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“I want to be someone who people recognize and want to come to see, but stayed true to their art and message through their whole career. I want to be able to tour the world and play sold out shows. I’d love to have some mainstream exposure to subversively bring my ideas into the popular eye, as long as I don’t have to compromise what I’m doing for the sake of popularity. I want to work with more artists that I admire and be known for having one of the most fun live touring shows that has ever hit the road. I’d like to die having put out one of the most original greatest hits albums in the history of the popular music. That would be awesome.” Mc Lars
It isn’t easy being a Post Punk Laptop rapper. You’re forced to lead a genre that doesn’t exist, navigate around cookie cutter superstars, push yourself to make music unlike anything else on earth and spend every penny of your own money to get it all done. You meet kids at every tour date who love what you do, yet turn on MTV and see homogenized puppets that regurgitate their genres and make piles of dough in the process. You push the boundaries of DIY and give major labels the middle finger. You hope (and know) that this will be all worth it some day.
MC Lars is a member of what he dubs the “iGeneration,” a group born and raised in the time of the Ninja Turtles, cassette tapes and new wave music, who now live in the age of Gossip Girls, iPhones and screamo bands. These are the kids who have grown up using the Internet as a part of their every day life. They can conveniently carry 30,000 songs in their pocket, but are faced with the glooming fact that the world’s oil supply and Social Security will both run out in their lifetime. MC Lars is the hero of this new generation, addressing their thoughts and every day struggles in his music.
From 2003-2005, Lars has spent every day years building this group of fans, performing around the world with nothing but his laptop and lyrics. His indie EP has sold over 10,000 copies to a dedicated group of misfits, allowing him to pulse the mainstream through unexpected outlets like Rolling Stone and MTV News. All of this led him to the decision to steer his own ship and to release the album on his own label (Horris Records) rather than fall into the major label glut. He sees little need for the traditional label trappings and would rather storm his own trail through the Internet, even encouraging file-sharing as a means of promoting his music. “I think I’ve shown that you don’t need to have mainstream exposure to get a dedicated fan base, especially when you have things like MySpace and LimeWire as creative ways of marketing yourself,” he says.
Released in 2006, “The Graduate” was an album chock full of wildly different subject matter, from playful and goofy to socially conscious and critical. The album opened with “Download This Song,” featuring guest vocals by Jaret Reddick of Bowling For Soup; the song served as complete manifesto on the future of music industry. “21 Concepts” was a track featuring 21 different song ideas Lars rejected for the album, including an ill-fated jam about a fetus running for governor. He gave listeners a literature lesson on “Ahab,” retelling Herman Melville’s class Moby Dick in under four minutes (to a Supergrass sample, no less). Lars collaborated with The Matches on a song about mallrat-infested Hot Topic and with another with notorious rapper Ill Bill (Non Phixion) on “The Dialogue,” a marriage that will surprise many. “The Roommate From Hell” teams him up with nerdcore rapper mc chris, who was cast as Lars’ college roommate who is also, coincidentally, Satan.
“The Graduate” was a collection of songs that was quite possible the time capsule for this generation. In a hundred years, iPods, MySpace and Hot Topic may be nothing more than a distant memory, but one listen to MC Lars’ music will bring people back to the iGeneration. The title may have been a nod to Lars’ recent graduation from Stanford University, but the album also served as a musical graduation, allowing Lars to move from sampling his favorite artists on his laptop to being able to collaborate with them in the studio. He adds, “I also like to hook up with older women like Dustin Hoffman does.”
After the radio success of “Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock” in the US and “Download This Song” in Australia, Lars surprised even himself with selling 20,000 copies of “the Graduate” worldwide. He did this through touring with bands like Simple Plan in the UK, the Matches in the US, returning to Australia, and headlining shows in Japan. After coming back from a year of hard-core touring, Lars hit the studio again to record his follow-up record. While pondering names for the record, Lars thought about his late mentor, Wesley Willis, who despite his mental issues, used a DIY and punk rock approach to spread his energetic funny songs across the world. Before passing away in 2003, Willis told Lars, “Lars Horris! I like your songs, I’ll write a song about you. I’ll probably write it on my next rock ‘n’ roll record, which is called ‘This Gigantic Robot Kills’.” Willis died soon thereafter, and Lars decided to create an album unlike any other, and dedicate it to Wesley’s memory by naming it after the unfinished albums of one of his heroes.
Lars worked with many diverse and eclectic artists for this album. “True Player for Real” sees him teaming up with childhood hero “Weird Al” Yankovic on the accordion, while the title track is a hilarious ska throw-back featuring the MC Bat Commander from The Aquabats that mourns the death of a ska generation to the hands of the bratty kids from the Hills. “Hey There Ophelia” returns to Lars’s literate retelling of classic works, built around a Therapy? interpolation featuring Brett Anderson from the Donnas and Gabe Saporta from Cobra Starship, all of whom work together to retell the classic Shakespearean tale of Hamlet. On “O.G. Original Gamer”, Lars teams up with the “godfather of nerdcore hip-hop” Mc Frontalot, telling a surprising tale of a father who pushed his kid into becoming a world class gamer, as the child rebels and would rather mow the lawn and clean his room. “No Logo” takes an interpolation of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room”, as Lars teams up with Nova Scotia’s most famous rapper, Jesse Dangerously, railing against people who claim to be corporate revolutionaries but by the poster board for protesting at Wall Mart. On “Beating Guitar Hero Doesn’t Make You Jimmy Page”, Lars teams up with Nerf Herder frontman Perry Grip, to comment on the notion that video games like Guitar Hero take kids away from playing in bands and actually learning their instruments. True Guitar Hero Paul Gilbert of Mr. Big joins Lars and Parry on this track, showing what actual musicianship can do. On “It’s Not Easy (Being Green)”, Lars joins forces with Pierre Bouviere of Simple Plan on the “hottest” track about global warming ever recorded. “Santa Claus’s sleigh will need jet skis”, Pierre sings, as Lars raps about consumption in a “greening” industry. The entire album was mixed by Mike Patterson, who made waves in the industry with the Notorious B.I.G.‘s “Life After Death” in 1997 and Beck’s “Midnite Vultures” in 1999.
Horris Records teamed up with Jaret Reddick from Bowling for Soup’s new imprint under Oglio to release and distribute the new album. Following its completion, Lars hit the road for a college tour with pop-punkers Cartel and rapper Yung Joc, and a six week tour with MC Frontalot in November. In January of 2009, “This Gigantic Robot Kills” will hit shelves across the world, as an army of post-punk laptop fans rejoice and see what Lars has been up to for the past three years.