Interview: Royal Teeth
Royal Teeth is a Lafayette, Louisiana-based rock band. They are playing Austin City Limits 2012 and the Voodoo Music Experience
Royal Teeth tour constantly and are known for their joyous, energetic live shows. Guitarist/Vocalist Gary Larsen recently wrote in to discuss how the band came together, their songwriting process and the collaborative nature of Royal Teeth. For more info on Royal Teeth, check out http://www.royalteethmusic.com/
What is your earliest musical memory?
I remember deciding pretty early on that I wanted to be a big rock star one day. My parents bought me a bass for my 10th birthday and about a week later I played at my school fair. It wasn’t pretty.
Did you come from a musical family? Were your parents’ musical?
I don’t really come from a very musical family. My grandmother used to play the accordion for her friends in Austria when she was young. My step dad plays guitar so when I showed some real interest they were very supportive and helped me get started.
How did Royal Teeth come together?
I moved to Lafayette to start the band with our bassist, Joshua Wells. Josh Hefner and Andrew Poe were former band mates with Wells and Stevie came to a show and showed interest in playing guitar for us. All of us were in different bands around the area so it all came together pretty easily. A few of the guys knew Nora from when she lived in Lafayette and had heard she could sing, so we sent her a message on Facebook basically asking her to join the band. She had just moved to New Orleans and had never been in a band before, but I think she decided it would be something fun to try. Looking back it is pretty amazing that she said yes. Gotta love modern technology.
How does your creative process work when writing songs?
Our creative process is very evenly distributed between the band. Stevie and I write songs on an acoustic with simple chords and vocals. We will usually e-mail it to everyone and once we pick which ones to move forward with Andrew Poe and Stevie will work on the electronics and Wells and Hef will work on rhythm and percussion. Nora and I will work on harmonies and vocals. Nora also designs some of our flyers, t-shirts and she designed the album artwork. Everyone has a really important part. We wouldn’t have the sound or look that we have if it wasn’t for every member of this band..and we like it that way.
What was the first song you wrote for the Act Naturally EP?
“For Keeps” was the first song we wrote on the EP. It is still one of my favorites to play.
What inspires you lyrically?
I get a lot of inspiration from old pop music. I love the simple nature of it and how it just creates a perfect pop song. I get inspired from anything like Motown, Sam Cooke, Ben E King, to even modern pop mainstream and indie. My inspiration tends to vary. I want our lyrics to be like our music; positive and uplifting. I also sometimes find beauty in being a bit dark lyrically. I think it just depends on the song.
What do you enjoy most about the music scene in Lafayette?
I enjoy the people most. If good music is in the area, people will go and they will make sure to have a good time. We have some really good friends there so it’s always nice to see so many great people in the same room, enjoying your music.
You guys tour all the time and put on an amazing live show. Do you have a favorite live show you’ve played?
Thank you! My favorite show came very recently in Norfolk, VA. Like most of our headlining tour dates we weren’t sure how the show would do and it sold out! It was amazing to see such a great, responsive crowd that was there to see us. That was one of the best feelings I have ever had.
What’s the strangest description you’ve heard of your music?
Actually, I think we have created the best/strangest description of our music so we hope it starts catching on.. “Afro Hug-Step/Campus Core”
What are your hobbies outside of music?
I am very focused and interested in learning more about songwriting and the creative processes that go into songs. I have been really focused on Royal Teeth lately but even when we have time off I am writing and working with great songwriters trying to learn and grow. I think besides that I like to play basketball and drink too much coffee.
Do you have a quote or motto that you live by?
Not one. There are many inspiring quotes but one of my favorites will always be “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
What advice would you give to bands just starting out?
Try to be open to opinions and get a good team of people on your side. Having people you trust to work with you to reach your goals can be very helpful. I also think the quote I mentioned before is great advice. Never give up. Always try to learn from your mistakes and keep growing. I think if you stay positive and determined, you will end up where you want to be.