Photo Credit: Leah Garaas
Kicking things off with an interview featuring Philly based outrospective rockers Carroll. The guys have been carving a name out for themselves in the City of Brotherly Love, with some colorful rhythms and a strong musicality that has drawn these guys together for whatever reason, but the stars are aligned and the boys are more than ready to make the most of their time together. The guys were nice enough to talk about the band's formation, their differing musical backgrounds, the Philly music scene, what it was like to record their latest tune "Velvet", and some of their favorite vinyl haunts. Here is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your names and roles in the band?
Brian Hurlow: guitar, synths, vocals
Charlie Rudoy: drums, percussion
Max Kulicke: guitar, sounds
Charles McClung: bass, synths, guitar, harmonies
Take us behind the formation of the group and how you all met?
The four of us should have never even been in the same room given that we're from four different parts of the country but we were all in Minnesota at the same time. Brian and Charlie were living in the same house on Carroll Avenue in St. Paul which housed a lot of characters and a frenzy of activity. The Carroll House Band seemed like too long of a name so it was shortened to Carroll. Max and Charles were two of the best musicians they knew so it was a no brainer that they'd come in to fill out the ranks.
Describe your musical influences that really made you want to get into music?
We all have pretty disparate influences we bring to the table. For some of us, musical awakenings happened at hardcore basement shows while others came into their own listening to blues records. In the van on tour we listen to a lot of Mr. Twin Sister, Steely Dan, Sade, Todd Terje, Grizzly Bear, Curtis Mayfield, and David Bowie so maybe you can find Carroll somewhere where all those things meet.
Take us behind the music of Philly and how vibrant the music scene is there and how it's shaped you to this day?
The Philly music scene, much like Philly itself is pretty real and practical. Bands here show up and play awesome music, often without too much visual fanfare or antics. There’s a lot more guitar based rock going on in Philly than other places we’ve been which I think is really cool because electronic shows can feel pretty contrived at times. We’re loving bands like Nightlands, Liz Delise, Palm, Hemming, Cayetana and more!
What is the creative process like for you guys, does it remain constant or does it change and evolve each time?
There has been a constant dynamic all along: that Brian creates a sketch of a song that intrigues him, and brings it to the group to be built and shaped into a finished track. However, the the process of building the tracks has really changed over time.
For a long time, we workshopped all the songs together in the model of a live 4 piece band, more or less writing arrangements around live performance. Our first record was cut primarily from these live arrangements of tracks. After that record, we started to focus on doing our own recording and producing. Our second record, As Far As Gardens Go, was a totally DIY record in this way, and we cut it during a period of transience, relocation, and uprooting for all four of us. We weren't all together during as much of the songwriting, and the recording was often done in smaller groups, but the result still feels like a cohesive, immersive body that belies the patchwork nature of its creation.
For "Velvet" and the newer batch of songs we're turning into a record, we're a bit more rooted and established again; we've built a recording den for ourselves in the basement of a warehouse we can work anytime, and it's giving us the latitude to explore some new territory and sound.
Let's go behind the recording of your new song "Velvet", what was it like to put it together and is it the song you intended it to be?
“Velvet” was a satisfying dive into some new territory for us. We wanted the song to be sort of pulsating and dark which I think we accomplished. While working on the song I was envisioning almost Blade Runner like nightscape thematics which I think seeped into the track’s flavor.
I’m psyched on the mood of the song and I think it’s more or less what we were striving for.
What are some of your favorite venues to play at in the Philly area?
Boot and Saddle, Everybody Hits.
Whenever you need to go out and buy vinyl, what are some cool shops to look out for in the area?
Marvelous Records in West Philly is cool, though I heard they just changed ownership, and i've been able to score some cool jazz finds at Philly Record Exchange on Frankford. I'm sure there are some great spots I don't know about though....
What's next on the agenda for you guys, is there a LP in the mix or any Boston area shows?
Yeah, we're working on a record, it'll be out next year, and we're just writing, recording, producing in the meantime. We'll be adding gigs hopefully up and down the coast between now and then.
Lastly, how would you describe yourself to those who aren't familiar with your music?
Imagine yourself in a dark, smoky jazz lounge in the depths of some vessel traveling submerged in an otherworldly ocean; there's a soft pink neon glow about the room, eerie vines hang from plants unfamiliar, a pulsing, luminescent ocean passes softly through the portholes, and your drink leaves a melancholy taste in your mouth..... we're the house band.
Thanks once again to Brian, Charlie, Max, and Charles for being so awesome in devoting some time for this interview! It's great to get insight from bands not from this region to get a better sense of how they operate, and how their experiences differ from other bands. Usually these bands find a common ground from bands residing in different areas that subtly makes each band more confident and able to adapt to their ever changing surroundings. For more on Carroll, please 'Like' them on Facebook from this locale here, follow them on Twitter from over here, check out their official website at this spot here, and check out their music via their Bandcamp site conveniently located here.