Ume's Lauren Larson on the Band's Future and Getting a Mohawk in the Eye
Might sound like skipping record coming from us, but Austin's Ume is back in town this weekend. And if you've never seen them play, do yourself a favor and see this trio. Frontwoman Lauren Larson, her husband, bassist Eric Larson, and drummer Rachel Fuhrer play the Ambhar Stage on Saturday afternoon as part of this year's Homegrown Festival. Lauren took some time out to share what the band's been up to since last year, and what to expect the rest of this year.
Last time I saw you guys, you played an in-store at Good Records. Eric said you were going to take some time off and work on the next record.
Earlier this year, we did an extensive west coast tour with Cursive. That was really great. Since then, we've been writing a ton of new material and getting ready to record. When we were on tour with Cursive, we got to spend time with this producer Adam Kasper in Seattle. He did Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana, Cat Power. Trying to get some demos to send him.
This is a standard question and you don't know what it will sound like until it comes out, but is the new material similar to Phantoms, or moving into new territories?
We're trying to take it up a notch. That record was a tough record for us to make and it was a transitional stage for us. Since that time, we've gotten a new drummer, Rachel Fuhrer, and she's really adding a new rhythmic intensity to our sound. We're going to be road-testing a lot of it coming up. We have a bunch of tours booked this summer.
Aside from Homegrown Fest, what kind of shows are you talking about? Opening acts? Headlining acts?
We're playing the Free Press Summer Fest in Houston. Pretty diverse lineup: everyone from Willie Nelson to Snoop Dogg. It's going to be fun. We're doing a co-headlining west coast tour with The Life and Times and then we just announced last week that we were chosen to open for The Toadies and Helmet on their co-headlining national tour. That'll be July through August, so that will be in some of the biggest rooms we've ever played.
This isn't the first time you've played with The Toadies
Right! They're such awesome supporters of Texas bands. We got to play the Dallas St. Patty's Day show with them and Dia De Los Toadies and we just opened for them in April at Stubb's. It was a sold-out show. Kind of a dream come true for us to play that stage. I've seen so many bands there.
Something Eric mentioned to me after the Good Records show was that you just came from Lubbock. And the show was kinda like playing to tumbleweeds.
Yeah, it was a pretty dead show, but we have some superfans in Lubbock. They had seen us at the Granada, so we had a small cheering section there.
I really appreciate bands that are OK with playing shows to ten people. Would you say that because of the time you and Eric spent going to pop-punk shows in Houston, it wasn't some big shock when you yourself played shows with a low turnout?
We met when I was playing in my first band. I was fifteen years old. It was the Houston DIY punk scene where kids would put on shows at community centers. We weren't pop-punk; kinda more of the grindcore, heavier side of that scene. Our whole mentality has been that music and the communal experiences, if there's five people or 500, we always try to do the exact same thing. We played once in New York City and you look up, and Joan Jett happened to be standing there. So, you're definitely appreciative to everyone that is there. We're playing music because we love to play music.
Would you say your experience of playing grindcore affects how you perform? What struck me about when you played with Mission of Burma last summer was, "My god, that woman can sing really well, go all over the guitar, and headbangs."
I've always been a fan of heavier music even when I was a little girl taking piano lessons. I was always the loudest. When I was in my first band playing 15-second thrash songs, there was no headbanging. I had my back to the audience and I was really shy when I was playing. It wasn't until Ume that I approached a mic or really tried to let myself go.
I'm sure you get this question a lot: what's it like to playing in a touring band with your husband?
I consider ourselves lucky that we're able to share that. We met making music together. He was the first guy to ever ask me for my phone number after he saw me play one of my first shows. We've grown up around music. We have fun.
When I interviewed Eric for My First Show, he told me how he saw New Kids on the Block play at the Summit. I'm curious, how long had y'all been dating when he told you that he saw New Kids on the Block?
I'm sure the topic would have come up pretty early, so yeah, he told me. I was never an insane NKOTB fan. I was a fan of Milli Vanilli. I was always trying to be a little too cool for New Kids.
I've often found in punk and hardcore scenes, you don't necessarily talk about what got you into music, for fear of being ostracized.
Nah, everyone's got their stories. To me, guilty pleasures aren't anything to feel guilty about. I came up doing routines to a Muppet album and Milli Vanilli.
The first show I paid my own money to see was Face to Face, The Hippos, and MxPx at The Abyss.
Eric might have been at that show.
I've found out there were a lot of people I know now were at that show. But I was wearing my Foo Fighters shirt and this guy gave me a scowling look. I'm like, "What? I like the band."
My very first show was a punk band called Fifteen from the Bay Area. They were playing in my hometown. I was 13 at that show. Then I went to Rancid, which I got tickets for. I did not know what to expect at that one. I had never been to a show like that. I was right in the middle with this guy with a huge mohawk. Within the first ten seconds, I was thrown 30 feet. I got a mohawk in my eye, but it was fun.