Interview with Gary Larsen of Royal Teeth
By Whitney Lerch
Press photos by Shervin Lainez
Sound Scene Express: Pittsburgh is stoked to have Royal Teeth back! We’ve got a variety of incredible venues ranging from very small scale to stadiums. What’s the first venue you ever played in Pittsburgh?
Gary Larsen: We are excited to be back! The first venue we played was The Smiling Moose.
SSE: Royal Teeth is known for upbeat, high energy live performances (which I’m looking forward to seeing for the first time this week!). I have to assume the level of comfort required for such an engaging live show comes with a lot of experience. How many shows do you play each year, on average?
GL: We are pretty comfortable letting go on stage. Connecting with people has always been one of my favorite things about touring. During an album cycle we play about 150 shows a year.
SSE: Related…when/how did you each realize pursuing music was your calling? Was it something you always knew you should be doing?
GL: It was something we have always loved doing. We wanted to take our music as far as it could go but it wasn’t until we finished our first EP “Act Naturally” that we realized this could be a full time thing for us.
SSE: You recently released the Amateurs EP, last fall. After 7 years together, albeit with some changes to the band over time, Amateurs seems to be a more mature and focused collection that demonstrates Royal Teeth is truly coming into their own. Tell me about that collection of songs.
GL: We spent a few weeks in the same studio we recorded our first EP. We wanted to capture our live energy as much as possible. We feel really comfortable there so it was a good place to record since the band had been through some changes. We found a few songs that felt really good together and just ran with it.
SSE: The Amateurs EP is only 3 months old, almost to the day, but are there plans for your next release yet? A Royal Teeth full length on the horizon????
GL: Absolutely. Amateurs captured a moment in time for us. It was about getting busy again and moving forward. We are already working on the music for the next full length.
SSE: It’s always interesting to hear the musical
influences of artists. With four of you in the band, do you find that you each have similar musical influences or are you each drawing from a different source?
GL: We have similar tastes but I think some of our bigger influences come from different artists. I love U2 and Nora really loves Fiona Apple, for example.
SSE: It seems like it could be logistically difficult being professional musicians living in Louisiana (and maybe that’s just me being naive to that area and the industry). Do you get to spend much time in your home state/town, or are you traveling a lot when you write and record, in addition to touring time?
GL: We do tour a lot but we probably write more while we are home. We tend to have more writing sessions when we are comfortable at our houses. It is easier to constantly write these days so we try to stay creative while we travel.
SSE: Pittsburgh is definitely known for some pretty incredible cityscape views, foods and a variety of experiences with all of the rivers, bridges and museums. What are you most looking forward to when you roll through Pittsburgh (and will you actually have a chance to enjoy the city, or will tour whisk you away too quickly)?
GL: We actually have a day off after the show. We aren’t sure how we will spend it yet. Any suggestions? If I can find a good coffee shop and a park to hang around I’ll be happy for the afternoon.
SSE: Your current tour kicked off in Chicago and the stop in Pittsburgh this week is the halfway point of your tour with Safety Suit. I know those guys put on a pretty high energy show as well, so Royal Teeth opening for them seems like an incredible pairing and I can’t wait to see you guys at The Club at Stage AE. How’s it been, being on the road with Safety Suit? Any collabs happening in stage????
GL: They are some of the nicest people we have met. It’s been really great so far. No collabs yet but that would be fun!
SSE: Final thoughts, or anything you want to share with Pittsburgh, prior to hitting the stage at Stage AE on February 15th?
GL: We are just so happy to be back and we can’t wait to dance with you! Go check out our new EP “AMATEURS”