- Article by: Jamie McCormick, Photos by: Jamie McCormick
- Posted: 03/10/2011
Bright lights, an excited crowd, the periodic popping of a camera flash—the stadium showcases all the trappings of a big show as Lazar Lazar takes the stage.
With a sincere, “Thank you so much!” to the sound guy, Zach Hoffman tightens his drumheads and adjusts his mic. His younger brothers, Max and Alex, tune up and check the amps. As the trio finish their final preparations, a voice announces, “Aaaaaaaall right, Predators fans, let's hear it for Lazar Lazar!”
Lazar Lazar (pirate-y accent on the “ar,” a double iteration of the Jewish surname their great-grandfather Bernard, a Romanian immigrant, changed) may first grab your ears with pleading vocals and musical acrobatics, but the honest lyrics simply refuse to let go. The words resonate from inside you like an internal radio antenna tuning to your favorite station.
The same authenticity that makes their music so powerful buoys up the brothers on every side. In their interactions at gigs and in their attitudes toward music and their careers, the brothers exude a refreshing open-heartedness. Their palpable friendliness, both onstage and off, has won the trio a loyal following around Nashville.
Perhaps the source of that loyalty lies in Lazar Lazar's musical integrity. Hailing from LA, the band turned down an early opportunity to become “Disney pop,” having the foresight to know that such careers often have no staying power. They come, they go and they fade into the forgotten. “We were listening to Rush and Boston, and we wanted to take it that seriously,” Zach explains.
The brothers instead shipped off to Nashville, leaving everything they knew in pursuit of an idea. “We had each other. That's it,” says Max. Suffering ridicule for their “very LA” style, they were quickly humbled by the overwhelming talent they found in Nashville.
“Here, it's all great musicians. There's a guy who doesn't have a house down the street, and he's a better drummer than I am,” Zach admits. “That hit us, and we were like, ‘We gotta step it up in a major way right now. We thought we were at the top of our game. We were so wrong.”
That experience forced them to refine their style and redefine their relationships, though they were still very young. Overcoming squabbles and resentments, they grew up quickly.
“As we grew in our music, and we started to take it more seriously, we started to respect each other,” Max says. “And when we get in the practice room, it's a time when we just unite, without even words sometimes.”
Nashville does not ask that its artists maintain a specific style or sound, but rather accepts all organic modifications, like one infinite Queen album. So, comfortable in themselves and their music, the Hoffmans just play. “We're doing our music, and what happens, happens. We're here,” says Max.
Zach continues the thought, saying, “Music is just a vocation ... It's not a destination. If music is your destination, you're going to be empty for the rest of your life. Life is about our ministry, about our relationships with other people, about how we interact with what's going on in our lives.”
Max jumped back in, adding, “And music is a great way to bring all that tight and together. It's what we ...” He pauses, trying to find the right words, as Alex finds them for him - “... love to do.”
The emphasis of all effort for the Hoffmans lies in using what they love to build a solid base on which to stand together, with enough room for the whole world to climb up beside them.
Their talent may bring success, but their raw and humility will be the life vest that keeps them afloat, safe from drowning in the swirling vortex of the music industry.
To see more photography by Jamie McCormick, visit seriesofstills.com.
Lazar Lazar at The Hard Rock Café, Nashville