Larry and His Flask Interview with Dallin Bulkley
We are very excited to have recently caught up with guitarist Dallin Bulkley of Oregon’s punk-infused, bluegrass rockers, Larry And His Flask for an exclusive interview. With an almost relentless touring schedule that has included long runs with Riot Fest, Warped Tour, as well as, headlining club circuit stints both in the US and abroad, Larry and His Flask have been winning over an eclectic grouping of followers. With enough energy and angst to appease the punks and no lack of talent among a six-piece wall of sound, including stand-up double bass, banjo, guitars, stand-up drums, and multi-member vocal harmonies, have managed to win over even the New York Times.
Larry and His Flask are band that should be on your radar. The band’s continuing trajectory toward greater success has not come without countless hours of dedication or heavy trials and tribulations. With drummer/vocalist Jamin Marshall having survived a recent bought with cancer, the band was dealt yet another heartbreaking blow, as Jamin and his bandmate and brother Jeshua, recently lost their father Rich to another hard fought battle with cancer. All of this as the band was preparing to release their latest EP, Hobo’s Lament, on Paper + Plastick Records.
In our second in-depth interview with Larry and His Flask, Blow The Scene‘s Joshua T. Cohen gets the inside scoop from Dallin on tour life, the making of Hobo’s Lament, dealing with cancer and family loss, plans for 2013, and much more. So without further ado, let’s hear from Dallin.
Joshua BTS: Greetings and thank you for taking a few minutes with Blow The Scene readers from around the world. We’ll get this puppy rolling by having you introduce yourself and musical weapon of choice with the six-piece, punk-infused, bluesy, folk-rock band, Larry and His Flask.
Dallin: Well, good evening. My name is Dallin, I play with Larry and I mostly play the guitar. On occasion during the set, I do enjoy playing the banjo or the bass [laughs].
Joshua BTS: Awesome. So your latest release, Hobo’s Lament, hit streets on the 25th of September, on Paper + Plastick [Records]. When did the writing and recording process start for this record?
Dallin: Half are older songs and half are newer songs. For the older songs, we’ve had them in rotation for quite a while now for “Closed Doors” and “Swing” in particular. But some of the newer ones are pretty new. Ian had so long kind of kicking around a little bit, we weren’t sure if these were something that should be put out by Larry. But everyone is always writing songs and everyone liked it enough to put it out. Basically, from beginning of our transition from this sort-of acoustic set [Warped Tour 2012] until extremely recently, is what we working with as far as timeline.
Joshua BTS: Where did you guys decide to go for this recording and when did the actual recording sessions take place?
Dallin: Recording happened for this last Winter. For the first EP, we were recording with a guy named Ray Jeffrey [Rancho Recordo Studios], he moved his studio and then after we did our full length in California, we had the means to go hang out with him again. So, that’s what we decided to do. We went over to Michigan, this little town Fenton to record this new one.
Joshua BTS: Larry and His Flask incorporates several instruments that aren’t necessarily typical of a rock or punk band, with you being anything but a typical rock or punk band- For this recording- Did you guys throw any instruments in the mix that saw you step out of your comfort zone or try anything new on this record?
Dallin: We were wanting to, but we really didn’t have the time to incorporate it. For the next record we are planning on making enough time to do that because there is a number of things we’d like to do. We just spend so much time on the road it’s almost impossible to even write songs on the road, much less to start playing different instruments and figuring out the logistics of playing that live. So we wanted to this time, but next time around it’s definitely going to happen.
Joshua BTS: The members of Larry and His Flask, as well as, close family members have been dealt some pretty dark days related to cancer diagnosis, recoveries, and even death- You have one track on the new EP entitled, “My Name Is Cancer”- How did the experience (and I know you guys missed some tour time because of it)- How did that affect the writing and recording process and the overall crafting of this EP?
Dallin: With that song in particular, that’s one of the older songs, it comes straight from the punk rock days. It’s a punk rock adaptation that we did from the old days. Larry, you know, has dealt with cancer a couple times in the past, so it’s never easy and it always brings back those same memories. To have such a close and integral family member have to go through that while we’re stuck on the road was a different way of having to deal with it. When the song was written, obviously it was a lot more personal being that a member had cancer. It was definitely a strain on the recording process unfortunately because of the stage that the cancer was at that point. We spent so long being on the road and even while we were recording, just waiting for that call. It doesn’t make it much easier, but it made it possible for us to go and do those things and stay on the road to know that that’s what Rich (Jamin and Jeshua Marshall’s father) wanted. Rich was never a selfish man and he cared about his children enough to wholeheartedly, always give his blessing to do the things we needed to do. It was a heavy weight on our minds while we were recording and obviously anytime we were away. But, like I said, it made it possible for us for Rich to be that kind of individual.
Joshua BTS: That’s awesome and heartbreaking at the same time. Were there any other lyrical motifs on that record that focused around that? Whether it was the angst, obviously the anger and mixed bag of feelings? Any songs of hope from the experience? I know from our last interview you guys had hooked up with a shirt making company that was doing some good benefit work. You guys are very in tune with that kind of stuff as well. I would imagine having seen you guys and talked with you before, that you are making some positive strides out of the experience as terrible as it is. Anything like that in the works?
Dallin: Not necessarily as a motif, I feel like more so than in the songwriting is just a part of that drive to keep doing what we’re doing more so than in the actual songwriting. With “My Name Is Cancer” having already been written and Jamin already having gone through those motions, having already lived through it, there’s not much more that needs to be said except for when you can go to new people and meet new people every night and to be able to say “fuck cancer” on stage. As far as songwriting goes, I don’t necessarily believe so. That’s all that really needs to be said. There’s a lot of discussion that you can have about where humans are as opposed to dealing with epidemic of cancer, but ultimately there is only that one notion that needs to be spread. For people that haven’t been affected by it to know there are far too many people that already have been.
Joshua BTS: You guys are currently on a tour with Lucero with several more shows and tours scheduled. How has this tour treated you thus far?
Dallin: We were just hanging out with them not too long ago and this is our first date with them on this tour, so we’ve only got a couple minutes hanging out with them thus far. There’s a lot of hugs that went around. Just been hanging out and talking like we never left [laughs].
Joshua BTS: Very cool. You guys maintain an incredibly energetic live show, everybody jumps around and thunders around all over the place and you guys got Jeshua throwing around that huge double bass. Any moments on these recent tour runs that have been particularly memorable?
Dallin: We recorded a show the other day in Rhode Island and I fell off the stage. First time I’ve fallen off the stage in really long time [laughs]. That’s funny to me to think that the one time we’re recording [laughs], I go and fall off.
Joshua BTS: How did that happen? Miscalculation?
Dallin: Kind of- It was just the way the stage was set up. I’m on the far end. If you’re facing the stage, I’m on the far left, so the way the stage is set up- There are two poles that are supporting the structure, so they obviously can’t move the pole, and they’re not going to move the stage, so it’s just the way it is. We’ve played there once before. So to get back and forth to my microphone, I was kind of having to dance around the pole on either side and I didn’t have a whole lot of room on my right side. I just kind of stepped little too far back as I was backing up to go around the pole [laughs], and just kind of rolled off. That was pretty funny.
Joshua BTS: [Laughs] Brutal. That is funny. I would imagine you guys have to keep in somewhat good shape on the road to keep up that kind of pace live. Do you guys do any routines that you go through either individually or collectively? I often hear from a lot of musicians that are of the upper calibers that they work yoga into their routine. It seems to be a recurring theme. Anything you guys do?
Joshua BTS: [Laughing]
Dallin: To either keep in shape or stay healthy [laughs], I suppose we’re just young enough right now. I mean we’re definitely rapidly aging[laughs], I personally do nothing. I did have this idea when we were on the Warped Tour that I thought maybe there would be time everyday to do a routine. As far as being on the Warped Tour, everything is routine based. You have everything you do in the morning as far as production, finding schedules, grabbing your rations, beer and water, blah blah, and breakfast. Everyone has their own thing that they do and a lot of people do have time to workout in the morning. If they want to do yoga, they do yoga, they want to go on a run, a lot of people do things like that. We were playing so much, we were busking maybe five times a day. Because we were playing so much and out on the second half of the Warped Tour we were busking but also playing on stages. I found that my arms couldn’t really handle it. I could physically only maintain enough strength and stamina to do what I do if I didn’t do anything at all and only play the shows.
Joshua BTS: How many times a day were you playing on the Warped Tour?
Dallin: Anywhere from 3 to 5 times a day, we’d go out and busk
Joshua BTS: Wow. Why were you playing that many times per day?
Dallin: That was our deal originally and contractually. We were contractually bound to busk at least 1 time a day, just play acoustic. We were also given the freedom to play as long as we want, wherever we wanted, however many times we wanted. To be making enough money for gas, you need to busk a couple times to sell merch a few times and get your money in the gas tank. That’s just the way it went. A big part of what we’ve built of this career is from busking.
Dallin: Ya it was a tough tour. [Laughs] But fun.
Joshua BTS: You had mentioned a full-length earlier in the conversation. Are you guys currently building material towards another full-length?
Dallin: Ya. We just got done with that tour with Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls, Jenny [Owen Youngs]. We took kind of a break to do a wedding- Andrew’s brother got married so we flew back from the East Coast to do that. Now we’ve flown back and are doing this portion of the tour. After these next few dates with Lucero, which is going to be great, we have Willy Tea on the road with us in the van. We get back around the beginning of November and then we are taking a break for a few months, finally [laughs]. Going to spend about month doing whatever we want to do, no real band responsibilities and then we are going to come back together and start focusing pretty heavily on making this new record.
Joshua BTS: I know that you said you guys were going to start incorporating some new instruments and try some new stuff on this record. Any speculation as to what that may be?
Dallin: Personally, I’ve been really wanting to work some accordion in. When we have the money and the space, there’s always been talk of keyboards and I’m pretty sure we are going to try and work in some keys on this next full-length. If we write it into the record, I’m sure we’ll find a way to do it live. There’s talk of possibly clarinet, I don’t know. There’s a lot of different things we’d like to do. Jesse has always talked about how he’s wanted to get a full-size tuba or sousaphone instead of just a baritone. So that would be another outrageous thing to have [laughs].. on stage.
Joshua BTS: That’s rad. Do you have any clue who you are going to release through? I know you guys went with Paper + Plastick on this record after releasing through Silver Sprocket – Do you like spreading it out and working with new people?
Dallin: Ya, I mean we basically only work with friends. That’s the way it’s always been and we know the Paper and Plastick people mutually through friends of ours. Bobby has been our friend for a long time with Silver Sprocket. If our friends have the ability to help us out, that’s awesome and that’s what’s going to happen. So we’ll see when the time comes what’s going on and what kind of help we going to need.
Joshua BTS: Really appreciate you taking a few minutes with our readers today and obviously we look forward to keeping up with future endeavors as you guys are one our favorite live acts that comes through Philly. Any final thoughts as we close out?
Dallin: Probably should have come up with something..Just remember that it’s always party time [laughs]
More info at Larry and His Flask‘s Official Website
Interview by Joshua T. Cohen
Images by Blow The Scene’s Dante Torrieri and Joshua T. Cohen
Larry & His Flask: Hobo’s Lament
Larry and His Flask – The Big Ride @ Intersection 3/12/12