Lazuli: Making Music That Transcends Language Barriers
Lazuli's latest release was inspired by dark times, but their jovial frontman knows the importance of keeping things positive.
Ever since the release of their 2014 album Tant Que L’Herbe Est Grasse and their first appearance in these pages, Lazuli have become arguably the first French prog band to make waves in the UK since Ange.
No small feat for a self-released band now entering their 18th year in existence, an existence that was confined for a long time in the sunny south of France. This new-found success has been, according to guitarist and vocalist Dominique Leonetti, more beneficial to the band than any English lesson.
“Well, let’s say the two UK tours we did in 2014 and 2015 [with Fish] have been much better for me than all my English courses in high school!” he laughs, before recalling the difficulties they faced when speaking to Fish’s staff.
“There were people from Scotland, Wales and various parts of England, all with their own expressions and accents,” Leonetti explains. “From time to time, you could tell even they had a hard time understanding each other! So I think we did pretty good, considering the circumstances. We even learnt to appreciate the beauty of your national institution known as breakfast, much to our sound engineer’s dismay! Besides, our keyboard player Romain [Thorel] now visits the UK regularly as he’s dating Fish’s daughter, whom he met on that trek, so his English has improved a lot too for obvious reasons…”
The warm welcome Lazuli have received in the UK is a personal achievement not only for the band but also for Leonetti himself, who says he has always looked to the country’s rich musical heritage for inspiration. In fact, it was because of some of Her Majesty’s most esteemed subjects that he became an artist.
“To me, the UK will always be the land of The Beatles,” says Leonetti. “I was about 10 when I first heard A Day In The Life and I was instantly overwhelmed by that part where the orchestra goes crazy midway. It felt like I’d been going through my life in black and white and that all of a sudden, the Fab Four turned everything into colour. Ever since, I’ve been trying to emulate the epiphany I had that day.”
Coincidentally, the UK was also where Leonetti had his first experience of performing. “I did a school exchange when I was about 15 and that’s when I went to London for the first time,” he remembers. “I had my very first acoustic guitar with me and being the young, full of hormones, careless teenager that I was, I did my first ever gig during that trip with a friend of mine who also played guitar. We played a few originals along with selected covers in a pub in front of a few punters.