MC Lars

By paul

Spud: So what’s the reaction been so far on this tour?
MC Lars: It’s been really cool as it seems like more people have heard of me. Everything seems like it’s falling into place with this tour and everyone’s been really cool

Spud: So you’ve got an idea of where you want to be as you progress through this year and into next year?
MC Lars: Yeah, this time next year I want to be doing the same thing but bigger venues. The next record should be out some time around then too.

Spud: So you’re going to work on a new record as you tour or will you take a month off to do it?
MC Lars: I’ll probably write it as we tour, but then I’ll go home to record it. Bands can put records out every year but they can suck. You should take your time to make a good record but don’t take more than a year and a half. I feel weird because the EP came out in July 2004 and this took until March 2006 because it kept getting pushed back.

Spud: Do you know what kind of sales the Laptop EP has achieved?
MC Lars: Worldwide it did around 10,000 which is pretty cool for an indie release. We licensed it to indie labels across the world and I contribute it to all the touring and great tour support slots I got.

Spud: So The Graduate has only just come out. It’s a lot different to the Laptop EP, but it obviously has the same ethos running through it. In terms of your collaborations with mc chris and Ill Bill, how did that work? Who approached who?
MC Lars: In the Ill Bill song I mention that we have the same friend and Bill thought my stuff was interesting and I’d been a fan of his for a long time. With Chris, we did a college show together in Connecticut and I said we should do a song and he was like “cool!” When Bill was off tour he came over and we recorded it but with Chris we wrote it over email, so that’s why it’s like a back and forth thing.

Spud: So mc chris, obviously very much in the nerdcore kind of scene. How do you see yourself against that sort of backdrop with you not being as ‘nerdy’ as chris or MC Frontalot?
MC Lars: I’m definitely more in the pop-punk world than those guys. I love those guys and they’re super inspirational. We might do a tour in the fall with Chris, me and Frontalot in the U.S?

Spud: Can you not bring that here?!
MC Lars: I want to bring Chris to England too and we’ve talked about that. His sales do not represent how many people know of him at all because so many people have heard his stuff on the internet.

Spud: In terms of future collaborations, it’s obviously a big part of your stuff, so is there anyone you’re trying to pencil in?
MC Lars: I have this great dream of doing a track with KRS-One. I’d love to do something with him. Maybe a bit further along, it might be too soon. But I’d love to do some stuff with some of the Anticon guys like Sole, or something like that. Someone like Aesop Rock, maybe.

Spud: Sage Francis?
MC Lars: Yeah, he would be my number one choice. He’s my favourite MC who’s still putting records out. I just love his message and his live show.

Spud: It’s hard to keep up with it all because there’s so many subgenres involved and there’s nowhere to keep up with it all
MC Lars: Yeah, it’s not like there’s an ‘indieraptastic’. There should be.

Spud: Yeah, definitely. You lean towards a more pop-punk slant and that fits in with internet ‘craze’ bands like Hellogoodbye and things like that. For example, Team Goldie distances himself from yourself when it comes to comparisons. How do you think you fit in?
MC Lars: I think Goldie’s really cool. I’ve not seen him live but I’ve heard it’s amazing. I’m probably somewhere between him and the Atmosphere kind of crowd. It’s just a lot of people who are tired of mainstream punk and rock music and also tired of mainstream hiphop.

Spud: In terms of the actual hiphop crowds then, how many people do you think are appreciating you from a hiphop perspective? Do you find you have much appeal with ‘true’ hiphop fans?
MC Lars: True hiphop people are quick to tell me that I’m corny and that I don’t have any rhyming skills and that may be true to an extent but I try to use that to my advantage. I don’t try to put on a fake persona and I rap about stuff that I know about and it’s like that’s not that world.

Spud: As a middle-class white guy, you’ve got to stick to what you know?
MC Lars: Yeah, you kind of have to. The most offensive thing is these middle class white kids who try to make gangster rap. It’s just a parody and it’s racist and it’s not cool. There are a lot of suburban people who have great ‘street-sounding’ stuff that’s authentic like Eyedea and Abilities who are very good at the actual craft of rapping. And that’s something that I’ve developed but I put more emphasis in having fun with it and having an educated perspective. I’m not all about the complex rhyming: it’s cool to me, but it’s not where I put my time.

Spud: Your subject material varies from iPods to stealing music to the internet. Do you think that it could lose its gloss at any point and you’ll have to change your angle on your music, or do you think it will only get more relevant?
MC Lars: Good question. The reason I think people care is because it reflects the internet generation, and I think that so long as pop culture keeps changing I’ll stick around to comment on it and make fun of it. I’ll just try to reflect the times, but I don’t think I’ll do any more songs about the internet. So many artists’ careers end because they’re unable to change and grow because they stick to what they know people like but then people can become bored.

Spud: In terms of the newer stuff, do you find it’s bringing in a more varied audience than what Radio Pet Fencing did?
MC Lars: Yeah, the production on the new album is something I’m very proud of compared to Radio Pet Fencing. I made that album when I was 19 and it’s really lo-fi. It reflects how I was then but my music now has a broader appeal. The thing that changed it all for me was when I realised that it would be funny to sample stuff.

Spud: Would you say Signing Emo was your turning point? Was it your biggest jump in popularity?
MC Lars: Yeah it was, for better or for worse. The kids that come to the show shout it out all the time and just like any artist I don’t want to be known for just one song, so we say that we didn’t have time to learn it for this tour, so we mess with them a bit and then surprise them.

Spud: I liked it when I read a long time ago that so many people took the Hearts That Hate thing so seriously and were requesting full albums and so forth. What did you think?
MC Lars: Nerds! Yeah, what happened was we made the song as a joke and everyone thought it was real. And then to confuse more people we did the acoustic version of it. We just wanted to show how dumb some of those lyrics are because and what people put up with. Oops, I just used bad English there…

Spud: It’s quite refreshing to hear you say that because you were an English major in college, right? Because that’s obviously influenced your subject matter rapping about Edgar Allen Poe and things like that – would you say it’s as big an influence as the internet?
MC Lars: Yeah. You just have to put all your experiences together. I was an English major and loved punk and hiphop. The problem is so many bands just try and copy what’s cool because they want instant success, but in 10 years people will forget all that. I just wanted to use my influences and show that I wasn’t afraid of being nerdy.

Spud: So what’s in the pipeline for the rest of this year? Anything you’re not really allowed to say, festival appearances or anything like that?
MC Lars: Yeah, I’m doing a tour with The Matches in the U.S and then going to do a rap tour in Australia which should be cool. I probably will do Truckfest again, and we’re trying to get on Reading/Leeds but the guys who put that on really hate me because I’m not the Arctic Monkeys. I’d love to do it if I could. I’ll probably do another headline tour in July and bring these guys [the live band] back depending on how this tour goes. Then the Nerdcore tour in the fall. After that I’ll start the next record, but England is my main spot. Because I’ve toured here a lot and it’s so small and people know me so it makes more sense to tour here than in the U.S but at the same time I don’t want to wear out the fans. I’m learning as I go along. Who knows, maybe I’ll die in a car crash!

Spud: Are you really bored by everyone asking you about the internet and generic questioning about things like that?
MC Lars: Sort of. People are still having a hard time to try and pigeonhole me. The thing that people are calling me now is indie rap, which is sort of what I do, but I get bored when people label me as the Signing Emo guy. I come from the punk world, but I’m really not a ‘scene’ person. I think labelling music is unproductive but you kind of have to do it so you know what audiences you’re going for. I’m glad people don’t know how to label me completely

Spud: Do you think that gives you the freedom to experiment?
MC Lars: Yeah. With this tour we’ve been able to do try things that I’ve been wanting to because the guys are really tight musicians. If you’re not in one genre you can spread out which can stop people judging you.

Spud: There’s obviously going to be a lot of people around the world copying what you’re doing. Is it all about having a spark in your bedroom, just playing around in Pro Tools, or do you sit down with the band to write?
MC Lars: It’s weird because it’s less spontaneous than it used to be, which is good and bad, but mainly bad. It should be about that but now I need a concrete concept then I fool around with the music. I really stress out about the lyric writing. I get stressed because I want to say things that are relevant. As you make more songs and tour more you worry that things you do aren’t going to be as fun as what you’ve done before, and I think that every artist should be thinking about that, but the creative fun is why they started doing it.

Spud: Speaking of creativity, do you ever get involved with freestyling and battling to sharpen yourself up in terms of delivery and flow?
MC Lars: You saw in rehearsal just then what I was doing?

Spud: Yeah, with the bassist being on the end of the jibes
MC Lars: I love to just fool around and just make up songs in rehearsal.

Spud: Has any of those things ever turned into a full song?
MC Lars: Erm, the Humphrey the Whale song from Radio Pet Fencing was from that. We should actually do that on this tour but we’re not, which I’ve just realised.

Spud: Are you playing anything from Radio Pet Fencing?
MC Lars: No, well, Space Game references I’m An Alien, but Radio Pet Fencing is not an album I’m super proud of. I mean, I’m kind of proud of it…

Spud: You’ve come a long way since then so…
MC Lars: Yeah, it’s weird because I like that album, but sometimes when I’m performing with just the laptop I sometimes play the older ones as it’s easier to do then.

Spud: In terms of influences, and the likes of Weird Al in 1979 or something when he made Another One Rides The Bus, was that really inspiring?
MC Lars: Weird Al is my number one artist ever. I love that guy. He’s so inspirational because when I think of why he’s had 20 plus years up there is because he’s changed with pop culture. He says this, and I do too: so long as pop culture takes itself too seriously, people who stay current and make fun of it will survive.

Spud: Would you like to perform with him if you ever got the chance?
MC Lars: I would go crazy! I’d love to, or to have him do back-up vocals on my album. Getting Weird Al on an album is a career goal for me.

Try these three interviews

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Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]