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.


Better Know an Artist (Volume 19): Jacob Metcalf

Jacob Metcalf is a member of local groups, Fox and the Bird and the Dallas Family Band, but over the last few years, he’s been working with some of the areas top musicians to put together his solo debut record, Fjord, which dropped back in January. The sweeping cinematic sound of his indie-folk record placed it atop my list of local releases for 2016 so far, and I hastily got him in for this interview. He’s fresh off of the tour supporting the record, so look for him out and about near you.

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)?

JM: I knew a decade ago, but I didn’t want to give into it. I resisted. My father told me that I would have to learn to sleep on the floor of a van if I was going to romanticize my life about being a musician. I think he was trying to galvanize me or talk some sense into me (!), but if that was the case, it had the opposite effect. In 2010, I quit my job, sold my belongings, and moved into my 4-door sedan. I lived inside my car off and on for years. It was a visceral experience. In the winters, I wore every article I had and layered sleeping bag inside of sleeping bag. One night, I shuddered awake in Hot Springs, AR to find six inches of snow on top of my aging silver Honda. Every extremity was numb and rolled back over and prayed for daybreak. Summer nights were even more exciting– sweltering saunas with the window up or mosquito-bitten and sleepless with the window cracked. In the peak heat, I eventually learned I could use door codes from friends and I slept on the rooftops of some of the surrounding loft buildings. It wasn’t easy, but I got pretty good at living like that. Early on, I got some help sewing magnets into curtains and blacked out the windows from the inside for privacy from the city. I stocked up on canned food that could be eaten without access to any kitchen equipment. I took ‘five point’ showers in the restrooms of big supermarkets so I could make appearances and not offend away any of my old friends. I learned how to park around the city so as not to arouse suspicion. I thought back to the discussion my dad and I had– why was I doing this? He was right: preparation is essential for the tough conditions ahead. I also appreciated that continuing work while opting out of rent payments afforded the chance to save more toward album costs.

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

JM: I like the term “modern western” because it’s a blend of occidental acoustics informed by the age of internet and easy air travel to other continents. Or maybe, it’s like a folk band ran dry on fuel outside a desert symphony hall. Or maybe the two word answer? Cinematic folk. One word? Music.

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

JM: I had trouble with my ears as a school age child. There was a period where I couldn’t hear anything, I’m told. My mom would be shouting to get my attention and there I was still running toward the blistering hot oven. Visits to the doctor revealed that tubes were needed to clear the passageways. Months later, I healed up just fine, but it later gave me pause thinking about Beethoven’s woe in life, losing his first love, his love of sound. I’ve always been drawn toward Beethoven for that reason. His second movement of Pathetique– I remember hearing that on the old nighttime AM radio as a boy and marveling that he was wringing magic out of the same 12 notes we had on our dusty old family piano.

Samuel Barber played a large role early on. His music had a weight and splendor that seemed unfathomable to me. Is it possible to have nostalgia for memories we haven’t created yet? I tend to think so. Then there was Debussy. His is the kind of music that I’ll never achieve, but I’ll always want to write. It’s asymmetrical and unpredictable and emotive and nuanced and leaves you wanting, all the same things I want for my own music. Danny Elfman, Thomas Newman, Jon Barry, Jon Brion. Decorative and imaginative and makes the hair stand on my neck.

I have to mention M. Ward. Some pretty dramatic changes occurred when I was first introduced to Post War and Transistor Radio back around 2006. Holy smokes! Midlake too. They’ve been an influence, especially the earlier albums like Bamnan and Silvercork. “Balloon Maker”, “Kingfish Pies”, and “the Jungler” are all incredible songs to me. Doug Burr has also been a frequent inspiration, beginning with his gospel album Sickle and the Sheaves and On Promenade and everything following. You can’t find a more imaginative and exquisite songwriter in town, or anywhere. Robert Gomez was always underrated in my eyes. He brought a kind of savant-level understanding of orchestration and song structures and penned these dark tunes, right in line with my aesthetic.

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

JM: “Ein Berliner”, because it deals with an imagined future in which I become a father figure and wrestle with my children’s growing questions. That or “Correspondence”, which has evolved for me to be about great love between any two friends.

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

JM: Hmm, I’d put together a traveling event with Bjork and Beck touring across the country and the globe with our fair band. I imagine that eventually I might get to see behind the curtain at how the mystics work. I might get to join them on stage at some point. That would be eye-popping fun.

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

JM: Siamese. Some of the folks that play in our band play in another band called Siamese. I’m infatuated with their sound and their demeanor. They’re so risqué and otherworldly, the ideas so fresh and so exciting. Can’t wait to see what they get into.

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

JM: If I knew I was about to be banished onto an island, I’d put together a playlist of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. If that wasn’t possible, I’d probably go with something instrumental and inspirational like Yanni or Josh Groban. Haha, that is not a joke.

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

JM: I love the DFW arts scene. The creative spirit running through DFW is cooperative. In my experience, everyone has been helpful and willing to share their knowledge, time and resources. I hope to reciprocate as I am able. The thing I like the least is when someone we hold dear moves to another city.

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

JM: There are lots of venues I love in town. Dan’s Silverleaf has always been a favorite to play and to see shows. The format’s wider than it is long and narrow, and that’s appealing when you want to get up-close to the artist. I love AllGood Café for really close events. At the end of the day, though, the Kessler Theater takes the cake. It brings St Vincent, Dylan LeBlanc, Robert Ellis, Chris Thile, Bela Fleck, and hundreds more world-class acts and still somehow rivals the feel of the smallest, most intimate rooms. Plus, it’s two blocks away from home and feels like it’s in my back yard. Plus, I know and love everyone who makes a home there.

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

JM: Garrett Owen. Google him. Hares on the Mountain. Google them. Doug Burr, Daniel Markham, RTB2. Again, Siamese. Remarkable music. Google them.

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

JM: I have never lost a dance-off. I have a secret move that dismantles the competition every single time.

(Editor’s note: I, too, have never lost a dance-off. However, I have never been a part of a dance-off. My wife would suggest this is a positive thing.)

Many thanks to Jacob Metcalf for taking the time to be a part of our series here, and for dropping one of the most beautiful records the area’s seen in a while. Catch him around when you can, and check out some music below. Thanks for reading, and as always, Support Local Music.


Top Shows Coming to Town for 3/13/15-3/19/15

I’m going to a couple this week. Also, Saturday is Pi Day, so you know, skip the shows and go to Paris Coffee Shop or something, I don’t know. Anyways, here we go.

1 Santana @ Verizon Theatre (Grand Prairie) Weds, 3/18/15

Carlos Santana is one of the most iconic guitar players of all time. I’m scratching one off the bucket list with this one.

2 Beach Boys @ Verizon Theatre (Grand Prairie) Thurs, 3/19/15

The Beach Boys are possibly even more iconic than Santana, but no Brian Wilson and no Al Jardine, leaves this show playing 2nd fiddle.

3 TV on the Radio @ Granada Theater (Dallas) Thurs, 3/19/15

The beloved indie rock group will perform 2 sold out shows at the Granada (so they’ll appear on this list two weeks in a row), as they carry on without bass player Gerard Smith, who passed away in 2011.

4 Twin Shadow @ Granada Theater (Dallas) Tues, 3/17/15

The emerging indie singer Twin Shadow tours in support of his March release Eclipse.

5 Gang of Four @ Trees (Deep Ellum) Weds, 3/18/15

One of the most influential (while, not successful) bands of all time perform in support of their latest release.

6 35 Denton @ Downtown Denton (Denton) Fri, 3/13/15-Sun 3/15/15

The Denton festival returns, highlighted by UK legends, the Zombies, along with a slew of solid local artists (Telegraph Canyon, Doug Burr, RTB2, amongst others) and up-and-comers. There’s music all over Denton this weekend.

7 Surfer Blood @ Club Dada (Deep Ellum) Sun, 3/15/15

The surf-rock influenced indie-rockers play some fun tunes for your listening pleasure.

8 Matthew E White @ Three Links (Deep Ellum) Mon, 3/16/15

The Virginia singer/songwriter tours in support of his latest record, the critically acclaimed Fresh Blood. White also produced recent album of the week, Natalie Prass.

9 Carolyn Wonderland @ the Kessler Theatre (Oak Cliff) Fri, 3/13/15

Still one of my favorite current blues artists at one of my favorite venues. Should be a kick ass show, as always.

10 Swervedriver @ Club Dada (Deep Ellum) Thurs, 3/19/15

The British shoegaze band perform in support of I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, their first studio album in 17 years.