I love nothing more than a bit of banter and the boys from Larsen have that in spades. I spoke to Alex and Sam about the band, their new single Yours Sincerely and seated gigs. I also didn’t have to ask many questions because the guys just kept the back and forth all interview!!!
So you guys have been around for 5 years? I’ve discovered a few Adelaide bands this week I have never heard of…. (whoops)
Alex: It certainly feels like it a certain points. Sam was there at the very beginning. Did you just know Liam from high school?
Sam: I always just wanted to play in a band. Even before I knew how to play an instrument. I was just so passionate about music. I was pretty much asking anyone I knew if they were keen to get together and do something. When I found out Liam played guitar I befriended him and suggested that we get together and jam some time. We did it a few times, it was a long process of getting together and meeting up with different people. Eventually we put some ads up on the internet and came across Alex who I’m not going to say was keen to drum with us, but he was willing to have a jam with us. Then there were three of us! Steven came in because we needed a bass player, again we asked people we knew. Steven was my cousin, still is actually!! I asked him if he would like to play bass with our band. He was like ‘I don’t know. Cricket is my top priority right now. I don’t play bass.’ (Alex is laughing by this stage) I told him bass wasn’t to hard and he should be able to pick it up. I guess he has kept that mindset of not really developing his bass skills to much…. But he’s good enough to play with us!!
Alex: It’s the bottom two strings and that’s about it. You can see that our banter is a core part of the group. Even when Liam and Steven aren’t here!
Sam: The worse guitarist is always the bass player……
Alex: Yeah exactly
Banter is good!
Alex: So I got an email from Liam after I made a profile on a website called Musolist, which was classifieds for musicians looking for band members. There wasn’t really an outlet on Facebook at that time. Liam came across me and sent me an email asking if I wanted to be in a grunge band. His profile picture was of him with ratty blonde hair, he was wearing the plaid and he looked like Kurt Cobain. I thought to myself yes of course this guy wants to be in a grunge band! It was my first year out of high school and I knew I wanted to be in a band. I’d done hip hop and funk stuff before that and I had studied funk drumming in high school. I thought that that was going to be the avenue I went down, like RHCP and RATM kind of funk based stuff. Didn’t ever think I would be in a grunge band, let alone getting such creative enjoyment out of it. Sam were you just going to be in a band just for the sake of being in a band or did you want to play a particular style of music?
Sam: Well at the time I was jamming with some friends and we were playing more metalcore kind of music. I think at the time I really wanted to be in a metal band, but I was pretty desperate to just play instruments with other people. I was going to be in a punk band at one stage, rock, whatever. We pretty much went through every genre until we came to grunge and it just happened to workout. I don’t know that we are still a grunge band now.
Alex: No I really don’t think we are!
I did think that when you said it earlier. This song doesn’t sound grungey.
Alex: It started as pretty barebones grunge but it’s now just “Alt-Rock” which is kind of as broad an umbrella as you can get these days for the rock genre.
After 5 years you would expect that your sound has grown in to your own niche
Alex: Exactly. We all come from different music backgrounds and tastes. That all became a melting pot for the music that we make together. I think that has been to our benefit. We have three singers in the band. Liam is our main vocalist and Steve and I do backing vocals. We went and got some very rudimentary basic singing lessons at one point from Mitch Brackman (Dyssidia)
You have a new single ‘Yours Sincerely’ coming out
Alex: Yeah. Sam where did this riff come from?
Sam: Haha well.. I guess you could say this song was influenced by another Adelaide band who still occasionally do a gig every now and then called Sincerely, Grizzly. They were pretty big a few years ago and a pretty big influence for us as a band. When we were first getting started, especially for Liam and I. They were kind of idols for us in the Adelaide music scene. We’d go to their gigs and fan-girl out watching them. They did a song called Two Faced and that was the inspiration behind the main riff of this song. Then it was just the process that we go through with the band, putting the riffs together, making a structure and Alex was nice enough to put some lyrics to it. Alex can talk about the inspiration for the lyrics. Where did that come from?
Alex: Well a lot of the time the constant problem that Liam and I have, Liam and I write 50% of the lyrics each, is that we are not the tortured genius that Kurt Cobain was. We don’t have these deep-seated mental health problems that you hear about in that grunge kind of music, that darker alternative rock stuff. It’s hard to find things to write about when you are a well-adjusted straight while male. I can’t write about video games or reading books in a way that doesn’t sound like a joke. A lot of the time the writing process for us, well for me at least, is finding a phrase or a word even that sonically sounds good and turning that into something. Following that initial inspiration along whatever line it takes me. Building a story or a song around that. So this became a song about being replaced, the feeling and worry of being replaced. The worry about how easy it might be for someone to replace you. I think that is something we can all relate too and sympathise with. It’s not a story about anything in particular nor a particular experience. It’s just something that came to be and then that was it, there’s no grand story behind it. A lot of the time I will send a lyric through, or a verse or chorus idea, that I think just sounds good in general and Liam will say ‘That makes me think of this.’ He will put it into a particular context that I sometimes don’t see. Then we will write the rest of the lyrics around that. I don’t know if it’s the best way of writing lyrics to music. We always have the music first, that is our starting point. Sometimes that might invoke a particular lyric. Most of the time it’s a very collaborative process with our band. It started very democratic and has remained that over the 5 years we have been together. Or am I talking total bollocks Sam?
Sam: Na I’d agree with that.
Alex: Or am I a dictator??
Sam: We always go through a process. I guess if someone brings an idea and three of the four of us like it that person has to suck it up. I try to make it a challenge for myself, when someone brings something to the table, of how could I make this better.
Alex: Make it so you like it at least
Sam: If I don’t particularly like something it can be a challenge almost to add some influence so that it makes it fun for me to play.
Alex: It’s become a trust thing where, like Sam said, if three of us like it you have to trust that the others are seeing something that you’re not. Which in a creative process like music can be difficult to let go of. Your instincts or your ego or stuff like that. I think through those process’s we get the best music that we can make.
Sam: I think you learn to give and take a little bit and let things go. I used to be a lot more fussed about things, argumentative. But you learn to trust each other. There must be something there if the three other members are saying so. Sometimes you can’t picture the end product the way everyone else can. The trust is in our song writing as well, we all have our parts that we play and sometimes that shifts from song to song. For example I never bother trying to write lyrics these days because Alex and Lian take care of that.
You’ve played with Towns and Dune Rats?
Alex: Yes among many, many others. Before Towns exploded, and rightly so, they actually supported us at our album launch in 2017. They actually opened for the night. Thinking back now to where they are as a band is kind of surreal. Pinkish Blu and Sincerely, Grizzly supported us that night as well. There’s a song on that album that features Josh (Sincerely, Grizzly) so for our personal achievements that is a really big highlight for us. To have the singer of one of our favourite bands jump on and sing on one of our songs. I’m not sure if Josh knows if this next single is a homage to his band, I’m sure when he hears that first riff he will clue in. He’s a lawyer as well so we might get sued!!!
You’ve already released two singles this year. ‘Where is my Mind’ and ‘Silhouette’
Alex: Technically yes but one is a cover. We did a cover of ‘Where is my Mind’ by The Pixies.
How was ‘Silhouette’ received seeing as it was released around the time the world got turned on its head?
Alex: We recorded all three songs in October of last year, so we have been sitting on these for a long time. The cover came out just before everything went into lockdown and then we were kind of in a content drought because we weren’t playing any shows obviously. We put ‘Silhouette’ out and it probably didn’t do as well as it would have had things been normal but 2020 is anything but normal. When you sit on music for awhile it’s kind of hard to get behind it when you release it because through this whole process we have been writing new music and its some of the best stuff we have written. We are really excited about that, but we have these other two originals in the bank that we were super keen on
Sam: We are still super keen on them, it’s just that to us now they are old.
Alex: We’re keen but they have lost their shine for us. We still hope people get around them obviously, but we have been focused this whole year on writing new material because its all we can fucking do. That’s been our focus. We are proud of what’s coming and excited to release Yours, Sincerely. Particularly with the film clip, that’s going to be fun. We filmed that with a heap of other bands and our mates. ‘Silhouette’ could have been better but that is just the nature of this year.
Which is such a shit for bands that released at the beginning of this shit show. And now it looks like we are going back into lockdown.
Our single launch for Yours Sincerely is on 11th December at The Uni Bar. We were hoping to have a standing audience but at the moment I’m not sure that that will happen.
Yeah Uni Bar shut yesterday until further notice which is understandable.
Alex: We haven’t heard anything about gigs cancelled so we shall see. We snuck in one gig for this year back at the end of October which was a seated gig at Lions Art. It was bizarre. It was great to be back on stage, but it was definitely weird.
Sam: I’ve been talking to a few people about it. It was great to play the other night, I’ve really missed it but on the other hand it was really strange playing to everyone seated. It was just the sense of feeling like you’re bombing a bit on stage when everyone is sitting. Even though when you look you can see people singing along. It’s not the environment we are used to, it was hard to shake that feeling.
Alex: Usually at our gigs people mosh and if we are playing at the Cranka or somewhere like that mid song we can look out to the crowd and people are beating the shit out of each other. That’s a good sign. We had to kind of wait until the end of each song to know if we were doing a good job. Judging from the audience reaction on that night we were doing a pretty good job. It was nice but it was very disconcerting.
Sam: Live gigs are very – you feed off the crowd and they feed off you. It’s a one way street at the moment with the seated gigs.
The one I went to was like walking into an end of year school concert. The bands were amazing but the vibes definitely not there.
Alex: So if we can get our shit together in this state in the next couple of weeks then fingers crossed.
Sam: In saying all of this if our next gig does happen to be a sit down make sure that you all come to it because its going to be a really good vibe for the night. Really good energy and you will love the comfort of sitting down!
We all laughed…
Sam: We are playing with Bitch Spawn and Indiago.
Alex: Indiago are friends of ours and we haven’t played with Bitch Spawn yet. We were going to play with them once before but one of their members was sick that night so it will be nice to play with them. But we just have to keep rolling with the punches. There’s nothing any of us can do about this. We’ve definitely had a conversation as a band that yes it sucks but there is no sense in worrying. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen and we just have to deal with it. It doesn’t mean its not depressing but it’s also kind of liberating in a sense.
Sam: What we’ve got is still better than nothing.
Absolutely. I started my blog after talking about doing it for so long so that’s my positive.
Alex: I think a lot of people have taken it upon themselves to do that thing that they have been wanting to do. Whether that’s starting to write a bunch of songs or picking up the guitar that has been sitting in their room for 7 years. There has been silver linings this whole time, but it will be nice when we can actually stand up and have beers and listen to some good bands.
I cannot wait for that moment, but I think it is going to be a way off!
Alex: We were this close; we were this fucking close… It’s not forever.
I really hope people take note of what happened in Victoria and heed what they are telling us.
So the single drops on the 20th November?
Yes it does. We’ve been working with Ruckus PR on the release and the single is getting premiered on The Music.com.au which is cool. The video clip that we shot for it will follow a few weeks later so keep an eye out! Support local bands and local music.
Since this interview we have gone into lockdown, so fingers crossed for the boys that it’s over before their single release gig. Go hit up Larsen’s socials and check out there new single Yours Sincerely