Prince Rama interview from issue seven
So you all met on Hare Krishna farm. I think every piece of press about Prince Rama mentions that within the fist paragraph. How do you feel about that? Is it that relevant to your music or do you think writers want to push something “interesting,” find the next thing that kids will eat up?
Taraka Larson: I feel like it serves as a place of origins for sure, and is important just as much as any other environment that offers a sacred space for creation. We've drawn inspiration from it for sure, but there are plenty of other environments that have also offered that sacred space for us that are of equal importance. I think the "Hare Krishna farm" gets capitalized on a little bit perhaps because it sounds more mysterious and weird than say "Brooklyn navy yard".
Nimai Larson: It's cool if people want to mention that, but our music isn't only about being raised on a Krishna farm.
I guess that's better than people just saying, “oh yeah, they probably just eat acid all day” or something like that?
NL: I don't really prefer one to the other.
TL: Agreed, but at least the Krishna farm has some truth to it.
What exactly is a Hare Krishna farm and how much influence did growing up there have on your musical direction? I mean, is it actually that different than a kid from the suburbs growing up on his dad's Beatles records and then learning guitar and starting a rock band?
NL: I think the way people are raised naturally influences their external activities. The drums get pretty heavy in Krishna music. Our parents also played a lot of Beatles, Moody Blues, Talking Heads...Taraka and I would walk around the playground singing "Timothy Leary's dead.....no, he's outside looking in"
TL: There are a lot of varieties of Krishna farming communities, but the particular one we grew up in was in a small town in north Florida and consisted of a bunch of families that lived either on the temple property or around it. We lived off the temple property a little ways but would go on Sundays for services. Everyone was really friendly and open-minded. It is like having an extended family of sorts. Even if you don't know everyone, most people there are pretty encouraging towards each other and there's always a plenitude of music and free food around. My parents are very devotional people, and would keep our house like a temple of sorts, replete with old 60s psychedelic records (like the aforementioned), and this environment was perhaps more influential than the former. Except that instead of listening to straight Beatles and learning guitar, we watched old bollywood films and played harmonium.
Then you all moved to Boston for school and now you're in NYC? What do you like or dislike about living in these different cities?
NL: New York is challenging, it's like living life in the fast lane. It's the speed I want to be right now. Boston is great, but I may fit in better if I were married, owned a house and had like eight dogs.
TL: yea Boston was amazing for the time we were there, but after awhile we started feeling a little too comfortable, too "grown up" or something. we wanted to be somewhere where life can still be totally unpredictable and every night is a curve ball. somewhere where you could be in one place yet feel like being on tour all the time. that's New York!
From what I've seen, I really dig your album art. It definitely suits your music. Do you do all the art yourselves? Do you want to talk about what goes into an album cover? Or what inspires the poses in your band photos?
NL: Thanks me too! We did it all ourselves. Basically involves Taraka and I being covered in glue and gems, which is totally fine with me. Michael photographed the album art for Shadow Temple.
To quote Kate in a Teeth Mountain interview I did a couple issues ago, “Family of Love and The Super Vacations and Prince Rama of Ayodhya are our best friends' bands. It's always awesome to play with them.” Who are some of your favorite bands to play with and where are some of your favorite venues or cities to play?
NL: Oh man. Personally, Teeth Mountain and Pocahaunted were two of my favorite bands to play with, but they have both recently broken up. We have played a lot with Quiet Hooves, a 10-piece band from Athens, GA. Our bands are like kindred spirits. Also Cave from Chicago. Both bands bring some of the best live performances I've ever seen. As far as places, Jamestown, NY, Kansas City, MO, Austin, TX, Iowa City, IA.
TL: Gosh. Everyone she said, plus a million more. I would also add Amen Dunes, Sleep Over, Sun Araw, Sewn Leather... the list is extensive. We are on tour with Deakin right now and he has been amazing to be around and jam with. Greenville, NC is always a trip.
I read that someone broke into your van and stole all your gear in Philadelphia somewhat recently. Then you set up a Paypal and ended up buying all your stuff back. How did that change your outlook or perception on being a band? Cause it's like, you're Prince Rama, but without all this stuff, are you really Prince Rama?
TL: I'd say we were MORE Prince Rama.
NL: That experience was very enlightening, humbling. What could have been the most disheartening moment for the band turned into the most gracious and full of gratitude. We owe our latest album to our donors. We definitely need our gear for our sound, but if we didn't feel that strongly about being Prince Rama, we probably would have been like, "Oh someone stole all of our shit? Guess it's over whatevah."
I was also wondering if when you bought back gear, did you buy back the exact same stuff? I know that can be kind of difficult, if not impossible. I had a bag of pedals and cables stolen last year and, y'know, now I have this Fender reverb pedal instead of this Electro-Harmonix one and stuff like that. It's subtle, but it can totally change your sound.
NL: My stuff is mostly the same, just newer. Not falling apart. The biggest change made to my set was incorporating Roto-toms. This changed my drumming immensely because all of a sudden I had these 3 new Caribbean-sounding drums up in my business. I had to figure out what to do with them. But they're my favorite part of the set now.
How do you find utopia through music? How do you think finding a utopian space through music is different than using music as a form of escapism? I could get off work, go home and blare some hateful music and get drunk to forget about how much shit sucks or I could go to a show, meet with friends and be engaged physically, mentally or spiritually. On one hand, both scenarios seem a little similar, but really they're almost polar opposite.
TL: Utopia is like the inverse of escapism. Instead of using music to find a way out it is engaging with it to forge a way in. It is like being hyper-present in a space, in a moment, in your own body, until the line separating all three things melts away. Utopia literally translates to mean "no place" and I feel like the idea of using music to transport you out of a place and deep into that "infinity of space" is the closest thing I can find to reaching a utopic state.
(photo by john sloan)