I had the opportunity to talk with MC Lars during the Warped Tour’s stop in Noblesville, Indiana. Lars is now a repeat artist on the tour and one of the few hip-hop acts to ever take the stage at Warped Tour. Lars and I have spoken a few times in the past and we always have fun conversations.
Josh: So how has life been since the last time we talked?
Mc Lars: I have been working on a kid’s hip-hop show, with puppets. There is a preview on my website. I am just kind of going into the kid’s entertainment world, I am working on a kid’s record this fall, and then I am going to work on the 4th Mc Lars album. So life is good, and I mean to be asked back is such an honor to be a part of that group of bands that has been able to do it multiple times. Its been really really good this year because more people know about us.
Josh: Awesome, so being one of the people that has been asked to come back on the tour, like you said it is an honor to be asked. What has it been like for you to be asked back?
Mc Lars: Well I think what it is, is that I we are really DIY. I have no record label, none of the machine working for me. But the first year what we did was work really hard to prove that we wanted to come back. This year we set the bar really high, so we just had to make the show better. So I have been doing more beats and making it more like a live show with more live samples and everything. It’s just the drummer and me so we have changed it up some to make it more conducive to the Spotify stage where they’ve made like the EDM/Hip-hop stage. It has forced me to expand what I do creatively and also I don’t have a hype man this time, last year I had Weerd Science, so I have to have a lot more energy.
Josh: So since you are out here on your own this year, do you think it provides you a better connection with fans?
Mc Lars: I think so, and I think we are selling more merch because the kids know what they want to buy. Weerd Science is a genius but his style is a little more controversial, my style is kind of more family friendly so there are more kids coming out and picking up my stuff. And it is cool because that is the direction that I want to go in, making music for the younger generation.
Josh: So tell me a little about this kids show that you are working on.
Mc Lars: It is called “Yes Yes Ya’ll” and it is me and these puppets that are robots, that all represent the 4 elements of hip-hop culture and we travel through time in a vocal booth and meet all these famous people. Weird Al said he would be down to be in the first episode, he is going to play Marcel Duchamp, the French painter, so that is what we are doing, educating kids through hip-hop with puppets.
Josh: That sounds sick man. What was the inspiration behind doing the show? Is it about trying to keep education and music together?
Mc Lars: Well I am 30 now, I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and I am on tour so much that I want to have projects so that when I am home I can still be productive. I want to make records, but I want to expand as well. It is a way to not be on tour all the time and a way to reach young kids.
Josh: So with the 4th actual Mc Lars album, do you have a drop date planned already or is it still in the planning stages?
Mc Lars: Yeah, Me, Mc Chris and Mc Frontalot are doing a tour next year. The 3 of us have never toured together, so I am going to drop it before that either in the spring or fall. I have been working on both the kids record and the Lars album, and I want to drop them both next year. It is really a process where when I write the song I look at it and have to ask if this is a kid’s song or an adult track, a lot of my tracks walk that fine line.
Josh: So the last time we talked you were about to drop the EAP album.
Mc Lars: Yeah! Did you get that?
Josh: Yeah man it is sick! It is one of the first things I go to when I am showing people your music too; I bring that up to show them.
Mc Lars: One of the tracks even got picked up for the Warped Tour compilation album.
Josh: You had talked about doing some other writers, is that still the plan?
Mc Lars: Yeah man, one of my greatest thrill is the Lit-hop stuff. Taking classic stories and transforming them into beautiful songs. I do want to do more albums like that but its not very commercial, not that I have ever wanted to be commercial but I have to balance it out. In a perfect world I would do author EPs all the time. It’s a niche of a niche, its part of nerd-core but buried into specific authors and the Lit-hop genre. I plan on doing more, but it will be after the next 2 albums.
Josh: So after Warped Tour do you have tour plans or is it going to be in the studio to work on the albums?
Mc Lars: Well I am doing these lectures that colleges have been booking me to do. I’ve got one coming up in California. Then I go to England for about a month with Weatus, then I am headlining a festival, Nerdapolooza, with They Might Be Giants, Nerfhearder, and Frontalot. That’s pretty dope to be on the same billing as those guys.
Josh: That’s really kind of been your whole career jumping from stepping stone to stepping stone and getting out with those huge headliners. And for you like Mc Frontalot has always been a big inspiration for you what has it been like to now be able to work with him, and tour with him?
Mc Lars: I mean that guy is so brilliant and talented, and on such a different level than me. He is just such a good down to earth guy. And what he taught me, he is like 10 years older than me, when I met him I was still trying to figure out how to make a career out of this completely random thing that I had found. He is someone who did it and created a genre for it and got in with the community. He kind of mentored me and was like this is the new generation of nerd-core. He showed me that you can go to college and then do what makes you happy. If you are on the road and happy then you just have to make that your life. That and the fact that any time I’ve collaborated with him he has pushed me to increase my rhymes per minute and things like that. He is so fun to tour with and his fans are really open-minded. I can’t wait to tour with him again; him and Mc Chris are two of my best friends. Not a lot of people get what we do but we all do and I’m just really thankful that I ended up getting to be in the same genre as them.
Josh: I think the last time I saw you was at the Subterranean in Chicago with Mc Chris on that tour you guys did.
Mc Lars: I think that show was sold out it was a cool show!
Josh: You’ve always been on the cutting edge, how have you seen the scene change and grow especially in your genre?
Mc Lars: Well a few things, these are really good questions man, very thoughtful. Back in the day I was doing the laptop rap, and back then if you were rapping with just a laptop people were like who is this guy. Now all the EDM guys, even like Daft Punk, use laptops on stage now. If you don’t use a laptop on stage now with electronic music people are like what are you doing? So that is interesting because what I have been doing since the start is now more accepted. That has allowed me to bring down my set too, I use to have my laptop plus a full band, but now I can do it all with a laptop and a drummer. With nerd-core and all the nerd stuff I think the mainstream has kind of co-opted it. You have guys like Lil Wayne and others using like Nintendo controllers in their videos and things like that. It is just because the tech culture has fused with hip-hop. Rolling Stone just did an article on all the Warped Tour stuff, and they had this paragraph on me about how the Lit-hop stuff fits with the tour. I think 10 years ago it wouldn’t have, but all the subcultures have kind of merged. I speak for these nerdy kids, Star Trek fans, Star Wars fans, kids who are all about summer reading. That is kind of cool that the culture has caught up with what I have been doing all this time.
Josh: So what would you say to fans who are getting ready to come out to Warped and maybe kids who haven’t heard of you why should they stop by your stage and check you out?
Mc Lars: I think the fun thing about Warped Tour is that you don’t know what to expect. Always get there early because sometimes the bands you want to see go on early, like 11am. Always bring an empty water bottle because you can refill it for free and save a lot of money like that. Bring sunscreen, I wear this ridiculous giant panama style straw hat. If you are going to drink and stuff like that be very careful because you can dehydrate or get hurt in a mosh pit and not realize it. Be smart but come to party. The other thing I learned is that if you have a cell phone charger that is important because they drain fast in the heat. You’ll look and be like 28% what? So I am always going back to the bus to charge it. Also try to see as many different artists and genres that you can. And don’t miss our set! (Laughs) And Mac Lethal, that dude is great.
Josh: Yeah I was going to say in the past you and Weerd Science have been on, Mc Chris has been on in the past, now Mac Lethal is on. What has it been like to have him on the tour so that you aren’t the lone hip-hop artist. Have you gotten to work with him at all or see his sets?
Mc Lars: Yeah I always try to watch his set. We did a track together on the Indie Rocket Science EP called “Giving Tree” based on a book. So he and I have been hanging out a lot and talking a lot. He is about my age but he has been doing it longer than I have. The first time I saw him was in 2002 he opened for ICP’s homie Twizted. Then I saw him with Sage Francis, so I’ve kind of always had my eye on him. It is cool to work with him and talk with him, he gives me advice on like agents and managers. He has had that phenomenal YouTube success which translated into a book deal and a TV pilot. So I just think it is really cool how down to earth he is, he always retweets me and he is my favorite act on the tour. We have built this great friendship. We aren’t really the same genre but we are both hip-hop and I would say intelligent hip-hop. In addition to his comedy stuff he has a lot of real stuff to say. I can’t say enough about him. And he is a great freestyler, have you ever seen his battle videos? He won Scribble Jam one year, so yeah he is really a beast. You can’t mess with Mac Lethal.
Josh: Awesome man, always a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks for taking the time to talk again.
Mc Lars: No problem man, thanks for the continued support.