Club Congress brings a great show tonight, with Los Angeles' punk-bluegrass combo Old Man Markley and the acoustic wildmen from Bend, Ore., Larry and His Flask. Doors open at 7 for the 18+ show, with tickets $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Fans who enjoyed last week's Devil Makes Three show - or any high-energy acoustic music - should not miss this one.
The Weekly caught up with Jesse Marshall, upright bass player for Larry and His Flask, who calls his band a "ball of energy playing folk instruments."
Basically it's music that's amped up, without the amps.
Larry and His Flask started life in 2003 as a punk band, yet made the Warped Tour in 2011 with banjo, mandolin and horns.
“It was just a natural thing, like a happy accident,” says Marshall, describing how the band found new life playing acoustic music. “We had a different drummer at the time and my brother was singing, just screaming, like a typical four-piece hardcore band. Our drummer decided he didn’t want to do it any more, so we were kind of in a lull.
“Where we come from there aren’t a lot of drummer, but we still needed to play music, so we just invited a bunch of our friends to come over and play mandolin and banjo and I busted out the upright bass. We went downtown to play on a Saturday night and people dug it,” Marshall says. “That was when we realized people actually enjoy this way more than they enjoyed our punk rock stuff, and we didn’t even have to bring our amps.”
The band grew to a six musicians, all of whom leap and thrash around the stage, pounding out songs that combine punk energy, some bluegrass picking, bright horns, barbershop harmonies and I swear there’s even some Cab Calloway hidden in there somewhere.
“People say folk-punk or punk-bluegrass, but we don’t really care,” Marshall says. “We obviously take a lot of influence from the ‘20s and ‘30s and ‘40s, jazz and Dixieland and gypsy jazz,” he says. “Most of us don’t have much musical training but we just try to do as much as we can and put energy into it. We like to see the crowd dance and smile. That reaction inspires us to go apeshit.”
Apeshit is not exaggeration. I saw the band’s rollicking live show in an opening slot before Frank Turner in September at Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom. That live show, moreso than the band’s songs, is what has propelled Larry and His Flask out of central Oregon.
"Call It What You Will"
“We knew we couldn’t make a living playing the music we want to play in Bend, Oregon alone. The only way we could do that is to travel, so it gave us the drive to get out of town,” Marshall says. “Once we did that, we realized how awesome it is to go back to Bend and have our family there. It’s always a magnet pulling us back, keeping true to the family aspect.”
After a heavy year of touring (all 50 states, coast-to-coast in Canada, UK and Western Europe), Larry and His Flask will start work on a new album, a follow-up to this year’s EP Hobo’s Lament and the 2011 full-length breakout album, All That We Know.
“Writing has to be separate. When our touring was a lot more relaxed and we’d only have a couple hour drives, we could hang out and jam and write songs. Now it’s just a little too crazy, it’s not the most creative environment. We’re driving every day, drinking too much, not sleeping enough,” Marshall says.
The band recorded Hobo’s Lament just after Thanksgiving last year, spending four days at Jeffrey at Rancho Recordo studio in Fenton, Michigan, a small town near Flint. Larry and His Flask will return to Fenton in January to record a new record.
“We clicked pretty well with him. He moved his studio from Boston to Michigan, where it’s surrounded by birch trees out in the woods,” Marshall says. “It’s a perfect environment to record. There’s a bunk room, so we stay there and hang out and drink lots of coffee, lots of whiskey. It’s what all of us have envisioned for a recording studio atmosphere, especially in the winter. We go at our own pace.”
"Hobo's Lament," recorded live outside Phoenix's Crescent Ballroom: