An Old Music Interview: Q&A with Lourds from LOURDS

LOURDS is a four-person band made up of lead singer Lourds and three other members. Back in 2006, I got the chance to interview the singer. The interview provides insight not only into the band but also into the process of working together as a group of creative people over a long period of time. I’d love to share that with you here …

Q:  I like to open interviews with giving you the chance to share a little bit of background about how you got in to the business, how your work has changed over time and how you see your music at this time.  Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Well, when I started playing my own music in a band, I was just trying to build a fanbase, people besides just all of my teenage friends.  My music was very teen angst driven, with boys moshing in the audience.  I was wearing dramatic hand-cut velvet circle skirts with meticulously hand-sewn embroidered trim, with short midriff exposing bolero jackets, and I was kicking and screaming like a can-can dancer on acid.  My make-up was a lot more theatrical and extreme than it is today.  I was a kid who needed to draw attention to herself so people would take notice and come out to the shows.

It didn’t take long for the fan base to build up and as I was playing in front of more true fans who weren’t my friends or people related to me, I felt less of a need to draw attention to myself based on a wild exterior.   I started getting more and more introspective.  The music became much more personal.  The make-up and outfits became simpler and more natural, reflecting more of who I am.  People in the crowd would be moved to tears as easily as they would be pumped up and energized.  The fan base grew even bigger because the songs were stronger.

For a bunch of years, LOURDS was a solo project.  The musicians who supported me were amazing talents but they blended into the background.   Now, LOURDS is a band.  I don’t think of it as my name anymore… LOURDS is the name of a band of four equally charismatic and talented musicians who come from varying musical influences, blazing their distinct personalities onto a fiery collective.   Joey comes from punk and hardcore, Gene comes from metal, Sarah is the embodiment of a modern Keith Moon.  LOURDS music today has more aggression and attitude than the introspective solo artist because the people who play LOURDS music have more aggression and attitude.  The introspection and relatable aspect to the music are still there but there is a lot more punch and passion to the execution.  It is a blend of where I started and who I developed in to with the influences of all of the other band members.

 Q:  How does each of your band members contribute to the overall sound of the group?  What do you feel would be different without each of them?

Every member of LOURDS is essential to the sound.  Gene's crunchy, rich Marshall guitar tone is a huge part of our sound and the guitar parts he creates are edgy, melodic and memorable.  Joey, coming from old school punk and hardcore, drives the low end with pulsing aggression, creating bass parts that are both heavy and musical.  Sarah is the hardest hitting drummer I know and comes up with drum parts that are ingeniously atypical and oozing with taste and musicality.  Everybody plays for the song and does what's best for the song.  The sound of LOURDS is based on the synergy between four uniquely talented musicians.  I don't even want to imagine what it would be like without any one of us.

Q:  Articles about you frequently reference your DIY attitude.  How do you feel about having this term so closely linked with your work?

I feel great about it because it’s the truth.   Every penny we've ever made from music goes back into music.  Every person in this band wears different hats for the band other than the ones we wear as musicians and performers.  We call the clubs, route the tours, haggle for money, make the merch orders, make and print our own fliers, poster around town, write and talk to every fan, rip and pin our own stage clothes... the list is endless.  Do it yourself... The more you do, the more you will get.  It’s through a lot of determination, hard work, and belief in ourselves that our last records sold 20,000 units -  one city at a time, one person at a time.

Right now, I’m answering these questions in our van heading towards a truck stop near Columbus, Ohio, where we all will park and sleep side by side for the evening before heading off to our gig in Cincinnati.  Rock ‘n roll doesn’t start off glamorous.  It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat and toil, and a lot of teamwork.  You don’t get handed a golden ticket.  You need find the gold you have within you -- within your music and your band --and believe in it enough so that the shine is undeniable.

Q:  How does working with Breaking Records alter your DIY approach?  How do you feel that you’ve changed personally since becoming more popular in the music world?

Breaking records is an upstart East Village NYC label… a really small team of good people who formed a label to help us because they believe in our music.  The label is new, with little funds, and is still figuring out things as it goes along.  We are still DIY… Yes, we have a label, a family of people who believe in us so strongly that they put their money where their mouth is, an amazing record produced by Grammy award winning producer, Ed Stasium (Ramones, Living Colour, Biohazard) and an “office” to work out of… but we continue to do the same amount of work as before.... Actually, we do even more work now because we have a great record to push and promote.  It’s so wonderful to have a label, to have more people on your side who believe in you, but we are still self-managed and self-supporting, and work harder than ever.

Q:  Do you have an opinion on how MySpace has helped or hindered your work?  

MySpace is great for many reasons. First and foremost, it allows us to stay in touch with fans from all over the globe.  It is because of MySpace that we continue to receive an immense amount of CD orders from parts of the world we haven't had a chance to play yet.  It is because of MySpace that there is a community of fans who stay in touch with other fans, and stay abreast of what's going on with our band.  People "talk" to each other on MySpace, put up our music, videos, banners and pictures on their pages, and that's how our music gets spread around like wildfire.  We've networked with other bands, promoters, clubs and festivals through MySpace.  We've gotten television and movie opportunities, licensing deals, fans from cities we've never played, even places to crash while we're on the road...  It's amazing how MySpace has become such an essential networking resource for bands.

Q:  Which of your songs is your favorite to perform?

“Supergirl”… the last song of our set and our record.   It features a long and dramatic electric violin/ electric guitar duet at the end and it usually leaves people pretty breathless.  Nowadays I’m wireless on violin along with our guitar player, Gene...  So both of us, unhindered by cables, go crazy during that song, jumping on tables, speakers, and out into the audience, as Joe and Sarah tear apart the stage.  It's definitely a spectacle.

Q:  Until listening to your music, I wasn’t familiar with the electric violin.  Is it a commonly used instrument?  When and how did you begin using it in your work?

 Electric violin is starting to get more and more usage in modern music.  Yellowcard has an electric violin player, Courtney Love brought in an electric violin player when she formed her own solo project, Dave Matthews features an electric violin player… It’s not common but it’s out there. 

I started playing violin when I was three years old.  I was classically trained and played Carnegie Hall when I was seven.  Violin has been part of my mindspace since I was a child.  Instinctively, I was always non-traditional in my approach to classical music.  Instead of learning a classical concerto as it was written, I would compose my own endings (much to my teachers' horror!)  Sometimes I would press hard with my bow onto the strings to get a more distorted and guttural sound, or play on the wrong parts of the strings to see what other kind of harmonic sounds the violin can make.  I was always experimenting, always exploring, always breaking the rules.  My classical teachers, who were grooming me to be the next Itzak Perlman, tried to put the reigns on me.  But the more they told me why I was wrong, the more right I felt.  I was trying to find my own voice. 

Eventually I found the electric violin that I put through guitar effects pedals and my whole world opened up.  Now, there are electric violins in LOURDS music that people would never know are violins at first listen.  But of course, there are also other songs where the electric violin sounds just like a violin. Now that I'm older, I really do appreciate the pure and natural tone that a violin makes... and that's different in and of itself in rock and roll music.

 Q:  How would you like to develop your music in the years to come?

LOURDS, composed of Joey, Gene, Sarah, and myself is a band of not even 2 years.  There is still a lot of musical ground to explore amongst the four of us.  What we have to offer is explosive, because each one of us as individuals and as musicians is explosive.  I can't tell you right now where we're going musically over the next few years but I do know this... when all four of us put our minds together, we create great music.  

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