An Interview with Larry And His Flask
Larry And His Flask are: Dallin Bulkley on vocals and guitar, Andrew Carew on vocals, trombone and banjo, Ian Cook on vocals and guitar, Jamin Marshall on vocals and percussion, Jeshua Marshall on vocals, double bass, baritone and harmonicas and Kirk Skatvold on vocals, mandolin and trumpet. They’re a six piece rock and roll band from Redmond, Oregon who were born to travel and play music. Their live shows are incredible and the sounds they omit are striking: strings played so fast that you wonder if the instruments themselves are alive, forceful beats from a double bass that will kick you in the face, percussion that ties all of the sounds together, horns that sound like they came from New Orleans and harmonizing, haunting vocals comparable to the style of a cappella Barbershop music.
In fact, they evoke el duende, further studied and explained by Federico Garcia Lorca, a Spanish poet from the 20th century. Essentially, the musician battles the spirit of el duende to use the ability to bring forth the emotions and the mindset that allows the audience to experience what the musician is playing and understand why the musician is, for lack of a better word, possessed by their art. The best example I have ever heard of el duende was from a past professor. If you’ve seen a clip of Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar, it looks like he is fighting to control it. The sounds that he calls forth are captivating and compelling. You can’t tear yourself away. It’s the same with Larry And His Flask.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamin (JA) and Jeshua (known as Jessie, abbreviated as JE) Marshall with Avery from The Goddamn Gallows stopping by for fun.
M: You guys like moonshine?
JA: Moonshine? Yeah. I think generally speaking yeah. Mostly when we’re in Tennessee.
M: so you don’t [make] your own?
JA: We don’t make our own.
M: Have you ever considered?
JA: I’ve considered it. Yeah. The furthest I ever got was beer and cherry wine which turned out horribly.
M: Right on.
JA: It was a good idea. Jesse made some ah crab apple wine. He just went around and gathered crab apples from trees (little laugh) that were on the ground and falling off trees.
M: What is your favorite album that you guys have worked on?
JE: Probably, “All That We Know,” the one that we just put out.
JA: We’ve been a band for 8 years. I think that was our 7th or 8th full length we’ve done. A lot of repeated songs from sh*t, you know, a lot of different versions but I think that’s my favorite too. We were recently kind of revisiting our old punk rock stuff. And there’s a couple of those that are decent (laughs). They’re kind of fun.
M: How long has it taken you guys to prepare to get to Europe?
JA: We’ve been wanting to go for, you know, ever since the beginning of the band, but in the last couple of years we’ve, we’ve been like, okay we’re going now and then it falls apart and then we try it again and it falls apart so this time it’s actually… So, probably about a year and a half actually like getting our music out there, trying to get a record label pick it up and distribute it out there and stuff and we’re still working on that and have shows lined up for Germany…
JE: I think we have half the tour booked already. A lot of shows in the Netherlands.
JA: Czech Republic
M: Where do you want to play most?
JA: I’m really stoked about Germany. I heard nothing but good things and I really want to see Spain. I want to see it all.
M: I was going through your archives and please correct me if I’m wrong, you’ve played in 41 states?
JE: Yeah that sounds about right.
JA: We’ve played 41 states. We’ve been to all of them now as a band.
JE: There’s six we haven’t played? We’re playing Alaska soon.
JA: [For] the last few years, like instead of approaching music like most bands do and perfect their sound first and then tour, we just start touring right off the bat so in the first year we already had been on a couple of small tours… pretty much by ourselves. It was hard to get into shows and venues in Portland, which is the nearest big city to us and they kind of just shot us down… You know, it just didn’t work out at all so we just said f*ck em’ and went on tour and then they finally came to us (laughs). That’s how we approach things.
M: So is the music scene in Oregon, in general, okay?
JA: Portland’s really fucking awesome. There’s so much music coming out of Portland. Most people immediately associate us with Portland, you know? Even though we’re from about three hours away.
M: What is your city?
JA: Redmond. Rightfully so, [Portland’s] the biggest city, everybody’s heard of it. Most of the music coming out of there, we don’t even know. And it’s great stuff. There’s a lot of like, folk music, a lot of punk rock, some experimental, really great stuff. I haven’t heard of half the bands coming out of Portland probably (little laugh).
M: Why did you guys change your sound?
JA: It was just kind of a natural evolution. For a couple of years we had been working on a side project that we called, A Night in Question and it was just folk, americana stuff.
JE: We played a couple of shows.
JA: Yeah, we played a couple of shows with it. But then we toured across Canada. On our days off and when we didn’t have any gas money we’d play in the street. And then, it was just kind of natural. Our old drummer left the band and it was right after that Canada tour, and we were like uhh, what the f*ck are we going to do? He’s like our brother, you know? And he just had to go his own way and so we kind of went back to the folk thing and invited all of our friends to jam out with us in our living room. That turned out into jamming on the street corner and then it was looking like we were going to go back out on tour as the folk thing and we were like, what are we going to call it? We didn’t know, we weren’t sure, and one of our ex-members, plays cello, he said, just call it Larry And His Flask, you know? You’ll have the same audience and the same venues (laughs). So, (laughs) we did.
JE: The energy and the family of the band and the name has always been the same (laughs).
M: How does it feel when the music takes you over? Lively isn’t really a good word to put it. You guys [describe it] on your site [as] powerful and it seems to take you over. You just have such prescence.
JA: Definitely. I think that everybody plays music for their own personal reasons. But I think that, without sounding too, I dunno, goofy, it really is a religious experience for me. Personally, that’s as close as I get to, you know, [a] real “religious” type of thing. Ah, just pure adrenaline, you know? And then afterwards you come down off of that and, you know, pack up, go to sleep, do it all again (laughs).
M: Sounds like an awesome lifestyle.
JA: It’s draining. You know, certain people think that we’re on drugs or something.
JE: The energy that music [gives] to you is like nothing else you can find from any drug or anything, you know? Like you can feel like sh*t all day and not sleep [except] two hours and eat nothing but peanut butter and sriracha (laughs from all around) and then you get on the stage and then the moment the first note hits you, it’s like… All the energy in the world.
M: When you guys are on the road, what’s one thing you have to have with you besides your instruments?
JE: A good book.
M: What do you like to read?
JE: I’m reading Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha right now. I [also] brought a Steinbeck book but I lost it.
M: Which Steinbeck book did you lose?
JE: The Pearl.
(Wearing a “Planet of the Apes” shirt, Avery rejoins).
A: This isn’t a herpe. I got hit in the face with a superball last night.
M: You know I was honestly thinking it was a herpe and I was concerned.
A: Oh God. Well you should know now that it’s not in case we try to make out later.
M: So, are you a “Planet of the Apes” fan?
A: Is that a trick question?
A: It’s only the… It’s (takes the tape recorder and brings it up to his lips dramatically) Yes.
(laughs from all around)
A: It’s the greatest thing that ever happened in motion pictures.
M: Right!? Have you read the book?
A: There’s a book?
M: Right?! There’s a book. It’s actually kind of different because it’s a French author so it takes place in France, so in the end…
A: Eiffel tower?
M: Instead of the statue of liberty.
A: The statue of liberty was a gift from the French anyways.
(laughs from all around)
M: Yeah. I get excited everytime I hear “Planet of the Apes.”
A: We actually used to play a song called, “Planet of the Apes.”
M: I know!
A: You do?! (high-pitched)
M: I do.
A: Oh sh*t. Did you know we used to switch instruments and just f*cking make noise for five minutes afterwards?
M: I didn’t see you guys do that. I saw you guys play in Lansing in, ah, 2010 in like, May? You guys did not switch instruments then.
A: We can’t do that anymore. We [used to do that] at live shows.
M: You should totally do it because “Planet of the Apes” is only the greatest movie ever.
A: (to Mikey Classic) You hear that you dumb jerk? We should play “Planet of the Apes” and switch instruments like we used to cause everyone loves it. Including the press.
(laughs from all around)
A: On your way lady.
(laughs from all around)
M: How many days do you guys tour a year? What’s it up to now?
JE: Like a 100 to 250.
JA: Past few years it’s been right around 200.
M: Awesome. What do you guys do with the rest of the time?
JA: The first week we get home we sleep in.
JE: I usually go home for a weekend and then drive somewhere, like Canada or California.
JA: Immediately he leaves. The other guys have different routines. I think Kirk plays video games.
JE: Some of them really like video games.
JE: Probably the majority of the time at home, playing um, World of Warcraft? (JA laughs) I don’t know any video games.
JA: We do things (laughs) at home.
M: Right on. Catch up on what you need to do, people and such.
M: How many extra packets of strings do you guys need to carry on the road?
JE: We need to carry a ton of them.
JA: We seldom do. This tour is probably the most prepared tour we’ve ever been on.
JE: We pretty much have a set of strings for every show. Per person everyday.
JA: We change em’ every day.
JE: Except for bass and banjo.
JA: Hundreds of dollars of strings.
M: But you use them so it’s worth it.
M: One clip that I saw I was like, people need to clear the way otherwise someone’s going to get attacked with music.
JA: Jesse’s probably smacked people in the head with his bass more than anyone else… by accident (laughs).
M: Do you warn people before hand?
JA: We try to let the motion speak for itself, you know (laughs).
JE: Accidents happen. I mean for the most part we’re careful.
M: There’s only so much caution you can put into music. You want people to experience the energy.
JA: Rock n roll.
JE: Punk rock. It should be a little dangerous.
M: So you guys would categorize yourselves as punk rock?
JA: Punk rockers.
JE: The music is punk rock.
JA: You know, call it whatever. I just say it’s rock and roll. You know? Somewhere in between people have called it thrash-grass or folk punk, or hardcore or a lot of people have called it something like, “Avet Brothers on crack” (laughs). If something comes along that we really, really like, we might keep it. But it’s rock and roll. Fast (laughs). Our live shows tend to be very fast. I think we speed up the beats per minute. We probably do everything in double time (laughs).
M: What kind of reaction are you hoping people get from your shows?
JA: You know for the style that we play and the show that we put on, [the] album thing is [a] completely different world. It’d be hopefully more of a chill kind of thing where they can sit and read a book and listen to music and be somewhat calm but really into it at the same time. At a live show though, I would hope there would be a lot of dancing, clapping, screaming… like a hootenanny. Like a ruckus, you know?