The oddity subgenre of nerdcore was once again represented at this year’s Vans Warped Tour, as Bay Area native MC Lars has made his way to bring his upbeat style of rhyming that a new breed a fans have grown to appreciate, as he is about to drop his latest album The Zombie Dinosaur LP.
He is excited to be taking part of this tour once again and shows immediately how excited he is to be part of this tour. “This is my third full summer. I always come to see it. Shout out to Kevin Lyman. One of the things is awesome is his nephew Evan is a big supporter. So that helps. Any time I get asked to do it, if I can I’d do it. There’s nothing like it and it’s so crazy. This year’s there’s so many new artists. It’s so weird to be like ‘oh yeah I’ve been doing this since 2011.’ It’s dope.”
On previous Warped Tours, he has collaborated with Weerd Science, the hip hop side project of Coheed and Cambria drummer Josh Eppard. The two of them had collaborated on recordings in the past and he shared his thoughts on his earlier years on the tour with him.
“My man Josh [Eppard] – he’s back in Coheed and Cambria. We’re thinking about doing more stuff together. That was really fun working with him because he’s such a great rapper, a great lyricist and a good guy. He’s crazy but I think all brilliant artists are crazy. Did you hear his Red Light Juliet II? Check it out. It’s great.”
“I think Warped Tour showed the Coheed guys he’d gotten his life back together. This tour’s so hard that if you could do it, it’s symbolic.”
Sticking to subjects ranging from video games and pop culture than the hard streets, MC Lars has lit up crowds over the years with his much talked about style fusing his vast knowledge of pop culture and literature with his laptop style hip hop. He talks about his upcoming album.
“The record is called the Zombie Dinosaur LP and it comes out October 6th. So it’s kind of like the mythical beast, dragons, [and] dinosaurs. The album has a lot of mythological references. I’ve been at this since 2003. I’ve seen the whole world change. I’m still lucky I get to do this. I feel like the Zombie Dinosaurs are like the dragon. I relate to that.”
Creating a style he calls “post-punk laptop rap,” he began in the Northern California pop punk circuit where he started performing his style of music. While his style was not always embraced at first, he found that over time, laptops became an integral part of a live band’s sound, whether they liked it or not.
“Yeah I was early in the laptop game. I opened for the Dead Milkmen back in the day and the fans were like ‘yo! You can’t have a laptop on stage! That’s not punk!’ Now there’s not one band that doesn’t have samples at Warped Tour. It’s a prominent part of the set. It’s kind of weird. I called it post punk laptop rap, which now sounds like an antiquated genre but I still own it. It’s fun.”
Another aspect behind MC Lars is that since his early days, he has released all of his music through his own label Horris Records, aside from distribution help in select overseas territories. While many have been swayed over time by bigger labels to sign, he has done things his way.
“That’s a great question and I really appreciate you asking and saying that. My story’s kind of different. I played in punk and hardcore bands in the 90s. I went to college and studied English and I was able to go to the UK for an Oxford program to study Shakesphere. I’d always done rap to open for my punk band, but I met a bunch of indie and punk bands over there that I became friends with that led to finding a really cool manager and all of these things happening. It all came from being friendly and being like ‘yo I’d like to work with you and the fact that in 2003 or 2004, doing ironic smart nerdy rap was still a novelty. YouTube hadn’t killed off that whole thing. I was able to do it without a label and I was a big proponent of giving my stuff away for free, which I still am. Now everyone does that and with streaming you kind of have to give away your music.”
“I was on the forefront of that being that I uploaded my stuff on torrent sites to get download ratios to get beat programs. I see it having longevity as a DIY artist. It’s a four piece thing – great records, good touring, a piece of mind and your social media. You can’t let your social media take over everything. You need to make that 25% of your time. I kind of had balance. I’ve been lucky but I’ve also worked very hard. I can’t believe that this is my fourth record.”
“I’ve had labels distribute my stuff and get on board and help me spread the word, but I’ve never been signed to a label. I see so many artists who did sign to labels, some did very well but most of them have day jobs now. They didn’t sell that 500,000 they needed to sell, which in this genre of hip hop, punk and post hardcore, that’s a hard number to hit. It’s an adventure. You’ve probably seen a lot of bands on their way up and their way down. Labels can be great but most of the time it doesn’t work.”
As the summer progresses, MC Lars will be staying busy by dropping another single and he is excited by the outcome from being on this tour.
“Later this summer, my song ‘TriForce’ comes out, which is about growing up under the metaphor of Zelda. It’s all footage from my tour with MC Chris last year. Then I have three or four more videos coming out.”
“I’m really excited to have this album finally come out. I’ve been working on this for a year and a half. It’s really good. The ‘Dragon Blood’ song we’re playing this summer. We’re spreading the word.”
“Warped has taught me that being positive and working hard has concrete results. So props to this whole festival – I’m stoked to keep coming back.”