Micheal Larsen, vocal artist for Eyedea and Abilities, said he and Gregory Keltgen, aka Abilities, are back on the road after taking a couple of years off from touring.
Their new album, “By the Throat,” was released in July and has had a good response, Eyedea said. It’s a mix of talented turntable skills, thoughtful lyrics and freestyling with some rock ‘n’ roll thrown in. The band opened up for Atmosphere at the Aug. 15 “When God Gives You Ugly” tour at the Paolo Soleri in Santa Fe.
Daily Lobo: How is the tour going?
Micheal Larsen: It’s been really great for us to be able to open up for Atmosphere again. When we first started touring, we toured as Eyedea and Abilities and Atmosphere sort of as one band. We went across the country and lost lots of money and developed a hatred for each other because it’s kind of a tough situation. It’s nice to be back touring where things are a lot more accommodating. It’s easier for us to all get along and be friends. When you’re playing, you’re playing and for that hour there’s a lot of freedom there. But when you’re on the road there’s usually 23 other hours of bullshit and pain. So, the better you can make those other 23 hours the better the whole thing is.
DL: Why do you think it’s easier this time?
ML: A lot of it has to do with Atmosphere’s popularity. They’re popular enough to where they can hire a really nice crew of friends to perform with. People treat you differently when you’re an act that draws a lot more people. Everybody on this tour is very responsible and very aware of not abusing their power and keeping a positive thing rolling.
DL: How long have you been on the road?
ML: I’ve pretty much been touring since I was 17. I can remember the first time I toured, the second day I already felt like I was gone for a month. You fall in this zone where you have gaps in your head, and I’ve been doing it so long that even if it’s just a weekend it feels like a month. There’s a psychological space that’s reserved for sitting in a van and then playing every night. It’s very much like a drug, because if you don’t get to release that energy, which you don’t normally do on a day off, then I find it pretty depressing, and I go through withdrawals, actually. I’m just sitting around wondering why am I so bored and so sad.
DL: Where are you from?
ML: I’m from St. Paul, Minn.
DL: Do you think not living in California or New York influences the type of music you make?
ML: One of the things about that is the Twin Cities music scene. It’s so intense and incestual. The best improvisational jazz guys play with the best rock guys and the best rock guys play with the best hip-hop guys. So, ‘incestual’ is the best way to describe it. It has all the artistic stuff that big cities have, but it’s still a small town in some ways.
DL: How did you get so good at freestyling?
ML: It’s the same with any instrument. You just have to learn how to open doorways in your head. Anybody can improvise anything. That’s really what we’re doing right now is improvising this conversation. That’s what improvising really is, you’re improvising your whole life. It’s just that you contain it in this little box and say this is just improvising music, then you’re going to start to say ‘Am I playing the wrong note, am I saying the wrong word’ and then you’re not free anymore. So the whole trick is attempting to find psychological freedom. And if you can’t then you improvise.