Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Monumental. An Interview With Lauren Larson from Ume

Ume - James Waynauskas-8There are bands that we hear and feel they have a legitimate shot at stardom. Then there’s bands like Ume, who have all the right attributions to be massive, yet they fly under a lot of people’s radars. Hopefully, that’s where we come in. We want to ping your radar and fully focus your attention on this band.

Led by fierce guitar-wielding siren Lauren Larson, Ume blends psychedelic shoegaze with pop vocal sensibilities, accented by the thunderous bass finesse of husband Eric Larson and the syncopated rhythms of drummer Rachel Fuhrer. Together they create a sound that would have been just as relevant in the 70’s, but holds much more weight in today’s saturated, over produced garbage labeled as music that is fed to our society. /end rant

Their blending of styles is both fresh and familiar. Their stage presence is often described as frenetic, yet beautiful. They say that dynamite comes in small packages, and I say that Lauren Larson is living proof of that.

Listen to the entire Lauren Larson interview below:
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Today I’m joined by Lauren Larson. First off Lauren, thank you for taking the time to chat with me today and welcome back to the Unsung Melody family.

Great. Thanks for having me.

We’ll jump in here and discuss the new album you guys released about a month ago. It’s titled Monuments. In your own words, how would you say that it differs from your previous work Phantoms?

We’re just really excited about this album. We think we finally kind of came into our own on this record. We really tried to capture the intensity that we portray during a live show. I think we’ve gotten a lot closer to capturing that power that people gravitate to live. At the same time thought, it’s a very diverse record. It’s got some of our heavier moments, but also there are some totally acoustic, stripped-down tracks. It’s just a raw, emotional record that’s genuine.

I have to agree.

(laughter) Well thank you.

Ume Lauren Larson - Photo by James Waynauskas-1For me there is a little more aggression in the riffs on this album. In particular, I really enjoy the stoner rock qualities of Chase It Down. Was that just a natural progression or what was the mindset when writing this record?

That’s kind of always been a goal. Of course. working with our producer Adam Kasper, he really was good at just capturing the guitars up front. I think before, on previous recordings, there’s a lot more reverb, a lot more effects, a lot more masking. With this, it was, “Let’s just have these instruments and the voice upfront and present.” Because even on stage I’m doing Drop D, Drop C, kind of heavy, more metal edged riffs, but I think some of the other elements might have been hidden beneath an ethereal haze. With this, it’s like, just have the parts speak for themselves. I’ve always been motivated, as a guitar player, by these heavier drop tuning type riffs. Even when I first started out playing.

I think it was a wise decision. I’ll throw my two cents in there.

(laughter) Thank you.

Check out James Waynauskas’ coverage from Ume’s recent stop in SF here.

The first single, Black Stone, is also very riff heavy. Give us a little insight into that song.

That lead riff, I’ve actually had for years. It’s something that, there’s probably even some demos or live shows from years ago with that riff in different context, but when we got Rachel as our new drummer in the band a couple of years ago, that was the first song that we kind of jammed out together, based around that riff. That’s kind of when we said, “Okay, we’re going to have Rachel in the band.” It was based around that song. We road tested it that song for a while, then the actual version that’s on the album, we tweaked it in the studio a bit. That’s the kind of song where the hook is in the riff. It’s a lot of fun to play live.

The video is certainly trippy and I really like the style. Who did you guys work with on that one?

He’s a director called Justin Wilson and he’s based out of Dallas, TX. He did a documentary on the punk band The Descendants, who we’re big fans of. He’s also done some videos for some friends of ours like The Toadies, The Riverboat Gamblers, True Widow. It’s giving it a psychedelic feel, but also it’s kind of having an honest, in your face live performance. That’s what we were going for with that video.

Ume – Black Stone:

Your live performances are sometimes described as high energy, on the verge of reckless, yet beautiful. Some performers truly lose themselves in the music. One individual stated that he rarely remembers much of a performance. He said he felt that unconscious at times when performing. Do you find yourself in a similar situation at times?

For me, a live performance, it is cathartic. It’s a time for me to maybe show a different side of myself and I really have to disconnect from what I’m doing. If I’m focused too much on what I’m playing, I’ll probably mess up. (laughter) At the same time, there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve got to keep track of. The guitar part, the vocal and everything else. It’s a weird mix of being extremely focused on what I’m doing and also completely letting go. We try to hold nothing back in a live performance. I’m just going to put my heart completely into it. We just have a blast up there. It’s not often that you get the chance to play for people, so whoever’s there, we’re going to give it our all.

Ume Lauren Larson - Photo by James Waynauskas-3With your sound deeply rooted in the guitar, your performances have to be difficult at times. I hope I know the answer to this question, but has Ume ever considered adding a second guitarist?

It would be really helpful to have someone to play some of the keyboard parts and some of the extra guitar parts. For the most part though, we are just the sound of a power trio, but I did add some piano flourishes here and there. There are a few extra guitar parts. If we ever had the space and the budget to get someone else in there, we’d be happy to. We played with Blondie recently and had a guy fill in on keyboards and that was helpful.

Ume’s style is not the most common of sounds. I can hear different era’s of music in your sound, but I can’t really seem to find a band that I can say, that’s who inspired them. As a female guitarist and obviously vocalist, who did you, not idolize, but who you did you look up to or draw inspiration from when developing your sound?

I grew up as a kid who was in love with my parent’s psychedelic and classic rock record collection. Then I got in a hardcore punk rock band when I was 14 years old, with some older guys in a small Texas town and they introduced me to a lot of heavier based music. I picked up a guitar to learn a Nirvana song, probably like a million other kids (laughter) when I was 12 years old. Then seeing bands, as a young teenager, seeing bands like Fugazi, (inabudible) and the great Blonde Redhead. Those are all influences on me as far as the fact that these are live bands, and I thought that I would like to do that. I would like to be on stage. I would like to be a performer like that. Make people feel like what I did when I was seeing my favorite bands play. We draw from, it’s weird, we never consciously draw from a band and say, “Oh, let’s sound like this band or let’s rip off this thing.” We do enjoy drawing from 70’s rock, to contemporary, punk rock, psychedelia to forge our own sound. We like heavy music, but I try to bring in some beauty and melody into it too.

That was truly a compliment, where I was saying that you can’t pin one band down, as saying this is where the inspiration comes from.

Yeah. I’m glad you said that. Thank you.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing you. The first time around we discussed how Anthony Bourdain called you guys totally foodies. You had tried the chili in Cincinnati at the Bunbury Festival. That’s been a bit, what’s your most memorable foodie moment since then?

Ahhh. That’s funny, because, just now, I didn’t answer the phone a moment ago because I was eating this epic bacon crabcake BLT. (laughter) It’s a place in LA. So we like to eat. There’s so many wonderful places. On the road, we always try to find some places that are local when we can. We had a great restaurant experience the other night at a placed called Animal. One of my favorite restaurants is this little seafood shack in Galveston, TX called Benno’s. I love the Gulf Coast seafood. No more chicken testicles as contained in the Anthony Bourdain meal.

Random questions are the ending tradition around here. As if that last question wasn’t random enough, I have another. With your sound especially, releasing a vinyl makes perfect sense, but are you ever surprised by how much of comeback that medium has made the last few years?

Yeah. I’m real glad to see it. We’ve always done vinyl releases. At least for Phantoms and the EP we self-released. Some shows we sell far more vinyl than CD’s. Which I think is really cool, because vinyl will last and it’s kind of a collector’s piece and you get some extra little bonus things with the vinyl. I’m glad to see it make a comeback.

I think one of the factors in its success is the fact that it’s not disposable. You get the full scale of the artwork. It’s a hands on kind of thing. It’s something that you can hold onto I suppose. Lauren, I thank you so much taking a few minutes to speak with us today. The site and myself, wish you and the band nothing but the best.

Keep up with Ume below:
Official Site

Preview or purchase Monuments below:

Preview or purchase Phantoms below: