In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in in the Blank.
Brothers and best buds David and Jeff Lazaroff have the type of close-knit relationship that all siblings ought to aspire to. The duo has written songs together on guitars since their high school days and officially began playing under the name Brothers Lazaroff around 2003. For the past five-and-a-half-years, the brothers have made local musicians Grover Stewart (drums), Teddy Brookins (bass) and Mo Egeston (keyboards) part of their extended family. On Saturday, September 28, the group will release its fourth release: Hope, Fear, Youth.
Influences for the brothers include everything from Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams to Wilco, bluegrass and dub reggae. While difficult to pinpoint Brothers Lazaroff's singer-songwriter-based sound, which melds everything from psychedelic rock and acid jazz to soulful Americana, it's safe to call it roots music.
"A lot of times roots get stopped at blues, folk and jazz," says David Lazaroff. "We love the Americana side of roots music but we also pull from Middle Eastern and African music and many different styles.... We always try to find a way to cross-pollinate. Playing with St. Louis musicians has kind of exposed us to so many styles."
David and Jeff Lazaroff share songwriting duties, with a lyrical vocabulary that tends to focus on the human condition, something they find appeals not only to them but also universally. Hope, Fear, Youth is a collection of older tunes recorded in one night at Red Pill Studio to a reel-to-reel tape machine. The release also features bonus tracks by Coco Soul and Tom "Papa" Ray. Listen to some preview tracks from Hope, Fear, Youth below.
We asked Brothers Lazaroff to fill in the blanks ahead of their release show and block party next week. See what they had to say on the next page, get info on the show and check out some videos on the following pages.
What I like most about St. Louis is... Brothers Lazaroff: Our family is here. We are proud St. Louisans, and while there is a lot we love about St. Louis - Chuck Berry, Forest Park, KDHX, The Loop, The Hill, the close proximity to other great Midwestern towns - to us St. Louis is about family, and that extends to our Brothers Lazaroff musical family. Many will be at our block party on September 28: Grover Stewart, Teddy Brookins, Mo Egeston, Coco Soul, Tom "Papa" Ray, Chris Hansen, Thelonius Kryptonite, James Stone Goodman and Jenny Roques to name a few.
We're most inspired by... mountains, rivers and streams, old buildings, telephone polls, St. Louis basements, New Orleans, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Chuck Berry.
We make music because... Once the music bug gets you and you experience the healing power, you have no choice. It becomes like drinking water. From writing songs on the porch, to rehearsing and recording them with the band, to playing live gigs, the whole process is a way to connect with something bigger than ourselves. The whole band sees music the same way: an exchange of energy. It's not about notes, chords, lyrics, etc. It's about finding out what feels good and building off that, playing with energy through genres, dynamics, instrumentation, sounds and words 'til it moves and surprises us. Then, it's about finding ways to harness the energy and access it in performance. That whole creative process is really joyous and necessary.
The St. Louis music scene could use... more wide-spread support of original local music. There is a strong strong core of support for local music - between the RFT, KDHX, Arch City Radio Hour, Eleven Magazine, STL Magazine, STL Post and great local blogs like I Went To A Show and Jarred Gastreich's Show Me Shows, there are a lot of great outlets for local bands to spread their music. But until there is more of a "support original local music ethos" in the city and suburbs at large it'll be hard for local bands to maintain momentum and play regularly in St. Louis. Maybe more happy hour and early evening weekday shows would help?
Ultimately, people have to realize that it is worth the energy of getting off the couch for a night and taking in some original music/art. I guess we all fight that inertia though! St. Louis is major music city in respects to our history and talent, but we aren't a music industry town so we have to find away to create a larger base of concert goers.
The best post-show food in St. Louis is... Just say no! Go home, have a bowl of cereal or some leftovers in the fridge. At this point in our career, we've learned it never pays to do the after-gig throw down meal. You always regret it in the morning, but when you have to do it, South City Diner seems to be where we usually end up.
Our dream line up for a show is... Well, we put together our local dream line up for the block party, but if Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Leonard Cohen and Sade came through town on a bill together, Brothers Lazaroff would find a way to beg, steal or borrow our way up to the front row.
The most difficult lesson we've learned while playing music is... to make any band work - especially when you are working with your brother and best friends. You have to know when to separate the professional and the personal to learn know how to leave certain things unresolved. There are a million "right" answers or solutions to any musical situation.
If you leave your preconceived notions and allow what actually happens in the moment to guide you, then you allow room to surprise yourself and each other. If you try and dictate and control, you will be paddling upstream. Being direct and specific is much more effective then just being frustrated and controlling. Most musicians respond well to very specific directions and ideas - it's when you get flustered and emotional that things go awry.
Brothers Lazaroff via Lo-Fi Saint Louis
Brothers Lazaroff via Show Me Shows
Brothers Lazaroff CD Release Block Party Saturday, September 28, 12 p.m. w/ Tom "Papa" Ray, Coco Soul, Thelonius Kryptonite, Jenny and the LateNite, Mo E All-Stars, Jonezy, Mathias and the Pirates @ Vintage Vinyl - free
Do you know a project or band that should be considered for this series? Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously from our Fill in the Blank series: - Quaere Verum - Mastermind Einstein - Sarah Bollinger - Little Big Bangs - Everything Went Black - Lions Eat Grass - Kevin Harris - Laika - Heavy Horse - Barely Free Partial Prisoners - The Defeated County - Lizzie Weber - Kenshiro's - B.E.L.L.A. - Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship - Humdrum - The Blind Eyes