The band takes its fun, electronic pop-rock back home with a set at Voodoo this weekend.
I witnessed New Orleans/Lafayette indie dance pop band Royal Teeth play The Backstreet Boys' “I Want It That Way” to a packed Throwback night at The Republic nearly one year ago, and since then, vocalist Gary Larsen can only describe what has happened as a crazy, busy whirlwind. “We played CMJ last year, and we were trying to decide if we were ready to hop onto the festival circuit,” he says. “Then, we got the chance to be a part of SXSW. That was really huge for us, actually.” The band caught the attention of Los Angeles label Dangerbird Records, signed with them, and dropped everything to take their spirited, all-smiles music on the road. They’ll play The Voodoo Experience on Sunday.
Fellow vocalist Nora Patterson calls the band’s quick progression “overwhelming, because we weren’t really sure what to expect from the beginning.” Patterson left her full-time job for the band. Larsen stopped serving coffee at the Maple Street Starbucks (“I still go there, but it’s nice to not have to make everyone’s coffee now,” he says). The band just completed two runs up the East Coast, one run up the West Coast, played Austin City Limits, and now, onto Voodoo.
With two years of singing together behind them, Larsen and Patterson share an undeniable vocal chemistry, clear from the opening “ooohs” of their single, “Wild.” But they both recall a time when they were less acquainted, and Larsen relied on Facebook to contact Patterson when the band was just beginning. “I got a message from Gary on Facebook asking if I wanted to be in the band,” Patterson says with a laugh. “I knew a few of the guys. They needed a girl singer, and they had heard that I could sing. They’d looked up Youtube videos of me singing with my brother.” She met them at Hey! Cafe to discuss the possibility, and joined the band shortly afterwards.
Larsen admits that Royal Teeth doesn’t sound like a band that comes out of New Orleans, or Louisiana. “You have a picture in your head when you like of music from that area,” he says. “We know we don’t sound traditional, but I think there’s definitely a character and a spirit that we bring around from the city that represents us well. The carefree nature and the energy of the city. I think that’s something that people are attracted to when they see us and when they hear our music. Very big, lots of drums.”
The band continues to tour with their five-song EP Act Naturally that they released in July 2011 and rereleased on Dangerbird this past August. “We’re really lucky that we’ve had so much happen to us with those five songs,” Larsen says. “But we’re at the point now where we know we’re about to get into the studio. We didn’t want to rush into writing and recording, and we figured since the EP had done so well for us, we’d just rerelease that, and keep writing while on the road. I’m glad we did, because we’ll be able to put together a powerful album. We have a bunch of ideas. At this point, I think we’ve narrowed it down to our top 20 songs.”
Though a full-length debut is much anticipated, Royal Teeth recordings can never quite measure up to a live set. The band makes it a party, and settles for nothing less than a celebration. In cities like New Orleans and Lafayette, people continue to respond well. The six-piece didn’t tour until they signed with their label, and they didn’t need to. “We wanted to build up our local following, and figure out what we wanted to do and what we wanted to sound like,” Larsen says. “The music’s so upbeat, we need our show to be more fun and more than just a show. Thank god we found this store in Lafayette that has these disposable confetti cannons. We bought all of them out of stock. And every time they get a new shipment in, we buy all of them. Anything we can do to make the set a little more special, remember it more, feel like you’re a part of it instead of just watching, is really important to us.”
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