Straight from the pages of the new issue of RAGGED, we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive excerpt from our featured story with Royal Teeth! Be sure to grab the full issue download (for free!) for the rest of the article and more photos with the band. (Full issue download here!)
You can’t blame the members of Royal Teeth for beaming a little. In just two short years, the Lafayette/New Orleans band has gone from bedroom acoustic project to full-fledged sound machine, with their heartfelt pop- rock blasting its way through Fox television dramas and Canadian car commercials, and the band themselves playing the infield at U.S. Cellular Field before a Chicago White Sox game. “It’s been a mixture of everything you’d imagine. It’s flattering and exciting; it’s fun but kind of scary and overwhelming at the same time,” says singer Gary Larsen. “Nora and I had never been on tour before.”
Check that. Co-singer Nora Patterson had never even been in a band before being asked to join Royal Teeth. “We had a previous female singer, but she had to quit the band,” Larsen explains. “We were desperate: We had a show coming up, and all of our songs were written to have female vocals. We found Nora on Facebook through some friends.”
“I’d been singing for a long time, but had never been in a band before,” Patterson says. “I thought it’d be fun, and I didn’t really have anything else going on.”
Patterson joined Royal Teeth-—Larsen, bassist Joshua Wells, percussionist Josh Hefner, guitarist Stevie Billeaud and singer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Poe—-in time to participate in the recording of Act Naturally, the debut EP they recorded with Shinedown’s Eric Bass. “He said, ‘What do you want from your EP, and don’t tell me that you want to get signed,’” Larsen says. “We said, ‘We want a big record—we’re not kidding ourselves, we’re writing a pop record, but we want it to have a lot of heart, to be very big and to have a lot of energy.’ Those were the basics: good pop music, but with some character that people can connect to.”
Bass—-and the band—-delivered. Though its melodies are carefree, Act Naturally is powered by the high-romantic tension of boy–girl drama, punched up with handclaps and soaring on harmony. Patterson takes the lead on a standout cover of The Knife’s “Heartbeats,” while “My Donna” skips by on tip-tapping percussion ripped from Speaking in Tongues–era Talking Heads. But don’t let those alt-press-approved names fool you: this is big music for big tents and big parties.
“When we started playing music, we weren’t playing pop at all,” Larsen says. “It took some time to figure out what we were happy doing and what we could do together the best. We’ve all come from so many influences and styles that Royal Teeth really could have ended up becoming anything. This is what felt the most natural.”
RAGGED tagged along as Royal Teeth shared some of their favorite hometown New Orleans spots, just in time for the Voodoo Music Experience festival. Those gators are real; so are the smiles.
Was it scary being close to those gators?
Gary Larsen: Yeah, that was scary. I tried to sit on one. The alligator handler was holding one down, and they allowed somebody to come sit on it. But then they walked away, so the handlers were gone. So this guy, the stylist, was sitting on it, and the alligator wasn’t moving, so when he got up, I tried to convince Nora to go sit on it.
Nora Patterson: He tried to get me to sit on it, and I got scared, so Gary decided that he was going to sit on it. As soon as the guy got up, and Gary tried to sit on it, the alligator—
Larsen: Death-lunged at my leg! Had it not been for the tape [on its mouth], I’d be missing my leg right now. Those things are powerful. It basically head-butted me in the leg to get away. I felt like I’d just been punched. They’re so strong, and they’re very intimidating: they’ve got this crazy hiss. But once the handlers came and put them in the position that they needed to be put in, they didn’t really move. They just hung out.
Patterson: They just sit there and hiss at you.
Patterson: Cafe du Monde is definitely a New Orleans tourist spot, but it was really fun.
Larsen: The owner is such a nice guy. He made sure we were taken care of, and he hung out with us and gave us a shout-out on their Facebook. The people there are really nice.
As locals, do you guys ever go to Cafe du Monde?
Patterson: I have a few times. It’s a good spot, because it’s in the French Quarter, and there’s so much to see and do there. If someone’s never been to New Orleans, it’s definitely a spot you should take them. I’ll even go there by myself to get beignets, because they’re delicious.
Larsen: It’s one of the most-visited spots for a reason. Anytime I have relatives in from out of state, it’s one of the first things they say: I need to go to the French Quarter to get some beignets.
(Continued in the new issue of RAGGED…)
posted by Staff