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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Claus Larsen of Leaetherstrip Will Return to the Bay for his Second Ever Show in S.F.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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Ask electro-industrial and EDM pioneer Claus Larsen how he’s managed to record so much music over the last three decades, and he’ll tell you his mental health depends on it. Since launching Leaetherstrip in 1988, Larsen, who both sings and plays keyboards, has released 18 albums, 14 EPs/singles, and numerous re-recorded and re-mastered special editions.

But look closely and you’ll notice a gap in Leaetherstrip’s body of work: From 2000 to 2005 he didn't release any new music. Speaking with SF Weekly, the Dane explained the hiatus was brought on by his father’s death and the demise of Zoth Ommog, the record label he had been signed to, which conspired to plunge him into a depression fueled by prescription opioid painkillers.

“I didn’t touch a keyboard for four-and-a-half years,” Larsen noted.

But in 2006, Larsen was able to beat his addiction on his own and emerge from the shadowy depths of his depression sans rehab or a 12-step program.

“I quit cold turkey, not realizing how dangerous that was,” Larsen said, “I was sick as a dog for a month, but I lived through it — I just had to get out of that numbing addiction.”
Writing gloomy songs, like “Shame Of A Nation,” “Suicide Bombers,” and “Punktured Eyeballs,” which address themes of violence, horror, injustice, and alienation, was one way he was able to keep the darkness at bay.

“I found out I had to do the music because it had always been my release from all these dark thoughts,” the 48-year-old said. “I get high on it; if I’m doing two or three hours in the studio, I’m high as a kite.”

Leaetherstrip had its heyday in the ‘90s, but those years were not without challenges. Previously closeted, Larsen decided to publicly come out as gay after meeting his future husband, Kurt Hansen. From the start, they were bound together by their mutual love of electronic music.

“The first time I met Kurt, he invited me to his home, the dirty boy,” Larsen quipped. “While he was making me coffee, I perused his record collection, and the first three albums were by Gary Numan.”

But coming out had its caveats.

“Sales went down,” he said. “DJs sent back promo copies, telling the label they don’t want faggot music.”

Fortunately, Cleopatra Records, Larsen’s United States distributor at the time, stood by him.

“The label was very cool about it,” Larsen said. “They just [told DJs], ‘Then you don’t get any promo copies from any of our artists.’”

Leaetherstrip is essentially a one-man band, but Hansen, a classically trained pianist, has been known to tour with Larsen as an additional keyboardist. However, due to kidney problems and a recent stroke, Hansen, who is 70-years-old, did not join his husband on the current five-week tour.

“Don’t You Dare Die on Me,” a song from Leaetherstrip’s 2008 EP, Diaegnosis, was inspired by Hansen’s hospitalizations. The song is a poignant testament to love and the fear of loss, and its steely sound perfectly conveys the feeling of an antiseptic intensive care unit as Larsen sings, “White on white is all I see in this cold room/ Staring at the plastic tubes connected to you.”
Hansen joined Larsen for Leaetherstrip’s San Francisco performance last year, which was the band’s first ever show in the Bay Area.

“I really love America— it’s a beautiful country,” Larsen said, “People say, ‘I don’t want to go there because they’re all assholes and idiots,’ but that’s generally the view of people who haven’t actually visited the United States.”

In 2015, Larsen wrote 75 new songs, but he promised to perform only his ‘90’s-era material during his upcoming show at the Elbo Room, because that’s what his fans most want to hear.

“The ‘90’s, for me, is why I’m still here,” Larsen said. “Those people from that time are the ones who are still supporting me.”

Leaetherstrip plays with Ludovico Technique, DJ Crackwhore, and DJ Unit 77, at 9 p.m., Thursday, April 7, at The Elbo Room. $15; more info here.

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Brendan Bartholomew


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