On Wednesday, July 13th, 2022, I had the pleasure of chatting with Lauren Wicker and Ray Garza of the Austin-based band, Lola Tried. Throughout the length of our thirty-five-minute discussion, I spoke with Wicker and Garza about the history of the band, their experiences as artists amid a global pandemic, and some of their favorite aspects of creating music in a collaborative setting. Our interview was conducted in anticipation of KTSW’s July 2022 Third Thursday event, an event that proudly hosts a new selection of three local musicians each month.
Avery Viers: I’m very excited to talk with y’all today and to be representing KTSW as we chat because we’re very excited to be having y’all play next week at Third Thursday!
Lauren Wicker: I played MR Fest when I was… it was my freshmen year I played MR Fest- no, my sophomore year!
Avery Viers: How was that?
Lauren Wicker: It was great! Well, okay… it was a little disorganized. The person running the venue didn’t know what a monitor was… and I had to be like ‘there’s no… there’s nothing?’ Or no, they didn’t know what a P.A. was! But we made it work. It was fantastic! I don’t even think that the bar we played at is there anymore.
Avery Viers: What year was that?
Lauren Wicker: 2011? 2012?
Avery Viers: How long do you think you’ve been playing for?
Lauren Wicker: I started playing shows when I was eighteen; there’s a venue in Austin called Red Eyed Fly that it was very much a pay-to-play thing. You never made money… but I got my foot in the door that way!
Avery Viers: How long have you been singing-slash-playing instruments? Have you been doing that long before you started performing?
Lauren Wicker: I started when I was 15. Then I started just playing around at, like, open mic nights when I was like 17 and 18 and then I took a break from music for a little while. I picked it back up when I was 23? And then at 24 I started Lola Tried. It was called Wicker at the time because that’s my middle name but there’s another band in California that looks like a Sublime cover band that’s called Wicker and we kept accidentally getting tagged as them!
Ray Garza: We played one show and I guess there was some sort of algorithm that would make them use the wrong Wicker page. So for the show we were playing at… these dudes…
Lauren Wicker: It was, like, three frat dudes!
Avery Viers: You were probably like, “Actually, that’s not quite right.. good try, though!”
Lauren Wicker: Yeah! Exactly.
Avery Viers: Just to start off, I was curious about the lore behind Lola Tried… just some information about how y’all got started and how all of y’all met.
Lauren Wicker: Yeah! So we started Lola Tried in 2016?
Ray Garza: Yeah, 2016!
Lauren Wicker: 2016. I had just started and I had no intentions of getting a band because I was too nervous to trust other people with my music. ‘If I get a band and the band breaks up then I lose all that music,’ right? ‘Cause I had a limited idea of what a band was. I started playing bass when I was a kid – I was like twelve. Then I switched to acoustic guitar ‘cause I was like, ‘I’m gonna make it myself! Like, I’m gonna make music that is totally self-sustainable.’ And then Ray ended up watching me play a show at Scoot Inn, a venue in Austin, and he was like, ‘Look, no pressure…’ And I also couldn’t read music or anything; if you told me to play an F sharp I don’t know what that is. But he was like, ‘No pressure, we don’t care!’
Ray Garza: It was at a time where, personally, I wanted to branch out and play with other people. I saw Lauren play a solo set and I could just hear the band behind the songs she’s playing. I was like, ‘Wanna start a band?’ I wanted to play bass because I had been playing guitar a lot… so we asked a buddy of ours and we went through a couple line-up configurations to land where we are now.
Lauren Wicker: Yeah! And it’s been awesome.
Avery Viers: And you came out with your first EP in 2017, right?
Lauren Wicker: Yeah. We came out with our first EP in 2017 and I think we did a full-length in… 2018?
Ray Garza: Yeah, 2018.
Lauren Wicker: 2018. And then we released our EP, ‘Renvers,’ last year.
Avery Viers: From when you first started working on music together to now, how would you say y’all have kind of grown and evolved together as a unit?
Ray Garza: We were just talking about that!
Lauren Wicker: Yeah! We were just talking about that ‘cause we had a couple of line-up changes for totally normal reasons, you know? People grow, people have other things they wanna accomplish and I started out feeling like I had to be totally self-sustainable; I was very defensive and very guarded with what I brought to the table. Slowly, as we grew as a band and as our friendship has grown, like, Ray is my best friend in the whole world. Um, I started to become more vulnerable in my songwriting. I started to really embrace just trying to trust other people with my work; not in a selfish way like, ‘you’re gonna mess it up,’ but I, you know, just that nervousness of being vulnerable there. So I learned to embrace that and now with this new line-up and with this post-pandemic maturity, I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a human so I’m able to really bring a lot to the table. I feel like I have to bring less to the table and say, ‘This is an idea, let’s write.’
Ray Garza: Yeah. Before Lauren would bring pre-fleshed-out songs and we’d just kind of throw it in. But we’re actually playing – I hope we get to play this one next week – a brand new one that we kind of all got to build from the ground up. She gave us a couple of nuggets of ideas, we all got to kind of.. when the ‘bones’ were being made we got to participate in that process. It’s been really exciting!
Lauren Wicker: Yeah, I was just telling him it feels really special. With our last EP it was starting to happen; I was giving over more trust. I wasn’t… it’s not even a controlling thing but I was willing to say, ‘Ok, this is an idea that I think is stupid but let’s work with it.’ And whenever I’d say, ‘I think it’s stupid,’ its because I’m insecure.
Lauren Wicker: I would be like, ‘It’s dumb… I don’t know if you guys would like this,’ you know? And then we worked up from there; I am very pleased with our newest EP and can’t wait to do a full length – that’s what we’re workin’ on right now.
Avery Viers: That’s awesome! What would you say each of y’all’s favorite part of bringing the pieces together is? Would you say each of y’all have a designated role, or do you guys like to be more free-flowing with what you bring creatively to each song?
Ray Garza: My philosophy in Lola Tried is like, ‘I’m here to help Lauren realize her vision.’ I’ve been in other bands where people feel like.. or members of the band which, there’s nothing this, but they wanna have their own voices. I don’t necessarily feel the same way; I come from, like, ‘if Lauren’s happy, I’m happy!’ I’m down to play different things – which is fine – but if she gives the thumbs up then I’ve done my job right.
Lauren Wicker: Yeah! I come in, though, with very much a, ‘I need everyone’s input. Is this ok for you guys? Is this ok for you?’ Honestly my favorite part is right at that moment where things come together and you play the song all the way through for the first time. When we write, we work on the song in sections; we’ll be like, ‘Ok, we’ll do intro and then we’ll do this chorus – ooh, that sounds cool, we’ll work on that.’ And so – that moment – the first time, even if it sounds rancid, once you play it all the way through you’re like, ‘Oh my god, we did it! We wrote something!’
Ray Garza: That ‘discovery phase’; Like, I’ve noticed Lauren will pull out the iPhone and just hit ‘Record’ and we’ll just be going through the song and.. we’ll have a melody, right? And we’ll kinda be throwin’ out words and something will just happen. Something will just fall out of your mouth and you’re like, ‘I like the sound of that,’ but you’re playing and you can’t stop and write it down; so it’s good that the phone captures that stuff.
Lauren Wicker: Yeah! That’s my favorite part. Once it comes together, no matter how sloppy it is, it’s like, ‘We did it, guys!’ We just did that for the first time since the pandemic happened on Sunday and it was awesome. It was incredible.
Avery Viers: How was y’all’s journey through the pandemic as a band? Did you do any collaborative writing independently? Or were y’all kinda just doing your own thing?
Lauren Wicker: That’s a great question. I… didn’t. I was angry at music. Well, I wasn’t angry at music but I was angry that people were expecting this global trauma to be an opportunity to write. I was really irritated by that. I felt depleted. I like writing… but playing shows and connecting with an audience is my favorite thing; playing on stage and the vibe and just hanging out with your buddies and playing loud Rock N’ Roll is, like, my thing, right? I didn’t want to write anything; I didn’t feel an urge and I kind of had to come to peace – come at peace – with, ‘I don’t wanna write right now. I don’t know when I feel an urge to write.’
Ray Garza: And that’s okay!
Avery Viers: Yeah, exactly.
Lauren Wicker: And telling myself like, ‘It’s ok if you don’t want to write.’ Honestly, that was great point of connection with other bands around town because a lot of musicians were feeling this pressure to come up with something. They were like, ‘Oh, you have all this free time!’ And it’s like, ‘All this free time is spent managing this global crisis!” I didn’t have the energy to do that – and I didn’t have the inspiration to! I honestly didn’t listen to any music and, whenever I did, it also opened me up to different genres. I will say the one record I did listen to – or the two that I did – was Hayley Williams of Paramore did a solo record; I’ve always appreciated her because she was, just, really on the forefront of stuff and she’s a genuinely good person in the way of her politics, the way that she conducts herself and the way that her brain, in general, is very well-intentioned. So I listened to that and it was so completely different from any Paramore stuff and I was just… hooked. It was quiet and very introverted – and I could listen to that. I also listened to a lot of Run The Jewels and it got me pumped, gotta love them. But in doing so, in taking a break writing music, I stopped listening to music that I was influenced by. So I was like, ‘I’m gonna listen to some wacky stuff that doesn’t make me think about playing shows.’ It was a growing point for me to realize A) I didn’t have to produce results all the time – there was no quota, there was no grades – this wasn’t college, this wasn’t a job and B) just really sitting back and saying like, ‘What do I like about this?’ Because I also realized that there were a lot of things I didn’t like about playing in a band at the time, you know? Especially being in Austin; the lifestyle, well, not the lifestyle… but this expectation to be out all the time. To be ‘On’ all the time. And making sure you’re talking to the right people. There were so many people I didn’t like that I would talk to and put up with because I was like, ‘Ahh, I don’t want my reputation.. like, I don’t wanna be ‘bad.’ I don’t not want to get a show because I don’t like this person.’ And not even talking about shitty behavior, just in general; people that are obnoxious. I realized I was able to let go of all of the ‘party casual’ friends and really focus in on my real friendships. Overall, I think it was a great growth experience. I’m hesitant to say I’m thankful because – I don’t think anyone is thankful – but it made me pause. And back out. And made me say, ‘What do I actually like about music?’ And that was the biggest step for me.
Ray Garza: Yeah. And I think a lot of soul searching was done. Still being ‘plugged in’ to social media, there’s a lot of other local musicians talking or posting about how productive they’re being at this time and having the sting of, ‘Oh, I should be doing that.’ But even when things started going back to ‘normal,’ [Lauren] was sending me some ideas [she] was coming up with and I could, like, hear the change that [Lauren] went through just from some of the ideas she had. [Lauren] was listening to different stuff. That’s another reason why I’m excited to be working on these new tunes that she has because I think we’re gonna be moving in a different direction.. or finding a new direction. It’s bittersweet to think about that period of time. And I think we really had to clear out as well.
Lauren Wicker: We really did.
Ray Garza: We had to really take out all the stuff that was in there that was not necessary and really take a close look at what’s important about doing this.
Lauren Wicker: Yeah. The Pandemic was Draino.
Avery Viers: Yeah, I get that. It’s really not fair to put expectations on the creative process because the creative process is spawned out of your own mental well-being. I totally get where you’re coming from – especially when other musicians are posting like, ‘Oh, I’m being so creative right now!’
Ray Garza: And it kind of stung that the competition –
Lauren Wicker: OOOH, It stung!
Ray Garza: That the competition would post. *laughs* But yeah.
Lauren Wicker: But [it stung] for every person that was doing this! It was my friend, Sam Pankey, who plays in a band called Balmorhea and also plays in a band called Heartless Bastards – two bands that you should totally check out – he was like, ‘No, Lauren. You absolutely should not be focusing on that right now! You should be focusing on getting through your day-to-day.’ And hearing that come from someone who, like, went to music school and is, like, on tour all the time… to hear that from someone who I really look up to and admire really made a difference in me going, ‘I’m allowed to sit back.’
Ray Garza: Being away from it for a little bit also just made it more exciting to pick it back up.
Avery Viers: When did y’all start playing live shows again?
Lauren Wicker: I would say the first one was… last June?
Ray Garza: Yeah!
Lauren Wicker: June 30th at Hole in the Wall! We played with Magic Rockers of Texas and it… Oh My God, it was awesome! It was so much fun!
Ray Garza: I mean, just speaking for myself, it was a little bit sloppy on my part. *laughs* It was one of those good warm-up shows with a ton of homies – it was a Wednesday night, you know?
Lauren Wicker: It was packed, it was great!
Ray Garza: We had another show that following Saturday. At least I think so, if I can remember correctly.
Lauren Wicker: Yeah!
Ray Garza: But I remember being nervous.
Lauren Wicker: Me too.
Ray Garza: It had been so long since I had felt nervous to play a show – since we were doing it so much – but I was nervous! I thought to myself, ‘Wow, it has been a while!’ I was a little scared boy over here!
Lauren Wicker: I was like, ‘I’ve aged almost two years. Is my back going to hurt?’ And it did. And it’s fine!
Avery Viers: I can’t imagine how exciting it must have been with all of that energy. The energy was high?
Lauren Wicker: Yeah, the energy was high and it was so affirming to see that people still cared. People still came out. People who weren’t just friends of mine – people who really like our music came out – and it was like, “Whoa! You guys still remember who we are?’ It was great.
Ray Garza: It’s probably one of the most unique scenarios to play a show; where everyone’s been cooped up for a while and now we were all together again. It was a little bit nerve-racking for me seeing them because so many people you see in the scene that I only see in those circumstances. We hadn’t seen these people in a couple of years.
Lauren Wicker: We hadn’t even been around a lot of people. That was the most people that I had been around.
Ray Garza: Yeah! It was a little bit unreal. I was like, ‘Man, I’m out of shape socially!’ It was a little bit overwhelming at first but once we got on stage and all of that joy from us playing and people being there… it was really magical.
Lauren Wicker: Yeah, it was special.
Avery Viers: What would you say is generally your favorite part about playing together in front of an audience?
Lauren Wicker: Definitely just A) the moment when you guy look at each other and you’re like, ‘Are we ready?’ and it’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re f***ing ready!’ And then as a band we all have our favorite songs that we like to play; hitting that one riff – that one chorus where you’re like, ‘I love this one!’ – was great. It’s always so fun.
Ray Garza: We also have a couple of songs where it feels like it’s The Wild West. We don’t really have an ending plan per se but we’ll just kind of look at each other and figure out when it’s gonna stop. There’s always this feeling like, ‘What’s it gonna sound like tonight?’
Lauren Wicker: Yeah! It’s great ‘cause you’re like, ‘Oh, great! We did it, we stopped the song and we didn’t fall apart. Great!’
Avery Viers: Do y’all have a favorite memory of playing on stage together?
Lauren Wicker: Ooh, that’s a good question. Well, there’s the goofy memory that’s really funny and there’s the memory of really cool stuff. I would say my favorite funny memory was when I was playing in Raleigh, North Carolina and I was like, ‘Yeah! I’m being suuuper Rock N’ Roll!’ We were on tour – our first big tour – and I was like, ‘I’m gonna stand on this amp!’ Our drummer at the time, Ray, he was looking at me like, ‘Okay…’. I stood on the amp and I fell and I took down his whole drum set – whole drum set – except for a snare, a high hat, and his kick. So he had very little to work with, and… he nailed it! He powered through and it was great. Another favorite memory was when we played with a band called cruiserweight – they were really big in the Austin scene when I had just moved here. I had moved here in 2008 with my family. They had sold out a show at Mohawk outside and we got to experience that for the first time ever. It was a venue I had seen all of my favorite bands play and it was like, ‘I am standing on a stage of greatness!’ *laughs*
Ray Garza: Yeah, that was one I know I was pretty nervous for. I was looking out like, ‘Okay… There’s people up there, there’s people up there, there’s people down here…’
Lauren Wicker: We couldn’t look anywhere where there were not people!
Ray Garza: And [Lauren] broke a string in the first song!
Lauren Wicker: Oh, I did!
Ray Garza: Fortunately, I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing that extra backup guitar which she used for the rest of the set. But it ended up being awesome. It’s hard for me to pick one out. I think when we were touring before Pandemic there was just so much crammed into so little time. But it’s always exciting to play outside of the city – your hometown – for people who are experiencing the band for the very first time.
Lauren Wicker: I take it back! I take back the Raleigh one of falling on the drum set. My other favorite memory of us on tour – because that was a great hometown one – but my other best friend, besides this one [references Ray], she’s in a really wonderful band called Looming. I would definitely recommend checking them out; they’re from Springfield, Illinois. Springfield, Illinois is a really small town. They have cultivated this entire DIY scene that has just taken off and [Looming] was imperative in it; they had this awesome venue at the time called Black Sheep and they had us play. It wasn’t air-conditioned and it was the middle of summer and it was a sober space! Which is fine! I think those places should absolutely exist and I’m stoked for it. I think more venues should have that. But I remember right before we went on I ran and took a huge tequila shot in the back ‘cause it was packed! There were, like, two hundred people in this tiny space and we just got on and sweated it out. I remember my hands were slipping off of my guitar ‘cause the sweat was just pouring down. But playing with people that I love – and we love this band so much – every single member, you know, they always stay with us whenever they come on tour. We felt loved because they had known about us through Looming; it was just a great moment of solidarity with other musicians that you truly love and bands embracing you from another state which was a very beautiful moment.
Avery Viers: Yeah, that sounds really special! How big was the room comparatively to other venues in Austin?
Lauren Wicker: Have you been to Spiderhouse Ballroom?
Avery Viers: Yes!
Lauren Wicker: It’s about that big!
Avery Viers: Oh okay! Cool, cool.
Lauren Wicker: It was full. *laughs* It was scary!
Avery Viers: Do you have a favorite city you’ve played in – outside of your hometown – that sticks out? Would it be that specific venue or somewhere else? I’m curious as to where you all have traveled while on tour.
Ray Garza: We toured the East Coast. We recently did a West Coast [tour] for the first time – that was arduous just to drive out of Texas in that direction.
Lauren Wicker: We did a Florida tour which was more… interesting. But it was fun. I would say our favorite city – for me – there’s two, same state; either Baton Rouge or New Orleans, Louisiana. Just because a lot of the bands in those cities obviously come through Austin. We’ve played with several of [those bands] and so we always have homies at both of those shows; also just the city in general. Baton Rouge, LA is a very underrated city – I’m gonna call Baton Rouge! Baton Rouge is my favorite city to play.
Ray Garza: I agree, it’s a great place.
Avery Viers: I actually was just in Baton Rouge earlier this week! We drove through and stayed the night. I’ve been a few different times but it’s definitely a really cool city. That’s a good pick!
Lauren Wicker: It’s so underrated! They have that great diner, Lou’s, that you can get some really good po’ boys; it’s outside of New Orleans so it’s a great place to stop on the way back since you’re hungover from New Orleans and you’re dying from heat exhaustion. But yeah, Baton Rouge. It’s a good place. They have a really good scene there: DIY and non-DIY.
Avery Viers: So, I know you mentioned that you’re working on an album right now?
Lauren Wicker: Mhmm!
Avery Viers: How’s that been going?
Lauren Wicker: It literally just started a couple of weeks ago! I had to go out of the country in March but we started right before then. We’re at the point now where we’re like, ‘Okay, we’re writing. Writing is our priority. Let’s do it.’ We have a solid set for our shows so we can fully devote time to writing songs.
Ray Garza: Yeah. We just had a recent line-up shift – we have a new person on bass and a new person on drums – and we just finished bringing them up-to-speed on old stuff. So now we’re just kind of dipping our toes into writing together. It’s been really great. More important than musical prowess is attitude… I think it’s very important to [Lauren] that everyone is having a good time and if somebody isn’t having a good time then it can drain the vibe or, ‘Take the vibe hostage,’ is how we put it. There is an excitement in the room that is very fresh; to have that introduced into the writing process has been really exciting.
Avery Viers: Yeah, totally! *laughs* Can you think of an essential that you bring to each of your shows that is not instrument related?
Lauren Wicker: That’s a really good question.
Ray Garza: I’ve gotten into the habit of really trying to bring a second shirt… It can get pretty sweaty up there.
Lauren Wicker: Yeah, a rag! I always bring something to wipe my face ‘cause we like to move around a lot and jump around.
Ray Garza: Yeah. Something to handle the sweat.
Avery Viers: A sweatband! You should totally start rockin’ a sweatband.
Ray Garza: Why have we not thought of that?
Avery Viers: You guys have got to bring that back, it would be seriously cool!
Lauren Wicker: And we could have the little wristbands!
Avery Viers: Yeah! *laughs* Like Michael Cera in Juno.
Ray Garza: Oh yeah!
Avery Viers: If you guys whipped out some sweatbands on stage… that would be perfect.
Lexi Delarosa Music Journalist Local San Marcos band, Attic Ted will be performing from 9 PM to 10 PM this Thursday, July 21st, 2022 at The Porch for KTSW’s monthly Third Thursday event. Prior to their performance, I sat with the creator of the band, Grady Roper, to get more insight into his artistic process and drive. This interview took place on Thursday, July 14, over a Zoom video conference. […]
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