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I remember the day that Julian Cires e-mailed me the tracks that comprised Leaving Paris, excitedly downloading each mp3 and giving feedback via messenger on each track to him and the bands original bassist. Like many fans, I had been privy to hearing the band test these songs out live before crowds for a while at this point, but there’s something about hearing the final product through your speakers for the first time that’s unmatched.

At this point people were primed for this disc and the bands CD release show was a spectacle – wall to wall packed by the time my girlfriend and I got to the venue. There were no open seats and you had to battle your way to the bar for water! It’s been 5 years since the release of Leaving Paris and the band is still packing that same venue. The lineup may have gone through some changes, but the sound is still energetic, strong, and undeniably Lavola. Fresh off a main stage appearance at the For the Love festival in Ft Lauderdale, we got our long-time friends in Lavola to sit down and chat with SFL Onstage (supporters since 2010) about their upcoming anniversary show, violin, and even a Third Eye Blind sing-along!
Story & Photos: Matthew Pashalian

You guys just came off a really cool set at the For the Love festival in Lauderdale with further seems forever, how was that experience compared to other festivals you’ve all performed at?
Julian Cires: It’s hotter by a significant margin. Festivals are exciting to play because it entails playing to a mostly new audience. This particular feat was very receptive, which is a rewarding feeling.
Jeff Rose: For me it was cool seeing a bunch of those people for the second year in a row, albeit in a different band. It was a lot of fun.
Emily Rebecca: It was a pretty big deal to me since FSF is a huge influence. More so in the Carrabba era, but Jason is also a really cool and talented dude. The Moon is Down is in my top 10 albums of all time…I also got a wicked sunburn. And especially in lieu of everything happening with Jon, I think it was all the more poignant.
Paul DeFilippis: Definitely had a blast. Got to share the stage with some really great bands. Also got a wicked sunburn but it was totally worth it. Nice to play for some fresh ears.

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Lavola For the Love Festival

I understand the band kind of unexpectedly fell into playing the show too?
Emily: Kinda funny, since we never actually officially submitted to play this fest. But I was quite stoked that it ended up working out.
Julian: Regarding the invitation, some sort of miscommunication occurred with fest bookers. Happy accident.

What was the initial feeling like when you were compiling the songs that would become Leaving Paris?
Julian: The performance group I had been playing with at that point had those songs pretty tight, mostly from gigging them to death. So the recording process was relatively smooth and quick. I wanted to really capture the live dynamic of the shows with that EP, so I tried to not over think the tracking and mixing process.

Was there ever a song or ‘ah ha!’ kind of moment that made you feel like, okay, we’ve got something really special here that steered you into any particular direction?
Julian: Of course, it’s always really exciting to hear how a group of songs sound in context of an album. I was really proud of the final result. Even the things I wish I could re-track or am OCD about, I ended up loving in time its quirks and endearing flaws.
Emily: I remember having that kind of moment when I was listening to Leaving Paris for the first time in Barnes and Noble. I was trying to become familiar with the music so that when we had our first jam sesh, I wouldn’t look like an idiot. It was at the end of Paris, when Julian screams, “Masochist! Masochist! I’m a masochist!”- That broke my heart, but also made me think, “This band is going to be a huge deal in my life.”
Julian: The moment in which I felt like the batch of songs was turning into something grander, was when I tracked “This City Loves You.” It was initially going to be a ‘hidden’ track. However, during mixing the song became something more than I had initially imagined. Then I began to see the narrative of the album a little more clearly.

That’s actually really cool to hear how something would affect you as someone outside of the band.

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Lavola songs aren’t exactly radio friendly lengthwise, clocking in at 5-7 minute long epics that can get to be longer in the live setting. Was this ever something in the back of your mind, maybe people might say, ‘the songs are too long, pretentious bastards, etc?’
Julian: I’ve never been concerned about song length, evidently. Songs come first. Although, that being said, we do have a handful of relatively standard length songs. I’d say it’s a good mix now.
Emily: I don’t think it matters that a lot of the songs are longer. We’re not a radio band. I think a lot of it is catchy enough to be on the radio, but that’s not the main goal. Maybe it’s also easier having a violinist in the band- that’s definitely an out. Anyone can blame the pretention on me. I am classically trained and a woman. Both of those factors can mean rambling. Just like this answer. But Julian always has the final say on the length of the song.

5 years later, where do you think the strength in these songs lays now that keeps the people who were with you guys 5 years ago still coming to see you now?
Julian: That’s hard for me to say. Even though it’s been a bit of time, I’m still too close to the subject.
Emily: A song is a snapshot in time for whoever the songwriter was. It’s just as much of a snapshot for the listeners. Like Sage, Paul and I mentioned, we all have personal attachment/emotional ties to the same song. I think people are loyal to something that is both nostalgic and cathartic.
Julian: I’m just happy that those songs resonate with people still.

From a fan perspective “I could probably do an entirely superset interview on what the Leaving Paris EP means to me as a complete work. I discovered that album about 1 month after moving to Florida and leaving my life behind. I related so much to the lyrical tone, the themes and the message the album cover conveyed. I would say it saved me from a very dark period, that and the EP prior. Thus why Lavola means so much to me, and why I’m so honored to be a part of this anniversary show. I’d say it was the album that made me want to become a part of what the south Florida music scene is.” – Sage DuVall

Is there a song in particular that you’re most proud of? And all around to the rest of the band what the one favorite is as well?
Julian: On that particular album, it’s a really tough call. During the recording process, I was most proud of how I Never Said came out sonically. Although, at this point, I believe I’m most proud of the title track, “I’m Leaving Paris.”
Emily: I’m very proud of the production on “Please Excuse the Blood.” When I heard the rough mix for the first time, it was like, ‘This is exactly what it should be.’ Everything came together, and I really liked the violin outré. I was also proud of “Watch Your Step,” since I haven’t sung much in the past and finally felt comfortable enough doing so.
Paul: I rocked the hell out of Leaving Paris back in the day before I joined up with these guys. It was for sure an inspiration to me musically. Performing with Lavola has definitely made me hear the songs in a different light. “Paris…” is for sure one of my favorites but I love “We Were Heroes,” and “Philosophers Daughter.” Those songs just have so much emotion and I remember how much they blew me away when I first heard them.

This incarnation of the band is a bit different with the addition of Emily on violin in 2013. How long did you want to bring in that element into the band and how did it feeling coming into with this whole new musical element?

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Lavola – Emily Rebecca For the Love Festival

Julian: I wanted violin in Lavola before the very first show years ago. That particular violinist flaked out. Then another flaked out before the recording of Leaving Paris. It’s one of my favorite instruments tonally, so I’ve always imagined violin parts for the songs in the past.

For Emily, what do you find to be the most challenging part of playing in Lavola?
Emily: Violinists are usually not flakes. That’s more of a violist problem. ZING. But it’s good they flaked I guess. And that I’m not an asshole haha. The most challenging part of PLAYING in Lavola, or being a member of Lavola, because I think I might have a different answer, depending. I guess a lot of the times; the hardest part is being heard. It sounds stupid as shit, but I struggled with that a lot when I first joined the band. I eventually upgraded my violin, got a pedal board, etc., but that caused a lot of distress for me initially since I don’t have a fancy cabinet or amp… yet.

To Paul, how did you end up in the band because you actually went from being a fan looking up to Lavola to actually being in the band?
Paul: Well I played with a band called The Vogans. We were a bunch of high schoolers/recently graduated high schoolers. We were all band kids and started from the absolute bottom of the scene and over a few years we grew into something really special. We eventually befriended Lavola and played a few shows with them. Julian and I became buds and when he asked me to play with them I was super stoked, especially because I knew The Vogans days were numbered due to members moving off to college.

I notice you are always really into every song and the live show in general when I see you live, definitely never phoning it in.
Paul: That’s because I’m genuinely having a blast whenever I’m on stage. There’s nothing I enjoy more.

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Lavola – Paul DeFilippis, Jeff Rose For the Love Festival

Jeff (who has a kick like a rhino) was also playing in a different band, how exactly did you guys wrangle him into the fold.
Julian: I was given a gig offer as opening support for The Kills around the time the first live line up was finished. So, I was kind of scrambling around. Jeff was at the top of my list of potential drummers and we had played shows together in different bands so we were already acquainted. I sent him a message online, and he was pretty open about filling in for that gig. From then on we just kept jamming together.

For Jeff, you have a pretty distinct style which is apparent when listening to leaving Paris and this book… how was the transition for you coming into the band playing these songs A LOT of people love while still retaining your own personal thing.
Jeff Rose: I was actually part of the 2nd lineup to come on board in early 2012. However, it was fun learning those original songs and putting my spin on them here and there. That’s unavoidable for me. I’m not really the type to play a song the same way twice. There’s certainly something to be said about solid, consistent drummers, but I just prefer to improvise more often if possible. It keeps things fresh and interesting, for me and the rest of the band. Recording drums on This Book… was definitely a fun experience. We recorded “Pearl & Rust” first as a single (in the same studio), which set the tone as to what expect in regards to recording with this band.

Throughout the recording process, we all tried a bunch of things with different drums, guitars, amps, etc. and generally it was fun and easy working with the band and our engineer Ryan Alexander (who I went on to play with in Civilian). One of the biggest achievements/honors was when Sage DuVall organized an international cover performance video for “7 Steps to Hell” – one of my more intricate drum parts. For whatever reason I decided to mess around with the idea of splitting a paradiddle between my left hand and right foot, and made that my point of departure for the rest of the verse beat. It was really cool that so many people (from around the world!) took the time and effort to try and recreate that beat with THEIR own style. This band has definitely allowed me to push myself creatively with my playing, as well as refine skills of listening to my band mates, as well as playing appropriately for the song moment by moment. Plus, when we’re all up there, sweating and flailing about, it almost doesn’t matter what we’re technically executing because we’re working in sync as one raucous machine. #swegmax
Also, writing “Healing Eye” together with the guys was really fun too!

Let’s talk about the original Leaving Paris release show, what do you remember about the night?
Julian: It’s kind of a blur. I recall it being a long set, but it felt short. I recall that everyone brought flashlights in the audience and flashing it around during “Dry Socket.” Mostly, I remember it being a very positive and fulfilling experience.

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What can people expect from the anniversary show? Performing the disc front to back? Fits of laughter? Cats on stilts?
Julian: All of the above. We’re definitely performing Leaving Paris from start to finish.
Emily: I wish there would be cats on stilts. Def playing the entire album.
Julian: And we’ll play other songs too, with multiple members. Perhaps with more than 1 drummer; I don’t want to spoil the evening now though. We’re definitely going all out for this one for sure.
Paul: You can expect us to have a blast and break some eardrums. Also have a few surprises as previously hinted.

What are you all most looking forward to about this show?
Julian: Playing it, but also hanging with the kids supporting us. This show has become a little bit of a pilgrimage haha. We have people flying in from Austin, Boston, and all over FL. That blows my mind.
Emily: I’m pretty stoked that some people are coming from very far away to see us play. That is pretty special, and not something you get every day at a typical show. I’m stoked to play, for sure. And for my micro set before the other bands! AYE! I’m looking forward to everyone’s energy too.

Convince anyone who may stumble upon this article in the days leading up to the show to come out because they’ve either never seen you before or are on the ledge.
Julian: Just jump. ‘I wish you would step off from that ledge my friend. Doo bee doo. Convinced?
Emily: CUT TIES AND ALL THE LIES THAT YOU’VE BEEN LIVING IN…or whatever those lyrics are…step back from… unless you were being super funny, haha
Julian: I WOULD UNDERSTAAAAAD.
Emily: It’s really cool that people are so passionate about this album. And I think it makes sense that they’d want us to go HAAM for them.
Paul: If I’ve learned one thing in my years it’s that you can’t convince people to come to a local show, but if someone’s on the fence I’d tell them that there is nothing better in South Florida they can do than come drink some whiskey and party with us that night.

This is SFL – You’re a band with roots firmly planted in south Florida. How do you feel about the ever changing scene in south Florida?
Julian: I love my hometown. Change is healthy. It’s been a pleasure witnessing the evolution of the music culture down here.
Emily: I think change allows for growth and the adoption of new standards. So I agree, it is def health.

Click here for details on the ‘Leaving Paris’ 5-Year Anniversary Show Event Page

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