accessible, [LOURDS] breaks the rules, while poised to break into the big time." -- Chuck Taylor, Billboard Billboard Underground headliner LOURDS is all fire and brimstone in a live setting,


A photographer can always crop an image, leaving out what he doesn't want seen, manipulating an audience to focus just where he wants.

When LOURDS (the band) takes the stage, there is no cropping, no hiding anything. Their pain, their solace, whimsy and joy, their liberation: everything is there for all to see. On the smallest or largest of stages they take on the world - and interact with their fans across the world. It is give and take, but they own the venue for the evening. It is not just a band playing to an audience, it's a show - and founding band member Lourds would not have it any other way. She decided this at the tender age of 6.

Playing violin from the age of 3, Lourds was considered a prodigy, classically trained by her strict Russian teachers and expected to follow in the footsteps of the greats like Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman. By age 7 she was playing Carnegie Hall. Then she rebelled, and it's been a pattern ever since.

Lourds, the lead singer-songwriter says, "I remember it was Pablo Sarasate's, "Malaguena" and the piece had a lot of zing and personality in it and instinctively I wanted to not just to play the song, I also wanted to PERFORM the song. When my solo was introduced and I stepped onto the stage, people naturally cheered loudly because I was a teeny spunky-looking pigtailed girl. I saw the audience smiling at me and instead of standing with my back straight, one foot in front of the other, with my violin held high in perfect posture, I was bopping, swaying and smiling. During the climax of the song, I broke that elusive "fifth wall" and jumped off the stage, which was only a step off the ground. The crowd stood up and clapped loudly as I walked and played my violin up and down the aisles.

I had been playing violin for 4 years and never FELT as connected to the music as I did when I connected with the few hundred people who were listening to me that day. I finally GOT IT. I finally felt immense happiness playing violin.

The unfortunate thing is that my conductor at the time did not approve what I did at all. He told me I was making a "mockery of classical music." I remember this vividly because at the time I had no idea what the word "mockery" meant so I had to ask my mom, who shook her head in disapproval. I remember feeling so sad. I didn't understand why there had to be so many rules.

From then on, I instinctively rebelled against classical music. I didn't play concertos as they should be played. I would play the first half as is and then write my own endings. I remember pressing down harder with my bow to simulate a more guttoral and distorted sound on my acoustic violin. My teachers were getting frustrated. I started slinking in my chair in the back of the orchestra and falling asleep during practice. Eventually, I quit the orchestra altogether and joined the school band playing the French horn, just because the band needed a French horn player. I never picked up the violin again until I discovered the fancy electric violin model that could DISTORT in my early teens.

Music became my life again when I created my OWN RULES... when I was doing the songs I wrote, the way I wanted to perform them, when I could embrace a crowd and be embraced by a crowd, and not be scolded..."

LOURDS' music is driven by the interplay of distorted electric violin, mandolin and guitar, varied by Lourds' multiple instrumental talents, swirling above a potent, rumbling rhythm section. Above it all ride Lourds' dramatic, spellbinding vocals, augmented by group harmonies . Think: Queen, Concrete Blonde, Pretenders and Guns N' Roses, filtered through Hole, Alanis Morissette and Velvet Revolver, with the hooky songwriting and diversity of classic Who. The music pulses through a stage performance of magnetic style, wild abandon and the occasional smashed violin. Long ago, Lourds realized a concert could be more than a recital - this is PERFORMANCE

On guitar is Gene Blank, who picked up his first guitar at age 6. His father was a drummer and his grandmother an opera singer, so he feels music was "in his blood." Gene is from the Ukraine and came to America when he was eight years old. At the age of 12, after seeing and hearing Slash play a solo in a video, he felt it was like a ray of light that was telling him what to do the rest of his life. His other influences include Hendrix, Dimebag Darrel, Dave Matthews and David Gilmore. He enjoys watching anyone play with heart and soul while displaying technical prowess. His former bands include Bile, Supermassive and Uranium 235. It was in the band Bile that Gene perfected his stage performance, they were a national touring band, supporting major bands year round. You can't miss Gene on stage with his disheveled but somehow sexy Mohawk, tattoos and constant aggressive movement.

On drums is Sarah Vasil, who was raised an hour north of Pittsburgh and started playing the drums in fifth grade, but did not get her first drum set until