Rock band Ume‘s Lauren Larson has recently become a new mom with her husband, bassist of Ume, Erik Larson, and during that time, decided to record the band’s first album in four years, Other Nature. They recently released the new album’s single, “Two Years Sleep,” ahead of their impending release.
Other Nature released today via Modern Outsider Records and was recorded with Grammy-winning producer and engineer Stuart Sikes; known for his work on Cat Power, Loretta Lynn, and Modest Mouse’s previous records. The album was recorded a timely period of only TWO weeks in the band’s hometown of Austin, Texas.
What was the connection like working with producer, Stuart Sikes?
Lauren Larson: Working with Stuart was the most relaxed and supportive experience I’ve ever had in the studio. I was barely able to play guitar due to bad tendonitis (from overplaying guitar) recurring a week before we were set to record. But with ice packs on my wrist and guitars propped up on pillows, we powered through and made the record. Stuart has recorded some of my favorite records, from Cat Power to Modest Mouse. He pushes you to get the best takes and challenge yourself but lets your voice be yours.
This is your band’s first album in more than four years. Did you guys decide to collectively take a break, pursuing other interests?
Lauren: Eric, the bassist, and I welcomed our daughter into the world in 2015, so we’ve been on a bit of a break since then. We were scheduled to play with Metallica at the X-Games five weeks after she was born, and I thought I’d have no problem making that happen. But due to surgery, I wasn’t able to perform. That was the first wake up call that I needed to take a break and be “in the moment” for a while. But that doesn’t mean I gave up music. I started playing more than ever during our break, writing and picking up the guitar every spare 15-20 minutes I could find while my daughter slept. The result of those writing spurts is what became our new album.
You guys recorded Other Nature (the new album) in two weeks. Did you want to record it that quickly, or is that just how it came out?
Lauren: Sometimes the best musical moments come spontaneously, almost by instinct, when you don’t allow your rational, critical self to get in the way. Recording somewhat quickly enabled those sorts of moments. These songs are meant to bare raw emotion, and sometimes that intensity can be squashed if you spend too much time trying to make it “perfect.” That said, I didn’t feel rushed at all recording. I was honestly, more prepared for this record, especially from a songwriting perspective, than any record we’ve ever done.
You’re self-taught on the guitar; what drew you to want to pick up the guitar?
Lauren: I picked up my brother’s guitar when I was 12 years old and taught myself Nirvana’s “Aneurysm.” I was pretending to play guitar years before, picking up tennis rackets and brooms to emulate Prince and Slash. When I first started playing, my hands were a bit too small to do many traditional chords, so I started developing my own style from the start, coming up with unique tunings to write songs. I got in my first band – a noisy politically charged punk band – at age 14 and have been playing guitar ever since. I feel empowered and like a giant on stage with the guitar. It also helps me say things that words have no chance of expressing.
Do you play any other instruments?
Lauren: I started out on piano and did a lot of the keyboards on the new record. I also played oboe for a few years.
Who are some other female guitarists that inspire you?
Lauren: Nancy Wilson, Kazu Makino, Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal, Melanie Faye (Rainbow_Fever), Ritzy Bryan.
Lastly, one of our several fun questions we like to ask is what are your top five albums you wouldn’t want to live without?
Bjork – Homogenic
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Blonde Redhead – Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons
Neil Young – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Prince – Purple Rain