The AU Interview: Taraka Larson of Prince Rama (US)

American psych rockers Prince Rama will be hitting our shores in January to partake in the MONA FOMA and Sugar Mountain Music Festivals. Kat Mahina caught up with Taraka Larson from the band to discuss the music, cosmic portals and ritual sacrifice ahead of their impending trip down under.

Hi Taraka, how are you, whereabouts is the band at the moment?

It depends on where you are – are you in the future or the past?

I’m trying my best just to live in the present at this point in time

(laughs) Good answer. We’re touring around the states. We’re on the road travelling as we speak.

So all of your press mentions how you met living at a hare krishna commune in Florida during high school, can you tell me what the community and life was like there?

Our parents lived there. We went to high school there. At the time when we formed we were all back home for a little bit and we didn’t really know what we were doing and we were all so bored so we were like – hey lets start a band.

Would you say that there are lingering traces of krishna services in your live shows?

I would say so. Definitely. Whatever experiences you have growing up all leak into the music in one way or another. The sense of community and participation and those ideas are present in the music itself. They do a lot of chants that use call and response that we do like and the delineation blurs when you’re all in it together. It becomes an amorphous mystical kind of participation. I’m interested in that and using the shows to do this. It’s like creating a sacred space, well not creating so much as tapping into the sacredness that already exists in the space and making a harmonious community through music.

What inspires your sound?

There’s no one thing it changes day to day. At the moment we’ve been listening to a lot of Lee Hazlewood and Alice Coltrane. Those are pretty top people I’m inspired by at the moment. I’m inspired a lot by the people in my life and through spending time with them. My friends and the people we play with too are pretty inspiring.

Prince Rama is signed to Paw Tracks – Animal Collective’s label – how did that meeting come about?

It came at a pivotal time, we were broke and about to break up. We were all in these dark places. We were in town at the same time as SXSW and our friend was playing a show. It wasn’t even part of the festival it was at a completely different part of town, and we were all tired but we went to a friend’s show, and when we were there they were like – jump in and play – so we did an impromptu set. There was this guy in the audience who I’d noticed earlier in the night and he came up and talked to me afterward and he was really full on and in my face being all – who are you guys, where’d you come from, what do you and stuff like that. We talked for a while and he told me that we reminded him of Gang Gang Dance and I was all yeah we saw them on tour a few years ago with Animal Collective, you know before they were like ‘woah Animal Collective’ and he was like yeah I’m in that band. It was an Oh my God moment – I was really into the band. It was so awesome. He came to another one of our shows and it all kind of happened from there.

You’re coming to Australia early next year for the MONA FOMA and Sugar Mountain festivals. Have you been to Australia before?

No, never. We’re really excited it’s totally new territory for us. In particular we’re looking forward to visiting Tasmania. Did I say the wrong thing? I know its not always considered to be part of Australia (laughs).

No I’m actually from Tasmania so I’m a strong advocate of the southern state

Oh really? Cool. I can’t wait to visit. I’m excited about the whole experience. I really hope we get to go into the country a bit. I mean I’ve seen cities all over so I’m kind of hoping we can go into the outback and adventure. We were just at Joshua Tree in California and its like this crazy desert that just blows your mind so I’m excited and hoping to be able to go and see what the outback of Australia is really like. I’d love to visit the outback.

Are you doing any solo shows when you’re in town?

I’m not sure at this stage. Honestly we’ve been on tour for the past few weeks and I only really know where we are today, but I hope so.

What can we expect from your live shows?

Don’t expect anything. We don’t want expectations. Be surprised. We’ll be surprised with you.

What’s the best live band you’ve seen lately?

Oh that’s a hard one. The best live band is difficult. I guess one band that comes to mind who are really amazing and special are Sewn Leather from Portland. They’re crazy live. I feel like every time he plays a portal gets opened into a cosmic space. It like the entire room is thrown into a nebula of chaos. It’s volatile and unpredictable like ritual sacrifice. Its like haunted but amazing.

For more information on Sugar Mountain 2012 head to the official website.