we booked ourselves, and he thought it was rad, and that’s about it. To him, that was enough; it was like, “you’re awesome, so let me know how I can help.” It blew me away. It still does. So he produced our album, and shortly thereafter they founded their vinyl label for the sole purpose of helping bands like us. Bands they dig and want to see get a bigger audience. They even took us on the road for six weeks, even though no one had heard of us. I’ll never thank them enough.
Did you guys ever listen to lots of Don Cab or Rush, cuz…it sounds like it. How did the Atlanta scene impact the band’s development? It seems like there are a lot of cool bands with some similarities but doing their own thing also.
Haha, absolutely, you nailed it! I was definitely a math-rock kid, so Don Cab, Faraquet, Cinemechanica, Tera Melos… those were all really big for me when I started wanting to write music. Bands like that afford us the ability to do whatever we want, because I know they’re somewhere out there giving far fewer fucks than we ever will. Nothing’s off limits. Our bassist, Sean, loves Rush and Crimson and awesome 70’s prog, and lots of obscure black metal, so our influences are all over the place, thankfully. We can paint with a wider brush, I guess.
We’re actually from Athens, GA, which is a great place to be in your first band, because anything goes there. The scene is turbo supportive because it’s such a small town, so you can try anything, and the audience will corroborate your experiments. As long as it isn’t predictable, you’re on the right track. Having that be where we formed, it definitely affected us, having people go, “YOU’RE DOING GOOD, BUT GO WEIRDER!” It was like, “Alright, order up!” But when we moved to Atlanta, we learned more about brevity and slower tempos and the value of simplicity, so it made our bag of tricks more dynamic and streamlined. If we ever get stumped on where to go with a song, we tend to revisit the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Refused, then split the difference, haha.
When I saw you guys in Albany w White Hills, Kylesa and Blood Ceremony it was great. At first I thought maybe you were a local band cuz it looked like Brad has a like brand new factory pressed Mastodon t shirt but then when you played I was like , nah…they are way to good. Is it fun to startle people with your awesomness?
Haha, that’s so kind, thank you! I think we do startle people, but I can’t say it’s because we’re awesome. When people have kind words after a show, it’s usually that they don’t know what to make of it, but they like it. And that’s exactly the goal, I guess!
Do you feel like the underground puts to death the myth that rock is ever “dead”? Or is it an uphill battle with many shitty bands? I heard you are playing w BTTBAM. Stoked?
I love touring for that reason! We hear so many local bands that are breaking rules and experimenting because no one’s telling them not to, and that’s the life of rock. If people stop challenging each other, or casting a wider net of influences, then that’s death. It’s harder to do that with a bigger audience, because you’re tempted to find the common denominator musically, but there will always be twenty kids in a hundred basements who don’t know enough rules to do anything other than break them all and sweat all over each other. That’ll never go anywhere; that’s part of the human life cycle, I think. I hope.
So I hear Lady Gaga is a fan?
Dude!! I know!! She came into our show at SXSW, kicked everybody out and rushed the stage! I didn’t know who she was at the time, because she was all dreds and sunglasses, and I was busy playing all of the notes. But she raged, just her and her posse. She came up to me after the show, and said we were amazing, and it was the greatest moment. I love pop music, and she’s such an abrasive and anarchic performer… and she dug our little three-piece. It was
one of the best moments of my life.