Interview

Lara Hope sings out

Lara Hope, of New York's Hudson Valley, deservedly won Ameripolitan's 2017 Best Female Rockabilly Vocalist award. A beguiling chanteuse, Lara swirls with facility from sonorous swinging to purred intimations to powerhouse, knock-down-drag-out rock 'n' roll.  

All the while, agile and whip-cracking dynamos the Ark-Tones -- including guitarist Billy Riker, bassist Matt Goldpaugh, and drummer Dave Tetreault --  throw out appropriately rock-ribbed music certain to inflame every dancer within earshot. In dangerousness lies great fun.

Lara and the Ark-Tones just self-issued Love You To Life, their second LP. (Also sitting in was Kings of Nuthin' sax player Hayden Cummings.) That potent waxing was reviewed by me in these pages.

"We've been described as many things," the singer explained, in an email. "Neo-rockabilly, punkabilly, pan-Americana, and plain ol' rockabilly. I think we are actually somewhere in between all of that, mixed with some country, blues, jazz, maybe even a little hidden Broadway (wink wink)." 

On the new disc:

"We are calling this new album a 'Roots Rock 'n' Roll' record, as it grabs a bit from all of the different roots genres that helped create rock 'n' roll as we now know it. We really just use 'rockabilly' as a jumping off point, something to keep in the back of my mind, and then let the music go where it wants to. 

"What I do like about Rockabilly music, however, is that it's fun, it's danceable, it's upbeat, it's raw. We are going to have fun on stage, and you'll know it! We want you to have the same experience as an audience member or a listener at home."

On songwriting:

"I don't have a formula to my songwriting. I usually don't even know what theme/tempo/genre it's going to be until it's already coming out, because I'm not writing for anyone else, not for the 'scene,' not trying to fit in to any one sound or genre, and I think that has been a plus for us, something that sets us apart. 

"We don't want to write songs that have been written before, and we try to branch out from the themes that are often associated with this style of music (cars, girls, parties, etc). Of course, there is a place in our music for these things from time to time, but as a woman living in 2017, there's a lot going on and a lot to think about, outside the box."

On new CD tracks:

"Love You To Life actually does have more 'love songs' than on any other album I've ever recorded (a whopping 4 out of 11), but the rest of the tunes are inspired by the truths I am living. 

"'Fast, Cheap, or Well Done' is our take on an old saying, and is addressing the fact that things don't quite seem to be made the way they used to. Our culture seems to be a 'buy, use, throw away, buy again, rinse and repeat' kind of operation. Our grandparents bought things that lasted a generation! It would be nice to go back to a time where you got what you paid for, and things were made with dignity and craftsmanship (or craftwomanship)!

"The title track has got a bit of a spin on the traditional love song, repeating the line 'I love you more than I did yesterday, cause yesterday you kind of pissed me off.' I think most people can relate to the slumps and bumps in any relationship! It's not always all fun and games once the curtains are closed. 

"'Callin' My Name' is about the ups and downs of playing in a traveling band, and doing this for a living. While there are certainly many bumps in the road, especially as a result of doing this as a completely independent, full time project, there is truly nothing that I would rather do. 

"As stated in the chorus, it's the 'lights, the stage, the road and the night' that are 'callin' my name' and push me to continue on this very uncertain and sometimes daunting path. In this digital age, while there certainly are more opportunities to get the music out there, there is also a lot more competition. This wasn't an easy life to have chose, but, at the risk of sounding cheesy, it's what I know I was meant to do. 

"'Working Man's Tools' was inspired after hearing many stories of other musicians' vans getting broken into, and having their equipment stolen. I've seen bands break up after having this happen to them, tours cancelled, money lost, friendships ruined. We realize that while stealing in any capacity is wrong, stealing the very things that allow a person to make a living is amongst the lowest things that you could do to someone."

Lara has her eyes on a tomorrow full of promise:

"We are really looking forward to branching out worldwide this year, as we will be touring Belgium & Holland for the month of April!"