Comprised of brothers Bryan (drums, percussion) and Scott (bass, synths) Devendorf, the rhythm section of Grammy winning US indie band The National, Benjamin Lanz (vocals, guitar, bass, synths), their The National bandmate who also plays with Beirut, and Aaron Arntz (synths, piano) of Beirut and Grizzy Bear, it’s fair to say that Cincinnati four-piece LNZNDRF come with an impressive pedigree. Thankfully, new album II, released last week, proves them to be even more than the sum of their parts, shrugging off the weight of any expectations forged by their other musical exploits within moments of the instrumental shimmer of opening track ‘Xeric Steppe V2’. II provides an emersive post-punk fantasia, transporting the listener with its hypnotic motorik grooves. Joyzine’s James Essiet caught up with Ben and Scott to find out more.
Sounds differ over time. However, can you explain the divergence and sound development between the first album and this second one?
Ben L: Surely, music is an art. However, there’s always an extensive approach to not only create perfect sounds but ensure that there’s a definitive balance in the expression of our artistic identity. Thus, any noticeable difference between both albums is as a result of our will to express.
Scott D: Yeah, it’s more like Ben said. We get so soaked into the rhythm that our concern is to not only embody this classical art but also live in it.
Both of you have great profiles in the other bands you’re associated with. However, what’s the remarkable difference in creating music with LNZNDRF and the other bands?
Ben L: Entirely FREEDOM! LNZNDRF offers her artists the opportunity to bond in everything. From sharing musical ideas as a family without imposing to harmonising and promoting group thinking. It’s great to get involved in everything and this is something you can’t find in most bigger bands.
Scott D: I agree with Ben. Surely having over 100 person’s could be exhausting, though workload free. But an experience of a smaller scale is what LNZNDRF provides us with.
Music is influenced by a lot of things, even insects inspire musical creations. What inspired the entire classical theme and the album sound?
Ben L: There’s always a need to express our artistic identity. We feel as though this classical indie rock jam is our life mission. Hence, we’re inspired by the greats in the early 70’s that gave life and meaning to this particular musical genre.
Scott D: Nature has been an important source of inspiration. Infact, the album cover and even tracks are nature inclined. We try to express ourselves naturally by associating with Mother nature herself!
There seems to be a chosen method of recording in extensive jam sessions rather than occupying a studio with fully formed and ready to record songs. Any reasons?
Ben L: Basically, there’s no definitive reason. Except that this is our own paradigm and we feel exceptional, angelic etc. in our jam sessions.
Scott D: For me, it’s the impact of nature’s feel in the album.
Critics said a lot about your first album. Did their remarks influence the album creation? What was your intent when you made the first track of the new album ‘Xeric Steppe V2’ fully instrumental, and in the album tracks which have more instrumental playing than vocals?
Ben L: Everyone’s got their own opinion about anything. However, we weren’t working based on critics reviews of our foremost album. We did what we did based on our inspiration, jurisdiction and not the opinions of critics entirely. Surely, some great points were noted from these reviews but it didn’t serve as a benchmark in the album’s creation.
However, if you go back in time to the 70’s. You’d realize that the instrumentals ran for as long as 5 minutes. Fela Anikulapo Kuti is a great prototype of such creative grandeur. He’d play the sax for over 5 minutes moreso before introducing the vocal.
Scott D: It’s as Ben says it, a pure expression of our artistic identity.
Feelings are incomprehensible. So, what’s the feeling that comes with releasing an album recorded before the pandemic after the pandemic? Were there events that influenced this decision?
Scott D: The album was recorded in the autumn of 2019. Ben was in charge of the editing process, with others such as Dominic to help with the artwork, Bella with the engineering, Ben with the videos and a host of others. Appreciation to all those who were involved. However, the pandemic didn’t affect the creation in autumn 2019. It only caught on with us during the editing process.
Ben L: The album should have been released last year. However, there was a feeling of tension around the world as a result of the pandemic. Though we created a pre EP in September of 2020. The release in 2021 only felt appropriate, because the chokey feeling in 2020 was lessened with the new year entrant.
The future is near, what should people expect from LNZNDRF in the near future?
Ben L: Well, there’s a lot going on and the coming days seem certain. After the album release. There’s a scheduled release for the EP recorded last year later on in 2021.
Politics is an irresistible issue because its instability affects technically everything from marketing to consumer behavior and even customer stability etc. Thus, what’s your take on the current political status quo in the United States of America?
Ben L: I’m in France for now. Even though I still read of the happenings in both continents. It’s been horrific though, especially with the social justice situation. However, I’m trying to get a shift off those.
Scott D: Well, we’re happy and there isn’t really anything much to say about the politics.
Lastly, meaning is alluded to everything in life. What does the album mean to you, individually?
Ben L: The album means a lot to me. It means ME expressing myself artistically and having this joint mission of propagating the 70’s musical art. Most importantly, it’s a way of admonishing and expressing my artistic identity.
Scott D: Well, the album means a lot to me physically, musically and even spiritually. It sees me expressing myself and more importantly creating sounds that are relieving and wonderful.
LNZNDRF II is available now on clear white 12″ vinyl from the band’s official store and on all major streaming platforms.
Interview by James Essiet
Cover Image by Indira Dominici