Thursday, September 2

MC Lars Interview Part Two
Here's the second part of the epic MC Lars interview. If you want to hear a couple of his tracks, then click the link below:

MP3 - MC Lars - Mr Raven and Rapbeth(live)

Also check out the following websites:
MC Lars
Truck Records

Squib: Was your new album finished before you found Truck – or did you do it through Truck?

Lars: I finished it after the first one came out and Truck said they would put it out – there was no guarantee they would, but I was hoping they would – cos they put out the first one (Radio Pet Fencing). The first one was September 2003 – so they’re both Truck.
S: So the first one…did you record that and then give it to Truck and they took it on?
L: The first one…so what happened was that I was performing so they’d heard the songs live and I went home and recorded them and they said ‘I wanna put it out’ and I said ‘awesome’.
Phill: A couple of tracks on your new EP are quite political and not many American acts tend to talk about George Bush and the political situation because maybe they’re a bit scared of it, do you get that impression? Because maybe people would accuse them of being unpatriotic or anti-American or something…
L: I think what’s interesting and what’s freed me up is that in my mind, my primary audience is England (laughs), just because of studying here and Truck Records being the first to give me any affirmation. So I think it’s An American standpoint – people are scared to stand up and denounce Bush – they do, but it’s scary – especially in music, or in pop music. I definitely disagree with a lot of things about the country, how the US is run and so I think if I have opportunity to share that, then it’s great.
Katy: Are you prepared for Americans who might say you’re being unpatriotic or not understanding?
L: Yeah and that’s fine
S: But every American band that has played this weekend has denounced Bush…
L: Yeah and that’s good
K: I think Michael Moore’s doing a lot of good actually.
L: I think there’s a huge schism…I mean not to simplify it…but I mean there’s the south and they have their Republican agenda and I think that certain areas are more open minded and realise that Bush is doing a lot of harm but the people who don’t have a bigger world view are the scary ones that got him into office. Yeah it’s scary, it’s really scary and that’s why I really hope he doesn’t get re-elected – I’d love to do a song that could help. The problem with me is that sometimes I want to write serious songs, but it’s hard because people know me as a fun guy and people would be like – ‘what is he serious?!’
P: Do you feel you’ve been put in a box there? Do you sometimes want to change people’s impression of you?
L: It’s not a box that I hate because a lot of my influences are kind of funny and novelty, but my big thing is that I try and re-enforce the point that even though I’m funny, I’m not a joke
K: Do you ever just want to write a love song or a nice ballad?
L: I kind of had one on the first album, but yeah I wanna write serious stuff
K: You could, I think I can hear serious undertones in your songs….
L: Thank you, that’s cool to hear…
P: So I just wanted to ask you about your band – did you know them before you started playing with them?
L: The bass player PJ I met when I was 16 and we jammed. His mum worked with my mum at the Monterrey Public library – so DJ I met at my first year of school and I was just hanging out a friends’ dorm and he said his name was DJ and I was like ‘oh cool, are you a DJ’? And he was like ‘well actually I like music’ and then we got together and started performing. And we’ve become really good friends…
P: And when you write your material, do you work together as a trio, or do you write it yourself and take the finished thing to them?
L: The first album I did pretty much myself and PJ helped with some bass lines. The second one it was cool, because we sat down and collaborated and wrote together – like I’d have the lyrics and a beat idea and DJ is really good with harmony and the musical part and PJ is amazing with drums and beats – so we kind of pool our talent. So I think the new album is more mature sounding because there’s more ears involved – does that make sense?
All: Yeah
(Squib gets out of the car)
L: Wait, did we scare him off?
K: No he’s doing some test shots with his camera, don’t worry!
L: Oh ok!
P: So you go to Stanford University – how long have you got left on you course?
L: One more year – I’m doing English Major and the plan is I’m taking off the next term and going back in the winter
P: Do your course professors know about your music career?
L: The ones that I like I go to and try to talk about song ideas and stuff. Some are cool about it and some are like ‘who’s this rap guy’ you know – but there’s a good response and they’ve been helpful.
P: Is your education really important to you? Are you planning on finishing your qualification and then launching your career and going full time into music?
L: Yeah, the plan is finish my education and keep doing full time music. Eventually I want to do a PHD in literature or something, because that will keep me more interesting with my songs, keep me more active and if I could do it, that would be cool. But right now I want to do the music thing for a bit – until I get burnt out. Cos it’s so fun to just get people hear my songs and to meet people and to travel – it’s just amazing!
P: So who are your favourite writers?
L: My all-time favourites are Edgar Alan Poe, Herman Melville, I like Mark Twain. British authors I like John Dunn, Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Milton
P: All the classic stuff.
L: Yeah I guess – maybe I need to explore more outside of that (laughs), but that’s something that I’ve enjoyed. I think it’s classic because people can identify with it over the centuries maybe…
P: Yeah because I guess when it’s been around for so many years it stands the test of time…
L: Yeah because when you’ve got the literary canon – there’s a lot of politics to get it to be the poet that everyone knows…but if you think about it…there’s probably so much good poetry that we don’t know
P: Do you think that maybe in 100 or 200 years that people might look back to rap from now and it would be equivalent to poetry from a hundred or two hundred years ago?
L: Yeah I think that’s a really cool concept. I think that Hip Hop is the voice of the disenfranchised – at least that’s how it started and it’s become more universal. But I think it has a great historical context, because it’s such a post-modern art form because it fuses samples and everything and I think what’s going to be different in a few hundred years, instead of taking out a book and looking at the meter of KRS-One’s lyrics – people will be able to listen to it, because media can be preserved more. So I think it’s kinda cool because the cannon is going to change as a media – so that’ll be interesting cos like also there’s the question of will 50 Cent be in it?
P: So yeah, who would be the canon of Hip Hop?
L: It’s like a really interesting question…I know Bob Dylan is in the Norton Anthology of Poetry …one of his songs It’s an obscure one, but it’s got an interesting meter so they chose that one…
P: Do you think the whole rap thing is becoming a little bit of a cliché? – the whole gangster thing.

L: I think it’s a cycle….it’s hard to get political and racial about it, but the mass market of people who buy rap albums are white suburban teenagers and so what happens is that they have an image of what the rap stereotype is so then labels promote artists into that mould and it perpetuates itself…this kind of heathenistic, fascist…I’m the best….I don’t have to have knowledge because I have money and power…it’s just this capitalist backlash and it’s a cycle that it’s really hard to break out of…I think that yes there is good production in Hip Hop and yes some MC’s may have a lot of talent, but I think it should be a responsibility to progress it instead of just selling what people like already…
P: So in that genre, who is progressing it and taking it forward?

L: I think Nas is still on the cutting edge….wellKRS-One is still doing it, he’s still doing his thing and trying to be a stabilised counter-force to the capitalist approach. I think, there’s so much cool stuff coming out of the underground…all the dudes Def Jux label like Aesop Rocks and LP and all those guys have been progressing it a lot. Anti-con, which is a collective from San Francisco, Buck 65 has been involved with them…so there’s a lot of cool stuff in the underground…but in the mainstream…I dunno – there’s not one artist that sticks out who’s doing a lot of good for Hip Hop. Maybe they’re making great songs but I don’t know if they’re challenging it?
P: Do you still consider yourself in the underground and if so are you happy to stay there in the fringes or would you like to be in the mainstream….
L: I’d like to do it for a living and if that means being on the underground and being able to subsist on sales of CD’s and shirts then that’s cool. I wouldn’t mind having a bigger profile, if I didn’t have to compromise what I’m doing. But I think the unfortunate thing is that it’s a cycle, so it would be hard for me to step out of that. I don’t think it’s impossible. I would be happy with people hear my songs as I want to write them, but I wouldn’t want to compromise.
P: That’s a good attitude to take, man...

L: Thanks – but hopefully I wouldn’t change my mind
P: If someone offered you loads of money but said that you can’t do this or you can’t do that – would you accept it?

L: I wouldn’t change what I was saying just because people paid me lots of money, but what I’ve learned is that working in the music industry when you get to the next level – you do have more hands in what you’re doing and I think if I had control of who’s hands were in what I was doing, then I might consider it……but once you sign the paper, you have an A&R guy saying write this song and this song…I think that’s why labels like Truck records are really cool.
P: So you’ve only just released your second EP, but are you working on any new tracks?

L: Yeah – so I’m working on this song about Winston Churchill’s view about World War Two about Coventry being bombed…and it’s like Winston Churchill writing a letter about it…
P: (Slightly surprised) Have you ever been to
K: A song about
Coventry…that’s a first…
L: Do you think they’ll be mad if I write that?
P: I think people from
Coventry will be delighted!
L: Because they have the historical cathedral…
P: Well I live in
Birmingham which is just down the road from Coventry
L: Do you like that city?
P: Everytime I’ve been there I haven’t really had a good time….it’s got a lot of depravation and stuff
K: It’s got a bit of a reputation…
P: It’s got a nice university…

L: And that lady would ride around on a horse naked in Coventry, right?...
K: Did you go there to see that then!

L: (laughs) No, I saw it in a museum and thought it was cool. They had this other exhibit about animals fighting other animals – that was kind of weird.
L: But I mean the flipside of that, probably if I write another England song, people are going to think it’s weird
P: After ‘
UK Visa Versa’?
L: People might be like ‘what are you doing man?’ – but then the answer is I’m doing my own thing
P: What do English people think about that track? I mean do they think you are taking the piss? Because I think you can see you’re quite affectionate towards
L: That song always gets one of the biggest amounts of applause at shows. People don’t like the line ‘If it weren’t for us, you’d be speaking German’, but that’s kinda ironic and it’s supposed to be funny….because if it wasn’t for England we’d be speaking German I think….that’s kind of a controversial issue to raise…but, yeah people like that song….
P: What about American people, what do they think of that song?

L: When we did it at Skate and Surf, they liked it! I think it’s because nobody is talking about the American / England relationship in songs…maybe they are, but not as blatantly as that… I think it’s cool because having lived hear for a term and being in America, I’m able to see both sides and I think people like that new perspective…but there are a lot of people that have lived in both countries.
P: Yeah

L: There are a lot of British songs about America, which is good, because people talk about America being messed up…
K: Do you want to do a quick picture before it starts to pour down with rain?

L: Did I talk too much
K&P: NO!