L+T: Ellery, tell me about your voice. It’s also pretty distinct.
ER: I guess this sounds like the bullshit, pretentious thing to say, but I never really thought about it very much. I just did it. I dunno. I don’t particularly talk like I sing. Like that guy from Modest Mouse—his voice is a bit fucked up. When I did it, I remember [guitarist] Evans [Kati] was like, ‘Yeah, uh, that’s a stupid noise you’re making.’ [Laughs]
TM: I get what you’re saying. It’s like being able to express yourself in the best way. It’s more about being true to yourself than what you actually sound like talking.
L+T: An interesting thing is sometimes listening and thinking, ‘Well, I don’t know what the fuck he’s saying,’ and then being able to read the liner notes because you’ve released your lyrics online.
ER: Part of it was because everyone was saying, ‘I have no clue what you’re saying.’ [Laughs] At first, I thought it was kind of funny. But sometimes it’s like, ‘Yeah, I like those lyrics,’ but then someone else says, ‘Yeah, I like when you say, ‘Blah, blah, blah,’’ and it’s something completely different. But for me, it’s also that there’s a content side of the record and then a musical side. They’re connected but you can sort of have them separately.
L+T: As for your album, do you think it has to be listened to all the way through to get a good sense of it?
ER: Our manager was saying if we had done this on a record label, it probably never would’ve ended up like it is, ‘cause there’s no big frontal singles in terms of big, standout songs. Well, for me, they’re all along the same. I think we approached it quite narratively, like one song after another after another. We kind of had an idea of where we wanted it to go before we had all of the songs. We were talking about at first releasing it as one big piece of music without any breaks, but the people were like, ‘You’ll never be able to have it on iTunes!’ And we’re like, ‘Alright, I don’t care so much.’ But then it’s like, ‘Well, you probably ain’t gonna…’I think there’s a certain line between doing something and making it so unavailable that nobody hears it. People are just like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ You can only bury it so much before people don’t see it.
L+T: But from your lyrics to your image, why has everything been so cryptic thus far?
ER: I don’t know. When I make something or when I write something, like, fundamentally, I try to entertain myself. So, I’ve always preferred things that have been more abstract. And I just did all of this stuff in the same sort of style. A lot of the things I used to sing were not like hilarious—”funny, funny”—but kind of a bit stupid and people seem to read a lot more into it when you’re just, like, making it.
L+T: It’s been like the opposite of having a Twitter account.
ER: I think it’s bit of a reaction to [social media] in some ways. A lot of times, it’s really just, like, boring and I don’t care. The truth of something is fundamental—it’s there—but being a bit more imaginative maybe or not so serious. Some people are like, ‘You pretentious bastard.’
L+T: And before, beyond looking for the lyrics, listeners had to do a little digging just to find the music, as opposed to googling it and it just popping up.
ER: You seem to get a more genuine connection with things when, like, someone you respect tells you about them or you find it yourself. It’s like a discovery rather than someone yelling, ‘Check this out! Check this out!’
TM: Yeah, like wanting to know, rather than being told.
ER: That’s what I like about Life + Times. It’s kind of personal. It’s like I found this and I like this. It’s not like, ‘This is sick! You gotta have this now!’
L+T: Last thing, how did you arrive at the name “WU LYF”?
TM: It went from Spitting Blood to Wolves to Vagina Wolf to Wulf Wulf to WU LYF.
ER: It came from Wulf Wulf, sort of like a relatively bullshit reactionary, ‘I’m young, I’m into politics.’ It stood for “World United Liberation Front,” but that was, like, fucking lame. But we kind of liked the word “united” and then the “WU.” And then Joe started working on this black metal project and started reading up on Lucifer and learning about that, and “Lucifer Youth Foundation” was something we kind of just made up and we decided to name the band as an amalgamation of the two.
L+T: So are you guys Wu-Tang fans at all?
ER: Yeah, yeah, the “WU” was sort of like…
TM: ‘That’s funny.’
ER: Yeah, yeah, but like The Wu-Tang Manual, that book RZA wrote, was like a real influence, just in terms of the perspective of doing things. It was so much more inspiring than a boring little indie band. So when we came to that approach of making something, I just kind of thought of that and how [Wu-Tang] built up a natural, established thing around it instead of like a bunch of guys trying to get lucky. It was like, ‘We’re strong enough to do this.’