[INTERVIEW] The Lawsuits
By: Nicola Lyon, Lauren Labadie, Michelle Miller
Editor-in-chief: Charlie Morgan
During their set, vocalists Brian and Vanessa alternate between singing solo and 2-part harmonies. The 5 members share the stage in a way that's equally engaging with each other and the audience, making for an all-around inclusive live performance. The band is tight enough to sound clear, yet loose enough to jam and improvise. We chatted to them after after the show -- discussing everything from working with producer Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog & Man Man) to the most valuable tools for gaining exposure.
Despite being interrupted by street sweepers and various sirens and traffic, we managed to have a good chat with them. Here is how it went:
So how did you guys meet?
We met through mutual friends when we were in college. Then Joe, the newest member, joined when we recorded our most recent album. He was the assistant engineer, so he knew all the songs really well because he was listening to them over and over. Also he is a really good guitar player.
And you all grew up in Philly?
Yeah and its surrounding areas. Bucks County.
I know it sounds cliché but would you say that Philly has influenced your style of music? Or the local bands around there, like Dr. Dog obviously?
Yeah, we are all fans of Dr. Dog and the guy who produced our album actually produced 4 Dr. Dog albums. He did Man Man's stuff and Sheepdogs.
Oh, really? We love the Sheepdogs!
Yeah, their most popular album, he mixed that.
What is it like working with him then?
Really cool, he is very zen and also very awkward at times but in a good way, of course. For example, when you first start working with someone, you try to feel them out and that took some time, adjusting to that. He is really cool and became extremely invested in the project which was different for us, a nice change.
So, as a band you come up with the overall concept of each song and he has his own idea of how he would like to develop it further?
That's incredible. How did you guys get in touch with him?
I had known about Bill Moriarty as we were doing an EP a few years back and I remember looking online at his website. There was a band out called, 'Drink Up Buttercup' and that was the full album he produced. I remember looking at his website and thinking about how I would love to work with him. Two years later I met him at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia and went up to him and said, "Hey, are you Bill Moriarty" and he replied, "Yes!" We introduced ourselves as members of the Lawsuits. He said that he liked our band, we swapped info and went from there. It just happened, the time and everything was right.
Your album was just released on October 1 and it has already been well received across magazines such as Rolling Stone and Spin.
Yeah, it's all very exciting.
Do you feel that showcases like CMJ are valuable for gaining exposure?
If you use them in the right way. The whole point of playing showcases like this are to get people in the industry to come and see you.
It must be quite difficult to get noticed though, as you can tell people until you are blue in the face to come see your show but it is like a sea. So overwhelming and crazy that you get swept up in it all.
Exactly, it is very hard as a band to stick out amongst the sea of others trying to do the same thing.
Do you feel that since recording your first LP to releasing your newest record your sound has shifted, based on the influence of working with a new producer?
Yes, most definitely. It is cool to have an outside perspective.
Of course, you get so lost in it as a band and it is important to have an external opinion.
You need to have someone who will tell you if you are bad but also someone who has some sort of vision. It seemed like even when we were screwing up and screwing around, he was able to...
...Pull it back in?
Yeah, he was able to pull it back in there. It is very easy to trust him.
Before that did you guys record at home?
Yeah, we have a ton of recordings. A lot of them done by ourselves and at home.
In terms of getting exposure as a band, where did you feel like the best way of doing that was? Releasing your music for free? What other avenues would you say have helped?
Yeah, that was definitely one of the most valuable ways. Gigging as much as we can as well - the majority of our live shows have been well received and that is a great way of exposing our music to people. It wasn't always like that… [everyone laughing and cracking jokes]
Your first gig, it wasn't like that..? [laughing]
As a band, you have to play bad gigs. It happens for about two years.
Well it must be hard when you are first starting out.
Yeah, you've got to figure yourself out and find your unique "thing."
Exactly. This is our first time seeing you and our impressions are that you have a really great stage presence. You also engage really well with the crowd which is something that a lot of bands don't do and that is really important.
Aww thank you!
It's also really nice having two singers like you do, alternating between the vocals. It makes for a good dynamic.
Yeah, switch it up a little bit. Keep 'em on their toes!
Thank you so much for meeting with us this evening, it’s been great!
We would like to thank the Lawsuits for taking the time to meet with us and talk to us. The Lawsuits are a very talented band on the rise. The buzz is catching the attention of music publications such as Rolling Stone, Daytrotter and Spin. They just released their new album, 'Cool Cool Cool.'