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Lux Perpetua: Three Thanks To Mambo.

March 20, 2014

LuxPerpetuaOnline07Text by Brian Wilensky. Images by Michael Bucher.

Lux Perpetua is adventurous. And they’re open-minded. But Lux Perpetua has only been “they” for about a year.

Singer/guitarist Justin Wolf and bassist Matt Gibson have known each other for years, having grown up together in Charlottesville, Va. They met drummer Spencer Carrow while working together at Mambo Movers, a relocation company known for employing lots of creative people, such as musicians, artists and writers.

Before Wolf teamed up with his moving partners, he’d written and recorded everything by himself. It was a “labor of love” sort of project, with Wolf basically releasing albums for years, just to hand out to his friends. That sort of independence allowed Wolf to play and write however he felt inclined, which shows on his recordings.

“I really enjoy when a song speaks to me,” Wolf says. “Heavy Shreds the Left Hand was kind of written through the recording process. I’d write a rough outline and then kind of jam and edit it into a full song. It was a weird way to record but it was a fun experiment.”

That may explain the many parts and variety of the 2011 Heavy Shreds’ songs, for example, the change from mirage-like and angular “Little Slice of Heaven,” to the many movements of “Here Comes the Red Witch.”

Gibson and Carrow joined Wolf over the last year, making Lux Perpetua a three-piece band rather than Wolf’s exclusive recording project. His unconventional songwriting has meshed well with Gibson and Carrow thus far.

“Now we’re able to communicate with each other like a band,” Gibson says, “which is to play and jam and get ideas that way. I feel we have the best of both worlds. There’s a prominent songwriter and there’s a rhythm section that can bounce ideas off each other.”

As the band has practiced together, they’ve been increasingly satisfied with being able to put each other’s personalities into the songs. Wolf has been open-minded about finding an outlet to change the Lux Perpetua recording process. It changed in October with their first EP as a three-piece band, Make Your Purposes Mine. It clocks in at 12 minutes and is largely ambient, aside from the chaotic climax of “The Loop.”

“It’s sort of progressive rock but not in a cheesy way,” Carrow says, making an overarching statement of the band’s sound. “Our live set is now all over the place. Some of the songs have a more crowded vibe and some are more conventional rock songs.”

The direction of the band seems to be turning toward a heavier sound in comparison to what’s coming on the band’s first full-length, Hehbehdehbehbehdeh, which drops this month. Wolf recorded the majority of that album himself. Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath contributed vocals. Gibson played bass and Phil Pardell played drums on a few songs. As a whole, it’s mostly as experimental as the title suggests.

“Until recently, it’s been all me recording,” Wolf says. “It’s been interesting translating all the songs live and figuring out the songs that way because it changes them quite a bit and makes the other guys’ personalities come into it.”

For a short time, the band tried out additional members – like a second guitarist and a female vocalist, but things basically didn’t work out. According to Carrow, the extra guitarist essentially just told the three current members of the band that they didn’t need him, which actually worked well for a band that has been working so well together with their current lineup.

“When you work together as a band as a whole, you’re all contributing the same amount of sweat into the project,” Wolf says. “It’s always felt disingenuous when there’s a primary songwriter who writes the music and says, ‘No, this is how you play that part.’ I don’t want it to seem like it’s just my band.”

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