The news flash that one of the leaders of the music genre called EBM/Electro/Industrial would start a comeback was at first only a rumor. It started with a new website in the Myspace community and became more and more a reality. Alfa Matrix finally became the lucky label to get this Danish Dynamite under their flag. In October 2005, they released the returning EP “Suicide Bombers”. But this was only the beginning, and Claus Larsen AKA Leæther Strip was working hard to storm the scene again with a new full-length CD “After The Devastation”. And, the album is not only a simple full-length. Claus was very active in between and could collect enough stuff to hit the scene twice with a double-CD set. Released on January, 13th 2006, a very special date for Claus, he surprises his listeners with a very diverse effort that spins perfectly the balance between his old and known styles and newer, maybe a bit poppier influences. There are several interesting things to derive of his happenings in during his long silence. Today, Claus tells us a lot in AND in a good mood…
Chain D.L.K.: Welcome back, Claus, to the forefront of Electro/Industrial music. Without any release or sign of life in the past 5 years, I would like to take the chance to ask you first about your health condition and your current mood. How are you, and why were you in absence for so long?
Leaether Strip: Thanks for your kind words and for your concern. At the moment I am flying on a pink cloud of happiness. Butterflies are flying around me and hmm was that a pink elephant? Hehe. I am much better now and my mental health is as good as it gets, some would say I am still a nuttier though. Getting back to music and composing has been the cure for state I was in the past 5 years. Typical, cause I was trying my hardest to get away from this scene. The state of the scene in 1999 and 2001 was insane and I lost a lot of people to greed and hate. All I had to blame it was the music, so the logical thing to do was to stay away from music. For me my music had a lot more power than I ever knew. Its still unreal for me.
Chain D.L.K.: You decided to make announcements of your comeback at the very popular Myspace community, and you still use it as a website. Several people expected a bad joke or considered your account at the beginning as a rumor Why have you chosen MySpace as your online hub?
Leaether Strip: I didn’t know this community very well. But after I saw just how many people had swamped the site I could see why it was the best way. I had this idea that maybe the news would slowly spread to the old farts who still remembered my work. But I learned that even though I was splattered out on our sofa for the past 5 years, my music was still out there. I had no idea. I am not much of a web designer, I guess I could learn. So I don’t know when a “real” web site will be made. I just want to think about making my music for the moment, I hope people will understand that. It’s the important thing for me now.
Chain D.L.K.: Also with the signing to Alfa Matrix you surprised some so-called experts. A lot of people expected that you would join once again with the known forces of Torben Schmidt of Infacted Recordings. What made you decide to go with the Matrix?
Leaether Strip: Torben Schmidt was one of the friends I lost in this process, In fact he was a main factor in that mess. I wish him luck with his label, and I really hope he learned some stuff from all the crap that happened.I signed to Alfa Matrix because they were the only people who kept in touch over the years even though I neveranswered their emails. I knew Seba from several interviews he did with me over the years and I had always thought of him as one of the good guys. He is also a musician so I know he has a heart in it. I never dreamed of saying “yes” to do a song for a compilation would end up with a deal and I never saw myself doing an album ever again. So for me they were my saviors. All the guys have taken me in like I was family from day one.I never had that feeling with any label before. There is a untold respect somehow. I hope I will get many great years there. Suicide Bombers went to number 1 in the German alternative charts, and the album will debut at number 3. So they must be doing something right. Again, it’s the bands who form a label, not the other way around , as some label boss’s out there think.
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s talk about the content of “After The Devastation”. Your lyrics have always had a personal background based on own experiences. But some obviously autobiographical stuff like “Back in Control” is really new. Why a track on this personal experience?
Leaether Strip: The songs have a way of writing themselves for me. I usually let them take me where ever they want. Then when the songs done, I can look at the meaning of the words. Its really hard to explain without sounding like a complete idiot. But I don’t really think that much on the topic of a song until its finished. The crap just comes out in them and I never sensor myself . I had a ton of stuff I needed to get out I guess, so there is a link with all the songs I wrote for this album and EP. Like some kind of healing process. I am back in control now, and I never really thing I was before. Too many weak links and bad people spoiled a lot for my music I think. If some people think its getting a bit to close, then maybe that means they should listen even deeper. Maybe they can relate to the song in some way. If just one of the songs can help someone or mean something for a person then all the works has been worth it.
Chain D.L.K.: Also, politically inspired tracks and events of our daily life are rich and present with “Gaza Strip”, “Give Us Some Shelter (Katrina)” or the pre-released track “Suicide Bombers”. What are the reasons that you are now writing more about these themes than ever before?
Leaether Strip: Maybe because I got a tiny bit older, who knows. I think I always made songs about political stuff and “going’s on’s”. I just camouflaged it better. Now it’s a lot more “in your face”. Because all those conflicts aren’t really that hard to explain. Its either about hate or fear. So why call it something else. The deep thing in all this is to explain who’s right or wrong. Its very confusing. One day you say “Fuck I hate that killer”, the next day you vote for him, cause he will lower taxes. So again its stuff that concerns me and then “pling” you get a song about it. But man we humans can be animals these days. Or has it always been that way.
Chain D.L.K.: “Smerte” is, as far as I know, the first track you’ve done in the Danish language. Well, my Danish skills aren’t that great, so could you please explain the meaning and the story behind this track?
Leaether Strip: A lot of people have asked me that, so now I will cave in and give you a full translation. I am a weak boy. The theme in the song is “self mutilation” – you know, kids who remove pain by cutting themselves.I think all families have seen that in some form these days. Its almost a fashion today.Pain.”It took away my inner pain, and it loved to see all that blood running down my wrist”Pain PainI am afraid of the night, when I’m laying by myself When the souls that passed away are coming back to get my debt I am afraid of the knife when its laying in my handI can feel it when the blade slowly rips through the ribbon of lifePain PainAre you afraid of me when I’m cutting in myself?I am afraid of myself when the evil thoughts they winWhen I don’t see my weakness before my guts disappear I am afraid of the blood when its pumping out of meBut the weakness there once was is now stronger than me.Are you afraid of me when I’m cutting in myself?Pain PainI am afraid that life doesn’t concern me one bitBecause I don’t see anything other than adversity and toil.
Chain D.L.K.: You have created two very long instrumental takes for the final track on both CD’s. Why? And why a remake for the track “Leæther Strip Part 3 (Symphony For Kurt)”. Who is Kurt?
Leaether Strip: Before I started the Leæther Strip project I did in fact make lots of instrumental stuff. I have always found a lot of inspiration while I am writing songs like that. I also love to layer sounds the they create something new. It also makes me a better musician. I learn a lot doing them. I also used to collect soundtrack CD’s. My big dream is to one day get the chance to work on a real soundtrack. The symphony for Kurt, isn’t a remake, its a new piece. Kurt is the love of my life and my partner in life. He deserves a little music now and then for putting up with me. Kurt worked for 17 years on the Thule Airbase in Greenland so the music is inspired a lot by Greenland’s amazing nature. I also think that its good to have stuff like that on an album. I have always loved albums like that when they add a track you really can listen to a ton of times and still hear new things in it.
Chain D.L.K.: “Dying Is Easy – Life Is Harder (Daddy Please Love Me)” is hopefully not another part taken out of your life, is it?
Leaether Strip: It is not about me. I wish it was strangely, because then my beloved godson wouldn’t have to battle with it now.. Its extremely private and he is still trying to get back on track. He finally got away from the person (s) who tormented his life. We tried to help as good as we could but the system is so fucked up and so many kids don’t get help until its too late. He always found refuge and comfort here. And he knows we are there 24/7. Child abuse comes in many forms. And when it gets close to you and your life you see how things done to kids while they are small can hurt them later in life.
Chain D.L.K.: Some comments please also on the very depressive piece “I Was Born That Day”. Maybe another too personal question, but which date is meant?
Leaether Strip: I know it can sound depressing. Church organs does that to some people, it’s about the day I met Kurt. Since I was “in the closet” until then, it changed my life completely. I didn’t have to live the lie I was living has had been since I can remember. Now the “real” me was born. When something that seems so trivial happens and you later see how such a thing can totally change your life. You turn a corner and “blam” the life you know is gone. That’s what the song is about. Sad in the way that something is gone forever and glad because of this birth of a new life. Bring out the candles and incense. We’re going into hippie mode soon. 🙂
Chain D.L.K.: So we can say sure for sure that “After The Devastation” is filled with very diverse tracks. So what does the future hold for your side-project Klutæ? Why did you have to change the known name Klute into Klutæ?
Leaether Strip: Yes I was never “scared” to mess around with different styles and moods in my music. Its too boring not to. I just finished all the work for the forthcoming Klutæ EP “Sinner” and album the “Hit´n´Run”.I feel very good and thankful to the people who kept asking me to do Klutæ again. It was great fun to do and I am extremely happy about the result. It will be played at lots of barnyard parties and other fun locations I’m sure. I did the name change because a few years after the first Klute releases a British dude “took” the same name. Some people almost got a shock because they thought I had started making Jungle and Drum and bass. So now to avoid nice people to use money on something they think I did, I popped the Æ in. Then people who knows the music should know the connection. I hope.
Chain D.L.K.: I don’t dare to ask for this BUT… will we see you one day back on stage, maybe also for a tour? Or is it impossible to think about that?
Leaether Strip: Auch!!! You asked it and now I have to kill ya’ mate…………To put it short, I was born with a bad back and run over at 12 years old. So in my life I have had some periods where I can’t do shit. Hardly even stand up straight. And the past year has been one of those periods and it still is. I am seeing doctors and shit, but they always end up saying “Get used to it” it might go away or it might stay.So I promise you that if I get back to my good old spunky self I will shake my fat ass though a tour. And hopefully give thanks to everyone who made me cry like a baby when I saw all the reactions to my “return”.
Chain D.L.K.: Klutæ is up to get released soon with the first EP in quite a long time. What else musically does the future hold for you and both of your projects?
Leaether Strip: Right now I am back to writing new Leæther Strip material. Also I have been redoing some songs for a forthcoming Strip EP with the work title “Hate & Fear”. If all goes well, it will be a summer thing. Just to give the Klutæ EP and Album a little room to grow on people like a fungus, I hope :). No CD collection wouldn’t be complete without it!!!. 🙂
Chain D.L.K.: Any final words you would like to say to our readers?
Leaether Strip: I fucking LOOOOVE your web site, I didn’t know it before the other day and I’ve spend hours there reading. Great work. I also read a lot in the community forum, very dedicated people there. That’s what I love about this scene. People have a heart in the music. So I hope they will talk nice about my work there. I will read it so be nice :). Thanks for you interest and nice remarks on the site. Hope you can use this old fart still. It seems that I wont go away.Hugs Claus
Visit Leaether Strip on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Matt Ossen]