Lucas Fitzsimons and Ryan Foster are used to feeling like outsiders. Growing up in an Argentinian household, Fitzsimons felt different from the other kids at school. Both of them are soft spoken, and neither of them are fond of the social climbing and extraneous noise that characterizes the LA entertainment industry.
That outsider mentality serves as inspiration for the music they create as The Molochs. The duo don’t kowtow to local trends; instead, they keep doing what they’ve been doing for years: making blues-based guitar music rife with lyrical honesty. While the songs have an upbeat musicality, there’s a palpable sense of somberness lurking beneath the grooves.
The band recently signed with Innovative Leisure, a label that hosts a roster of acts including Tijuana Panthers, Nick Waterhouse, De Lux, Classixx and Bad Bad Not Good, and have gone from playing shows at small dive bars to festival slots at Primavera Sound in Barcelona and Noise Pop in San Francisco. They’re also gearing up for tours in the U.S. and Europe.
We spoke with Fitzsimmons about returning to the country of his birth, operating outside the industry, and how a trip to India inspired him.
I wanted to start by talking about your upbringing. You were born in Argentina? How long did you live there?
I was born there. When we moved here I was just under three years old. Growing up here was weird, because I had this past that I knew nothing about.
When did you first pick up an instrument?
Actually, it was the first time I went back to Argentina. It was right after I got out of elementary school. I remember going into the basement at my grandparents house [in Argentina], and there was this dingy guitar missing a string sitting in the corner somewhere. I already had this excitement of wanting to learn guitar, so I just picked it up. I think I played it every day on that five-day trip. As soon as I got back [to L.A.], I bought a guitar.
When did you start writing songs? Was that later?
I do remember, even in those early days when I was 12 or 13, trying to put together little songs. I never took that part too seriously. And I never dreamed of singing. I could barely talk. I remember hearing my voice on a message once and really hating it. So singing wasn’t even an option.
What did you do to gain the confidence to sing?
I think having access to a computer where I could record little demos was really important. In my studio apartment, I could try things a lot over and over, and do it alone without anybody around. That way, I learned to sing in a way that was purely functional for the song.
How did The Molochs start?
The Molochs started in January of 2012. Up until that point, I had another band called Bad Dreams. I had had that band for a couple years. I wasn’t really happy with it, but I was too passive to do anything about it at the time.
At the end of 2011, I went to India. It was a school-related thing. It took me out of my bubble enough to set things in perspective. When I got back, I was ready to make a lot of changes in my life. I didn’t end the band; what I did was part ways with a couple of the members and told them I wanted to continue the band without them. They didn’t like that, so I started The Molochs.
You said that when you went to India, it changed your perspective on things. What do you mean by that?
It made it seem like my life here was so minuscule and so privileged. And there were so many petty things I realized I was hung up on. It’s shocking to be there. I loved how much it made me feel like I had just been born. All of a sudden, the world isn’t what you thought it was at all. Having my reality just completely fucked up caused that.
Did that rebirth change your approach to songwriting?
I think it just made me want to be more honest in life in general, and I think that carried over into the music. Not that it wasn’t honest before, but I think it just gave me more conviction and more drive. I had less willingness to put up with any other bullshit, really.
I kind of wanted to talk about roots music. I feel like what sets your music apart from everyone else is that it has strong blues undertones. When were you exposed to those styles?
Maybe in 2009, I really started to get into blues. Something about that music was so real. I just kept digging into it and studying it. It hit me in an intuitive way and also an intellectual way, because I like history. IIt was just pure. I think there’s something really human about it. When you listen to a lot of blues and folk, you realize that there’s a pool of themes and lyrics that you find turning up in a lot of other songs. Everyone is pulling from this existing pot of ideas.
Would you guys consider yourself a DIY band? Do you think that punk rock influences what you do?
That’s always been our mentality. Obviously we are now on a label, but I don’t think we are ready to kick our feet up and let everything happen for us. I think we very much still care about what we do and what’s going to happen for us. We want to have a hand in it for sure. I mean, we don’t play punk music. Well, I guess we do—kind of.
Just the spirit of it. There’s no circle pits, but…
Is it the attitude of just going against the grain?
Yeah—or even not caring about the grain.
Do you think having this mentality of not caring about what else is going on around you helped you stand out?
We kind of always felt like outsiders, and I think we just owned that. Being brought up by parents with a different culture, you go home and your family isn’t like other kids’. You go to school, and you feel a little different. I think we’re just used to it.