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 25): Ronnie Heart

Ronnie Heart has been a fixture in the scene for several years now, having spent some time in the very successful Denton project, Neon Indian, before branching out on his own in 2011 to finish school and pursue a solo career. His passion for danceable grooves is obvious in his music and just lend a general feel-good attitude to the output. Check out his new EP You(r) Mine at the end of the article, and catch him around when you get a chance.

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)?

RH: I started playing music in 2002, when I was close to turning 17. My family had moved to Pueblo, Colorado from Houston. I danced in Houston and imagined that I would continue dancing once I moved to CO, but that wasn’t the case. There was no dance program in that town (ed: like Footloose or something) I became friends with a kid at my high school who would bring his guitar to school almost every day. I asked him to teach me a riff on it and he taught me the opening line to “Come As You Are” by Nirvana. I was hooked after that! A few years after all that, and living back in Texas, I began heavily emerging myself around music and musicians, deeply seeking and consuming all sorts of music. I’ve always wanted to make money from doing something I love. It isn’t so easy making money at being an active musician but I am still pushing forward to do so and succeed at it.

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

RH: To quote the Kindness’ instagram handle… “too damn funky”

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

RH: Jimmy Page, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Prince, David Bowie, ELO, Claude Debussy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Quincy Jones, Timbaland, Pharrell, DJ Premier, Dr Dre, Erik Satie, Kendrick Lamar, Can-I-Bus, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, Herbie Hancock, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and many, many more. I love all these musicians because they put passion into their music. They are extremely daring, sensitive, and thoughtful. I celebrate and try to employ those traits whilst creating music or performing it.

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

RH: “Tasty Destination” immediately comes to mind. It was the first song I started writing for this project. I was writing “Tasty Destination” and learning how to use the program that I was writing it on, at the same time. That program is Ableton, by the way. Although, all the songs on You(r) Mine are close to my heart, it’s hard to beat a first experience.

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

RH: If I could open for any artist, it would have to be a tie between Michael Jackson or Prince. I’d love to be part of a high level production like theirs.

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

RH: Locally, I’m really into Squanto, iill, Sam Lao, -topic, Bobby Sessions. Not so locally: Anderson Paak, Vulfpek, the Stepkids, Shafiq Husayn

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

RH: I’d take the Astrud Gilberto album. It features compositions by Antonio Carlos Jobim sung by Astrud.

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

RH: I’m having a hard time writing a response to this because I am happy with the people I interact with so I feel nothing negative is going on around me. I fight hard to only allow good things to happen in my life.

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

RH: I love the Bomb Factory. I’m a huge fan of huge stages and big crowds. The staff is sweet and professional.

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

RH: See above

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

RH: I probably spend as much time listening to podcasts as I listen to music.

Thanks so much to Ronnie Heart for taking the time to sit down with us. Be sure to check out his fire new ep, You(r) Mine, and keep an eye out for tour dates coming soon.

Update: Ronnie will be playing a set at KXT’s annual Summer Cut event at Southside Ballroom on June 3, along with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, the Relatives, the Wild Feathers, San Fermin, Bib Bourelly, BKA Alum Claire Morales and Siamese.

Ronnie Heart – You(r) Mine

 

Top Records for March 2016

So, March had some really strong releases, including the surprise return of King Kendrick, the full maturation of one of the country’s top young songwriters, and a few strong returns from some of music’s biggest icons. Oh, and the excellent solo debut of what could be the newest country star. Also, like last month, I listened to a lot of stuff this month, so I think I’m going to expand the normal list to 25 this month.

1 Parker Millsap “the Very Last Day” 8.6
2 Kendrick Lamar “Untitled Unmastered” 8.5
3 Margo Price “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” 8.4
4 Ray Lamontagne “Ouroboros” 8.4
5 Richmond Fontaine “You Can’t Go Back if There’s Nothing to Go Back To” 8.3
6 the Range “Potential” 8.3
7 Iggy Pop “Post Pop Depression” 8.2
8 Loretta Lynn “Full Circle “8.2
9 Esperanza Spalding “Emily’s D+Evolution” 8.2
10 Bob Mould “Patch the Sky” 8.2
11 Damien Jurado “Visions of Us on the Land” 8.1
12 Steven James Adams “Old Magick” 8.1
13 Anna Meredith “Varmints” 8.1
14 Meilyr Jones “2013” 8.0
15 Mmoths “Lunkeworks” 8.0
16 Grant-Lee Phillips “the Narrows” 7.9
17 Thao & the Get Down Stay Down “A Man Alive” 7.9
18 the Coral “Distance Inbetween” 7.9
19 Robert Pollard “Of Course You Are” 7.8
20 Domo Genesis “Genesis” 7.8
21 Matt Corby “Telluric” 7.8
22 Lapsley “Long Way Home” 7.8
23 Sam Lao “SPCTRM” 7.8
24 Hightower “Echo Springs” 7.8
25 Polica “United Crushers” 7.7