After six years performing solo as Teepee, Erix S. Laurent is trying something new. The 25-year-old Miami native, formerly known as Eric Lopez-Zareno, is bolstering the one-man act with a band.
“Eric is still very much a solo musician,” said bandmate Andrew McLees. “So he can pull off doing something on his own with an acoustic guitar and a synthesizer, being in a live band and then you have the recordings as reference. It’s a testament to how versatile his songs can be.”
The band’s second ever show is this Saturday. Laurent — accompanied by McLees on guitar, Gabi Dimaro on keyboard, and Arturo Garcia on drums — will be joining Miami’s Deaf Poets, Axe and the Oak, Lil Daggers, Toad Eyes, and Jellyfish Brothers at Churchill’s for a night of big sounds and free booze (until it runs out).
But this show is just a warm up for what’s to come. In September Teepee will hit the road on an East Coast tour in support of a new LP, Distant Love or: Time Never Meant Anything, And Never Will (stream tracks below), the follow-up to 2009’s Morals. According to Laurent, the new album channels Brian Eno, ’80s and ’90s Brit, as well as some shoegaze and dream pop. I spoke to Laurent about writing his first songs at five years old, learning how to play jazz, and starting a relationship with three other people.
How did you start playing music?
EL: I started playing piano first when I was like five. My mom had a keyboard lying around the house, so I would always play with it. Sometimes when I would be really depressed or pissed at my mom, I’d play it and write a song about her. Not a bad song, but a song just being like, “I really want this toy” or whatever. So I started experimenting with that, it had really cool sounds. I think it was some sort of Roland that had frog sounds and car sounds.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
EL: I was exposed to a lot of ’80s music. My first favorite [artist] was Michael Jackson. And I started getting into Nirvana and Metallica and a little bit of Marilyn Manson — that was a weird stage. And my brother was like, “Wait, what are you doing with these CDs?” So he got pissed at me because I was a rocker. He wanted me to be a rapper or a hip hopper. So, yeah, that happened.
Is anyone else in your family a musician?
EL: My uncle. Actually my uncle taught me a few chords. And I actually always wanted to play like my uncle, because he only knew like five chords but the way he played it was really amazing, there was a lot of emotion to it.
What kind of stuff did your uncle play?
EL: Like Bob Sieger, the Eagles, Bread, that sort of stuff. “Stairway to Heaven”. A lot of that. And, yeah, I started playing guitar, and I think the first band that I started really getting into or starting to learn was typical Nirvana.
Where did you study music?
Eric: I studied music at Miami Dade [College], Wolfson campus. I started studying jazz.
How did your musical education affect your style of music?
EL: When I first started college I definitely wanted to be in the music program to get better at playing guitar because I only knew a few chords, and I was like, I really want to learn how to solo. So I asked a kid in the music hall and he was like, yeah, just study jazz because you’re going to learn all the chords and melodies and stuff, and I stuck with it for four years at [MDC]. I was supposed to graduate after two years, but I didn’t wanna stop. So jazz definitely helped my chops. I pretty much had to start over again. I had to learn theory and all the scales and chords and stuff. It was a good workout for me, and it definitely expanded my brain. Because I also ventured into a lot of weird forms of jazz.
Who’s your favorite jazz musician?
EL: I’d definitely say John Coltrane. He definitely had an impact on my musical influence and style.
What was the first guitar you started playing on?
EL: It was a Fender Strat, Mexican. Well, whoops, it was an acoustic guitar that my mom got in Spain.
How did you get the Strat?
EL: My dad made a bet with me. He said that if I could play a full song by myself, that he would buy me a guitar. And I guess he didn’t really believe that I could do that, so I ended up in one day learning David Bowie, “The Man Who Sold the World”. Learned the whole thing in a few hours.
So was it David Bowie who made you want to play that song? Or was it Nirvana?
EL: It was Nirvana, but I had the David Bowie version.
Which one do you think is better?
EL: Nirvana. Kurt took it down to the more depressing level. I was more in tune with Kurt, I think.
Does being in Miami influence your music at all?
EL: Ummm, no. Kind of. There are good bands, but I don’t like drawing influence from them. A lot of the influence I get is from London and what’s out there and whatever was happening in the ’90s.
How has the music scene in Miami changed since you started playing?
EL: Before, when I was playing a lot in Miami, I noticed that there were a lot of disco rock bands happening, at least in the scene that I was part of. And now there’s not that much of that. Now I don’t even know what’s going on.
How long have you been performing as Teepee?
EL: Since 2008, for about four years.
And you just got the band together?
EL: I feel like I’m starting over again. I’m pretty much starting over.
In what way?
EL: I mean, having the band now is just a whole new thing compared to when I was by myself. Now I’m in a relationship with three other people. I have to share my ideas with people. It’s all different. I like it though. It’s growth. I graduated from all that other stuff, and now I’m onto something new.
Here’s the show listing in the Miami Music Guide:
Headline: Teepee, Lil Daggers, Axe & the Oak, Deaf Poets, Toad Eyes, Jellyfish Brothers
Event Page: HERE
Set times: Jellyfish Brothers @ 10:00 (back patio), Lil Daggers @ 10:30, Toad Eyes @ 11:00 (back patio), Axe and the Oak @ 11:15, Teepee @ midnight, Deaf Poets @ 12:45.
And here are the dates for Teepee’s upcoming East Coast tour:
9/6/12: Retrofit Records, Tallahassee, FL (Beach Day)
9/7/12: The Wormhole, Savannah, GA (Magic Places)
9/8/12: Snug Harbor, Charlotte, NC (Blossoms, Serfs)
9/10/12: The Blue Nile, Harrisonburg, VA (Malatese)
9/11/12: Strange Matter, Richmond, VA (TBA)
9/12/12: Silk City, Philadelphia, PA (Combine, Mohican)
9/14/12: Pianos, New York City, NY (Beach Day, Suns)
9/15/12: Shea Stadium, Brooklyn, NY (Pop. 1280, Heaven’s Gate, Grenadier)
9/17/12: Velvet Lounge, Washington, DC (Mittenfields)
9/18/12: The Nightlight, Chapel Hill, NC (TBA)
9/19/12: Tin Roof, Charleston, SC (TBA)
9/20/12: The Basement, Atlanta, GA (TBA)
9/21/12: Underbelly, Jacksonville, FL (TBA)