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A Dirty Dozen with LARA HOPE from LARA HOPE & THE ARK-TONES – April 2021

| 21 June 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Lara Hope and the Ark-Tones are the Northeast’s premier Roots Rock n’ Roll & Rockabilly Twang outfit! The Ark-Tones released their 2nd full length album, Love You to Life in 2017, and they have been hitting the road hard, spreading the gospel of American music wherever they go. They’ve spent much of the past few years on the road, both in Europe, and in the US, and had the pleasure of touring with some of their musical heroes, including a 6 week national tour with The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and regional tours with The Blasters, and the Reverend Horton Heat. Most recently, they were invited to perform at the original site of the Woodstock Festival, Bethel Woods, for the 50th anniversary celebration, and played the same day as Ringo Starr! They recently finished recording their 3rd all-original studio album, which will be released worldwide June 25th 2021.” We get Lara to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

This 11 track album is the first all original album we’ve released. It’s an amalgamation of songs written over the past 3 years, with a running theme of living life to its fullest, so that we can each have our own “tale to tell.” I like to sprinkle humor in my lyrics through many of the songs I write. I want people to have an unexpected chuckle every once in a while while listening. If you’re not paying attention to the lyrics, that could pass you by.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

When I was about nine years old I started doing community musical theater with my mother. My first audition was for the show “Oliver”, and little prepubescent me got the lead role of Oliver. I’ll never forget coming out when the show was over to take a bow, and feeling that energy in the room. I knew from that moment on that performing was for me. It was about that same time that I started picking up playing guitar, also thanks to my mother, and as soon as I was old enough to start playing open mics (about 17), I started to get out there, and formed my first band in college at age 19.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I’m not really sure. I’ve always had pretty eclectic taste in music. My first concert ever was No Doubt, which in retrospect, was probably an influential first experience for a girl who grew up to be a rock n roller.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

That’s such a tough question!! I think that my influences have changed over the years, as has my writing. If you’re asking who’s influencing my writing right now in no particular order: Dolly Parton, Imelda May, Larry & His Flask, Pokey Lafarge, and JD McPherson.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Willie MF’n Nelson. That man can do no wrong, and has written a million amazing songs! His writing style is so versatile, and he’s written for and performed duets with some of the most unlikely (but awesome) people, most recently Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who’s also a personal hero of mine.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I’ve been calling our genre “Roots Rock n Roll & Rockabilly Twang” for the past couple years. I really don’t think that we can be pigeonholed as a “rockabilly” band these days, so I’m trying to touch on the broad range of influences that impact our style. Most of it is upbeat, and most of it is danceable. I try to write about subjects that are relatable, but haven’t been used over and over again. There’s definitely some humor in a lot of our music. Let’s go with… “If Ethel Merman and Dolly Parton had a lovechild, that would be me!” A lot of people have compared me to Janis Joplin. I don’t see it, and I don’t think they are correct. I’m going to assume that most people who do that just don’t have another strong-voiced, powerful female entertainer in mind to compare me to, one who might be more accurate. To be honest, I’m not really even that big of a Joplin fan.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I’m definitely the cook of the group. I love to cook, and to feed people, it’s the Jewish mother in me (even thought I’m not actually a mom… well, I’m a dog mom). Believe it or not, both Matt (my bass player/husband) and I have both quit drinking alcohol last year. I’d have to say Eddie is the official drinker of the band these days! He’s always noodling around on guitar (that’s why he’s so good), so his guitar is usually out first. Is there a correlation between his drinking and guitar noodling? Who knows?! Jeremy is also so versatile, and can play guitar and piano in addition to being a pretty sick drummer. He’s a songwriter too.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

In 2019 and I got to open up for Jay Leno when we were performing as a duo. Whether he’s your cup of tea or not, EVERYONE knows who he is. I was nervous meeting him backstage, but he was actually really nice and personable. His standup show was pretty damn good too, and I love that he has musicians open his shows.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I joke that my favourite part of being a musician is the free food and drinks, but there is some truth in that. All kidding aside though, I love that being a musician allows me to be my authentic self, and connect with people from all over the world. If I had to stop being a musicians, I’d like to be a radio DJ or a sex therapist!

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’d like an interviewer to ask me more about the songs/lyrics, and the specific songwriting in particular. I’m tired of answering what my influences are. I always have a really hard time with that question.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

There are things that haven’t gone the way I wanted, for sure. I’ve spent a lot of time trying not to have regrets/remorse, or “what if” things. If I did that, it would make me nuts, and I probably wouldn’t be able to keep moving forward. These days I’m really trying to live by a “things happen for a reason” approach, and remember that rejection is redirection.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

This is a tough one. I’m gonna go with The Runaways self-titled debut album, in 1976. Those girls were breaking new ground. Playing music that women hadn’t played before, wearing clothes that women hadn’t worn before, embracing their sexuality in a way that hadn’t really been accepted before. A lot of the music and culture that I love may not have been created if it wasn’t for them. A highlight of my life was opening for Joan Jett in 2018. I’m a sucker for all-girl bands, and female fronted bands. I’d love to have an all-girl band again at some point.

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

I miss hugging people, and being able to hang out in a casual setting with the folks I care about, without having to take all sorts of precautions, or sitting outside when it’s 10 degrees! We did a lot of that this past winter.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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