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Q&A: Ume (Live In LA Tonight)

June 12, 2012 by Steph

Ume

I got to ask Lauren Larson, frontwomen of Austin trio Ume, some questions. Listen to thier upcoming album Phantoms below (while you read the interview is recommended!) and check them out when they come to your city on tour. They’ll be live at The Satellite in LA tonight so that’s where I’ll be!

Q. Your guitar skills are insane! How long have you been playing and did you take lessons or are you self-taught?
A. Thanks. I first picked up a guitar at age 12 and am self taught.  I stayed up all night with a tape of Incesticide until I learned “Aneurysm” by ear.  My hands were too small at the time to do traditional chords so I started developing my own style based around my own tunings.  I then got in a thrashy punk band at age 14, tuned down to drop C and drop D, turned up my amp as loud as I could, and have been playing live music ever since.

Q. I’m sure being in a band with your husband can have its good and bad moments. How do you and Eric handle it?
A. I met Eric when I was 15 playing in a band at a skatepark.  We grew up and together through music, and I consider myself very fortunate to be able to travel the country in a van making music with my first love.  Being in a band with anyone means sharing an intense level of commitment and communication.  We just have a little more practice at it.

Q. How did Rachel become a part of the mix? And did you know that you wanted a female drummer or did it just work out that way?
A. We first saw Rachel play drums with her old band Many Birthdays at our EP release show a few years ago.  We were blown away by her powerful playing and when it was time to look for another drummer, she was the first person we asked.  Rachel and I both share the goal of being respected for our playing and hope to transcend the categorization of being “a girl” drummer or guitarist.  We’re so happy Rachel is in the band, but not because she’s a female, she’s one of the best drummers we’ve seen. And she hits hard!

Q. How does the songwriting work? Do different members have different rolls or is it collaborative?
A. For the most part we write collaboratively – at times it’s instinctive and intuitive, and other times it’s meticulous and neurotic.

Q. Who are some of your musical influences, both just as a musician and as a band?
A. Fugazi, Black Sabbath, Blonde Redhead, Miles Davis, Ennio Morricone, Led Zeppelin, Twelve Blades, Queens of the Stone Age, Fleetwood Mac, etc.

Q. How do you think your degree in philosophy affects the music that Ume makes (if it does at all)?
A. Both arenas I see as attempts to give voice to otherwise silent parts of myself.  Both were ways to challenge convention.  But the academic bubble was sometimes suffocating for me.  I found myself most alive and at ease on the stage with my guitar, so that’s the path I chose to dedicate my heart to.

Q. Do you think it’s harder to be successful as a female-fronted band in the music industry? Is it a “boys club”? Or do you think it helps set Ume apart?
A. It’s hard to be “successful” in the music industry these days for any musician.  But yes, there are still door guys that don’t want to let me in the club because they don’t think I’m in the band.  There are still sound guys that will make sexist comments about the “little blonde chick with the big amp” and who will demand that “sugar cheeks turn down” before a note is even played.  There are still music magazines with bikini models straddling guitars and photographers who ask to draw in cleavage with a Sharpie. But the dream of Ume is just to write the best music we can and to put on the most passionate performance we can every night.  Hopefully it will be this that sets us apart.

Q. You had other–potentially more profitable–label options. What made you decide to call Modern Outsider Records home? And how has it been working with them on releasing your new record Phantoms?
A. Modern Outsider offered a collaborative, local, and artist-friendly indie label.  They are a husband and wife team that love music and the bands they work with. We consider ourselves so fortunate to have them as the home for Phantoms.

Q. What is the most personal song on the album for you? And can you share a little about the meaning?
A. Probably Hurricane, the oldest song on the album.  It’s an apology and a promise.

Q. What are some other Texas bands that we should know about?
A. We love Schmillion. I met most of the members when I was their band coach at Girls Rock Camp. A few years later I was watching them bring their unique rock to thousands as they opened for the Arcade Fire.  Ringo Deathstarr, The Sour Notes,  and Megafauna are some other slaying local favorites.

Q. What is next for Ume?
A. We are on a west coast tour with The Life and Times now and then will be going on a national tour with Helmet and The Toadies this July.  This fall we will be appearing on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations (they filmed us during SXSW), recording a new album, and touring Europe for the first time!
Awesome! Thanks for chatting Lauren and I can’t wait to see you tonight at The Satellite!

 

TOUR DATES
JUNE 12th – Los Angeles, CA @ The Satellite *
JUNE 13th – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill *
JUNE 15th – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar *
JUNE 16th – Seattle, WA @ Barboza *
JUNE 18th – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge *
JUNE 19th – Denver, CO @ The Walnut Room *
JULY 15th – Cincinnati, OH @ Bunbury Festival
JULY 21st – Pensacola Beach, FL @ Capt’n Fun Beach Club ^
JULY 22nd – New Orleans, LA @ Tipitina’s ^
JULY 24th – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits ^
JULY 25th – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution ^
JULY 26th – St. Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre ^
JULY 27th – Orlando, FL @ House of Blues ^
JULY 28th – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade ^
JULY 29th – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte ^
JULY 31st – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore ^
AUGUST 1st – Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
AUGUST 2nd – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
AUGUST 3rd – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
AUGUST 4th – Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall
AUGUST 5th – Lansing, MI @ Michigan Rock N Brew @ Adado
AUGUST 7th – Cleveland, OH @ House Of Blues
AUGUST 8th – Pontiac, MI @ The Crofoot Ballroom
AUGUST 9th – Chicago, IL @ House Of Blues
AUGUST 10th – Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
AUGUST 11th – Sauget, IL @ Pop’s
AUGUST 12th – Kansas City, MO @ The Beaumount Club

* Co-headlining dates with The Life and Times.
^ With Helmet and The Toadies