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INTERVIEW: The Lazlo Device

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Well, our dearest VENTS!, we’ve been splendid thank you. With the album complete, and awaiting launch, we’ve had a short hiatus from gigging, allowing each of us some time for our own creative pursuits:

Basket (Mark) has been in Scotland painting psychedelic landscapes by sipping from his palette and then spitting at a canvas (we cant wait to show you those). Sometime I wonder if he’s also sipping from the turps.

Guzzly Bear (Ross) has been in Cuba, investigating two pet theories: Is it possible to meld the Afro-Cuban funk guitar with the Boss SY-300 Polyphonic Guitar Synth? And, can rum make you blind?

Leo has spent a lot of time playing a unique solitaire version of strip rummy in our music studio. At least, I think that’s why we keep finding him naked down there.

And I’ve (Dan) been spending time patrolling the streets of Dallas with an armed black militia, the Huey P Newton Gun Club, documenting their attempts to protect the neighborhood from the fascist, white supremacist cops.

Can you tell us more about the story behind your track ¨Looking Glass¨?

I used to live just off Highbury Fields, and when stumbling home one night the melody popped into my head. Normally I record little melodies into my phone, but I’d been out of my tiny mind for a few days straight and my device was dead. So I sang the main line, out loud, all the way home, despite the catcalls of the local vagrants.

When I got home I laid down some tracks and bassline, and it all came together very quickly. The rest of the Lazlo boys took to it straight away, a chorus appeared from the ether, and we debuted it at The Troubadour in Earls Court in late 2014.

When it came to recording, we included some guest Sax from a bloke called Denis that we met in our local pub, The Fox in Haggerston. Mark and Leo composed some gentle backing strings to add to the texture, and Looking Glass was whole.

How was the film experience?

My own personal one? Baffling. I spent my summer with the Ku Klux Klan (BBC, KKK: The Fight for White Supremacy), and my winter with the Black Liberation Movement (BBC, Black Power [working title]). We could talk about this for hours, but one thing I can say with certainty is that race relations in America are complicated and contrary. Or something shorter and more anglo-saxon. For more insightful analysis I demand red wine and cigarettes.

The single comes off your new album Duelism – what´s the story behind the title?

Basket is a proper artist, with like gallery shows, a studio, that paint that you have get a bank loan to buy, and a shit ton of brushes. I mean, lots and lots of brushes. How many brushes does one man need? And I swear most of them are all gammy and stuff.

So clearly he was the best man to do the album artwork. So I sent him all the lyrics, and the poor bloke had to read through all the jibber jabberings and work out what the Harry Styles it was all about.

One night he called me:

“Do you think about death a lot?” he asked.

“Yeah. I think about your death all the time.” I replied.

“Right. Riiiiiiiiiight,” he said.

The next day he suggested Duelism.

How was the recording and writing process?

I love writing and recording with these boys. They’re complete bell ends, to a man. Literally each and every one of them is eccentric, stubborn, temperamental, childish, prone to self-destruction, hissy fits, snide bickering and one-upmanship. Which I think makes us a great team.

It’s hard to express just how much goes into the writing process. Alcohol I’m taking about. By the end of a session everyone is either a giggling mess, in some kind of onanist’s love pact with the sound of their own instrument, or has fallen off their ego tree and is threatening to leave the band. Then at the next jam, we kind of have to start again on everything.

What makes it work is that Basket stole a little Dictaphone thingy from his dad. And he records everything we do. Then he sends out the good stuff, which jogs our memories a little. Then we argue, a lot, about what was good and what was nonsense. Then we play it. Then we argue a lot more. Then we forget everything. Then basket sends out a recording. Then we argue. Then, somehow, eventually, we have a song. That process may sound arduous, but I tell you can we can we can finish an entire song in as little as eight months by working this way.

I think this approach is pretty much foolproof, and I would recommend it to anyone comfortable with finishing one album every five years.


Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Everyone in Lazlo is a song writer. Everyone comes up with riffs, or beats, or hooks, or sequences. Which in theory is a lovely utopian ideal of being in a band. But actually it just means every wanker has his own opinion, and every chef is trying to season the soup.

But it does mean we have a shit ton of ideas kicking around, we’re never short of a riff, and there’s about six albums of material in the walls of our studio, including a Western Opera concept piece, a dark electro synth phase that almost got us barred from several London pubs, an acoustic ditty-based obsession that saw Leo shifted exclusively onto harmonies, maracas and an old djembe.

Deciding the track list for this album has taken close to a year. A year. And I’m still not sure we got it right…

What´s like to have as fans members of Take That and Muse?

It’d be even better if they re-tweeted us more. A few years ago, I asked Howard if we could open Wembley for Take That, but he said he had someone booked. Turned out it was The Pet Shop Boys. I reckon we could have had them.

Do your filmmaking background influence this band in any way?

Well it means I’m often away for weeks at a time. Which pisses everyone off. Then I’m between projects, so demanding to make music for weeks at a time. Which pisses everyone off.

Evocativor was about some time I spent with these Teenage Exorcists in America. I suppose Cherry Vape was about the religious loons I met there too. Battle On is about the week I spent with the mole people, living in the storm drains under Las Vegas. I think travelling a lot, and meeting all sorts from pimps to preachers to gangbangers to transsexuals to Klansmen, certainly gives me a rich vein of headpounding, aneurysms.

Any plans to hit the road?

Oh yes. I’m not sure this is the correct forum to reveal the Grand Plan, but of course, dearest VENTS! we will keep you informed.

What else is happening next in The Lazlo Device´s world?

Blimey, the single’s out. The album’s coming out. The music videos are being made. What more do you want? Blood? Lazlo Blood? Well how about a saxophonist? We’re currently bedding in a sax man from Detroit who we think adds lift off to our loud parts. Or something like that.

Well this has been marvelous, thanks for talking to us. But you never asked: What is The Lazlo Device?

To be continued….

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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