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Ume to 'unfurl' and bring hearts, minds together in Salt Lake City

Published March 27, 2014 3:05 pm

Interview • Having recovered from the South by Southwest whirlwind, Austin rockers drop into SLC.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Now that more than 2,000 artists have departed the annual South by Southwest festival, Austin bands such as Ume have their Texas hometown to themselves.

But there's little rest for the young, buzz-building rock band Ume.

Ume quickly left for a national tour after playing as many as three shows a day during SXSW. With a new album, "Monuments," to promote, the trio will play Kilby Court on Thursday, March 27, in what should be one of the most roof-raising shows of the year at the small but intimately great Salt Lake City venue.

Ume — singer and guitarist Lauren Larson, bassist Eric Larson and drummer Rachel Fuhrer — quickly annihilate any perception that a female-fronted band can't be fierce. Lauren Larson recently answered questions posed by The Tribune about SXSW, playing with her hubby, and whether rock and roll is out of ideas.

Does playing with your husband present any unique challenges?

Not really. We met through music when he saw my first band play when I was 15. We've grown up together playing music, so I consider ourselves really lucky to be able to share this experience. It especially makes touring easier.

Do you feel that SXSW is good for you and the music community of Austin?

We had a terrific SXSW this year — playing with our musical heroes Blondie and playing packed free shows with some of our favorite local bands. Yes, there is complete chaos and the challenges of playing 20-minute sets with no sound checks on others' gear. I've learned through years at the fest that a band shouldn't expect fame and fortune from playing it. But I've also learned to appreciate the opportunity to play for so many people. It's a good thing as long as the bands don't get lost behind the brands.

Does playing multiple shows in one day (as is the case at SXSW) make you better at the second show, or just more tired?

We've done three shows in one day at SXSW. Yes, it makes you exhausted, but perhaps less inhibited, too. Every show is different.

What does Rachel bring to the band dynamic?

Rachel is a fantastic drummer who helps especially emphasize some of the heavier elements of our sound. She also really connects with so many of our fans and is an awesome drum teacher.

Does being a frontwoman invite objectifying presumptions?

Any musician or artist creating something for the world to see has to have pretty tough skin. While I still unfortunately hear sexist comments, I hear a lot more positive comments nowadays by people who say they were inspired by what we do. I just want to be seen and respected as a musician.

What is the difference between the persona you are onstage and how you really are?

People often say they are surprised I am "the same person who was just onstage" — perhaps because I don't really look like the stereotypical rock guitarist. But I like to shatter expectations. It's strange to me that people say they are surprised I'm "so nice" or that I show "genuine Southern hospitality" or that I'm "so short." I think onstage I'm just able to show a different side of myself — to unfurl my heart and hold nothing back. But the person onstage is the same person as the songwriter and the same person folding laundry the next day. Perhaps I just feel a little more powerful with a guitar in my hands. I can be quite nervous in front of crowds in other scenarios.

What are your plans for the rest of 2014?

We will be touring nonstop, writing music when we can and just working to promote this new record.

Was writing and recording "Monuments" a different experience from earlier projects since you knew how many more people were going to hear it?

When we recorded "Monuments," the goal was just to make the best record possible with the limited amount of time we had. The recording was initially funded by our fans through Kickstarter, so we really weren't sure how it was going to be released going into the studio. We're grateful Dangerbird Records soon got behind us and helped bring this record to more people. The biggest difference this time around was the chance to work with [Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder producer] Adam Kasper and his engineer Nate [Yaccino], who really helped give me a new confidence and really helped us capture a raw and honest sound.

Is rock and roll in need of resuscitation?

So much of popular music has been too safe for too long. I'm especially seeing in the crowds at our recent shows that people are yearning to jump around again and longing for something loud and passionate again. I think the energy and intensity of rock music is waking up again, and hopefully we can help. —

Ume with I Hear Sirens and Grass

When • Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m.

Where • Kilby Court, 741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), Salt Lake City

Tickets • $8 at 24Tix