This years Austin City Limits Festival brought us many new and exciting bands. We caught up with The Royal Teeth’s Gary Larsen after their first ACL experience. Their music has an upbeat, poppy dance feel to it. In preparation for this article, before we checked them out on the BMI stage at ACL fest, we lit up the grill, had some friends over and played the album. The response was a resounding… “Who is that?! Turn it up!”
The six-member band — Joshua Wells (bass), Gary Larsen (vocals, guitar), Nora Patterson (vocals, guitar), Josh Hefner (percussion), Stevie Billeaud (guitar) and Andrew Poe (vocals, keys, percussion, programming) – formed in Lafayette two years ago. All of them are gorgeous, talented musicians, and together that makes for a wondrous stage presence.
You may have heard their hit song “Wild” before. It has been used in a Buick Verano Commercial, also chosen to soundtrack an Oprah Winfrey promo on her OWN channel, they were featured on CNN, and more. ”Wild” is the song that brought The Royal Teeth to the forefront and hopefully the song that catapults them to the top of the charts.
Don’t ask about the band name though, as Larsen says, “It doesn’t mean anything in particular.” But they like it that way. The name itself is much like the music, carefree and fun.
Larsen: I think the more we get asked this question in the future we’re gonna come up with like 5 really good, weird answers that make no sense..
AFM: Just kind of throw everyone off by giving a different answers?
Larsen: (laughs) Right…. The only reason I hate answering this is because there is no real answer. But I feel like I’m letting everyone down. (laughs) We really didn’t think too much into it. It’s our own play on words.
AFM: I thought the band name might be British inspired, because they get heat for having bad teeth.
Larsen: Oh, I’ve gotten that. We were actually on the road with a band called Animal Kingdom — they’re from the UK. They were really great guys but they were a lot of fun to tease about that. They would find some good American jokes. But they actually all had nice teeth.
AFM: Since we are doing an article on your band, we gotta ask that question you have heard a million times. But we just gotta know. Who are your influences when it comes to music?
Larsen: For me personally, a lot of old pop music — Benny King, Sam Cook, Beach Boys, Elvis, Motown. I like simple chords over vocal lines. There’s something about those songs that inspire me. Everyone in the band is influenced by so much different stuff, so when we come together we create something I would have never been able to create by myself.
AFM: The EP “Act Naturally” has a lot of love songs. It has a bright upbeat feel to it though. How would you describe the album? Better yet, What genre of music do you think you fit in?
Larsen: We were a very new band when we recorded “Act Naturally.” We never really over thought it. But, I prefer the term “Afro HugStep” or “Campus Core.” We’re really hoping that catches on. (laughs)
AFM: Louisiana is your home state. How does your music fit into the music scene in New Orleans?
Larsen: I think it’s a bit more broad than people think. If I were to ask people what do you think of when you think New Orleans music, they’ll probably say Jazz. But it has a really emerging music scene that’s still growing. We know a lot of amazing bands in the area we’re still good friends with. There is so much talent. Check out Michael Girardot or our friends Big Top Candy Mountain.
AFM: The band is definitely reaching a fan base far beyond New Orleans. You are touring now. What is that experience like?
Larsen: It’s amazing! The past few months is the first time I have ever been on tour. And it’s the first time Nora has ever been in a band. A lot of this is very new. There is no better feeling than knowing you’re going to another place where people are coming to see you. We have got to tour with Animal Kingdom and The Kooks. You may get homesick but once you’re home you’re ready to go back out.
AFM: You have a few festivals under your belt. CMJ Fest in New York, SXSW and Summer Fest in Milwaukee, for example. How do they compare to ACL Festival?
Larsen: We’ve never done a festival quite like ACL before. There’s so much talent, so many people we look up to who are performing. It was great to see how many people we had at our stage. I like to think we made a bit of an impact. Nora got a bit in a feature for FUSE. They featured her in “females who are making their mark in music.” We were just happy we were asked to play.
AFM: What is next for the band?
Larsen: We will be in our hometown for Voodoo Fest. This has been the most amazing year for the band. The fact that everything is moving so fast is just surreal. I couldn’t ask for more supportive fans. After the fest we’ll be in the studio recording. We are actually writing new songs as we speak. Our fingers are crossed that by the time SXSW rolls around, we’ll have a full length out.
Austin Fusion is keeping fingers and toes crossed for a SXSW showcase.
Keep up with The Royal Teeth here.
Interview by Wesley Smoot
Edited by Linda Hughes
Photos and video Courtesy of The Royal Teeth