May 2019 26

Celebrating 30 years of making music, Claus Larsen speaks with ReGen about his newest musical endeavors and upcoming festival appearances at Mechanismus and Sanctuary.
 

 

An InterView with Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip, Klutæ, & Die Klute

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

For three decades, Claus Larsen has been a shining example of the enduring power of EBM and industrialized dance music, both with Leæther Strip and Klutæ. It’s difficult to summarize the full breadth of his influence, perpetuated by a steadily consistent flow of album, single, compilation, box set, and remix releases, along with a prolific schedule of tours and live performances. Even at his most flippant nd whimsical, there is an earnestness – tempered with a healthy dose of whimsy and flippancy – in his lyrics that has set the Danish artist’s music apart from many of his peers; this direct honesty is often best shown in his highly visible social media presence, wherein he engages the audience directly, inviting them into not only his creative life, but also the personal with husband Kurt Grünewald. Currently on tour celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Leæther Strip, the band will be making a headlining appearance at this year’s Sanctuary Festival events in Milwaukee and Chicago, as well as appearing as Klutæ at Mechanismus in Seattle. Taking some time out of his busy schedule to speak with ReGen Magazine, Claus Larsen now shares his thoughts on three decades as one of the underground music scene’s most persistent acts, a brief update about Kurt Grünewald’s current medical status, along with some news about his numerous other bands and collaborations.

 

You are performing the final dates of your 30th Anniversary tour as part of Sanctuary Fest. As you’re no stranger to festivals, can you first tell us about some of your fondest festival memories?

Larsen: Yes, the anniversary is running until September when my first single ‘Japanese Bodies’ was released back in ’89. I love playing festivals – one of the best ways to catch new listeners who were there to watch some other band… very important in a scene like ours with so little airplay. My fondest festival memory was my stage comeback at Amphi Festival in Cologne in 2009. Being welcomed back by 15,000 people on an outdoor stage on a beautiful summer night. it was something very, very special to jump on a stage after a 16-year break from performing live.

How did you come to be part of SancFest – was it just good timing for your tour dates, or was there another motivating factor that you wanted to participate in this festival?

Larsen: I had intentions to send them an offer because I only heard great stuff about them, but they beat me to it. I was actually invited by them, so the other dates were booked because of the SancFest. Since I still can’t do a full overseas tour as I planned, because of Kurt’s health, these one-offs are the only way I get to perform in North America. So, I was very grateful to be invited.

 
Sanctuary Festival 2019, Milwaukee, WI
 
Sanctuary South Mini-Fest, Chicago, IL
 

You will also be performing at Mechanismus under your Klutæ moniker; similarly, what made you decide to participate in this festival, and what determines which act you will perform as – Leæther Strip, Klutæ, DJing, etc.? The question also applies to your writing process – when writing a song, how do you determine which project/band it will be part of?

Larsen: I know the owner Ali, and he has always been keen on booking me, and he has always been such a great guy to us. As I played as Leæther Strip last year, we went with Klutæ this year. I will play as I am booked; it’s all good fun for me. As for the songwriting, yes, I do know very quickly in the process what a song is for.

 
Festival Banner (Updated)
 

Besides your music, you’re very active on social media and keeping people informed about your home life and your health and your husband Kurt’s health and medical treatments. And yet, you remain productive musically and seem to perform live quite often (it almost seems like you’re always on tour). How do you maintain such rigorous activity? Are there any sort of physical or mental routines that help you to keep going?

Larsen: Yes, I worked hard; you have to if you want to do this for a living as I have for so long. I have always been very productive – it is my therapy. My lifelong chronic depression needs this release. I’ve never taken meds or gotten therapy because the music and performing is my cure. My head is full of song ideas most of the time, even in dreams. About the social media thing, yes, I am very open about my personal life. People are for the most part very loving and caring and being this open about our lives helps others. We get many, many wonderful emails about how it helps others out there. The best way to break down prejudice is to show the world who we really are; if we all did it, a lot of taboos would be history and less food for the haters.

With the 30th Anniversary tour nearing its end, are there any particularly fond memories about this tour you’d like to tell us about? As well, how do you reflect on your 30 years making music – did the tour allow you to think about the music you’ve made in a different way at all? What helps to keep your music fresh for you even after three decades?

Larsen: Its mind-blowing to me that I am still doing what I dreamt of as a 14-year-old writing my first song ‘Dreaming’ back in ’82.I am very, very grateful that the support is still there after all these years. The first anniversary show was in Frankfurt, Germany, starting on a Sunday afternoon with tons of cake and coffee. Some people brought their kids even. It was so much fun with many old friends from the early days. The power of music is strong. When I play the old tracks, I see the smiles in the crowd – they are 21 again, just like I am up there. It’s very sentimental, but that’s the reality.

Along with Leæther Strip and Klutæ, you released the Die Klute album this year with Dino Cazares and Jürgen Engler. Are there any plans to take this band on tour or perform any live shows?

Larsen: Yes, and it’s been a very successful debut album worldwide. I’m very happy. No concrete tour plans yet, but I hope we will; that would be epic.

 

 

There was also your collaboration with Tony of Autoclav1.1, the Commixture album. How did this collaboration come about? What was it like to work with Tony? What sorts of challenges did the two of you face in bringing your respective styles together?

Larsen: Yes, Tony is a dear old friend. I have always admired his music and talent. He had some songs he had composed with me in mind and I was instantly inspired and wrote lyrics and melodies in a few weeks. We had no challenges doing this. It was done as if we had worked together for years. I like to work like this, where I get an almost complete instrumental track and then I try to become a part of the track, so it turns into something special that reflects us both. I work like that with Am Tierpark, Mirland/Larsen, and The Stricken too.

World Molæster was released in September, Commixture in December, Planet Fear in February, and you co-run LÆBEL with Jon Mirland, along with the festival appearances; what else have you got in the works that you’d like to share with us?

Larsen: I am taking a little break with releases because of the transplant. The next album will be a new Am Tierpark album for September. I have 50 new finished Leæther Strip songs to pick from for the next album and I might release one in early 2020 with a world tour, hopefully, and maybe an EP prior to that. So, the future is bright. Now back to healing. Our transplant went as planned. Hugs from us both.

 

Claus Larsen/Leæther Strip
Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube
Die Klute
Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp
AM Tierpark
Facebook, Bandcamp
The Stricken
Facebook, Bandcamp
LÆBEL
Website, Bandcamp
Sanctuary Festival
Facebook
Mechanimus
Website, Facebook, Twitter

 

Photography by Daniela Vorndran, courtesy of Black-Cat-Net and Leæther Strip

 

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