Better Know an Artist (Vol 35): Jared Caraway

The dream of the 90’s is alive and well in the DFWd, and Jared Caraway is here to help you reflect on those times. Channeling hometown heroes like the Toadies and Tripping Daisy, along with Weezer, Green Day, and all the other anthem singing heroes of the day, Jared drives home that angsty, crunchy sound you’re looking for. He took the time to sit down and answer those pesky questions we’re always throwing around and it went a lot like this. 1,2,3,4:

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

JC: Music has always attracted me like a magnet – I’ve always loved art in general, but music in particular has always had the strongest pull on me. I think it’s fair to say I’m obsessed with music – I’m a music fan before I’m a music maker – and my compulsion to create is a natural result of that. It’s my passion. As a music fan, I’ve been under no illusion that “making it” as a musician is an easily achievable goal. I remember reading interviews about touring bands – superstars, in my eyes – that were lucky to break even touring on a shoestring budget to pursue their dreams of making new fans while bringing a great live show to their current fans. I think I’ve known my whole life that not only writing, but performing music is something I WANT to do for a living, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve had the resources to start taking real steps to make it happen. (The “for a living” part is as of yet a glint off in the distance.)

What drove me to play guitar was my desire to get that satisfyingly crunchy, dry distorted tone produced largely by Pro Co RATs and Boss DS-1/DS-2s – great example is “Possum Kingdom” by Toadies, which contains one of my all-time favorite guitar tones (and which I cover on occasion). I was also a big fan of the tones the Kinks managed to get out of their amps. I was sorely disappointed, though, when I got a beautiful green, shiny American Fender Strat and a tiny Pignose battery-powered amp…but no distortion! (My desire for distortion was finally satiated when I got a little Peavey practice combo I could crank the drive all the way up on.) For years, I played acoustic guitar because I couldn’t round up a band, but recently I’ve finally been performing with my Strat onstage and building up a pedal board to increase my aural palette. My friends Arik Harris on bass and Frank Gonzalez on drums are very talented musicians, and I’m luck to have them on my team.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

JC: It’s catchy, simple, usually about love or heartbreak (two of my specialties), and often in a major key. My sound is largely influenced by 90’s alternative rock bands, like Foo Fighters and Weezer, with some pop punk, alt-country, and folk elements weaved in. There are almost no solos (although I’ve got one in the works that will feature my first solo when complete). My creative output is just a mashed up version of all the stuff I’ve listened to over the years manifesting itself as something new. To describe my music most generally, I’d call it pop rock or alternative.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

JC: Although it might not be obvious in my songwriting, I was heavily influenced in my early childhood by late 80’s/early 90’s pop country like Diamond Rio, Hal Ketchum, Shenandoah, Clay Walker, Garth Brooks and countless others. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was a huge record for me – an addictive blend of angst and accessible tunes which I might dare call a masterpiece. Definitely Weezer circa Weezer (the blue album), Green Day circa Dookie, and most popular rock produced in the mid 90’s (Everclear, Harvey Danger, Lit, blink-182, Tonic, Sublime, and so many more).

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

JC: I’ll say “Weather Me,” which is the title track off of my upcoming debut. It has multiple meanings weaved together into one sort of narrative. It’s one of the quickest songs I’ve ever produced from start to finish, one of the first to prominently feature a picked melody rather than just chords, and it just encapsulates the way I felt at what I now realize was a pivotal point in my life on several different levels. I know that’s kind of a vague answer, but I’d rather leave the specific events and things and people forming the basis of this one up to the interpretation of the listener.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

JC: Probably Brand New. They’re one of my all-time favorite bands, and it would just be an honor to be able to share the same stage as some of my heroes (though it looks like that might not happen unless it’s before 2018 rolls around)

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

JC: I love Animal Bar, based out of Denton. They’re still a pretty new band, pretty young (all under drinking age), but they rock way harder than I probably ever could. Really talented kids – great songwriting and musicianship across the board. If you haven’t checked them out yet, I recommend that you do so. LeQube and Thrill Bill also put on awesome live sets.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

JC: I could agonize over this decision for hours, but I’ll just go with the Toadies’ Rubberneck. Crunchy, gritty, dark, and weird. I can listen to the whole thing from start to finish (and start over again) with ease. 20+ years later, I’m still not tired of it. Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor and Saves the Day’s Stay What You Are are a few other candidates.

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

JC: Least favorite thing is how saturated the market is, which means you’ve really got to grind and make connections if you want to get noticed and bring people out. But as a music fan, this doubles as a positive – a ton of music for me to consume and enjoy!

My favorite thing is how supportive everyone is of one another, from supporting acts to venue management to sound guys to fans. The music market in DFW is obviously extremely competitive, but it’s not cutthroat. We all want to succeed, but in my experience, most of us also want to make friends and just have a great time, so a lot of us tend to have each other’s backs.

I’m also really impressed with the quality of work and the passion and drive I see coming out of the Dojo (and Team from Nowhere). Donny Domino is a high school classmate of mine, and I’d say his love for music easily rivals mine. Those dudes at the Dojo are making music nearly 24 hours a day. If someone hops off the computer, someone else is jumping on to work on a project, or someone’s stopping by to lay down a few verses. Such a cool vibe. Donny, -Topic, Bobby Sessions, KoolQuise, Xes, Zyah, Sam Lao, all those folks…I’ve got so much respect for what they’re doing.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

JC: Favorite place to play is probably Sundown at Granada. Their brisket tacos are incredible. I love that they have amps available for use, sounds great, staff are friendly…it’s hard to find a negative. Not coincidentally, Granada is still probably my favorite place to see a show, even though I haven’t been there in a few years. I need to go back soon. The sound’s always great there, and it’s hard to find a bad spot in the house.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

JC: I will mention RTB2 every chance I get, because Ryan Thomas Becker is such an incredible guitarist, songwriter, and performer, and their live shows always kick ass. Animal Bar. – Topic. Bobby Sessions. Sealion. Moon Waves. Pearl Earl. And Ashley Somogyi – her songs are very rhythmic and hooky, which I can relate to.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

JC: I was captain of my high school spelling and vocabulary UIL team. I made it to regionals every year and competed in state finals my senior year. I’m a total word nerd.

Thanks a bunch to Jared Caraway for the time. He’s got a bunch of shows coming up under his new band moniker, Jared and the Jewelers. You can catch them this Friday at the Foundry in Dallas with Pearl Earl, and Saturday at Taps & Camps in Denton. There’s a few more later this month and next and you can find those here. Keep an eye out for his debut album and check out his track, “My Calypso”, below.

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Better Know an Artist (Vol 29): Charlie Beaman (ABACABA, Pearl Earl)

So, a while back, I did a Better Know an Artist with Ariel Hartley, lead singer of the excellent Denton psych-rock band, Pearl Earl. Well, 2 members of that band, Charlie Beaman and Bailey Chapman (along with Benjamin and Taylor Copeland), also moonlight with Denton garage band, ABACABA, who just released an excellent self-titled LP. Charlie (keys) took some time to answer our timeless questions, and that went something like this:

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

CB: I was born in Midwest City, OK, and moved to Texas at age 6. I took piano lessons at a young age and then stopped because I became bored of it. At 12, I received my first bass and began playing birthday parties and other small events with other kids from school. My first venue to play at was the Curtain Club in Deep Ellum, TX. Right then, I knew I wanted to play music for the rest of my life, and since have. At age 16, I picked back up keys and that’s what I mainly play now.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

CB: I would describe ABACABA as Garage/Prog without the 4 minute jams for each instrument, but carries an almost cinematic feel.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

CB: Harry Nilsson, David Bowie, Medeski, Martin and Wood, pretty much all of Josh Homme’s projects, and Ween. The way Ween puts together their albums is fascinating to me.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

CB: “Grumpy Couch”, just because it’s nostalgic for me. It was written about a coach that was used for timeout when I was living with my older cousins and one of their young sons. It was a song that had been in my mind for a long time before it all came together. I am pretty proud of it.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

CB: Ween

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

CB: I’m starting to play bass and be part of a new group called Particular People. It’s a mix of a lot of different musicians coming in and recording their own parts to each song. It’s been a really fun process.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

CB: Ween’s White Pepper

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

CB: I honestly have no complaints. In the past 2 years that I’ve been back, everyone, whether it be Fort Worth, Dallas, Denton has been very nice and welcoming. 35 sucks to drive south on. That’s about it.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

CB: 3 Links. Great staff, stage and sound.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

CB: Particular People, Pearl Earl, Mink Coats, Cozy Hawks, Criminal Birds, Dead Mockingbirds, Sealion, Party Static, Lochness Mobsters, the Aquaholics.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

CB: I can talk to all animals except fish.

There you have it, folks. Shout out to Reverse Aquaman Charlie Beaman for taking time out of his day playing with every band in town. Go find you an ABACABA show or a Pearl Earl show or, you know whatever he’s doing that day, and check out the new record below.

 

Better Know an Artist (Vol 22): VVOES

VVOES is a Fort Worth based band made up of lead vocalist/guitarist Elijah Wichryk, lead guitarist Rene Floyd, drummer Ricky Williford and bass player Tyler Moore. The band started as kind of a joke band called ill smiths, but when people started taking them seriously and then expecting them to play sets of Smiths covers, they decided to go with a proper name. Anyways, their debut EP drops soon, and they’re playing around town pretty regularly, so get out and say hi to them. The guys sat down for the usual questions and this is how it went down.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

RW: I used to sing with my mom all the time, but by the time I was in Junior High, it was decided.

RF: I started playing guitar because I broke my finger and needed an outlet for my boredom. I was also a band nerd. I played trombone and was a drum major. I have learned that no matter what I do – I will always play music. I found that out about 5 years ago.

EW: I played around on piano and keyboards as a kid and got my first guitar at age 16. Music is my drug and I want to be in and around it until I’m dead.

TM: I started by playing upright bass in jazz band in high school. Once I had gone on my first tour I was hooked and immediately knew I would always play music in some aspect for the rest of my life.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

RW: Uhhh, dreamy Cheap Trick?

RF: We are calling it scuzz-pop or surf-gaze. It’s shoegaze inspired pop.

EW: Happy melodies with sad lyrics, with the reverb on 10.

TM: “Yes sir, you in the back. What’s that? You said you like being sad and listening to bands from 25 years ago? Well, this song’s for you.”

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

RW: Nirvana and the Melvins. Something about those bands always stuck with me. Best drummers of my generation.

RF: Nirvana is the reason I play guitar. My influences are wide ranging, but for this project, I like to listen to Wavves, Best Coast, and My Bloody Valentine for inspiration.

EW: the Smiths, the National, Beach House, Vivian Girls, Tame Impala, Stax Records.

TM: Joe Lally for showing how to not overplay. Dave Brubeck’s arrangements. Paul Westerberg’s songs about other musicians, for a good dose of awareness as a musician. Peter Hook’s chops and melody. Mike Watt’s vision.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

RW: I really like “Arsonist of Hearts”. Has all the elements of a pop song, without coming off as corny.

RF: I really like when we play “Who Do You Know” Besides being a great song, it’s chill enough for us to listen to one another and create a nice dreamy soundscape.

EW: They are all personal in some way, but I like lyrics that are vague and open enough to apply to different situations. My favorites to play will depend on how I’m feeling at any given moment. “Who Do You Know” always feels good. I’m most into two new ones that we haven’t recorded yet.

TM: “Arsonist of Hearts”, ’cause it’s real fun to play.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

RW: Thin Lizzy. No explanation necessary.

RF: Probably Nirvana – We may not have been an even match, but I was too young to attend a Nirvana show when they were playing.

EW: Tame Impala, the National, Alvvays, BRONCHO, the Smiths

TM: Cheap Trick, Richard Pryor, Harry Houdini triple bill. You like showbiz, right? Well, you got three generations in one night at the Staples Center right there, buddy.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

RW: UMO is pretty new to me, and sick as hell. I wouldn’t call teenagesexxx local, but these boys from Waco are killin it.

RF: Whitney out of the Chicago area is my new favorite band. Local – Pearl Earl

EW: I’ve mostly been listening to a bunch of trap, rap and slow/dark/hazy electronic, and then favorites that aren’t new, but Spooky Black, Girls’ Names, Dawn Golden are a few.

TM: Protomartyr is going to be huge. My dudes in Pujol from Nashville are great. My buddies Andy Pickett and Jake Paleschic from the neighborhood both have just come out with superb new records.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

RW: QOTSA’s Songs for the Deaf

RF: Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm

EW: I’m bad at decisions… The National’s High Violet

TM: Miles Davis’ Bitches’ Brew

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

RW: The way bands really support one another. It’s a network of really good hearted individuals.

RF: Favorite: the fact that any given night you can see world class bands without really trying. Fort Worth has some of the best bands around and hardly anyone knows. Least Favorite: Fort Worth has some of the best bands around hardly anyone knows. (Editor’s Note: I see what you did there.)

EW: I focus on the positives. The good energy and encouragement from local musicians and that there are so many venues to play at. There’s no hate in my blood.

TM: Favs: my friends. Least favorite: my friends

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

RW: Really stoked about the Under Where. It’s the sequel to the Wherehouse that touched all of our hearts the last couple years.

RF: Doublewide – Yoohoo Yeehaw

EW: I’m still bad at decisions… I’ve seen so many great shows at Trees and Three Links. 1912 in Ft Worth because it feels like being in a Nicolas Winding Refn movie. The Boiled Owl, because it feels like home.

TM: Three Links Deep Ellum. Best staff, best sound.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

RW: Teenagesexxx and the Loafers have new albums out on Dreamylife! As well as Andy Pickett! Damn fine music.

RF: If you are into the blues, catch John Zaskoda whenever you can. He’s one of the best guitar players I have ever seen. I also really like Sealion, War Party, and Pearl Earl.

EW: Field Guide rules. I really feel Honor System, War Party and Rat Rios too. Pageantry is moving into a new level, definitely catch them if you can.

TM: Loafers and Teenage Sexx. Both Waco ex-patriates. I’m still bummed they moved to Dallas and not Fort Worth.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

RW: I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies.

RF: I lived in Alaska for 4 years.

EW: I just learned something about Rene. Thanks, Asa’s Records! I lived in Japan for 4 years. Ante up.

TM: I can’t stop watching Air Disasters on Netflix.

Much thanks to VVOES for taking the time. You can catch them laying down grooves for all your chilling needs around town. Their new EP will be available soon, but for now, here’s some of their demo tracks from their time under the ill smiths moniker.

 

 

Better Know an Artist (Vol 14): Ariel Hartley (of Pearl Earl)

Denton’s Pearl Earl are a band on the rise. A fuzzy girl-pop band saw 2015’s Karaoke Superstar EP draw rave reviews and attention on several local year end lists. They have a good sound and are a bit different than what you see in the scene around these parts. Pearl Earl’s frontwoman, Ariel Hartley, sat down with us to answer the usual questions.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

AH: My brother taught me the typical Deep Purple riff on guitar when I was in 6th grade but I didn’t really catch on to playing yet. From a really early age, I always wrote poems and lyrics but I never thought I could sing well so I never thought of turning it into something more than this weird girly collection of lyrical poems. On a random night when I was 19, my good friend, Julia, taught me my first guitar chords and that was the first time where I really felt an igniting passion for something happen and knew that this was something I had to pursue. I took it and ran with it and taught myself how to write songs on guitar.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

AH: I would describe it as poppy psychedelic influenced garage rock with feel happy parts and some dark parts with some funk and glam and warbles and fuzziness.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

AH: My first concert was the B-52’s when I was 11 or 12 in Central Park, and I grew up listening to them with my mom so they are probably an influence whether I wanted them to be or not. I also really liked the Doors growing up because of the organ. I definitely have a thing for organs. Another influence would be Air because I love their French space disco synth groove thing going on (especially their bass lines) and I would mention an album I really vibe with is MGMT’s sophomore album Congratulations because it’s weird and dark and kind of Halloweeny. Pond is also one of my favorite bands of all time, but I feel like I talk about them way too much so I’ll stop there.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

AH: Hmmmm… it kind of changes everyday because one day I hate a song I wrote and the other I’ll be like yeah! But lyrically I think the most important would be “If”, because that’s the one I feel like I sing well in and I guess you could say it’s my more vulnerable lover side that I don’t really show much in our songs and I like the playful whiskey pick me up part about feeling empty or down, because the yearning for love can definitely make you feel lonely sometimes.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

AH: Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett, because that would be strange.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

AH: I just started listening to Wand from California and they are cool. King Grizzard and the Lizard Wizard are awesome too. Globe Lamp put out an album recently and it’s really good.

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

AH: ummm, the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust would do

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

AH: I like the 3 main cities (Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth) that are only like 30 minutes from each other, and how they all have their different scenes, but everyone knows each other and are all definitely an intertwined community of bands and musicians. I don’t like how small Denton is sometimes as far as the places to play, house shows seem to have the most successful shows. There’s just so many bands within a small radius that I’ve seen a lot of really awesome acts come through that play to like 5 people because everyone would rather go to a house show down the street for free. House shows are more fun and relaxed for sure. I do like that we have so many of them.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

AH: I really like Harvest House in the warmer months because it’s outside and the sound is good and I love everyone that works there. But, Three Links is a good one too, they have great sound, and it’s partially outside when they pull the cover up!

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

AH: Sunbuzzed (they have only played a show or two), Siamese, Claire Morales, Delia Haunt, ABACABA, Mink Coats, Bad Beats, the Noids, Josh Serrano’s multiple projects, Dead Mockingbirds, Party Static, Son of Stan, a million others…….

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

AH: I have an alter ego as a rapper and I make beats as a proud member of Gross Bitch and the Sour Patch Klitz and I hate cilantro.

Thanks to Ariel for doing this interview and check out Pear Earl when you get the chance. They’ll be performing at the Foundry on Feb 6. You can check out their awesome 2015 EP, Karaoke Superstar, below.