Monday, 15 April 2013

Band To Check Out: Lapis Lazuli + Q&A & UK Tour

Article by Marcus Leyton

Having supported the old school likes of Alice Cooper and the up and coming Syd Arthur, six-piece Lapis Lazuli are about to embark on a UK headline tour of their own, taking in venues up and down this fair country of ours.  The tour comes as a follow up to an innovative double album release ('Extended Play' and 'Reality Is' were both released on the same day last summer) and an 18 date European jaunt which saw them pick up some excellent live reviews on the continent and in the UK. Their music has a jazz-funk basis that lends itself to diverse influences from the worlds of salsa, ska, blues, psychedelia and so much more. With such a versatile approach their epic, sprawling tracks carry an energy that leaves rooms dancing and getting completely lost in the music.

How did you meet?

Some of us have been friends since school, the rest of us met spectating and playing in different bands in the local music scene and jamming together. Some of us manifested out of a miasmic green cloud of gas in multi-dimensional, alternative universes of infinite backgammon games. Or at one of many jam parties hosted at the famous bungalow.

Where did your unique style come from?

It's a fusion of everything we like.  We don't go for one particular style or aim for a certain scene as such - we play for enjoyment and everyone contributes ideas either conceptually or as more specific ideas.  We're all pretty open minded in general and focus on what we like, not what we do not, so things don't often get vetoed by band members. This leads to this kind of melting pot where one person lays down an idea, another one follows etc. We practice a lot so the music eventually take on an organic, free-form feel which some people say is orchestral.  Our instrumentation helps with this also... having a few band members who play a few instruments really helps broaden the music texturally - Dave in particular can move from trumpet lines in a brass section before playing a keyboard solo then grooving out on the percussion all within a short space of time. This gives a depth to the music that is key to our sound, ranging from folky, acoustic aesthetic through man yrock genres, dubstep, drum & bass, funk, jazz and all sorts of ethnic varieties from around the globe.

What's the name all about?

Lapis Lazuli is a semi-precious stone found predominantly in the Middle East which is said to have properties in opening the third eye, plus many more... whether you believe that or not it's a beautiful looking stone and the name just kind of stuck.

Favourite part of touring?

Playing the good shows (obviously), spending time with everyone, the "open road", getting fed in different places, sleeping in fetid "band quarters", Taking our music to far away places and meeting the inhabitants as we go. It's always interesting to see the response strangers have to our music.

Top gigs experiences up to now?

Zappanale festival in Germany, a festival dedicated to a hero of some of ours, Frank Zappa.

Played with Caravan in Canterbury

Aurillac Festival of Performing Arts in France - we showed up at this festival and busked acoustically in the streets - crowds gathered and it went down really well

Smuggler's Festival in Kent - such a fantastic vibe at this small but really well put together festival...we played there 2011, 2012 and will do again this year.

Playing here in Canterbury to the home crowd is also a treat.

You supported Alice Cooper, how did that come about and how was it?

Yes this was weird - it was at the Zappanale (Frank Zappa Festival) we contacted them as it was a proggy-type festival and they booked us up. We ended up booking a whole 18-show tour around this date and then we found out Alice Cooper was playing... (Wayne's World cliches aside) thing we know we are playing directly before him! We played to a crowd of a few hundred staunch metal enthusiasts waiting for the big man to arrive. There were a lot of people really into it and we sold loads of CDs so it was worthwhile but the programming was a bit odd as there's no way we could be described as a metal band.... in fact we thought we had more right to be there than Alice as we sounded a lot more influenced by Frank than he did!  Respect to him though, he closed the festival with the remark "If Frank Zappa was here today he would say......... I don't get it" hahahaha

Afterwards we thought that maybe they had booked the wrong Lapis Lazuli....who knows?

Any other up and coming UK acts you can recommend from your travels? 

Of course our fellow Canterbrarians Syd Arthur and Delta Sleep both have themselves a lot of interest and are really busy. Zoo For You and The Fruit Group are also a couple of our favorites. Saw an amazing band the other day called Axes, Nuru Kane is well worth checking out as are Cocos Lovers.

Top guilty pleasure?

We're not ashamed about anything we like...ah ok...Micheal Jackson, looking at Facebook. Some of us are into necrophilia and snuff but we're actually quite proud of it.

Fantasy Festival Line Up - You guys are headlining a huge festival, pick 5 acts past or present that you'd also have on the bill.

Mars Volta
Jimi Hendrix
Miles Davis

Lapis Lazuli's website

Catch them live:

18 - The Ballroom Canterbury
20 - Watershed MK, milton Keynes
21 - Free love club, birmingham
23 - Pam Pams, Bristol
24 - Stag and Hounds, Bristol
25 - Cremorne, Sheffield
26 - The Royal Standard, Sheffield

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