Leaether Strip - I might be somewhat "stiff" in the muscles and I got a sore throat, but I'm still floating
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The comeback on the Alfa Matrix label in 2005 of Leaether Strip was Phase I in the Leaether Strip history, now comes Phase II. With his return to the concert stage Larsen is going in second gear finally showcasing his newest material live as well. And the new studio material from his "Aengelmaker" album is astonishing strong showing that although being very prolific, the Danish EMB master is able delivering material that holds several industrial pearls. We decided to wait right after Larsen's first 2 concerts in Denmark itself to get in touch and ask him some more details n his newest work but also about how it feels to be finally live on stage again... (By Elise Din)
SL: Tell me, how did you go to sleep the night after the first gig?
CL: We were home again around 5 am, and I woke up at 8:30 fresh as a Rooster in a henhouse. I bet I was still high on adrenalin, and a little stiff in the muscles after playing over 2 hours. The show was supposed to be 1:20, but the kids still had hungry eyes after that. I made sure to have extra songs ready, just in case. And what a night it was. It was like playing for my family. The atmosphere was so friendly and I didn't have any nerves. I felt like pushing the guest band "Mommy hurt my head" off the stage, so I could get started.
SL: How was it talking to the rabiat fans that came over for the gig?
CL: Just thinking about it now gives me goose bumps. Never in a million years would I have expected such friendliness and love. They really had waited for all these years for me to go back on stage. It was really moving that so many German people had driven for hours and hours to come, and most of the for both shows. Most of the Danes were people who had followed my music since my first release. With all that love an understanding one would think we were at a Grateful Dead concert. I did smell a little funny tobacco, while I was sitting at a table selling some cd's. I wanted to make sure that I could talk and thank everyone for coming. I remember from the last tour that Germans can be a little shy to ask, so I wanted to be there in case they had something to ask me. No hiding in the backstage room for me. The Danes don't have the problem hehe, they just ask.
SL: The first two dates have now been done, how does it feel and how did things go?
CL: It was amazing. Everyone at the shows including me felt what it was like to be 21 again. I bounced around like a teenager, and I have no idea where that energy came from. The crowd spoon-fed me with their positive aggression like they had something bottled up inside for many years they needed to get out. I for one did get it all out. The 2nd show was just as amazing. I ended up playing for over 2 hours again with no breaks, I went directly into the extra songs telling the people that why bather walk off stage and stop this fun. It was the most friendly and intimate shows I've ever played. I hope the other shows will have that vibe. I wish I can get that family vibe going at the other shows I'll be playing this year. Maybe I can even turn the whole Amphi festival into bouncing 21 year olds. Now that would be something. Anyway, I want to have fun at my shows, and I learned that if I give myself 100% chances are that someone in the audience will too, and it spreads like wildfire.
SL: You recorded brand new versions of several tracks, what did you add and why exactly those parts?
CL: The last 4-5 months I've been re-arranging and remixing songs for the shows, plus I also had to film and edit the projection movie. It has been hard for me not to have time to make 2 or 3 albums in those months, Just kidding. What I want is to make the people go "What the hell is this???" and then a few seconds later "AHHHH YEAHHHHH!" and then my plan is that they start bouncing. I also wrote 10 new instrumental songs that I have blended into the sets, and I will improvise some keyboards on those. Also because most of my other songs are so demanding vocally I wanted to do some live synth too. It's been hard work and right now I am preparing new instrumentals for the Gothenburg / Sweden concert on the 2nd of May. It's also sold out. Crazy and unexpected shit, but very moving.
SL: Knowing you, I wouldn't be surprised that every single concert will have a few changes, is that correct?
CL: True, no set will be the same. Every night is special. That is also one of the reasons I chose to not tour in the old destructive way. I don't want to destroy this return by overdoing it, like my tour in 92. I was butt-fucked by the people who arranged this tour because of greed. The shows were great and we gave what we had, but 3 weeks with one day off kills the fun. I was in bed for a month after that. Now I want to have fun and I want to play for people who Feel the same way.
SL: You told me a while back that you planned making the mixes that way that it would leave you some space to jam at free will, is that the case?
CL: Yeah the intros of the songs are longer and that leaves me room to do something. Maybe hit the pad or play some notes, or dance a little with the people. I didn't plan when I will do on the songs at all. I just go with the flow of things. I know I will get some heat from "the music police" for not having a couple of keyboard zombies behind me. It's usually other musicians that comes with those remarks, But Leæther Strip is me, and me is what you get this time. EBM is not about virtuoso keyboard playing and hour long solo's. It's about the aggression, energy and the power of the beats. EBM is not EBM without the sequencer. People shouldn't come if they expect this from me. And I also find it a little odd that, what I was told when I started playing Synths, "It's not real music when it's a Sequencer playing", still goes for some people. Get over it. And if they play a nasty keyboard live, then more power to them. I don't want to hide behind a Keyboard, I want to bounce around the stage. And with a belly like mine, I bounce like a champ!
Leaether Strip - "B M B" (Live in Aarhus 10th of April 2009)
SL: How would you describe the reaction of the audience?
CL: One word: Unforgettable. And I can't thank them enough for that welcome back I got the 9th and 10th of April. I even felt so Calm and happy that I started to add new lyrics to the songs and I even started to sing lines from "Sex dwarf" during "kill a raver" I do not dare to hope for the same on the other shows, but it happens I'll end up crying on stage like I cried happy tears in the car On the way home from the last gig. I haven't been this happy since the day I married Kurt.
SL: Now, back to the album "Aengelmaker", for me the second disc is the strongest part of the album. And I absolutely adore your version of "Deliver me"...
CL: Disc 2 is the "deeper and moody" one yes. I actually thought I mixed the tracks up on both cd's, but now that I got it at a distance I agree with you. "Deliver me" is one of the songs that can make my eyes water. I wish with all my heart that it was written by me, but it's a song by "The Beloved" I then heard it sung by Sarah Brightman at a concert I was at, and it touched me like no other song has done. Maybe because the "real" me was hiding most of my life and then I found my "life raft"
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SL: The whole concept of the album is based on the murder case of the Danish female mass-murderer Dagmar Overbye who killed at least 25 children between 1913 and 1925. During her trial, all the truth about her own abused childhood resurfaced. What did you want to say with this? Is environment that important that it can be part of an excuse?
CL: To put it really simple, it's about the Value of a life. The Angelmaker case is 100 years old but we still haven't learned the value of a life. In her case, she started out as a victim of abuse. It was ignored and she turned into the Abuser as an adult. Countries like our's who call themselves civilized are still doing these mistakes every day. Abuse is still tabu. It's a subject that makes my piss boil. Kids who are abused or killed don't have a voice. Kids are still being murdered either because they are handicapped or because girls aren't going to put food on their families tables. And if the girls live they sell them to pimps and get money that way. And still we deal with those countries.
SL: 'Angelmaker' in dutch also stands for someone who practices illegal abortions, was that part of the concept or just a side product? And does it involve any judgement from your part?
CL: The reason for the title "Angelmaker" was because that was the name the journalists gave Dagmar Overbye during her trail, when they wrote about her. It's got nothing to do with abortions. The mothers who gave their kids to her did it because they thought they would be spared form a live in poverty and have a happy future with the "Perfect" family, and then Dagmar went up to her apartment and stuck a knitting needle into the back's of their heads until they were dead, and then she burned them in her fireplace. She didn't even bother to remove the remaining bones from the ashes. At that time the stench in Copenhagen was horrible so no one took notice of the smell. Strong stuff. I would recommend the book but its only out in Danish sadly. Her story should be done as a movie. It really would show people what comes of abuse. Mentally or sexually.
SL: 'Don't you dare die on me' is an extremely strong statement song, have you been in cases where you felt like that? Please explain when and what caused this.
CL: It was one of those songs I dreamt. Both music and lyrics. I almost felt naked while writing the lyrics, because the feelings I got out, were something I have carried since I lost my Father to cancer. In the dream I was sitting beside my father's hospital bed, but when I looked at him it wasn't my father's face. It was someone very close to me who is still alive. And the line "Don't you dare die on me" was something I screamed in the dream into the face in the bed. Almost too personal to put out, but all my songs are from somewhere inside me so what the hell. And I got so many amazing messages from people telling me thanks for that song, and that makes it worth Releasing. It helped me a great deal to write it.
SL: Your version of "Lili Marlene" is a very loaded one, what does this song stand for for you? Did you get hold of the disc I talked you about with the original version by Lale Andersen?
CL: That song have been with me since I was a little chubby kid, hiding behind the sofa watching TV I shouldn't have, while my parents thought I was in bed sleeping. I had no idea what that song was about until I learned German. But I always felt really sad when I heard it. Some time ago I read that they finally placed a memorial statue in Berlin for the gay men who were killed and brutalized by the Nazis. And for some reason, maybe because I had this "sadness" linked to it, I thought of "Lilli Marlene". Yes I did buy that collection with Lale's version, and thanks for the tip.
SL: It's strange that this song became popular on both sides during World War II... it reminds me of the x-mas 'parties' German and French soldiers had during the first wold war.
CL: Yeah that's maybe why it means so much and brings so many feelings up in the people from that generation. There is also a Danish version of it from that era. I wonder what it would be like to write a song like that.
SL: Your 2 Depeche Mode interpretations on the album differ from the ones you offered for the label tribute "Alfa Matrix re:covered - a Depeche Mode tribute". I guess those songs were already in your head for ages to cover? I guess your versions are exactly what a rivethead wants from a tribute, harsh yet very loyal to the original version. What was the goal?
CL: Yeah I made the versions a little more "club friendly", the ones on "Aengelmaker" got longer intros. As I like to have my album songs. I like to build an atmosphere before the beat's and bass set in. Both songs are as everyone knows from "Black Celebration". That album is for me that most complete album ever made in music history. Alan Wilder really took Martin's songs to a whole new level, and he's to me the best arranger/producer around, and he should be ashamed of himself for not producing more of his art. Shame on you Alan! Hehe. Maybe I should give him a lesson in "how to not have a life and make music all day and everyday". Anyway, If it wasn't for that album I wouldn't be sounding the way I do now. And I am not ashamed to say that. He's is a genius, but a slow one. My original plan was to pay tribute the that whole album and cover the whole thing, but that's maybe one for a later time.
SL: What did you think of the new Depeche Mode single "Wrong" by the way?
CL: Maybe I'm the WRONG person to ask. If DM released an album with rare bird calls from the Scottish highland, I would love it. I'm a super fan and people like us are loyal to the bone. I have heard other songs from their new album and I am so happy they found the old sounds out and dusted them off. I could tell that it's not a club album, the songs needs some listening to grow on me, but the best album's usually needs that. I'm just happy they still are around. I don't like seeing them live anymore. I hate stadium shows. I keep my memories of the Black Celebration show I saw in Gothenburg/Sweden. And guess where I'm playing live to a sold out venue in the 2nd of May... yes Gothenburg. And the last time I played there many moons ago the kids were WILD! Swedes got to have their Herring, snaps and EBM to be happy. Skaal!
SL: So tell me, what is next?
CL: I want to get my "Dark Passages" soundtrack out soon. But due to this financial crap the movie was put on hold, and I'm sitting here With a full album I can't get out. Typical my luck, I finally get one of my dreams fulfilled and then some greedy Banks and investors starts a global crises to annoy the crap out of me... But the Director tells me it'll happen. I will release it no matter what, movie or not. But I'm giving them a chance to get going. I really worked hard on it. Its written from the script so I got to create my own little movie in my head, and I don't think that's been done before. I am also working on "Retention no.3". This time around it's "Solitary confinement" I get to re-master, rape and recreate. And if I find the time I'll be writing new songs too. But this year is mainly dedicated to the concerts. I got some interest from South America and south Africa and playing there would be out of this world. It's going to be a great year for me, I just know it! After the first 2 shows, I'm floating on air. I might be somewhat "stiff" in the muscles and I got a sore throat, but I'm still floating.
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