Unless you have been living under a rock since the 80’s, you have no doubt heard of Leaether Strip. HorrorAddicts had a chance to catch up with Claus Larsen, the man behind the machine and speak with him about his newest project “Dark Passages” and some other things as well.
SM: First, let me say that I am actually a big fan of Leaether Strip. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. And Happy Birthday! I know it’s a little late. Let’s jump right in: “Dark Passages” is your first foray into writing soundtracks, etc. How did you like this experience? Would you do it again?
CL: Thanks so much. It has actually been a dream of mine to compose music for films, even before Leæther Strip was started back in 1988. John Carpenter’s soundtracks made me start to collect soundtracks, and his music has been a big inspiration for me. So getting the “job” to write music for “Dark Passages” was a dream come true, and I hope that it will open doors to that world of films. I would do it again for sure if I got the offer.
SM: How did it come about that you collaborated with director Cesar Cruz to do “Dark Passages?” Did he approach you? Had you worked together before?
CL: I had never heard of Cesar before. He asked me about 2 years ago if I would be interested in writing the title theme song for his movie- I needed to read the script first to see if it inspired me of course. It was a very intense story and I said yes right away. Problem was that I was so full of ideas that one song wouldn’t do it for me, so a few months after I began I had over 60 minutes of music. Normally composers only get a few weeks to complete a soundtrack, so having all the time in the world, plus, only to have the script to inspire me was amazing for me. I bet all soundtrack composers would kill to have that amount of time and freedom.
SM: Was it in any way easier to write music based around a defined plot or subject matter? Was it in any way more difficult? How would you say it is different from the way you normally write songs, if at all?
CL: I approached this project in the same way I do with my “normal” work.. I read the script 2 times. Placed it in a drawer and then started on the title song. It was in a way kind of relaxing to do cause normally my lyrics are very personal and its not always easy to turn yourself inside out and being as honest as I am. You would think that it was easier to write about other peoples stories, but it’s not.. As soon as I started I was right there with the people in the story and the whole process quickly became as personal as a “normal” Leæther Strip song.
SM: What would you say is the overall theme or tone of the album?
CL: I think it’s the darkest album I have ever done. I might not be as harsh sounding, but I really moved around in the darkest places of my thoughts while writing this. I had some really “fun” nightmares while recording it too. I was also told that the actors in the movie listened to the soundtrack to get prepared to act the scenes out. I am very happy with the result, and I hope this is the start of something for me, and for Cesar, because he’s a huge talent, both visually and as a writer. He’s going places and I hope he’ll take me with him.
SM: Who would you say are the biggest influences in your work?
CL: There are many, but to pick the most important ones I would have to name Fad Gadget, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, John Carpenter , Gary Numan and Skinny Puppy.
SM: If you had to pick a favorite piece of your own work, could you do it and if so, what would it be?
CL: The album that have had the biggest impact on my life is “Solitary Confinement” from 1992. It was my breakthrough and it has opened many doors for me and I still get messages and questions from listeners concerning that album. But for me they are all favorites.
SM: You have played live MANY places. What has been your favorite live show so far?
CL: Yes, after my stage “come back” I have been really lucky to get to play a lot of shows. It’s been amazing to get out there to meet the people again, and I never thought that would happen again after my back problem started to get nasty in 93. The most fun gigs I played were in Dessau, Budapest , Philadelphia and London, and that doesn’t mean that the others were bad. I have actually been lucky so there haven’t really been any negative gigs. I have met open arms and kindness at every show so far. I like the club gigs best because I get to play my full 90 minute set and there is time for the sound check and not so much stress before and after the shows. Another show that also meant the world to me, was the concert I played with Skinny Puppy last summer here in Denmark.
SM: What remix are you the most proud of or do you think turned out the best?
CL: For me the best one is a new on that’s not released yet, but will be out soon I hope. An old 80s Song by Wang Chung called “To live and die in LA”, from the movie with the same title. The original is one of best songs ever written if you ask me. They asked me to remix a new song of theirs and I did that, and took a chance to ask if they would let me fiddle with that old song. I was also just asked by Frontline Assembly to remix a song for them so I cant wait to get started on that.
SM: As a fellow musician, I know that sometimes it can be difficult to smash your music into a category or genre. That being said, what genre would you say YOU think Leaether Strip fits into, if any?
CL: I think that Dark Electro fit’s my sound pretty much, but for me personally its still “just” songs.
SM: Are there any artists you would like to work with that you have not had a chance to work with yet?
CL: I love working with other people so sure, there are many. It’s very inspiring for me to remix for others or having guest’s on one of my songs. Dirk Ivens just said yes to do a guest vocal for a song on my coming Klutæ album. And I plan to ask Gary Numan, Ogre, Marc Almond and Darrin Huss in the near future for a guest vocal, but they don’t know it yet. After I asked and got a “yes” from Andy Sex Gang for the guest vocal on “What have I done” from the “Mental Slavery” album, I found the guts to ask some more. If I get a no then at least I asked.
SM: What direction do you see Leaether Strip going in as you move forward? Has this changed at all since you started?
CL: I have no idea. I always just go where the music is taking me. Evolution doesn’t happen when we think about it, it usually comes like a thief in the night.. Also, the devoted listeners knows that I move around in all sorts of genres, so they are hard to shock. I do have a wish to maybe record a 2nd Serenade for the dead. But right now my time is devoted fully to the new Klutæ album “Electro Punks Unite”.
SM: What would be the main thing you hope to achieve or get across to people with your music?
CL: The same as we all dream about. To have an impact on other peoples life’s. If I can help one person somewhere with my music as much it has helped myself, then nothing has been in vain.
SM: What is next for Leaether Strip and you?
CL: I already got a lot of bookings for concerts for next year, and I expect to have the coming Klutæ album ready for release next spring. Then I start working on “Retention no4”, which will be for “Underneath the Laughter”. I also got some new Leæther Strip songs in the works. I also made my first Christmas song ever, for a compilation titled “Black Snow 2”. It’s a tragic song about John Blacksmith titled “It happened on Christmas Day.”
(read about the release here:
You can check the confirmed concert dates on my Myspace site or my Facebook site.
Claus is very excited about his newest projects and we are too! We are definitely looking forward to what this awesome band brings to the table. They always deliver. Can’t wait to see what the future holds!