Leaether Strip – “I’m back for some more electronic mayhem”
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This year sees the return of one of the most talented artist from the dark ebm scene. Claus Larsen aka Leaether Strip, the master of smashing ebm is back after a long silence with a brand new ep entitled “Sucide Bombers” while a full album seems to be in the pipeline. Hailing from Denmark, this artists left his footsteps in the early nineties with countless cd releases on the famous Zoth Ommog label (among which the cult album Solitary Confinment), as well as relentless live appearances. Though Leaether Strip was his main outlet, Claus also tortured our ears with the incisive sampled guitar riffs and harsh punk ebm sequences of its side-project Klute. Now some ten years later the passion remains the same... (By Elise Din)
SL. You’re back on the music scene after a long break. What did you brought back and why now?
C. I was, in a way, trying to come to terms with me not releasing anything anymore, because of everything that happened in 1999-2000 with the label situation and my mental state. I almost lost everything that period. Then an e-mail from alfa Matrix came to me, asking me if I wanted to be on a compilation CD they were compiling. That was the push I needed I guess.
SL. Judging on the consistency and quality of the new tracks, it seems like it’s a real come back stronger than ever? How do you feel at the moment about this?
C. From the day I got that email, I’ve never been so productive ever, and with the risk of sounding like a jerk, the quality of the songs surprise me in a positive way. Maybe the time away did me good after all. I want to get everything out of this, who knows when it’ll stop.
SL. It seems that your fanbase has not forgotten you? What about the GAWM? Is it still active?
C. When I learned and read all the response I got on the news of my return I wept like a baby.
It moved me in a very deep way. I had no idea that this would happen, because I was really away from the scene. I didn’t even buy any cd’s or went to any shows or clubs. I only hope that I can live up to their expectations. I know that sounds nuts, but I’m just a fan of the music like them. GAWM, was not a very good experience. The guy who ran it cheated me big-time. I let him release the fan cd with very rare stuff on, to cover his expenses. But the guy kept on selling it and got greedy. I guess I should be on the lookout for people like that. But I’m a trusting person and I really thought he was a close friend. I guess I’m the idiot.
SL. I guess you’re not doing music like at your start; you gained experience and so on... How did it affect your way of creating and how do you manage to keep it fresh?
C. These new songs were in fact made exactly the way I did before I stopped, it’s like I took a day off going fishing and then went back to the studio after I cleaned the enormous trout I caught. I wanted to stay true to the style I had back then, in my ears EBM, or what ever one call’s it, is timeless. I could have reinvented myself. But why do that when I loved what I did. If a song is good it’ll will in my ears stay fresh.
SL. The electronic music scene has evolved quite a lot and new tools as well as new tendencies have appeared. How do you see yourself in all this? Do you manage to keep up with the evolution or do you simply still do your music as 10 years ago?
C. Yeah the scene has evolved a lot, but the funny thing is that the most popular softsynths today are re-makes or clones of my old studio setup. So it’s like all the old crap is coming back. I do think I would sound the way I do anyway. Good Old Bob Moog, may he rest in peace, made his things sound just the way I want. Still. I hope there is room for me again in the scene. Lots of talented youth is doing good stuff now, and I just want to say to them, Please make room for me, I may be an old fart, but I bet I’m just like you when it comes to music. The good thing about this scene is that it has no age limit. Phew.
SL. As far as the lyrics are concerned it ranges from more personnal topics to some more political themes like on “The Shame Of A Nation” for instance? Do youn think you’ve a message to bring to the audience?
C. I don’t hope the listeners think I’m pointing fingers or something like that. They should use the lyrics as their own really, adapt them into their own lives and views. That’s how I listen to other people’s songs. The Shame of a nation I did with a computer voice, because I was ashamed to be a citizen of a country who is part of the Iraq coalition. That way I thought
I could distance myself from it and yet still makes my views on the subject.
SL. Another trademark of your music (at least for some tracks) is that you use several vocal samples taken from movies or even TV shows. Do you hunt specific samples or themes or is it happening at random? What’s your main source for such samples?
C. Back in the old days I used a microphone in front of the TV because my crappy TV didn’t have an audio out. hehe. CNN and discovery were the most used sources, and films too. Its a little bit risky to use films cause of the copyrights. But If I need them I take the risk. (dont tell the label shhhhhh hehe). If I need a certain topic I usually turn to the internet, a ton of news media have audio interviews and news casts online.
SL. There is a good balance between harsh banging ebm tracks, more melodious and complex cuts as well as very long and intimate dark passages just as if you wanted to reflect all the facets of your personnality? Do these long and more “orchestral” or “experimental” tracks have special meaning to you?
C. Yes they do have a special meaning for me. I use them to express the stuff in my life I really cant put words on. Like “Til Far”, I wrote that song to my dad for his last birthday he had, laying in his deathbed. When he listened to it he knew exactly what it meant even though it’s an instrumental. Some of my instrumentals takes ages to make because some of them have a 100’s of tracks layered on top of each other.
SL. There is also that “symphony for Kurt” which might also raise questions?
C. Kurt is my husband since 1998. And if it weren’t for him there wouldn’t be any me, or any Leæther Strip comeback. So it’s a little “thank you and love you” from me.
SL. You’ve just signed a deal with the now established Belgian label Alfa-Matrix. How did you get in contact with them and what decided you to choose them? I guess that with such name you received several offers?
C. That compilation track request set the spark to waking Æ up again. After bloodline got scared and pulled “Carry me” off the market, because of an angry, well known label manager. Bloodline and others didn’t seem to want to touch me with a 10 foot pole. I didn’t hear from them again. I seemed to be written off and forgotten by labels and ‘friends’ in the German scene. I bet if some of them would have helped a friend who was down, I wouldn’t have been away for so long and a lot of the pain and misery I suffered could have been avoided. But I guess that’s the way of live in this business, I would hope that in a business this small compared to the pop scene. Labels and artists should have a more friendly relationship. I really feel that’s the way things are run at Alfa Matrix. If I didn’t feel that 100%, I wouldn’t have signed.
SL. There is an ep, a 2CD album and a limited edition with an extra 3rd bonus CD. Do you have enough material to fill this or will there be additional remixes by other bands?
C. I plan it will be 100% new songs, I’m working very hard to keep it “ME” all the way.
Not that I’m too full of myself to not have others involved. I just feel that this means so much to me. I only dreamed that I would do, if only just, 1 more album. Jesper did a remix of a track but I don’t know if that will be on the album. He played around with that track in my studio one day. He used the tracks I did and moved them around and stuff. I would like to have it on somewhere, He made it more club freindly. Also I hope he's doing fine. We lost contact eventhough we were very close. I saw his old band Psychopomps made it on a soundtrack to a movie called "SAW". I tried to let him know cause I wanted to make sure he got paid for that. Dont know if he did.
SL. Will the previous single “Carry me” which was released a few years ago also appear on the album? What’s the meaning of this track for you?
C. I do want “Carry me” on it, cause it deserves a better fate than it got back then, a song like that doesn’t deserve to be victim of a “under the belt” label fight, so I made 100% remake of the music. So it’s a “Carry me 2005” version. It such an important song for me personally that I have to have it on the album.
SL. In the past you did a “Soft Cell” tribute cd; are there any possibilities for other cover songs in the future?
C. I would have liked to do a tribute to Depeche Mode, but man it would drown in other Depeche tributes. So I’m not sure the label would be happy if I did that.
SL. Are there any possibilities to see a re-release of some older stuff? There is also a compilation out on Cleopatra?
C. Alfa Matrix and I are talking about maybe doing that, but we’ll have to see if there is a demand for all the old stuff. Maybe all the new youth deserves to learn, where us old farts came from. I would maybe like to remake some of the old songs people like the most. Maybe
we should make an election or something to learn what songs people would like to be remade.
Just and idea. Cleopatra has the rights on my old stuff in America. I’m not sure if they don’t
re-press the full albums and just concentrate on the “best of”.
SL. Now that Leaether Strip is back, people will surely ask you about your side-project Klute. Any possibility to see it resurect some day?
C. I don’t know about that now, I’m still pissed about that British jungle fellow decided to use the same band name, but what the hell I stole it from a movie title. I guess we both suck.
Maybe I’ll do some electro punk it under the as “the artist known as Æ”. We’ll see.
SL. Do you have plans for touring or is it simply something you would avoid in the future?
C. No plans for any tours at all. Now I want to concentrate fully on making songs again.
I’ts been too long and I almost forgot how good it was and is for me, and my “insides”.
To read the complete interview, be sure to buy Side-Line issue 53!
Side-Line issue 53 at Side-Line shop
Leaether Strip CDs
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Posted by: oiram3791 on Dec 12, 05 | 7:53 pm
Finally, after numerous web searches right now I've read this interview and it made my black sun shine again. I was almost ecstatic when I realised the new album is out.
Posted by: CommandInterface on Nov 25, 05 | 2:41 am
Welcome back Claus (din gamle sjover)! I know exactly how you feel about creating sounds, I feel the same way precisely! Kinda funny really, you're coming back, and I'm about to begin.
Posted by: metalfins on Nov 24, 05 | 1:43 pm
This will be the most eagerly awaited electronic release in years!!! Welcome back Claus!!!
Posted by: on Nov 24, 05 | 12:31 pm
It's just a shame that no tour is planned/expected now. I remember the live footage on the old AE website, and have dreamt of seeing that now bald man rocking out like that. A new EP, new album, new version of Carry Me, that'll do fine though! Huzzah!
Posted by: RivetBitch242 on Nov 18, 05 | 5:58 am
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Claus. I was beyond ecstatic when I heard Leaether Strip is making a comeback! Indeed, the master has returned....
Posted by: revdjweb on Nov 11, 05 | 7:00 am
for the record, the british drum and bass Klute is really effing good too. nobody would confuse that Klute with Claus' Klute.
Posted by: Cybermind on Nov 06, 05 | 7:34 am
The master has returned !! The master has returned !!!!
Posted by: silikonanswer on Nov 03, 05 | 3:18 am
Very nice interview, really wise words from Klaus.
Posted by: Capo on Nov 02, 05 | 6:25 am
We need old blood to pump new blood into this scene!! May you make us all strip for your leather once again Claus!!
Posted by: holgab on Nov 02, 05 | 12:54 am
Come on, Man, let's do these things! Do the new LP, and the DM tribute as well!
Posted by: Alan The Wild on Nov 01, 05 | 11:48 pm
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