Claus Larsen speaks with ReGen Magazine about his nearly three-decade-long career as one of the EBM scene’s most prolific and exciting artists.
An InterView with Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip
By Brian McLelland (BMcLelland)
One of the EBM genre’s most celebrated pioneers, Claus Larsen has been guiding Leæther Strip across nearly 30 trailblazing years. Initially one of the early acts on the legendary Zoth Ommog label, his music has not only been licensed and released via such well renowned labels like Metropolis, Cleopatra, and Alfa Matrix, but has been heard on dance floors around the world, with fans heralding Larsen’s aggressively straightforward yet highly emotive brand of electrified EBM. His lyrics delve deeply into the darker aspects of the human psyche, touching on political strife, extreme sexuality, destructive conflict, and those qualities that make us human. With the 2016 release of Spæctator, Larsen brings the sound of Leæther Strip back to its roots, signing to eminent Italian industrial label Rustblade and reminding listeners just what it was that first endeared us to the band in the first place. During a brief respite during his recent mini-tour of Australia, Larsen took the time to speak with ReGen Magazine‘s Brian McLelland about the development of his latest album, touching on the turmoil Larsen faced from his family as a young man and how those experiences, along with his love for husband Kurt Grünewald have shaped him into the man he is today, plus a few hints about what’s yet to come from one of the EBM scene’s most prolific artists.
This album is slated to be a ‘return’ of sorts to some of the classic Leæther Strip elements. How does it feel to retread ground that you’ve covered before? Do you think that you’re able to bring something fresh and new to it?
What prompted you to revisit this sound? What kind of experience was it for you to record an album like this?
Larsen: I am sure it was the death of my mother. After my dad died, my mom was the last link for me to my family, a family who I can’t really say much good about. Her death brought a lot of suppressed memories back to me, dating back all the way to my early childhood. And many of the songs are out those memories about feeling pushed away and never really feeling like I had a role in that family. That is also why the title of the album is Spæctator. I kept fighting for their love and respect all these years and her death just broke those chains, so it was very liberating to finally get all that pain out of my system.
In what ways do you think Leæther Strip has moved away from this sound?
Are you happier with this sound compared to some of the directions you’ve tried in recent years?
Larsen: I wouldn’t say happier. All my songs and albums are like footsteps through my life, and they all deal with issues that were important to me at the time I composed them. It’s a natural process.
Is there a particular song on this album that you enjoyed making more than others?
Larsen: Yes – ‘White as Chalk.’ For me, that is the most important song I’ve composed so far. I wrote it just after my mother passed away. It’s a song explaining to my mother how I felt as a kid; a very personal song, but it was a song that I needed to get out of my system. It was also the hardest song for me to record. I broke down several times during the production. A good friend of mine, Roland Danielzig is working on a video for it at the moment for release early next year.
‘Same Old Shit’ seems a bit apropos on an album that promises to revisit the classic Strip sound, what prompted that?
What’s the story with ‘Luc Van Acker?’ Do we want to know or do you want to tell us?
Larsen: First off, I got my friend Luc’s permission to release it before it made the track list. It’s a song inspired by a backstage experience I had supporting Revolting Cocks back in ’91 in Copenhagen. I doubt I need to explain further. Oh the good old days. It’s all just good fun and Luc loves the track.
I know that Kurt’s health problems had an impact on the recording of this album. Would you mind telling us how? What influence has Kurt had on Leæther Strip over the years?
The 30 year anniversary of Leæther Strip is in sight. How does that make you feel? What sort of plans are in place to celebrate such a momentous landmark?
Larsen: It gives me great pride. Not many artists have been so lucky. I am also very honored to be a part of a scene with so many amazing and passionate people involved. I still get to do what I love and people still want to listen to my songs and see me go nuts on a stage. I owe so much to the people who keep supporting Kurt and I. It’s also a huge ‘fuck you’ to all my teachers and family members who pushed me away just because I was different.
What do you feel you have yet to accomplish for LS with regard to your original intentions/visions for the project?
Larsen: My hunger and passion is just as strong as when I was 21. I will do this until I drop. There are so many songs to be written, and I have never been more inspired as I am now. Gig wise, 2016 has been the busiest year in the history of Leæther Strip, and we already got lots of new concerts bookings and a possible US tour in sight for next year. It’s all I know, and all I want to do. If people want us, they got us.
What comes next for you?
Photography courtesy of Rustblade