When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Lost Lake, 3602 E. Colfax Ave, Denver, 303-333-4345
Austin rock band Ume was a hot commodity during their hometown's music festival last week. The trio was a Band To See during South by Southwest, but that's long been the case for anyone wise to their talent.
Their latest record, Monuments, is attracting some extra attention lately, and it's got them on the road for a bit. They're headed to Denver for a show on March 26 at the best little dive venue on E. Colfax, Lost Lake. We sent singer and guitarist Lauren Larson a few questions ahead of the show.
Tell me a little about making the new record. Circumstances are different this time around.
We made this record with producer Adam Kasper (Queens of the Stone Age, Cat Power, Nirvana) over the course of 2 1/2 weeks. The recording was initially funded by our fans through a Kickstarter campaign, which was really amazing to us. They made this record possible. Recording this one, we really just tried to have fun again. I learned to take risks, to let go, and to be vulnerable. While Adam really helped us capture amazing sounds, there is a rawness and honesty to this record that I don't think we've shown before.
You've been playing together for so long, before Ume even. How has the working relationship changed, if at all?
I've been playing in DIY punk bands since I was 14 years old. We're still a working band in a barely working van pushing ourselves to the limit and giving our hearts to every show. Eric and I grew up and together making music, so I consider ourselves really lucky to be able to be touring together. Everyone has certain roles and ways they help on tour, so perhaps we're a little more aware now how to help each other.
Everytime I read about you, it's a "next big thing" kind of story, but you've been around for a while. That's not a bad position to be in, but do you feel like Monuments will be the thing to push you into an official "big thing"?
I think the "next big thing" is always relative, and with the current state of the music industry, I'm not even sure what that means. We've never been the sort of band that was contrived to "make it big" or that had big money and a machine behind us. We just focus on making the best songs we can and putting on the best show we can for the people who let our music into their lives. We're very proud of this record and the goal, of course, is to share it with as many people as possible. We have an awesome label behind us now and so many people believing in us. When we started there was a real trend shift to electronic and pop music. But I think there is a turn towards more guitar-driven rock now, and that people are looking for something a little more visceral and dangerous in music, or at least I hope so.
You're a teacher at a Girls Rock Camp and Ume is sometimes talked about in the context of women in rock. I'm curious how you feel about the balance between promoting women in rock and wanting it to be treated as just a normal thing.
Girls Rock Camp is about empowering young girls through music. When they form a band, write their own song and perform in front of hundreds of people, it is not about shaping rock stars. It's about helping girls build confidence, realize they don't have to look or sound a certain way, and helping them learn their voice matters. As far as me personally, ever since I played my first show at age 15 I wanted to be respected as a guitarist, not seen as an anomaly. My goal has always been for a woman to be able to take the stage and for it not to be surprising that she "can really play." Even with so many amazing women musicians now, sexism still very much exists in this industry. My goal is just to continue playing music with integrity and to give inspiration to others whenever I can -- until the day when we don't even have to talk about the sex of whomever is playing the song anymore.
Are you working on anything new? What can we expect next?
We are performing a lot of new songs off of Monuments and are so excited to be back in Denver -- the first city we ever played outside of Texas. Maybe we'll throw a guitar or light something of fire.