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A group of wily bearded gentlemen carrying prehistoric string instruments caught my eye when I saw them meandering aimlessly around the Warped Tour parking lot like dazzled Amish farmers pondering the function of an automobile. When I saw them again over by the band catering area, I was dazzled at their raw talent and energy, playing and singing with all of their bearded hearts. Seeing everything from punk to ska coming from a mandolin, banjo, and stand-up bass while five dudes simultaneously screamed barber shop tunes at the top of their lungs was intriguing, to say the least. A nearby gentleman held a banner reading “Larry and his Flask”. I approached them after they had finished playing to learn more.
Let’s do round robin with your names and instruments.
Andrew: banjo and trombone.
Ian: I play guitar.
Dallin: I also play Guitar.
Jesse: I play bass.
Kirk: mandolin and trumpet.
And we all kind of sing.
Wait, so who is Larry?
Jamen: None of us are Larry. It’s a fictional character based on some janitorial experience I had in the past.
Can I hear that story?
Jamen: It was Halloween 2003. I just put on this character after work on my way to a party. I worked a swing shift, so I just put on this hat and all of a sudden I was that dirty old janitor with the flask in his morning coffee. That was the idea and it just became that name.
Do you often find yourself breaking into these original characters?
Jamen: Just that one. There were a few in the past, but I’ve tried to curve those.
Trying to taper off the insanity?
Jamen: Everybody gets that spirit from the drinks sometimes.
How did you guys come about to playing here? Did anyone talk to Kevin or did you just walk in with your instruments?
Jamen: What happened was we actually did this acoustic set at the bus parking lot here a year ago.
I saw that! It was great.
Ian: Kevin saw us then and approached us about it. That is how this roaming gypsy band came to be here.
Did he give you a tent as well?
Ian: Yes he did. We did get the opportunity to play on the stage yesterday and that may or may not happen more.
As awesome as it is to play on stage, the vibe you guys have going on, of nomadic musicians, is wicked. And you guys are getting paid for this, right?
Andrew: Oh yeah.
You guys have such unique talent. Can you give me a brief history of the origins of Larry and his Flask?
Jamen: We started playing together a while ago. We started as Jimmy and his Flask, which was a four piece punk band, then it evolved back into this. We played in high school, then we met these guys, Kirk and Andrew, in a different band. We toured together and the rest is history. It just formed naturally over the course of seven years.
Do you happen to have any forthcoming content?
Jamen: Yes we do. It’s brand new and available on iTunes. We have hard copies on the tour but it will be in stored August 9th. If you can find it for free, download it. It’s called All That We Know.
That’s great. I’ve heard a lot of different sides on this subject today, but how do you guys feel about music piracy?
Ian: I think we all feel pretty much the same and we’re all for it. Music should be free, but the problem is that we need to eat.
Andrew: I understand people getting mad about it, but that’s just not me, babe. We’re not on the side of Metallica or anything. I’d rather hear, “Hey, I got your album for free and loved it” than, “I want my money back!” I mean, we’re pirates. Look at us!
The paradigm nowadays seems to be that you give your music away initially, people download it, like it, and then pay big bucks to go to your shows and see you play live.
Jamen: I think it all balances out. If someone really wants an album and they don’t have any money, they are going to get it. Either personally from us or online. Yesterday two kids stole CDs from us. It’s a little fucked up because it was a display CD. It those kids are reading this, fuck you. I have mixed feelings about it though because they wanted it so bad they stole it.
You know you’ve made it when people are stealing your music.
Jamen: Exactly. I don’t know why that pisses me off more when they steal it off our merch table right in front of me rather than downloading it online. I guess it’s the same fucking thing.
Where do you guys live?
Kirk: Central Oregon.
No shit? Why are you down here again?
Kirk: Well, last year our buddy was playing on tour and he got us into the parking lot to play for the bands. This year we are doing the whole tour.
Awesome. Do you have your own tour bus and everything, too?
Kirk: We have an RV. 1988 Sunbruiser.
Would you consider putting out a live album where you play in strange places?
Jamen: We would love to. That is our thing. We didn’t really have enough stuff together before, though, so it is important for us to do a studio album first. We also have a 7” EP that came out before the record. We’ve always wanted to do a live album, though.
A live album on vinyl? I would pay good money for that. And you know that is a hardcore fan who knows full well that he can get it for free but chooses to pay for it.
Jamen: Yeah, you know that you are personally helping the band when you go to a show and buy the album there. Not online or at a record store, but at the same place as the band. We run into a lot of people who just want it.
Where can people see you play, besides Warped Tour?
Ian: We play everywhere, every stage, every street corner.
That is what really attracted me to your performance; that it is entirely acoustic.
Andrew: We play a lot of street corners if we are low on gas money.
It’s a beautiful thing you guys have going on.
Kirk: It’s a simple idea that I want to see people take advantage of that. Acoustic instruments are made to be played acoustic.
How do you keep up such raw energy? Slappin’ that bass and singing at the top of your lungs all day?
Jamen: I don’t know. A lot of water?
Anything else you want to add?
Ian: Fuck yeah rock and roll woo!