Interview: Royal Teeth (with Rooney @RexTheater in Pittsburgh on October 27)

af361916-f196-4cad-8920-cb33b2bb7a0cWhat is it to be an amateur?  Is it to be inexperienced?  Is it to lack the knowledge of how to do something at an expert level?  This is not what Louisiana-based Royal Teeth thinks when they hear the word.  Their new EP Amateurs, due to release on November 18, has a sound that is far from that of an amateur.

Formed in Louisiana, the band, with varying members, have been playing since 2010 and have been touring for about five years.  They have an upbeat sound that, according to Gary Larsen, is inspired by the music that is common to the New Orleans area where most of the members now reside.

The band has released two albums previously, all of which carry an upbeat sound similar to that of American Authors.  The band has been writing for a while, as their last album was released three years ago.    Singer and guitar player Larson would agree that it has been a long time, saying, “When you have that much time off and you still try to be busy, you end up writing way too many songs and we just have way too many ideas to know what to do with.  We have to start getting these flushed out as soon as possible.”

The latest release, a single with the same name as the album, is a fast-paced song with the pop sounds of today that also resemble the synth-heavy sounds of the 1980s.

The inspiration for the song, according to Larson and guitarist Josh Hefner, came from the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.  The book has a chapter titled “Everyone is an Amateur.”

The two members explain that Amateur comes from a French word meaning passion.  Larson talks about an amateur passion.  It comes with the idea that passion has moments that aren’t sugar coated, and those moments are just as important as the moments of success that musicians experience.  “Life goes on. It’s nice to talk about the follow your dreams moment, but there’s more to it than that. . . You can follow your dreams, but you can still acknowledge that things can suck.”

The word amateur is to be looked at from a more vibrant perspective.  The band is passionate, and writing music and playing shows is still fun.  They don’t see themselves as virtuoso musicians, but rather a group of friends that truly love what they do in the same way they did when they first began their musical journeys.

How does the band keep the amateur mindset?  Adventure.  They have toured across the United States and into parts of Canada; they like to find something new to explore in every city no matter how many times they have visited.  Larson admits that, as a musician, this is not hard.  “You get really used to the interstate and a bar,” he says.  “You want a second get out of that, to, on some level, live there for just a small period of time.”

The band is currently half-way through the first leg of their tour, and is expected in Pittsburgh on October 27.  The second leg of the tour will continue near the west coast, and Hefner excitedly talks about some new cities on the tour.  “We’ve never played Vancouver before, and there is a Vancouver stop on the second half of this tour that I’m really excited about.”

Royal Teeth has also begun discussing the possibility of returning to the studio soon.  They promise fans that it will not be another three years before the release of an album.  For now, they will continue touring across the country, keeping lead singer Nora Patterson’s words in mind:  I have dreams, and they are gigantic.

Royal Teeth recently announced a new EP, Amateurs, set to drop on November 18th via Round Hill Music (American Authors, Bruno Mars)  — check out their recently released title track, “Amateurs.” The band has gained a ton of attention in the past with their hit single Wild,” including a performance on American Idol (by personal invitation of Harry Connick Jr. himself!).  Check out appearances on Last Call with Carson Daly and American Idol.

Interview and piece by Stephanie Connell

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