From the first moment I sit down with Roosevelt brainchild Marius Lauber, I feel like the second-coolest guy at our table. Admittedly, that was a foregone conclusion before I even located the guy; Roosevelt, after all, is one of the newer bellcows in Germany’s rapidly growing stable of influential, innovative and truly cool musical acts. But Lauber would never admit that kind of thing; contrarily, he’s very modest, emotionally. Earlier in the day, Roosevelt’s 1:30 p.m. time slot got moved to 5 p.m. due to Gesaffelstein’s last-minute cancelation. When asked how he felt about the schedule change, Lauber grins subtly. “We were of course upset to hear about Gesaffelstein, but it was really, really great that they asked us to fill the slot,” Lauber says. The guy won’t even be thrilled without first being sympathetic. I’m definitely the second-coolest guy at the table.
Pretty Much Amazing: I want to start with the tour. Welcome to Austin. This is a really rootsy fanbase. Music fans here pride themselves on enjoying music in a much more saturated way. So what’s your perception of playing music in Austin versus playing in the rest of Texas?
Marius Lauber: Texas is obviously a bit different than Austin, and I love it here. This is a great city, and it’s like a whole bunch of music nerds in one place. American crowds have a tendency not to be very patient, but that can be a good thing in that they’re into it from the first second. But in Austin, I feel like people really appreciate music and hear it and it’s not nearly as crazy. I always love coming here.
PMA: After this performance, you’re heading back to Europe. What’s it like playing the US and then heading home to play?
ML: We’re flying back tomorrow, and then we have a week or so to relax, so we’re happy to have some space. I’m going on tour with Hot Chip, which will be fun. I’m on Joe [Goddard]’s label [Greco-Roman], and so he was kind of sneaking me in, I guess. <laughs> I’m looking really forward to it; Hot Chip have always been a huge influence.
PMA: “Hold On” and “Night Moves” are fucking massive—two of my favorite tracks of the year, for sure. But admittedly, I had to stop and listen to Elliot again when I first heard them, because these two songs are such a matriculation, and they’re intriguing because you can hear a level of self-confidence that wasn’t really there before, like you’re coming into your own.
ML: Yeah, I mean the production has begun to get much cleaner and clearer. There was a lot of sample-based sounds and reverb on Elliot, or on “Sea”, or “Soleil”, or tracks from three or four years ago. Now it’s getting dryer and cleaner in terms of production—more like a live band sounds. I’m originally a drummer, so I came back to playing percussion and not using too much drum sampling, so the sound is much more natural now. Lots of guitars and lots of drums. And it’s so funny to see how people perceive [the transition], because it’s not like a conscious move. It just comes naturally, but I’ve gotten much more comfortable with my voice, as well.
PMA: When you’re learning how to employ new techniques or sounds in a way that seems relatively subconscious, what’s affecting you environmentally? Is it the music you’re listening to? Is it your location? All of the above?
ML: Yeah! It’s a quite boring answer, but it’s pretty much everything. You can’t really control your influences, and sometimes the moment you start a track, it can be a naïve, quick moment. If I hear a song on the radio and I love the snare sound, I just want to use it.
PMA: How often does that happen?
ML: Quite a lot, actually. Like, I’ll hear a guitar riff and think, “Oh, I want to do something like this!” It’s a mix of everything you listen to, but also there are moments of “Let’s do this differently,” and often those are the most productive moments. You have your knowledge of production, and then you have those moments where, like, you just want to do something. That’s mostly when my songs happen. I’m quite bad about going into the studio in the morning to try and write a song; that’s probably not going to happen. Like, you always have those moments you can’t control. That’s just how it is with the creative process. You always have to be on standby.
PMA: I can name countless artists who have suffered the affliction of a great debut record, and a label says, “Cool. That’s great. Now make one in a year.” How do you thwart that?
ML: Oh yeah. If you have a higher set of standards for your music, which I think I have—I’m quite a perfectionist about what I put out—you have to give yourself some time to wait for the moment where everything clicks.
PMA: You say you’re a perfectionist. Does perfectionism automatically equal satisfaction in your art? Or are you always worried about it?
ML: I think it’s the other way around, probably. Even when you are happy with something, you’ll still find things looking back that could be better. Especially with modern studios, where you can do everything with different plug-ins and things, you’ll come to a point where you say, “Okay, that’s it. I’m sending this in.” You could go on forever and always find one sound that isn’t perfect. So when you have these heightened standards, even with the music already out, you just have to get used to it and let it inspire you to do the next one even better.
PMA: What are you looking forward to coming up?
ML: The album comes [early] next year, and I think that’ll be just another level of understanding—fans will know the tracks then. We’ve been dropping new songs here in there in our live sets now, but I’m really looking forward to our fans being familiar with each track. I can’t wait for a package of 15 songs and people knowing all of them. I think they’ll really resonate.