Friday, April 18, 2008

Interviews:: The Carps

Hopefully you had a chance to check out my post on The Carps new EP, Waves and Shambles, but if not I suggest you do so, as it is rather good and I've only grown fonder of it since then. After that post went up, we were given the chance to ask the band some questions, so ask we did, sending over a bunch of questions for Jahmal and Neil to answer. We hoped they'd answer a few of them, but they took the time to respond thoughtfully to each one, and I think it has resulted in one of the best interviews I've had the oppertunity to do here on the hill. So big thanks to The Carps for their time. Enjoy the interview and then go check out the band for yourself.

Congrats on the new EP, I actually commented on how much I liked the actual presentation (the CD and the artwork) in my review, which I rarely ever do. Can you talk a bit about how those aspects of the album came together?

J: Well the album came together in a Flurry. We barely finished it in time. I was mixing right up until the day before we left for the European tour with The cool Kids. In fact, they were in the studio on Sunday, a day after their Toronto gig, then we all got to Sweden on Tuesday. The artwork was done by our good friend WeKillYou www.wekillyou.net. And we realize nobody buys CD's anymore, so why not make it a real treat when they do? CD artwork is more important than the music nowadays. I get discs, rip them to my MacBook and never look back. Unless they are pretty.

You guys seem to have a pretty solid sense of personal style, which carries over to your albums, but do you still think that aspects like cover art are important considering how prevalent digital delivery has become?

N: I think such things are still important; fans of the music will search for every last bit of related material that they can get their hands on. When I was younger and listening to things like NOFX I had everything from the guitar pick to the postcard – who the heck needs a heavy petting zoo postcard? The visual art adds another dimension to the sound, and offers a greater understanding to the listener as to what the Carps are.

I had no idea Veronica Belmont was an actual person, but I'm aware now that plenty of people recognized the name. Was that kind of name-recognition in your mind when you decided to use that as a title or was it intended to be more of an inside thing?

J: I was sitting down working on music, and Logic (recording software) opened up and said "Name this File". In the background, Veronica's podcast was downloading, so, that's that! I hoped she wouldn't get offended or anything, but she actually really likes the song. She's great. We've actually become pals.

I think the redux of Heaven's Gates & Hell's Flames is pretty excellent, how did you guys hook up with The Cool Kids? I notice you got a solid review from Okayplayer, have you always had a "crossover" appeal with hip hop heads, or is that song exposing you to a new audience?

We played a show in Montreal a couple years ago, and the next day we played in Toronto. While we were doing that, the Cool Kids played the same cities but in the reverse order and we each stumbled across the other band's posters and checked them out. The Cool Kids hit us up on myspace and we kept in touch ever since. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to tour across Europe with them last month and it was an absolute blast! Those guys are incredible and are our homeboys for life.

Our association with hip-hop started the moment we recorded our first EP in the Roots' studio in Philadelphia. The Roots are the greatest example of a group successfully cross-pollinating elements of various genres, in their case Jazz, New Jack Swing, Rap, and others. They've always been a big source of inspiration for us. I think there are things that stand in common to all kinds of music, regardless of how they are classified. One can rock out just as hard to the electro song "Bluto" by Congorock as to (insert headbanging rock song here)


There seems to be a plethora of talented two-piece outfits on the scene right now, why do you think that set-up works for so many people? Does technology have anything to do with it?

J: I think technology is a big reason yes. Neil is in Oxford right now, I'm uptown Toronto. We write on Garageband. I think people realize now that a band can be 8 (BSS) or 1 dude. We became two piece of out necessity.

Have you guys always been a two-piece? Are there aspects about it that you find limiting? On the flip side of that, what things do you think are easier for you guys versus a larger band?

Initially we were a three piece; we became a two piece when our drummer left to pursue a career as a magician. He was never really into the Carps as much as we were, and never really did any of the writing or anything so things kinda worked out. In a certain sense we are limited to the number of sounds we can make at any given moment live, and we're adamant about not playing to a track which is hella lame. I've got plenty of programs running on my computer to augment the sounds of my keyboard and bass such that they can each fill an auditorium alone. Touring has become much easier and cost effective. We've known each other for about 13 years now, and to have any other members would be like having third wheels.

In your bio you call Scarborough a "pretend hood", which stood out to me. I lived in T.O. for about seven years and there was always this perception that Scarborough (or at least parts of it) was rather hood-like. Can you explain what you meant by that?

J: Exactly that. Scarborough has the perception of being a hood. And it feeds back into itself. There are alot of low income areas in Scarborough, but nowhere that's an actual "Ghetto". And this is the problem. If you are a kid who's getting into trouble, and you are from Scarborough, you are almost emboldened by the idea that where you come from is "rough". So you act it out. And the cycle perpetuates itself.

Compton To Scarboro from your last EP has a pretty strong anti-gun violence message (as does its excellent video), why do you think this subject matter isn't addressed by more indie artists? Certainly the war in Iraq is bad news bears, but gun violence takes lives on an all to regular basis in most major cities across North America, so I'm suprised it isn't talked about more.

J: I'm black. Majority of the people who die look like me. I don't think because I wear tight pants and like Creedence Clearwater Revival makes me exempt. However, there are incidents where non-blacks are affected by gun violence. And I would never make light of the awful murders, but it's not until a young white girl and middle aged white man are senselessly murdered do folks start getting serious. Handgun bans may or may not work, but it's a start. And that's why I had to talk about it. A young East African man was killed a few weeks ago, and it's off the news. To me, it feels like the entire country assumes that he deserved it. That because of where he lives. They assume he MUST have done something to get shot. And it's the ignorance that is all part and parcel in the sad gun story of Toronto. I don't know why they don't talk about it... maybe they should, but until more white kids, asian kids in American Apparel clothes start getting murdered, I doubt they will. But it doesn't mean that it HAS to be that way. We can all do something for someone, somewhere. All we ever want to do is dance. And that's sad. Sorry. Was that too heady? It's a sensitive subject for me.

What's brewing next in Carpedia, do you have a full-length in the works?

J: We are on Garageband right now making it happen. We've got about 6 or 7 songs ready to go. But since we can't release another EP, we've gotta make some more tunes!

Have you ever played Halifax? If you haven't, I recommend it highly (The Halifax Pop Explosion goes down in October!).

Thanks!


Posted at 10:34 AM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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At 10:50 AM, Blogger ack did sayeth:

solid interview... here's to you, the best there is

 

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