Despite the horrible cold and rainy weather people were queuing outside The Cockpit in Leeds hours before the last leg of Zebrahead’s UK tour was due to start.
Top class support was in the form of Orange and Flecking favourite MC Lars.
We had a chat with MC Lars before the show.
How are you liking the UK weather?
It’s been OK. Last night it was snowing in Glasgow, that was awesome.
How’s the tour going so far?
It’s been awesome. Zebrahead are incredible and we’ve had a lot of sold out shows. It’s been really fun.
The last time we saw you you told us about all the projects you were working on – everything from new album Lars Attacks to hip hop musicals to kids TV shows. How are they coming along?
It’s good, being on tour it’s hard to do work but from July onwards for the rest of the year I’ll be home so I’ll be working on all that stuff.
It’s been 10 years since your first show as MC Lars, correct?
Yes, my first show was March 11th 2000.
Well that’s good, because we’re going to be asking you questions about the last decade in music.
Cool, that’s awesome.
What do you think has been your biggest achievement in the past ten years?
One of the highlights was working with Weird Al Yankovic on the last record but of course the touring and having been to Asia and touring Australia, I’ve seen a lot of things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, which is awesome.
Have there been any moments where you’ve wanted to give it all up and do something else?
Music is in my soul and I always want to make music. The music business is expected to collapse in ten years so if anyone is wanting to make music for a job, I’d advise them not to but definitely make music for fun and see what happens.
How do you think the music industry has changed over the past ten years?
I think that the internet has made the world incredibly small and now recording music doesn’t really have much monetary value. It has emotional value to people who look to artists for emotional support and inspiration, but I think the main thing that has changed is that all the money has gone, there isn’t a lot of money for recording music which is good because that’s forced people to be creative.
Do you think that fans these days expect a certain level of intimacy from musicians? It’s not that long since artists were untouchable, but these days fans want to meet you after the show, and have you reply on MySpace and Twitter…
Yeah, there’s a real sense of entitlement which I think is good because if you’re not going to be there for your fans then you shouldn’t be making music. Kids expect to know you and for you to write them back when they email you and that’s cool because everyone needs to respect each other but it’s definitely changed. Ten years ago you wouldn’t expect to be able to write to Wheatus and ask them to write you back and get a reply, but now you would.
How do you think the music industry will change over the next ten years?
That’s a great question. Over the next decade I think the division between poor and rich people will increase and in America hopefully the health care system will be resolved. I think more sub genres will keep coming up, I think hip hop will become increasingly amalgamated with all other genres. 360 deals will keep happening which are deals where labels sign for your merch and your publishing and your show money. Pretty soon there will only be one label that decides who’s singles get heard and then there will be millions of underground movers that will be really cool.
Do you think that music videos will die out any time soon?
No, I think that they need to exist. I mean MTV is dead, but YouTube and Vimeo will keep music videos important. I that that they’ll become even more important because if a band are trying to promote themselves and they don’t have an amazing video that’s never been done, that is inventful and beautiful and artistic, they haven’t really got a chance. So I think videos will become cooler and cooler, but there won’t be mainstream distribution channels for them, they will just be online.
They’re trying to enforce a new law over here where, if you’re caught downloading music or films, you will receive a series of warning letters before your internet service provider slows your internet connection or cuts it off all together. What do you think of that?
I think that it sounds kind of rude, but then it sounds kind of fair because in America they’d be suing people for hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I don’t think it’s that bad to get a slow internet connection. I think maybe you need to get out of the house more if you’re just downloading movies all day. But I don’t think the government or anyone has any right to mess with people’s freedom to access information. It’s a difficult question, I think that it’s bad, but it could be worse.
People are arguing that access to the internet is a human right.
Well the thing is, some people could say that child pornography and bestiality and horrible horrible things like that, or very offensive and dangerous content that could turn people into a messed up criminals are human rights. I think the internet is kind of everyone’s right, but that certain information and content needs to be regulated. Like I can see their stance on why you shouldn’t be able to download the Twilight movies in HD for free. Things are changing, it’s more of a question of new media economics. Freedom to information and access to information is a human right, so I would agree with that.
We just Tweeted to see if anyone had any questions for you, and Brendan Brown (Wheatus) said “ask him this: you want a Howard Huge?”
[laughs] That’s funny. That’s a sandwich that we got when we were working on Robot Kills. I love that guy.
Who’s been your favourite musician of the noughties?
Wow, there’s a question. Probably this rapper Sage Francis who’s from Rhode Island, he’s a rapper who is also a produce and he has a label. He’s an independent hip hop guy and I love him, he’s incredible. He got big because right after 9/11 he wrote a song about it quoting news and stuff. He’s just a genius.
Who do you think is going to be big this decade?
Well I’m going to sell a million albums [laughs] or a million downloads I guess. My friend K-Flay who I’m working with, she’s a rapper who went to Stanford with DJ and myself, she’ll be big. She’s opening for Snoop Dogg and 3Oh!3 in America and she’s an incredible talent. I think she’s going to have a hit record in the next ten years, definitely.
What do you think the next big trend is going to be? The emo trend seems to be dying down…
Thank God, right? [laughs]
I think it’s going to be a hip hop hybrid. There’s this band from Glasgow called LaFontaines and they have a really cool thing where it’s hip hop but it’s indie music. The choruses are good and they use a strong Scottish accent. I think it’s just regionalised, hybridised hip hop. One of the groups I’ve really been feeling are a South African group called Die Antwoord who had a big viral video, it’s called zef hip hop and they’re awesome. I think hip hop is gonna really just take off, whatever it gets fused with is gonna be the bomb, and you’re gonna have to have catchy melodies and great lyrics. I think the bar has really stepped up for good art with all the downloading and I think that’s so cool and so important because you can’t get by with having one kind of good song that someone put a million dollars into.