Lawn is a mess of contradictions. Wrestling with self-doubt, getting over themselves, breaking out of their bubbles, realizing they're part of the problem, and turning to nostalgia for comfort, "then realizing it's making you feel shittier," says bassist and vocalist Rui De Magalhães. But the band's sweet spots are in the tiny wars waging between both sides.
On the band's 2018 debut album Blood on the Tracks, the trio — now made up of De Magalhães, guitarist Mac Folger and drummer Jamie Joyce — balance clever Kinks-inspired pop with Minutemen-like austerity, reflecting Folger's pop ear and De Magãlhaes' punk aspirations, all sung in three-part harmony.
The album also is a testament to a life in New Orleans ("It's so shitty and so amazing," De Magalhães says), a city of contradictions the band distills into 12 songs of both offbeat poetry and matter-of-fact lyrics.
De Magalhães, who grew up in Nicaragua and Venezuela listening to his dad's SST and Creation Records albums, now is more in tune with Folger's ear, despite thinking he'd never soften up to pop music outside a punk bubble.
"When you're 14 and never listened to the Beatles and someone shows you Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine?" he says. "I just hated it with no basis whatsoever. … It culminated with me listening to Wings making this album."
De Magalhães moved to New Orleans to attend Loyola University, largely based on the growing reputation of bands coming out of the university, like Caddywhompus and Habitat. "I really wanted to be in a band," he says. "I didn't care if your band was bad, I just thought it was cool. Then I f—ing move here and all the bands at Loyola at the time were so good."
Folger also moved to New Orleans to attend Loyola from his native Nashville, Tennessee, where he lived a handful of streets away from Joyce, who also records music under his own name.
"My biggest internal struggles that translate into songwriting are making sense and clearing up what it is worth trying hard at, and devoting time to it," Folger says. "Now I spend more time sitting there, thinking about a concept — the more thought into it is in itself a demonstration. That's cathartic."