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Friday, June 26, 2009

Story Outtakes: Brothers Lazaroff

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Brothers Lazaroff will be holding a CD release party for American Artifact, the band's second album, at Off Broadway on Saturday. Guests include the Educated Guess and the Auset Music Project. Roy Kasten profiled the band in this week's RFT, focusing on brothers Jeff and Dave. But their band (Mo Egeston on keyboards, Teddy Brookins on bass and Grover Stewart on drums) is a big part of the band's story and sound; here are some outtakes from the interviews.

Please also enjoy some MP3s.

MP3: The Brothers Lazaroff, "American Artifact"

MP3: The Brothers Lazaroff, "Let It Be Love"

MP3: The Brothers Lazaroff, "Upperhand"

When people talk about psychedelic music, it conjures all kinds of associations. But I hear some of Daniel Lanois's '90s work in the sound of the record.

Jeff: Huh? Oh Mercy? Laughs.

Dave: Time Out of Mind was a big album for us when we were really starting to write songs and record.

It's that live lushness.

Dave: We don't really solo that much on the record. With the recording, we didn't show anybody the songs till we got into the studio. Most of the record is first or second takes. We just said, OK, here's a solo break, but no stepping on toes, just if you have something to say.

When did you move back to St. Louis (from Austin)?

Dave: I'm moving back. I'll be fully back here by mid-July.

Jeff: Get him out of my basement!

And that's mostly to do the band?

Dave: My family is here. My parents are getting older. In Austin I was playing in six or seven bands. Now I'm just itching to practice with this band, go over to Mo's and work on things. He's got so many ideas. I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg of what we can do with this band. Mo's never really played Americana, but he plays at a Baptist church every Sunday morning. For him it's kind of the same thing. The thing with the band is, these guys enjoy the songs in a different way.

In Austin people are spoiled. You swing a cat and hit one of the greatest songwriters alive.

Dave: It's scary that way.

Brothers Lazaroff @ the Old Post Office Plaza in St. Louis
  • Brothers Lazaroff @ the Old Post Office Plaza in St. Louis

So who joined this crew first?

Grover: I'll tell you a quick story. I do studio work for Jake Detering, and Jeff and David were working on their album, and had this show in St. Louis. I get on Myspace and there's a message about them playing at Pop's Blue Moon. I was like cool. They're inviting me to the show. I didn't really read into it, that they wanted me to be the drummer. So, I get an email from Dave: No, we want you to be the drummer. We had a rehearsal and it worked out good. And then they asked me to find a bass player that would fit. And that ended up being Teddy (Brookins).

Who were you playing with before this band?

Grover: Rock, funk bands. Latin, Afro-Cuban. I had piercings here and here and here. I played with the Groovaholics, they were one of the big bands. And then after that we did Ralph Butler's band for years.

Mo: I'm not talking about Ralph! Where do I know you from?

Grover: I got into a drum and bass band, and that's where I met Mo. Drum and bass, house, two step stuff. All electronic. Meeting these guys though has been a blessing. We're gonna come up with a name. We're gonna call it the Bothers and the Brothas! What's cool about being in this band, when we step on the stage, nobody has any idea what's going to come out.

Mo, you joined up because of Grover?

Mo: Grover was playing a gig with Lamar Harris, and I was on it with him. I had my keytar with me.

Jeff: I specifically remember Mo taking this monster keytar solo. Dave and I looked at each other. That's what we need! The base of our stuff is roots and country, but we want to take it somewhere else.

Grover: See I just expect everyone to know Mo. He's been on the scene for so long.

Mo: I played in Vargas Swing for years. But from the late '80s to the '90s I was hanging out with a bunch of hippies, and not that the Brothers Lazaroff are like that, but I thought I could get in touch with my inner hippie. And now I play in a church, which I had never done either, and some of the country tunes, it's the same thing. I'm having a good time with it.

Your background is more instrumental, funk based, as opposed to song-based bands.

Mo: Yeah. That's not a slight on any other band's lyrics. When Jeff was explaining the gig to me, he said we like to respect the lyrics, rather than just go for a 15 minute song. I like fitting into that and also feeling like I can destroy that.

Grover: We felt like we needed this. A year ago, I was saying to myself, you know, I want to play bluegrass!

Drummers are not allowed to play bluegrass.

Grover: But you know, you listen to Bob Dylan, and it's about the song. You gotta lay back, it's about complementing the song.

Teddy: You know with these lyrics the message is more ruminative, rather than in the moment, like with funk lyrics.

Grover: It's very therapeutic. We did this wedding gig, in Des Moines, Iowa. It was phenomenal. We were playing klezmer music! It's cool. We're all hungry to learn. I love reggae, but these two cats? They've educated me on so many different types of reggae. We'll be on the highway somewhere, and they'll pop in a CD, and I'll be like, who the hell is that?!?

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