Po Lazarus is a local four-piece band with a unique sound and a lot of charisma. Their music blends traditional genres in a 21st century setting, such as folk, rock, garage folk, and indie, just to name a few. The group has been cultivating their style and their fanbase for a few years now in Montreal, and in 2014 they released their debut EP. Now, they’re fundraising to record their first LP. The Daily sat down with three members of Po to get the details on the upcoming album, as well as the story behind their name, and their poutine preferences.
MD: Tell me about yourselves! How did you guys get together?
Josh (vocals, guitar, ukelele): We all met in CEGEP on the South Shore of Montreal, and we swiftly exchanged musical tastes and picked up guitars, Paul and I specifically, and started writing songs immediately as we learnt the chords.
MD: Why did you choose the name Po Lazarus?
Josh: There’s a famous old song called “Po Lazarus” that is a chant or a chain gang song made famous by the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. Great movie. It’s just a song about a criminal named Lazarus who hides up in the mountains while he’s wanted, and eventually the deputies slay him and bring him down the mountain, much like our ultimate demise…
MD: On your Facebook page it says [that you produce] “anthemic love dirges meant for the Spitbucket.” What does that mean?
Paul (bass, rhythm guitar): The Spitbucket is actually a location where we create a lot of our music, that’s our jam space on St. Antoine just down the street over here, and I guess we do play some sort of anthemic sort of music. At least in our spirit, we feel as if they are anthems of our lives in a way, and love is a big part of our lives I guess… You know how it is, we’re young men, drinking and loving… and playing music in dirty, dirty places.
M.O. (drums): I think what could be mundane in life is brought to a more magical level through the lyrics that Josh and Paul write, and that’s part of how we describe ourselves.
MD: What have you guys been working on?
Josh: We’re constantly working on the songs, constantly working on our instruments, and very shortly we’re going to be going into the studio and recording our debut album. We’re just practicing to try and have it down perfectly so that we can get into a little trouble in the studio… and I’m sure we will get into trouble!
MD: Do you guys already know what direction the debut album is going in? Do you guys have a good solid outline? [Right now] you’re kind of a mix of blues, garage, rock…
“I think what could be mundane in life is brought to a more magical level through the lyrics that Josh and Paul write, and that’s part of how we describe ourselves.”
Paul: Sometimes it’s really hard to put things into words about the band because there are so many varied genres that we incorporate, it’s all very instinct[ive] and innate for us.
M.O.: I think this album is going to be the birth of that, and then you’ll be able to classify us. But don’t do [it] until then.
MD: Any major differences between the EP and the debut album?
Josh: Well I mean the EP is classically what you’re working on, and then you put out an album. It’s going to definitely have many of those elements, it’s sort of eclectic, that EP. We think there’s some triumphs on it, we think there’s some losses, but now we’re very much planning out this album so that it’s gonna be the best it can be for us.
M.O.: Just recently we were talking about the styles. So there’s one umbrella term that’s “roots rock” and everything is in there – country rock, plain simple rock, heartland rock, folkrock. […] So everything American and in a way Canadian also; tradition[al] rock music I guess – just everything.
Paul: I don’t think we really know what kind of style that we play ourselves, but we like to play songs that we would like to hear, which are various in genres, and as band members we all listen to different kinds of things, so it results in us not even knowing where to classify ourselves. We kind of do play different genres of songs, so in one show you might see us play a folk country song and also a hard rock song, maybe like an alternative creepy genre that doesn’t even exist yet – ghost rock ‘n’ roll perhaps.
Josh: Also, we’re glamourous.
MD: What is it like trying to make it in Montreal?
Josh: We’re just trying to make the good songs so that they’re there. They’re gonna be there no matter if they’re shit, good – they’re gonna be there, so we’re just trying to make good songs that people relate to and like, and listen to nonstop while they jog, or eat their cereal.
M.O.: You can have good songs, you can have good musicians, but […] it seems like a lot of the early fans keep coming, and I’m surprised. Because usually you start a band and people come because they’re your friends and then they’re like, oh alright I can stop going now. But they keep coming, and that’s important. So shout out to the fans, to the Po Lazarites.
MD: In light of poutine week, which is this week: if you could have your own poutine – as a band or individually – what would you name it?
Josh: Not even gonna make my own special one, it’s all about the Poutineville pogo poutine!
Paul: Chef Guru curry poutine all the way.
Josh: We would call it the Po-tine though. There’s vodka on Po-tine as well.
“We’re just trying to make the good songs so that they’re there. They’re gonna be there no matter if they’re shit, good – they’re gonna be there, so we’re just trying to make good songs that people relate to and like, and listen to nonstop while they jog, or eat their cereal.”
M.O.: Well I have this recipe and someone can do it at home. Sweet potatoes, it’s beer-battered so you fry that up, and you use the cheese and the gravy but you add some tao chicken in there, with a little bit of soya sauce – that’s gonna be good.
Paul: I think that question [incited] the most response from us. The one not related to music at all.
MD: What kind of impact do you want your music to have on your fans?
Paul: One of sexual excitement.
MD: Do you want to elaborate?
Josh: Yes, I’ll elaborate. That’s something just, yes, we’ve achieved that already so – check. But I believe somebody relates to it and listens to it and thinks, maybe they felt the same way if they hear the lyrics and play the piano or play the guitar because they heard a song and they wanna play music too.
MD: What’s your favourite or most memorable live experience?
M.O.: Well I usually think we always suck but that’s what makes us good. But we have a few good moments, but that’s when we expect it the least – or maybe that’s just me.
Paul: I think the favourite stage I’ve ever played on was probably just Josh and I, we played at Burning Man festival like three years ago, that was maybe the greatest place. But as a four-piece band, this bar right here where we’re speaking is maybe one of our best venues. We get nice and sloppy here, we’re comfortable with the bartenders, so it’s always very fun to play here at Grumpy’s. And we put on the best shows I think because we’re so comfortable and just get nice and jammy.
MD: What motivates you guys to create?
Paul: Mainly Bob Dylan…we just want to hear more of what we want to listen to. […] an intensity that’s relevant to the emotions we feel: the sadness, the anger, and the happiness.
Po Lazarus is playing La Sala Rossa Friday, February 20. Head to indiegogo.com/projects/po-lazarus-debut-album to help fund their upcoming LP.