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April 10, 2011

Pepper Rabbit on the rise

Next time you're browsing through records at Bull Moose Music in Salem, keep your eyes peeled for Windham native Luc Laurent. The 23-year-old drummer makes up half of the band Pepper Rabbit, which is fresh off an appearance at the SXSW Festival in Texas.

Laurent and bandmate Xander Singh, who play what Laurent calls "colorful, experimental pop," are currently touring around the country. The Los Angeles-based duo is getting ready to release their sophomore album, following up last year's "Beauregard," which reviewers called "mesmerizing" and "ethereal."

Listening to the bright, mellow melodies on that record, it's hard to believe that there are only two guys responsible for the complex sounds.

According to Laurent, one of the band's goals is to sound bigger than they are.

"We have so many layers and we put so many different instruments into our songs," Laurent says.

The result is music that sounds both orchestral and dreamy. But despite the experimental sound, Laurent says that at their core, the songs are really "straight-ahead pop."

"We just try different things out that make it sound a little more unique," he says.

The fact that electric guitars, drums, trumpets, pianos, and banjos flavor the musical mix makes sense considering that Laurent and Singh are both Berklee College of Music-trained musicians. And Laurent's musical education started even before college, drumming in the Salem High School band and getting exposed to diverse musical influences at Bull Moose. He also credits the high school marching and jazz bands with helping him become a disciplined drummer, by practicing sometimes 20 hours a week and doing a lot of "rudimental drumming."

"For what I'm doing now—playing live and drumming everyday—that's actually been a humongous help," he says.

Even as Pepper Rabbit tours around the country, the duo has been carving out time to write and record new music. They've already finished another album that's slated for release in July or August. Whereas "Beauregard" was more of an "experiment" that was "all pieced together in a really goofy way," Laurent says this new effort is their first attempt at writing and recording a "real album."

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