Interview with Lucust French
Interview by Lana Likhacheva
We caught up with Lucust to discuss the concept behind his debut self-titled album!
Lazer Beam is quite a new project. How did you come up with the cool band name?
Well, I really wanted to name the band Ray Gun after all the zombie video games, I used to play as a kid. I always thought the ray gun was the coolest thing ever. Turns out there is already a band named Ray Gun, however! So, I titled it Lazer Beam instead since I couldn’t find anyone else with the name. It’s short and simple and I like that.
How would you define your music style? For example, to someone who has never heard it.
It’s very unique. The way I play guitar is different than everyone else and you can mostly hear it in the riffs. In a genre I like to make music with the desert rock feel. Kind of more upbeat, really inviting fuzz tones, lots of early QOTSA influence.
You’re releasing your debut self-titled album soon. What is the concept behind the album?
It’s kind of just a compilation of my favourite songs I’ve written between my last band and this one. Some are from when I was in high school and the others are a little newer. Every song has its own feel just like those old desert sessions records I used to steal from my dad which I really wanted to portray in my work too.
Where do you draw your influences from when it comes to writing and producing new music?
My dad is my biggest inspiration, operator generator is still the greatest band of all time. After that just music he exposed me to as a kid, like all the Man’s Ruin bands (Brant Bjork, Kyuss, Queens) also I really love gothic music like Tones on Tail, Morphine, The Cure.
How were you feeling during the writing process? Have you ever been unsure of the direction it was taking?
Well, I felt really confident, to be honest. I really stepped up to the things that challenged me, like writing choruses for the newer songs and doing guitar solos too. I took time to refine my music and scour each part of it to make sure it all made sense but still had my feel to it. I’m always so split on making a song super heavy or super poppy. I seriously have at least 5 different versions of each song on the record since some days I feel differently than others. Even after the record was done, I’m still always tweaking with my songs in some way or another. It just doesn’t stop for me.
You have been recording in many places, including Prescott National Forest, East Maricopa County, and others. What place did you enjoy the most or do you have any special memories about some of them?
I used to just pull off the 202 Freeway in Phoenix and record at sunrise which was cool (‘Don’t Tell’ was recorded off the freeway near the aqueduct ha-ha!) Some people said they could hear my amp from over a mile away and tracked me down with their windows open to come watch me record. Since then I have more private spots here in Jerome I like to go to where no one will bother me.
Your close friend Chris Hughes was with you during the whole recording process as your producer. How did you like working with him?
Chris is a great producer. He was the only person in attendance at my first concert in Oakland in 2015 with my last band. He really encompasses the heavy sound of bands, but we specifically wanted a different sound for Lazer Beam. We did a few different things differently on this record. For instance, we left the drums in mono to give everything else a bigger feel. He’s a hard worker with a great ear and mind, and I look forward to what we can make next.
Which track was the most special for you, or interesting to work on?
‘Sink or Swim’ and ‘In the Moonlight’ are the most special. I wanted to recreate the sound of my old demos of those songs (which are my favourite versions, although the quality is so bad they can’t be released) it reminds me of when I would come home from school and just spend all day in the garage creating music. I would sing until I couldn’t talk anymore and play drums until my hands bled, or just mixed and listened until my ears hurt because I was so passionate about it. At the end of the first day of recording at 513 studios I chose to sing ‘Sink or Swim’ and ‘In the Moonlight’ just like how I used to when I had almost zero energy left in me. Chris Hughes helped me capture that again really well.
Are you satisfied with how the record turned out?
Yes, I am, Chris did a great job helping me capture the soul of the record and practicing before recording was so beneficial seeing as we only had 2 days to do everything. Although I wish I could put fifty other songs I have on it as well!
Some singles, including ‘Take Me Home’ and ‘Sink Or Swim’, are released already. How did you feel after the release? How did the audience meet your creation?
At first, I was really naive about approaching labels and figuring out how to get my music out. I didn’t know where to even start, it’s been over a year since take me home came out and the momentum has certainly grown, although I’ve really had to work for it. The hardest part was just finding how to get it in front of people without feeling like I’m forcing it down their throat. Once it’s been in front of people, I’ve been getting positive feedback which has been totally invigorating.
What kind of feedback do you expect for LAZER BEAM?
I think it will be good! You reap what you sow, and I’ve put a lot of time, blood, sweat (a lot of sweat) and screams and tears into this one. Actually, reading that back does that mean I’m going to receive blood sweat and tears as feedback?!
Do you have any plans to gig/tour?
Yes, we have a summer tour happening later this year (likely west coast), and 1 big festival announcement whenever they give me the green light to talk about it. Other than that, maybe a few outdoor shows on the mountain here in Jerome.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally? Which of them affected you as a musician the most?
I used to only listen to the desert bands (QOTSA, Brant Bjork, Fatso Jetson, etc). Now I realize there’s so much more than just that. I love some old school rockabilly like Devil Makes three or Wayne Hancock, new school singer-songwriter like the wood brothers or Bahamas, but my favourite discovery of 2020 was this artist from France named PATRÓN. He embodies everything I liked about all those desert bands, kept it fresh and new and made one hell of an album last year.
What do you like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
I ride motorcycles and take them to the track. It’s pretty expensive so I don’t do it as much as I want to, but I love the rush of a close race with my friends and beating them on a smaller bike! I do not love crashing, however. Very bad.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
My big goal is to really get my live band tight and right for the summer, I have a few other one-off songs and projects I’m helping work on like Pretty Uggly, Nothing to smoke, some covers and bonus songs too for later. I just love creating and can’t seem to stop.
Thank you so much for your time and the best of luck for LAZER BEAM! Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Thanks for taking the time to read what makes me… me. There should be a steady flow of content coming out this year and I’m looking forward to doing some features with other bands and artists this year as well. Right on!