Eau Claire reeks of talent. It has been blessed with the emergence of Bon Iver and Justin Vernon to bring forth the indie scene in the last couple years that has no doubt been thriving all along, but was never getting the recognition it deserved. One such talented person and band just so happens to be one of my close friends Gabe Larson. Making a foothold in the Eau Claire and Midwest indie scene with his previous band Reverii, he is now back making music with his brother, Nick, in the newly formed Waldemar.
I had the pleasure of seeing them on their most recent tour, wrapping up a set in a small basement in Minneapolis, walls dripping with sweat. The music was more of a sonic rollercoaster rather than a set of songs. Going from alternative folk rock, to electronic synth and acoustic, to auto-tuned vocal looping, Waldemar displays innovation and talent in more than one facet of music. Although only showcasing a handful of songs, Waldemar has made it clear that creativity is flowing, all the while staying true to themselves, and original until their last note.
Before the show I had the pleasure of sitting down with Gabe and Nick Larson to talk Waldemar, previous musical efforts, inspiration, and the Eaux Claires music festival.
A conversation with Gabe & Nick Larson of Waldemar
Hey guys just tell me who you are and what you do in the band firstly:
G – My name is Gabe Larson and I play guitar and do lead vocals.
N – My name is Nick Larson and I play drums/synth and I also tune guitars (laughter)
Comment on what happened with the previous band Reverii and how Waldemar came to be?
G – Reverii has been ‘donzos’ for a while. The last show we played was in April, we did 2 last Eau Claire shows, but we were officially done in late January. We played a bunch of shows last fall, we played some high profile shows with bigger bands like at the Entry and Icehouse and we were getting more show offers. It felt like we were on the verge and taking off in a way. If we wanted to commit we could have, and played major markets and developed a fan base. One half wanted to play and the other had obligations (time, girlfriends), and as the band became bigger it became more apparent. I was willing to give it full attention, and others did not. The two last shows in Eau Claire we played, were at the Cabin at the university and darn near broke capacity records.
G - Reverii used to be mine, it was my solo project that I started. And then when February and March came around I was almost unable to touch my own work. It was my creative outlet. Without that I had some tough nights. Somewhere around late March I was feeling down and just wanted to write SOMETHING. I figured “yeah this will probably suck”, and felt like my creative outlet had become intertwined with my old band members. It might suck but I think it will be good for me. I ended up writing about depression, and my grandfather. His name was Waldemar. Depression really runs in our family and it’s what I knew what to write about. I felt satisfied again, to create and continue to have a creative process.
I know that (Reverii) was really hoping to land something for the Eaux Claires festival, were you bummed that you never got approached?
G – Reverii had already broken up, and the booking process for that, Justin was hand picking artists. And we never really thought we could have been on there, but I respect that there were going to be bigger bands on that bill.
I was a big fan of Reverii (obviously) and I can honestly say I loved your sound, one of the “fullest” sounding bands, especially in this genre. Are Reverii and Waldemar comparable? Or should I just stop trying to draw comparisons and shut up.
G- I don’t have any problem with people comparing this new band to reverie, I was the main song writer for both bands basically so it comes out in the music. Reverii was much more guitar driven, and Waldemar is much more vocally driven.
N- Everything besides guitar and vocals, everything else is awash in Waldemar.
G- : I started experimenting with more vocal effects. Reverie had more clean vocals and with Waldemar I’ve been using a vocal processor that I have just fell in love with. Harmonies, looping, auto tune used creatively as well.
Any major differences?
N- Different? I think the guitar and the vocals, in Reverii songs, I’ve heard in reviews that people would say, “wow those guitarists could shred”, the vocals put me in a trance (about Waldemar). The most prominent similarity between the two is the song structures, very atypical structures. A song was a movement, very fluid. It didn’t sound choral, but the layout of the songs were very classical.
G- In just general reactions I’ve gotten from the shows, people have been responding to Waldemar a lot more I feel than Reverii. I feel that fan response (blanket statement) that the comments we used to get after Reverii shows, it had to do with music qualities (that sounded cool, good guitars, jammed). Whereas with Waldemar, comments posts shows, people have talked to us about the emotional experience of the live set.
What inspires you?
G- My grandfather was where it started, it’s what the first song started as. I don’t aspire to be Waldemar, he was a tough guy to get close to, and it’s maybe just carrying on a legacy that he had. My father is a perfect example of that, he strived to not be his father. But I draw from other things as well, personal experiences, love, lack thereof, friendships.
What state of mind or atmosphere do you aim for with Waldemar?
G- I’m not aiming for a specific atmosphere or sound, I am aiming to put myself out there musically. Ethereal movements, really. But that’s just kind of happening and unfolding.
You can check out Waldemar at their Bandcamp page: http://waldemar.bandcamp.com/releases
by Andy Wilcox (@wilco204)