Where Is My Mind?: Lux Perpetua’s Justin Wolf

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Where Is My Mind?: Lux Perpetua's Justin Wolf 

- by Q.D. Tran 

Former Extraordinaires Justin Wolf has been working on his first full-length album, under the moniker Lux Perpetua, for about half a decade now. Having written and recorded over a hunfred songs and somehow narrowing down the album’s tracklisting to eleven of them, he is finally ready to unveil his “precious” body of work via Color Theory Records, a new label that he has started with The Extraordinaires’ Jay Purdy. We had a chance to chat with Wolf before his upcoming release celebration this Thursday, May 29 at Johnny Brenda’s. Check out what he had to say about the production process of the LP, future plans for his label and band, which now consists of Matt Gibson (The Extraordinaires, ex-Man Man) on bass and Spencer Carrow on drums, his relationship with Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath, and much more below!
 
The Deli: I’m guessing that the name of your project Lux Perpetua is some type of homage to the novel with the same name, written by Andrzej Sapkowski. How does that book reflect the music or sound that you are creating?
 
Justin Wolf: Actually, no, I haven't even read that book, though I will attest to its ability to complicate my Google vanity searches. I decided on the name a while back when I found a Lux Perpetua candle in the trash. It struck me as a nice, well-balanced name with a sprinkling of emotional gravitas that I appreciate in other band names. A few people have asked me if we're a religious band because of the use of the phrase in certain prayers, which is not the case but interesting to see the different aspects of the name. 
 
TD: What is the meaning behind the album title Hehbehdehbehbehdeh?
 
JW: The name Hehbehdehbehbehdeh is a weird thing. In all actuality, it started as series of sounds I made when I yawned, and I remember writing down the phonetic spelling and thinking, “That looks like a burp made into letters.” I had a friend who is a linguist, and we started making up fake words to put in songs, and I think the original definition we came up with for Hehbehdehbehbehdeh was something like “a place where a person forgets who they are,” which is way better than the burp.
 
TD: This album took about half a decade to make. What took so long?
 
JW: Many little things. We had a drummer, Phil, who moved away, which set things back. Also, I was pretty obstinate about choosing the correct songs for the flow that I wanted. I checked recently, and I had written and started recording over 100 songs before settling on the ones I wanted, which sounds maybe vaguely impressive, but really what I took away from the whole process was a better sense of how to be less precious and more proactive in getting your work finished. At the end of the day, you have to actually complete your art to move on and grow. Otherwise, you languish.
 
TD: How do you feel that you’ve changed musically while making the record?
 
Hugely! One of the problems in taking your sweet time with a release is it starts to not reflect your current mood. I've always resented the idea that a musician or a band needs to be thinking about the boundaries of their sound - what's successful, what's not, write that hit, appeal to your fan base, etc. I follow my nose when it comes to musical expression, and thus, find myself in a different musical mindset semi-regularly. Right now, I'm exploring and very much aping Joni Mitchell and Jaco Pastorious. I even bought a fretless bass. 
 
TD: You’ve only been an actual band with bassist Matt Gibson and drummer Spencer Carrow for about a year now. What are you starting to pick up on in regards to their musical style and preferences?
 
JW: Matt and Spencer are dramatically influential, to say the least. I'm the straight man in this equation - the Abbott to their Costello, if you will. It's pretty rare to find a rhythm section that's not only a force of nature, but can so easily interpret and represent ideas in the songs, and show restraint when molding them into their final form. We play in my third floor studio, a pretty cramped space with vaulted ceilings, so the intimacy breeds stronger musical communication. We're borderline jazzy at times. Now that this album is out of the way, that's the environment all further musical explorations will stem from. It's pretty heady shit, to say the least. After teaching them the songs on Hehbehdehbehbehdeh and seeing what they can do with them, I really wish we had recorded that record together. Oh well.
 
TD: Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath provides some backup vocals on the album. How did that collaboration come about?
 
JW: I've known Amelia for quite some time now. We met when she was in college at Bennington, and I was but a poor musician testing the dining halls security every time I rolled through. A few years later I ended up playing a last minute show in Brooklyn with Mountain Man, and wow, holy shit were they good. I offered my recording services, and they accepted, so we ended up recording Made The Harbor at my place, which is funny because everyone thinks they recorded that record in an abandoned turn of the century ice cream parlor in upstate New York. More glamorous than a South Philly row home I guess. Anyway, I asked her to sing backup so she heard the songs, came down, and we literally knocked out everything she does on the record in an afternoon. She's an amazingly talented singer and songwriter, so it makes sense, but I was still blown away by how quickly she grasped the songs and delivered all these amazing takes. It was wild. Now she's in a band called Sylvan Esso, and is once again knocking it out of the park. That woman oozes talent; all I had to do was aim a microphone at her. 
 
TD: What helped to inspire this record?
 
JW: That's a tough question. No one particular thing was really a catalyst for it. My state of mind was all over the place during the recording and writing process. I used a reductive technique, sort of flinging as much as I could at the wall and seeing what stuck. When I eventually found the thread, which is a jangly wall-of-sound kind of deal, I did a lot of remixing and post-production stuff to harmonize all the disparate elements. It's pretty disconcerting to go into a project without a grand vision, but what comes out can feel more organic if you give it time - not to sound like a motivational mug or something. I hate those things. I do not condone dancing like no one is watching. You'll most likely trip on something. 
 
TD: You mentioned that the band’s sound is already getting heavier in comparison to what we hear on the album. What should we expect on the next release?
 
JW: I've got this vague idea for an album called Paradise where we make music specifically to drink margaritas to. If that doesn't pan out, I expect we'll go with what we've been rehearsing, which is definitely a heavier sound - more prog-y and repetitive. Again though, anything can happen between now and then. That's the beauty of the whole thing... You can literally write whatever you want if you want to. Sounds obvious, but I think people forget that fact sometimes. 
 
TD: You are releasing the LP via Color Theory Records, a new label that you just started with The Extraordinaires’ Jay Purdy. What are some of your plans to help get it off the ground? What did you learn about running a record label from your time with Punk Rock Payroll?
 
JW: Color Theory is already going so awesomely. Jay and I have been working together in various capacities for almost a decade now, and have both shared the same frustration with the Institution Of Music and its various status quos. We started Color Theory as a way to release our own music by combining forces and sharing the load, and also as a place to help other musicians realize their ideas into reality. One thing that is carrying over from when we were involved with Punk Rock Payroll is the handmade artifact side of it. The next Extraordinaires album is going to be another amazing looking hand made book, and we're developing a few ideas for a Hehbehdehbehbehdeh art release too. It's really amazing and inspiring to work with Jay. He has so much energy and enthusiasm, and it's been a fruitful and extremely helpful coupling as of yet. So far, these two projects have kept us extremely busy, but we have plans to expand the empire, as it were. 
 
TD: Any upcoming tour plans to support this album?
 
JW: Well, more like tour hopes, not yet plans. We need to get a touring vehicle first. Our last van broke down in New York, and I had to get it towed back to Philly at 10pm on a Saturday. The tow truck driver was not pleased with me, to say the least. I believe I interrupted a date with his lady friend. From what I could ascertain from their heated phone conversations on the drive back, she wasn't so pleased with me either. What I really want is one of those Ford Transits. Those things look amazing, like they were made for touring. Anyone reading this who has one should contact me and tell me what they're like. I suspect they rule. 
 
TD: What’s your favorite thing to get at the deli?
 
JW: The pickle bar, if they have it. I will destroy a pickle bar like it’s no one’s business. Late at night, after the patrons have left and the crumbs are swept up, pickles whisper my name in fear. I love pickle bars so much. What an awesome idea. Whoever came up with the pickle bar needs their face on the half dollar or something - just incredible. 

 

 

 

 

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Lux Perpetua
Hehbehdehbehbehdeh