Laser Background: “I’m Going for the Long Burn.”
On a different timeline, Andy Molholt might still live in Chicago. He might have finished pursuing a degree in acting. He might even be finding steady work as an actor. His first band, The Armchairs, might still be together and he might find himself touring the country with them. On this same timeline, Molholt might never have started recording his own music under the moniker Laser Background.
But that isn’t the timeline he’s on.
“I think about time a lot,” the Kensington resident notes as he sits on a vinyl turquoise coach that matches the hoodie he’s wearing. “I think about how time rules human existence. It’s a very important part of my life.”
Time has moved increasingly fast for Molholt since he realized he did not want to be an actor. He formed his previous band, The Armchairs, in 2008 with some college friends in Chicago and enjoyed three solid years with the band before they called it quits. Barely a year later, he formed Laser Background, an “unbreakup-able” solo project that affords Molholt the opportunity to create a woozy, intoxicating sound that incorporates his influences of psychadelia, prog rock and pop with ambient flourishes.
Although Molholt’s earliest attempts at songwriting date back to his childhood using a Yamaha keyboard with a built-in four-track recorder that his parents gave him, he has spent the better part of his musical life filling one role or another in any given project – guitarist, keyboardist or whatever was needed. But the one role he hadn’t covered was that of being the entire band. So he created Laser Background as a means of challenging himself as a songwriter. Although he is joined live by a revolving door of guest musicians, Molholt writes the parts for every instrument and performs a vast majority of them himself on his records.
“When I was younger, I wasn’t super confident about my ability to fully flesh out a song, which is something I think I’m still getting better at,” he explains,. “But because I started a project by myself, I think it forced me to do that.”
Over the four years he’s spent refining songwriting as Laser Background, Molholt has released two EPs and two LPs, including his latest full-length album, Correct, which dropped in May. Molholt recorded the album in Brooklyn at Gravesend Recordings, a recording studio that’s part of Bushwick’s Silent Barn Studio Collective, with longtime friends Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader of the New York band Ava Luna.
Correct follows a natural progression in Molholt’s sound, incorporating hazy textures and dynamic chord changes, along with synthetic blasts from Gravesend’s Roland Juno-6 (“a big creative inspiration,” Molholt notes) and flourishes courtesy of a cithera – a Hungary zither Molholt utilized, paying homage to his Hungarian ancestry. The glue of the record is recurring motifs and chord progressions – a conscious decision Molholt made going into the record.
“I like to make things tie back together perfectly for me because, I figure, if you can feel there’s a certain thematic continuity but you can’t necessarily identify what it is, then it becomes mysterious and interesting but it’s not immediately obvious,” he explains. “I want people to dig a little bit.”
The desire for keeping things interesting is a trait appreciated by backing band member Daniel “Mac” Kennedy.
“[Andy’s] very concerned with being engaging for all parties involved,” says the Queen Village resident. Though the Laser Background live band has an open door policy to incorporate the busy lifestyles of Molholt’s friends and fellow musicians, Kennedy has held one of the longer tenures in the live show sitting in on drums and the occasional keyboard part since late 2014.
“He’s a fun and talented guy, and a great songwriter who injects some playfulness into his songs,” Kennedy says about Molholt.
Though it’s been four years since Molholt formed Laser Background, it doesn’t feel like much time has passed since his time in The Armchairs.
“Time can be deceiving,” Molholt explains, leaning forward in his seat. “It feels like it was a lot more than a year in between my two bands but it’s like that with a lot of time. If you think about when you were 10, a year is one 10th of your life. But now I’m 29, so a year is one 30th. So, that’s why time feels like it speeds up when you’re older.”
But Molholt isn’t in any rush to stardom. He’s in this to perfect his craft and do what he loves.
“I’m a lifer,” he states. “I’m going for the long burn.”