Former East Bay art-punkers Mansion created exciting and dissonant music, with a visceral live show that felt like the members were playing noisy, sonic tug-of-war and screaming at each other between chords. The result was an intentional and amazing experience. Behind the scenes, their personalities clashed in a less amazing way.
By 2016, it had gotten to be too much for everyone, and they broke up. Lead singer Candace Lazarou immediately set out to start a new project—her own project—where she wouldn't have to fight to get her ideas accepted by the group.
"The boys would construct the entire song musically and then I would not even come up with vocals and lyrics in the practice space," Lazarou says. "I would take them home and do them on my own. Every once in a while, Adam would give me notes. I would tell him to fuck off. This is my corner of this band and this is the only thing I have control over."
Lazarou's new group, Body Double, just released its debut album, Milk Fed, on Sept. 18. When Mansion broke up, she wasn't thinking about forming a new group. But Lazarou was certain she wanted to record an album. With something to prove, she wrote songs that she recorded, produced and played every part of. These songs were much more restrained and intimate than anything Mansion created. They were a reflection of herself, a window into her soul—not just an expression of her external frustration.
"I was really excited to have control to that degree, that I haven't had since I was 18—and I had my very own band in which I was in charge," Lazarou says. "But I forgot about the part where having other people involved means you're accountable to other people and you produce things faster."
For a few years, she fiddled around in her room, using Brian Eno, Al Jourgensen, Wire and David Bowie as influences to create moody, downtempo rock songs, processed by an undead goth superstar but with a heart of gold. In 2017, Lazarou reached out to Jason Kick at Tunnel Vision studios in downtown Oakland to see if he'd help her record some tracks. She played most of the instruments to the beat of a drum machine, with Chase Kamp of Silver Shadows later coming in to play live drums.
"Jason was being very tolerant during those two years," Lazarou says. "I was being very indulgent. I would go in with a half-written song and just roll around on his studio floor until an idea would come to me and it's more creatively fulfilling to have somebody at the very least to push back against or to have somebody push back against me."
She assembled a live band in 2019, and realized she wanted a more collaborative process. Bassist Noah Adams, a longtime player in Atlanta's scene and new to California, auditioned for her in January 2019. She later realized he had written several songs over the years and never done anything with them. Body Double ended up using a few of those songs on Milk Fed.
"I thought my days were numbered when it came to playing music," Adams says. "I didn't expect this to happen. When I heard her stuff I was like, 'Yeah, this is special. I'll do it.'"
For a period of time, former Mansion drummer Jeff Cook played drums in Body Double—Lazarou and Cook worked out issues from the old days. The current lineup includes Lazarou, Kamp and Adams, with Jascha Ephraim on lead guitar and Mel Weikart on keyboards.
The music isn't the only thing about the project that's different from Mansion. Rather than writing from a space of reacting, Lazarou has given herself ample time to search within herself to discover what she wants to say. "Embrace the Bomb" explores what it's like to be a woman in rock as well as the nature of what it means to have an unhealthy obsession with something one loves. In the song "Bitch On Wheels," she talks about empowerment that is executed in a less-than-perfect way. She imagines a middle-aged woman in middle America hearing her music and deciding to leave her own family and free herself from her personal obligations.
"I guess it's a bad conclusion; but it still sounds kind of beautiful to me," Lazarou says. "The lyrics come to terrible conclusions. They're like bad tattoos. I love bad tattoos. I have several terrible tattoos. I would never get them removed because I need to be reminded that I'm an idiot. When I haven't learned my lesson, I need to create a diagram of exactly how I haven't learned my lesson in order to learn it."
To hear Body Double's new album go to: bodydoubleusa.bandcamp.com