Room Thirteen talk to Lara of The Mighty Roars before they embark on a series of UK dates.
R13: Good morning, how are you doing and whereabouts are you at the moment?
L: I've got a hangover! I thought I felt alright this morning, I actually feel terrible. We're with some friends in the country in Devon and we decided to celebrate the release of 'Daddy Oh' (the band's new single, out this week), had a few beers, some champagne and some pear liquor as well.
R13: I recently caught you playing in Innsbruck (see review here), how was that show for you?
L: I love playing in Innsbruck, Justin the club promoter is such a nice guy and the city has so many universities, he's managed to make it such a happening night.
R13: You're from Sweden and the band have obviously done a lot of touring in Europe, you even met in Berlin, where do you feel the most at home?
L: The thing is I was born in Sweden and I lived there for not that many years cos there was a bit of a tragedy in my family and my brother died, so we left Sweden and then I lived in France and Switzerland and The States for a while. My dad is English so I'm half English and I lived in England when I was about 19 and I just thought it was a brilliant place and I love London. I think London does feel like home, I love the British sense of humour, it works for me!
R13: Where does your music go down best then?
L: It's been really satisfying lately cos we've had some really good gigs in London. Berlin this time round was maybe one of the best shows, the crowd was pretty hysterical, which was an amazing feeling I have to say. It was magical, they asked for two more encores and we left really high. It's been so much fun being on the road and touring round Germany, they know how to treat you well.
R13: Do you worry about pleasing the crowd when you're playing a live show or do you just try to play the songs the best you can?
L: We play the best that we can, I think it's all about your mind and your confidence and feeling coordinated and playing; some gigs are weird cos you connect with the crowd, but others you feel like you're in a bubble, not really with a band. Sometimes you've had gigs that you've thought were not that great, but the crowd loved it. You'll always have a bit of nerves, which I think would be a terrible thing to stop having; I think I'd stop playing if I didn't start to feel that tension and electricity. You always play the best you can; the crowd will like it if the band are connecting with each other and we've been feeling more and more confident to start improvising and trying half-finished songs and it can go terribly wrong but we've got to that point where we can improvise and feel relaxed about it. As friends we're really close too, I don't think we fell out at all on the last tour, we just laugh a lot; I think it's to do with the fact that there's free food and free drink!
R13: It certainly comes across that you're a group of friends having a lot of fun on stage and on the record, do you also have big ambitions for the band?
L: We'd like to live from it, it's as simple as that and right now certain things are looking good and we're hoping to be able to do a second album and a third album and you hope to have a crowd that will follow you through. If we get big then we get big, but it's not necessarily our motivation, we just love playing music and it would be very sad not to be able to continue. We had a taste [of something big] with being able to play the Isle of Wight Festival, it's great, it's just a magnificent stage, it's such a big crowd watching that we'd definitely want to do it again.
R13: Do you have anymore festival performances lined up this year?
L: Yeah we do, we're waiting for some confirmations for The Great Escape and Dot Dot Dot and a few things, we've just got hooked up with a booking agent in the UK. I think there's some possibility of playing bigger ones but maybe it's a bit late; we got a booking agent in Europe earlier than in the UK so I think we're doing quite a lot of festivals in Europe.
R13: How do you cope with spending such a long time on the road?
L: I think we're just cut out for it, we like the bohemian lifestyle, we're not very good with complacency and routine and bills! So we just stay away from all that. I suppose we all like drinking which can be a little bit dangerous over two or three weeks, so maybe we should get into chess playing or something like that. And we take up smoking a bit in the States and Germany as well, so we could be a little more healthy.
R13: Are you the kind of person who always wanted to be in a band then, or was it something you just stumbled into?
L: I've always played and sang and had that creativeness and I didn't really know for sure that I was going to be in a band but I knew that it would have to be something creative and I just bumped into David in Berlin and we just got on and it all felt very natural. Then we looked for a guitarist, for Martin, and we put an ad in the NME and saw quite a few people, there was one guy who I don't think had changed his strings for the last twenty years. Martin just turned up and he's just very impulsive and it felt natural. From there quite a lot of things picked up, we had our first EP that was released by a German label in Munich and we got inspired pretty quickly, it felt easy at that point. It got a bit tougher and the strength of your friendship is one of the biggest determining factors in your success. We used to have a fourth member, a drummer that we didn't know very well and I used to play guitar and he just turned out to be a bastard so we had to let him go and we had to change the line up: David used to play the bass and picked up the drums and I picked up the bass Then we had a few shambolic gigs, we didn't cancel any of them, I think we had about four days to try to get a few of the songs together. The second gig we did we got offered a record deal with One Little Indian, we couldn't believe it as we were feeling a bit low, they just came up to us after the gig and offered us a deal. They're been great, really supportive, you can discuss personal matters, professional matters in a more honest way with them than major labels; it's like a family I suppose.
R13: Do you write your songs together?
L: The bulk of our first album was written by David but we came up with the music together and since then we've started to write more and more together. Some of the album tracks we wrote together like 'Sellotape' and Martin wrote 'Romeo', so we've gradually started to collaborate. Now we're looking into our second album as we've had quite a lot of inspiration, you've just got to keep on moving!
R13: Where do you get these slightly crazy inspirations for your songs from, let's take 'Whale' and 'The Muffin Man' for instance?
L: Well, 'The Muffin Man' is that children's rhyme and we were amused by the idea that The Muffin Man is Derek the owner of the record label, so that's how that song came about. 'Whale' uses the imagery of a whale but it's really about surviving and being lucky, being a needle in a haystack, keeping it together and being strong. As well, we were inspired by the whale that came down The Thames and unfortunately died.
R13: How do you think the album ('Swine and Cockerel') is going down?
L: I'm so glad that some people that meant a lot to me have had really positive feedback, some DJs and people that I know would be honest and hopefully others will like it and we shall see. I love it and believe in it; it's just a fun album, I like the idiosyncratic lyrics and it means a lot to me - it's our baby! We'll see if it grows up!
R13: It's really refreshing to hear a band that sound like they're enjoying themselves, rather than striving to be the most politically relevant or important, where do you think your sound fits into the current scene?
L: The problem is that there aren't that many singers in rock n'roll so you get a lot of comparisons with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which is great, we respect her [Karen O] a lot but I think we're quite different, I think they're more ethereal and we've got more punky songs. I like bands like The Hives and The Young Knives right now, but there's so many underground female-led bands that are not really making it on the radio, like Ladyfuzz, I suppose The Long Blondes are kind of breaking through, which is great. I think it's time for more female-led bands to be played on the radio.
R13: Do you have any role models as a female musician?
L: When I was growing up my mum used to play Aretha Franklin so I used to be into that, I thought she was the bee's knees. There are a lot of female singers that I respect, I do like Karen O's attitude, she's very vibrant and you'll take the time to get into her trip. And Ladyfuzz and The Grates, they're really good, but unfortunately I haven't heard the album very much. Then there's the Gossip singer who has a lot of character and I love that; you've got to have something to say and she does!
R13: You come across as really confident on stage yourself, what are you thinking about when you're up there?
L: Nothing! I think if I am thinking about something it's a bad gig, if I get lost in it then it's a good gig. I've only played guitar for about 2 years and bass for a year now and it takes a while for it to feel like it's part of you and I've been getting to that point which has really helped me to relax and dance around for and not feel as concerned, looking at my bass all the time or "ooh my fingers don't feel strong enough!" I don't really know what I'm doing live, I just do it.
R13: Going back to the album, who designed the artwork for it?
L: I did, it was really special cos it was much easier to record the album than come up with the artwork! I wanted it to feel right and representative of the music, it's a difficult thing to do. David did all the graphic design part and I did the drawings, we actually delivered an album that was delivered by someone at St Martin's College but we were torn about it and we had some friends over that night and we showed them what we'd delivered to the label and what I'd done and they went, "What the fuck are you doing, it should be that one!" So we spent the rest of the evening until about 7am uploading it and sending it to the label and going, "There's been a gross error", with the singles it was easier to come up with the artwork but with the album I felt this immense pressure that I wanted it to mean something and have some kind of iconic look.
R13: How long are you in the UK for now?
L: We're here until 21st April and then we'll be back in Germany, then we're coming back and we're planning the UK tour for the end of May and I'm looking forward to that as we've been to Oxford and a few other places but we're looking forward to exploring the country.
R13: Thank you very much for your time, we look forward to hearing more from the band in the future and good luck with the tour.
L: Thank you!
Room Thirteen talk to Lara of The Mighty Roars before they embark on a series of UK dates.