Interview: Lars Finberg of The Intelligence


Last week, we had the fortune to ask some questions to Lars Finberg of The Intelligence! He talked about his wondrous new album Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, his favorite album closers, and he shared his favorite live west-coast garage rockers. Check it out:

Heave: I first off wanted to say, I’ve been hooked on your music for quite a few years now, and I’ve gotten to like you guys more and more with each release!

Lars Finberg: That is wonderful to hear thank you!

Heave: It seems like you always have a lot of fun on each album, but what’s it like looking back at your early lo-fi releases Boredom and Terror and Icky Baby? Are there any old tracks that you feel could maybe get a modern makeover?

Lars: We have redone a couple of singles on our last two records that I thought could be cool recorded bigger and fancier but I’ve don’t know if I’d redo a song on an actual LP. Kind of like redoing your short film, once they are on an LP it feels like a feature film, even if it’s kinda raunchy and makes no sense.

Heave: Now over the years, you guys have had a many number of different lineups, but a few years back I saw you guys with your current lineup at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago. It seems that the four of you are perfect for your newer songs. Is it easier having four people in your band versus having only three? And do you think it makes older songs easier to play?

Lars: We’ve actually been a five piece for a while actually and it is easier. I hated being a trio except for being able to lay down in the van.  That’s what you want people to remember about your live show “the music was pretty weak but his legs looked SO STRETCHED OUT!”

Heave: You guys have been around for over ten years, starting out in Seattle and now in LA, and it seems like the Pacific-Northwest and California have had a seriously insane garage rock/punk scene for a few decades now, which PAC-NW/CA band seems to have the best live show at the moment?

Lars: I’ve always liked the Spits. Ty Segall is killing it right now.  I love White Fence and Sic Alps. This new band in SF called the Mallard is great.

Heave: Ok, now let’s talk about the new album, Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me is your eighth album, and fourth on In The Red Records. The album has the strongest production so far of any of your albums, and also features some awesome cameos from Shannon Shaw! What was the recording process like, and how did you become involved with Shannon? What bands were you listening to the most around the time of the recording process?

Lars: Recording was a blast, we had ten people in the studio trading instruments and hanging out and offering ideas.  It was the most fun we’ve ever had in the studio.  And we had a whole week this time. I fell in love with Shannon and the Clams a couple years ago and developed a nice friendship and I thought it’d be great to have more guests on this record.  I’d been listening to a lot of girl group stuff, Little Eva mostly and thought that some spooky, reverby, girl harmonies could be cool. Then I heard the song “Little Town Flirt” (the ELO version actually) and was knocked out, I wrote Shannon about singing on it and it turned out to be one of her favorite songs as well.

Heave: The Del Shannon cover of “Little Town Flirt” you guys do with Shannon is incredible! What are some classic contemporaries (songs, artists or bands) of Del Shannon’s you admire the most?

Lars: Little Eva like I mentioned is great. Kelley Stoltz got me into Bobby Fuller recently. I’ve been playing the song “My Prayer” by the Platters repeatedly lately.

Heave: Now Lars, you’ve recently been touring with Thee Oh Sees. What was it like drumming for them, and did the touring influence some songwriting on the new album?

Lars: It was a total blast. We’ve been good friends for years so we got along really well and I’ve always loved the music.  Playing drums alongside Mike Shoun and watching how that band effects people live was a real pleasure.  As far as songwriting I don’t think there was much of an influence as all but one song were written before I joined but getting to record an LP with them and another with Wounded Lion at the same studio with Chris Woodhouse earlier in the year made me really inspired and excited about the recording and want to really crush their records in a really evil and competitive There Will be Blood kind of way.

Heave: Lars, you seem to play a whole bunch of instruments, but along with Shannon Shaw, certain members of Thee Oh Sees make musical appearances on the new album as well. Which songs do which members play on?

Lars: Shannon, Brigid and Heidi from the Sandwiches along with Susanna do the harmonies on “Little Town Flirt,” “Return to Foam,” “I’m Closed and Fidelity.”

Heave: One thing I always love about your albums is that it seems like each one, especially this new one, closes out really strong. Which one of yours’ is your favorite? Also, what’s your favorite album closer of all time?

Lars: Thanks a lot man, that’s nice to hear.  This new one and Males are my favorites.  I don’t know if I have a favorite of all time, as far as contemporary band the last two Sic Alps LP’s had great closers.  Hendrix’s “Axis; Bold as Love” or the Cure one with “3 Imaginary Boys” are up there…

Heave: The closer of Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, “Fidelity,” is a very beautiful song, and it sort of resembles Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” Was this an intentional chord-lift, or just mere coincidence?

Lars: Thank you! Weird, that’s cool, I’d hadn’t noticed, I’ll have to listen to it and A/B them! I could totally see the Fugees making their comeback hit with this.

Heave: Lastly, you guys keep getting better and better with each release, and as a band, you seem to be at your most comfortable position. Is it safe to say that we can expect more releases and tours from you guys in the future?

Lars: Yes, I was kinda thinking about packing it in after Males but moving to California and taking a break and playing in other bands reinvigorated me and we’re all excited to get out there and mix it up for a while.

The Intelligence’s new album, Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me is out now on In The Red records.