Though he is mostly known for Leaether Strip, Clause Larsen has always had an electropunk vibe when it came to another one of his projects: Klutae. Just three years younger than Leaether Strip, Klutae has had plenty of success on its own - sometimes striking as a more humorous output. That being said, Larsen has recently announced his brand new album Black Piranha! Find out more about his latest contribution to the industrial underground in the interview below!
As we approach 30 years of Leæther Strip (1989), we also crossed the 25 year mark for Klutæ (1991)! Looking back, did you think Klutæ would continue to this day and be so successful since you considered it a one-off project at the time?
Claus: Actually the 30th anniversary of Leæther Strip is next year. I started Leæther Strip in 1988, and finished my first demo tape under that name Dec 88. The first Klutæ EP was only meant as a little something fun and a little break after a long time composing Strip songs. But people really loved the Klutæ sound and the pun-ish approach it had. So I’ve been going back to it now and then ever since. It’s a good place for me to be at. It’s more spontaneous and draws on my punk roots. It's also a good way for me to experiment in a different way that I am with Leæther Strip.
You've experimented with self-releasing in the past, and this new Klutæ is 100% self-released. How did you come to the conclusion to do this and feature it on your new Læbel?
Claus: Yes. Artistic freedom is the most important thing for me, and I can’t function as a song writer and artist if I don’t have that. I have, and can only do this in the future if the fans are there to support my releases. This way I can release a lot more and what I want than I can on a traditional label. I do not have to stand in line for other bands or some label strategy. John Mirland and I started Læbel for those very reasons. 100% freedom is needed to reach our full creative potential. For now Læbel is only going to focus on John's and my own projects, but we hope that in the future we will be able to also invite others onto our label.
People are familiar with your musical influences that range from Depeche Mode to Fad Gadget, but I've been wondering about punk influences for Klutæ! Do you have specific influences for this project like Sex Pistols or other punk bands?
Claus: Yes, with Klutæ you hear more of my punk side. In school I was very much into punk rock so it's also a big part of me as you also can hear in Leæther Strip. Klutæ songs are composed and produced much faster than most Leæther Strip songs. As punk should be!
It's been several years since the last Klutæ album. Do you work on Klutæ gradually over time or do you sit and specifically work on the album all at once?
Claus: Klutæ releases has always been planned, and I go 100% into Klutæ mode when I start and I do not work on anything Leæther Strip related while doing Klutæ stuff. It's all about getting into that mindset and way of composing. I think the state of the world at the moment angered me so much that I needed an output for those feelings of extreme anger, and Klutæ is perfect for that.
Older songs like 'Guilty' and 'Nothing to Hide' were very guitar heavy. Will Klutæ return to this sound at all or do you like staying an "electro punk"?
Claus: Yes, the first Klutæ stuff was very much driven by sampled guitars blended together with distorted synths. The new album has a bit of that. But it's mainly made with synths run through guitar pedals and I also play a bit of bass guitar on it. For me punk is not about what instruments are used, it's about the expression.
When you returned from your musical hiatus and released Klutæ on Alfa-Matrix, while having the distinctive Claus Larsen sound, it seemed to be somewhat non Klutæ-ish in sound. With a cover of Blue Monday and some other slower paced songs, I'm wondering how you were experimenting with the Klutæ sound at the time?
Claus: Yeah, that album is a bit different than the others, looking back; I think it's different
because that time was a very happy time for me, having just come out of a massive depression and the success of my coming back to music. Anyway, my songs are mirrors to my life that's just natural, also because it's a one man band.
Have you ever remixed someone under the Klutæ moniker, and have you ever considered doing a Leæther Strip vs Klutæ album?
Claus: Funny you ask that, because I actually just did a Klutæ remix last week for The Gothsicles. It's the first remix I did under the Klutæ flag. I did do some in the past that should have been titled as a Klutæ remix if you consider the sound of those remixes. But the bands titled them as Leæther Strip remixes for more commercial reasons. The Strip name is a lot more known, so I understand that. And yes, I did actually have thoughts of a split KLUTÆ / Leæther Strip album. Could be fun.
Playing Klutæ live, does it require a little more energy since it is more aggressive and faster paced music? Do you notice a difference with yourself or your crowds when playing Klutæ live as opposed to Leæther Strip?
Claus: I love playing Klutæ songs live, and I do hope to get more Klutæ bookings with the new album. I put just as much energy in to Klutæ shows as I do for Strip shows. When the music starts I always give all I have for the audience, I can’t help it. As for the audience, I feel that about 90% of the Klutæ fans are also Leæther Strip fans.
The new album is titled Black Piranha. How did the album title come about and what can people look forward to from this new album?
Claus: I actually dreamt that the album title was Black Piranha, and John Mirland captured my idea of the cover perfectly. My close friend Joe Adams have been pushing me to get a new Klutæ album done for a long time, and because I had composed so many new Strip and Am Tierpark songs, I really needed to nurture my inner punk, and Trump winning the election was like a match to gasoline for doing a Klutæ album.
On a side note, it seems that as of this year Rudy of Wumpscut will cease making music. I was wondering about your thoughts on his career since you were a major influence for him?
Claus: To make a living doing this music you need to work your ass off, and play as many concerts as you can. It has never ever been a money thing for me, and it never will. Kurt and I have set our general living expenses low, so that I am able to live my dream. Living your dream takes sacrifices, and in this scene no one gets rich. Showing your fans that you are willing to give yourself 100% for your art is what makes people support you. I couldn’t do this without the supporters. And I am forever grateful for their support. I would shovel shit with a big smile to be able to live my dream, some aren’t ready to do that and they give up. Giving up means that the passion is gone, and then you should stop. But do not blame others for you quitting. That's sad in my opinion.
You have a pretty busy concert schedule. Any hope of another full length USA tour anytime soon?
Claus: Well yeah, the shows are what I love the most, and it's also what makes it all work financially. Getting the feedback from the supporters is my oxygen and why I keep going. My plan for the US is a North American 30th anniversary tour, but as always I play where I am wanted.
Last but not least, between all your concerts, music releases, running your new Læbel, remixing and production for other artists...Do you ever sleep?
Claus: Yes, and with Kurt next to me I always sleep like a baby. Without him, no Leæther Strip, Klutæ, and so on. I’m living my dream, and why stop when people still listen?
We will never be the state's poster child band, nor do we want to be, but after a decade of hard work we have a solid following and I am very grateful for that. It seems like every gig we play we make new fans who actually stick around and that is a rare thing anymore. We have reached across genres locally and have built ourselves a dedicated and very diverse crowd here.
Pittersplatter, Jan 07 2014
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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