Sometimes you’re presented with an opportunity to interview a unique artist that you otherwise never would have found out about. In this case, the artist in question is MC Lars, a California rapper whose raps are about things like Game of Thrones, Edgar Allen Poe poems, and Shakespearean plays. Another unique thing about him is that he has a Bachelors Degree in 19th Century American Literature and has plans to pursue both his masters and Ph.D. in the future. I had the chance to speak with him at Warped Tour’s West Palm Beach stop. We talked about favorite Warped Tour experiences, similarities between Poe’s poetry and the hip-hop cadence, and calculator watches.
Hali Neal: How are you doing today?
MC Lars: Good, good. How about you?
HN: Good. Just running around like crazy, but it’s great ‘cause this is what I live for so.
ML: That’s awesome. How many Warped Tours have you been to?
HN: Every one since I turned 17 like in ’07.
ML: That’s awesome.
HN: I just love music and I love doing this whole thing. This is the first official one I’ve had so I’m just like “yeah!”
ML: Well, this is our third one. I’m a rapper from San Francisco. I do raps about Edgar Allen Poe and Game of Thrones. Nerdcore.
HN: Sounds awesome.
ML: Thank you. Yeah, I’ll give you a card. I have a record coming out in October. I can talk to you about that if you want.
HN: I think it’s interesting that you rap about Edgar Allen Poe. How do you do that? ‘Cause I’m a huge nerd, so.
ML: Well check us out at 6:05 if you’re still around, on Beatport [Stage]. I did a TED Talk about how Poe and hip-hop have a lot in common. Like, the trochaic octameter of “The Raven” is kind of like the hip-hop cadence.
HN: That poem… that poem is the Speech and Debate poem done to death. [laughs] Anytime someone says the name of that poem… It’s not a bad poem, I’ve just heard it so many times. It’s a good poem.
ML: What’s great about Poe is he uses meter and rhythm and he believed in reading stuff aloud. Which kinda gave him a bad reputation ‘cause in the 19th century, they were so literary. It was more about the printing. So he was kind of revolutionary in that way. I think he lends himself to hip-hop well. So it’s kinda cool. Then I have a song with Kool Keith about Roger Rabbit. I love Kool Keith, he’s one of my favorites. Then I have a song with a rapper named Watsky who’s a Bay Area rapper who did Warped last year. We have a song about what it’s like to grow up with librarian mothers. We both had moms who were librarians. Yeah, that’s basically my overview. But I could tell you, any questions you have about Warped Tour or whatever, let me know [laughs].
HN: So where are you from originally?
ML: San Francisco. Bay Area. Oakland. The Mountain Dew show, I had my dad come rap with me on stage, which was awesome.
HN: Is your dad a rapper too or…?
ML: He’s a retired lawyer/poet.
HN: Really? So it’s not too much of a stretch.
ML: Yeah. Exactly.
HN: He does spoken word and all that?
ML: Yeah. Totally. So it’s kinda cool. So it’s been good. I have a drummer, we run the tracks on Ableton. And yeah, it’s been a very good summer. How about – I’ll send you the record.
HN: Definitely. Sounds like something I would like.
ML: If you want to follow. We could have some things to talk about.
HN: [notices the watch Lars is wearing also kind of looks like a calculator]. Is that a watch? Like a calculator?
ML: It’s a calculator watch.
HN: That’s awesome.
ML: Thank you.
HN: I’ve never seen that before.
ML: It’s so old school, right? 80s.
HN: I have a question I’ve been asking, just as Warped Tour questions.
HN: Do you have any pre-show rituals? Anything like that?
ML: We hydrate. Vocal warm ups. What else? The high fives. Nothing specific. I think the warm up ritual here is just to make sure your merch booth is being looked after.
HN: Do you have a favorite Warped experience so far?
ML: This is our third summer. I think my favorite was the first summer. Every day I rapped with Less Than Jake on the main stage, which was fun. That was awesome.
HN: That sounds awesome. I love Less Than Jake.
ML: Roger’s on my new record, which is exciting [laughs].
HN: Very interesting record.
ML: Yeah. It’s got a lot of diverse guests. Yeah that was super fun. Oh yeah, I love getting up early and putting up posters, you know what I mean? That’s a fun ritual too.
HN: Zac Brown Band did a collaboration type album recently too. I don’t know if you know who they are?
ML: Yeah, definitely.
HN: They did a collaboration with Chris Cornell. They call it Jekyll and Hyde ‘cause I guess they don’t stay in one genre.
ML: Oh cool.
HN: I’ll hear it on KISS Country, I’ll hear it elsewhere, it’s pretty awesome.
ML: I’ll check that out. That’s awesome.
[there’s a long pause].
ML: [jokingly] Is Warped Tour fun? Yes [laughs].
HN: (smiles) Well of course it is.
HN: Name one song people would be surprised to find on your iPod.
ML: Oh! Uh, Miles Davis “So What?” Love him. How about you?
HN: Well, people are always surprised to find out that I like rap music.
ML: Oh yeah.
HN: ‘Cause I mostly only listen to rock music. I mean, I haven’t listened to a lot of the newer rap music I guess ‘cause I’m mostly only exposed to the radio versions and those are, well yeah, I’m not really into those. But yours actually sounds very interesting. I do like rap influenced things. Like, one of my favorite bands, Air Dubai, they played here last year.
ML: Oh I heard of ‘em.
HN: Yeah they actually incorporate rapping, then they have a guy that sings. But they all play instruments and it’s kind of a pop rock-ish thing. But then they have one that I guess you’d describe it as kind of like a blues thing.
ML: That’s crazy. I’ll check them out.
HN: It’s really cool. I really like them.
ML: I like bands who mix genres surprisingly and well, you know?
HN: There’s another one, I can’t even think of their name right now, but. And then there’s another band. They don’t really rap, they do screaming, but they combine genres. Like it’s rock music but then they have EDM in there and then you’re like “what is this? I like this”.
ML: That’s awesome. Well, the Beatport stage has a lot of different artists, like styles like pop and dance and there’s like a kids’ hip-hop band. They’re called Koo Koo Kanga Roo. It’s a great stage. They’re awesome. And yeah, Warped is fun ‘cause of all the genre diversification. So awesome. Man, you’re a great interviewer.
HN: [smiles] Thanks!
ML: So glad to meet you.
HN: You too.
ML: Thanks for taking the time to talk.
HN: Is there anything else you want to add?
ML: No, just I love Florida and I’ve been touring here for 12 years.
HN: Really? ‘Cause a lot of people say they hate Florida because it’s so hot and humid. And I’m just like “I live here, I don’t even feel humidity anymore” [laughs].
ML: Yeah. I think there’s great fans here. Great music culture. Great bands that come out of Florida.
ML: I think so. Right?
HN: A lot of people don’t say that. Unless you’re here. Here is pretty good.
ML: Well, we ain’t got time for those haters.
HN: Hey, that’s a great attitude. I like that attitude. More people should have that attitude.
ML: Well, good luck with your other interviews.
ML: Sounds awesome. And if you’re around, 6:05, check us out.
HN: Yeah, I should be done by then so.
ML: You’re pretty tight.