By Ann Marie Trietley:
As I strut down Franklin Street, alongside four members of Lazlo Hollyfeld, we fall into a rather jovial conversation. This is, of course, the Buffalo-based band which has been thriving for over a decade, named after a character in the 1985 film "Real Genius." Keyboard player Scott Molloy, bassist Chris Gangerossa, guitarist Sonny Baker, and drummer Bill Wackowiak are admiring a Lazlo bumper sticker plastered on a telephoned pole when a man walks up. He is in hipster haberdashery, but seems aloof.
"You going to the show, man?" Wachowiak asks.
"Show? I don't go to shows. I'm sheltered," the pedestrian declares, and saunters on his way.
That would be his loss, indeed, because Lazlo is playing alongside Holy F**k at Soundlab on November 3rd, and it will certainly be a who's who of music lovers and nightlife aficionados alike.
We decide to sit down for a pint at Madonna's, an Italian eatery that just opened on the corner of Franklin and Allen. We fall into a lengthy discussion about their upcoming show and what life is like for Lazlo these days.
"Going back to when we started, we were very unique in what we did and I think it offered musicians the opportunity to try something they never really tried," says Molloy.
"We're playing music that we love to play ourselves," says Wachowiak, his eyes sparkling with the amusement of a child. "We write music for us."
Wachowiak is referencing the bandmates' intense drive and dedication. This is what has given Lazlo staying power - being true to their own vision and not being muddled by music's fickle trends. In fact, there is a new Lazlo Hollyfeld album slated for release next year. Gangerossa and Molloy just did some online shopping for new equipment, following a recent computer meltdown mishap.
"If we don't have recording done by the end of December, we're going to kick someone out of the band," Gangerossa jokingly declares, sipping his pint of Murphy's and smoothing his full beard.
"Our target date for the release of the new album is after the apocalypse, so you should pre-order it now." says Molloy, blue eyes fixed in an icy stare.
This upcoming show alongside Holy F**k, an electronica band from Toronto, should blend the "post art instrumental experimental rock" of Lazlo with more industrial -sounding electronica. Lazlo has built a rapport with Soundlab over the years, and also frequently play at Nietzsche's and Mohawk Place. They also have a pretty rapt fan base in Jamestown.
"It's inspirational when you play with a band who is touring the country, and they're great and it makes you want to work harder," Wachowiak says. "We see potential for ourselves sometimes."
"Last week, Godspeed! You Black Emperor played and we decided we need to play louder," Gangerossa says. "There are things that you see bands do in a different way, a different interpretation. You can draw ideas from things like that."
All in all though, the members of Lazlo do not need much in the way of outside sources of inspiration. Even though the majority of their songs are instrumental with an ambient spattering of vocals, these are songs that are indeed about particular subjects.
"Yes, they very much are about something," Molloy says.
"People look into the song title and make their own interpretation," says Baker .
If you would like to experience Lazlo Hollyfeld right now, there are many avenues to explore - their Myspace and Facebook pages; YouTube and Amazon; LazloHollyfeld.com; Spotify and iTunes to listen to whole albums; and even eBay.
"Someone is selling an import Lazlo album out of Chicago on eBay for $22!" exclaims Gangerossa in disbelief.
Soon, the band will be featured in both a skate video and an episode of MTV's "The Real World." But what scene would accompany a Lazlo song, if the band could choose?
"It would be one of the characters, stabbing one of the other characters, and eating their face..." Gangerossa begins.
"With bath salts..." continues Molloy, "I'm surprised MTV hasn't given the characters bath salts.
It would be the moment Nameless Jerk Number One cheats on Nameless Jerk Number Two with Number Three in the same house, but Jerk Number Three, she already cheated with Number Four and Jerk Number Two found out, and they went to a bar and Jerk Number One threw up everywhere."
"I think it would be the scene where they're all walking down the street to go to a bar, and the girl would be saying, 'You're walking too fast!'" says Wachowiak.
"When the country hick gets too drunk and gets hit by a bus," Baker says.
No matter what staged MTV scene illustrates a Lazlo single best, the scene at Soundlab this Saturday should be even more emotionally moving and cathartic.
"You should go out and open your mind and experience something new," says Wachowiak. "I think if people came to see us, they'd probably like us a lot."
And with that, the last drops of Murphys are swilled, belongings are collected, and the men of Lazlo Hollyfeld continue on their way to begin band practice on a tepid Wednesday night.
Photo: From left - Gangerossa, Molloy, Baker and Wachowiak chill at Madonna's.