MY final interview of the year...
is with From Carbon who have been talking about their single, Demons. I ask whether there is a new album being planned and what sort of music the band are inspired by – they recommend a rising act that we should get behind and follow.
I ask whether there are any plans for next year and if there will be touring dates; if they have favourite albums and what the reaction has been like to their 2014 debut album – they end the interview by selecting a great track.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
We’re good, thanks. Keeping busy working on the new material.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We’re From Carbon. Were an Indie-Rock band from North Manchester. We play guitars, piano; violins and drums. We’ve been described by a radio station in Australia as “U2 and Black Sabbath’s lovechild!” Not sure that covers all our sound but maybe the heavier tracks we play. We do have a softer side, though.
How did From Carbon get together? When did you all start making music together?
We got together around four-five years ago from the ashes of various other bands we’d been in. We’d all seen each other play in other bands and thought why not form this supergroup of unknown, unsigned artists. We only agreed to do a few recordings together but things developed and were now about release album number-two.
How important is Manchester and its music vibes to your own sound? Is it a good place for the band to play right now?
Manchester music has been a huge influence on us;; there is such a varied and esteemed heritage. We’ve been lucky enough to play with some of them. There is also a bit of scene developing again bands like Blossoms, Slow Readers Club and Catfish and the Bottlemen all seem to be getting to the next level, so hopefully people will seek out more Manchester bands as a result.
It’s hard to make an impact in this city as there is so much competition and, with venues closing down in the city centre, promoters are only interested in booking bands they know will shift a lot of tickets and that isn’t always the best bands. They also take a huge cut of the money, taking advantage of younger bands. We’ve started organising our on gigs as a result.
Tell me about the song, Demons. What is the story behind it?
Scott: Demons is one of the first songs I ever wrote. It came from a huge argument I had with my closest friend at the time and about the waves of anger it produced on both sides. The song acknowledges that we all have demons and complications and perhaps we shouldn’t always judge people so harshly. It’s still very relevant to us.
The song has been picked up for a movie soundtrack, Strangeways Here We Come. It was a proud moment to hear it blasting out in the cinema and at quite a crucial and delicate scene which depicts the morning after a drink and drug-fuelled party in Salford.
I believe your debut album came out in 2014. What has the band been getting up to since then? What has the reaction been like to the record?
Yes. Wealth came out four years ago and has sold over a thousand copies. We’ve had a couple of support opportunities which helped us get to a wider audience. We supported The ChameleonsVox at the Manchester Academy and a few of their hardcore fans started following us as well. Then we supported Heather Small (M People) on her U.K. theatre tour - which was the main reason we sold so many C.D.s and was a truly amazing experience.
We’ve played various small festivals and released a couple singles/videos this year and finished 2018 off by supported Toyah Wilcox in Manchester at the Ruby Lounge - which is another great venue which is sadly about to close down. However, in between all that, we’ve spent the last two years focusing on recording the difficult follow-up album.
Might there be another album coming along in the next year or so, perhaps?
Yes. We’ve named it Existence because it’s had to fight for its existence. It’s definitely been tougher this time. Not through anyone’s fault; our producer Chris Oliver has been on world tours with The ChameleonsVox and Midge Ure. So, pinning him down has been difficult. However, it’s finished now and currently being mixed hopefully in time for our album launch show which is at The Bread Shed in Manchester on Saturday, 30th March, 2019.
We’ve organised the event ourselves and it’s going to be magical. We’ve managed to persuade Joe Duddell and his Classical ensemble to play a set with us. Joe has done similar things with Elbow, James; The Charlatans, New Order and other great acts. We’re just super-excited to hear what he does with our songs and hearing his arrangements and interpretations. We’ve also got the wonderful Little Sparrow supporting us on the show. Katie has such a powerful and beautiful voice and really deserves to be a household name. We’re delighted to have them on the bill with us.
It seems like gigging is the most important thing for you guys. Is that where you hear the music truly come alive – and get the purest and most honest reaction?
We do love playing live and we are definitely one of those bands who sound better live. People are usually shocked at how good we are live when they see us for the first time. It helps with us having seven people on stage. I suppose there’s always something or someone to watch.
Which one album means the most to each of you (and why)?
Scott: James - One Man Clapping. I bought this album retrospectively as I’d just discovered James around the Gold Mother (‘Madchester’) era, when I first played it (a second hand tape). I thought they’d accidentally mixed up the tapes in Vinyl Exchange as it sounded so different to Gold Mother, like a completely different band. I suppose they were in many ways. I do love a live album, though. This had so much raw energy and an element of crazy that I grew addicted to. Chain Mail, Sandman and Leaking blew me away with their improvisations. The lyrics of Really Hard and Burned certainly resonated with me. It gave you a glimpse of how good they were live and still are.
Gray: A present requested for my tenth birthday bought by my sister because I wanted the music from Tomorrow's World. I played it on a mono hand-held cassette player back to back for years. My first introduction to album music...turns out to be instrumental; not just in genre but in revealing that music was pure escapism. Probably the only album I have bought repeatedly in different formats over the years.
Adam: K by Kula Shaker. The best Rock/Blues mainstream album. It was my first gig at the Apollo. The guitar work was amazing and it was a little bit different from the usual Britpop dross of the time!
Nut: Rush - 2112. I was eighteen; working on a building site in Oldham and the foreman labourer said to me: “You play drums, don’t you?” I said: “I did but haven’t for a couple of years. I’ll bring you a cassette in tomorrow”. He said: “Listen to the drums; they are amazing”. He brought the tape in and I played it when I got home. Within two weeks, I’d bought myself a kit and started playing again. There have been two people to make me pick my sticks back up. One is Neil Peart and the other is Scott Jeffries.
What do you hope to achieve in 2019?
We’re planning on releasing a couple of singles from Existence and hopefully it will lead to some more exciting gig opportunities, festival slots and we’d love to tour again. It was such an amazing experience and we do have the odd fan dotted about all over the U.K., so it would be good to be able to play live to them again. Fingers crossed.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Two favourite memories? The first has to be the first time the audience started singing and clapping along to our song, Demons, on the Heather Small tour. It was at the Lancaster Grand Theatre and we really weren’t expecting to go down well on the tour - as our music is very different to Heather’s - but each night we were blown away by the reaction we were getting and we grew in confidence. It was just a great feeling to see complete strangers enjoying our music.
The second is when Andy Diagram from the legendary band James joined us on stage to play trumpet on Demons. We hadn’t rehearsed it and it was such magical feeling to have one of your heroes playing along with you and improvising on a song you’d written fifteen years earlier. We followed it up with a cover of Laid. Again, we’d not rehearsed it with him so we were flying by the seat of our pants. I think we did it justice. I get tingles thinking about it.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Each one of us would have a different answer to that. For me, I would love to support either U2 or Arcade Fire. Not just because it would be a sell-out but I feel we’d have a lot of fun.
I think our rider would have a lot less alcohol than in previous years.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
My advice to young musicians is never wait for someone else to do things for you! If you want to record an album do it yourself and definitely plan things.
IN THIS PHOTO: Eliza Shaddad/PHOTO CREDIT: Melanie Tjoeng photography
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Scott: My favourite new artist is Eliza Shaddad. I’ve seen her develop over the last five years and if you haven’t heard her E.P.s, Waters, Wars and the new album, Future, you haven’t lived.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
We never unwind. We don’t have time for that (smiles).
Finally, and for being good sports; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Please play Eliza Shaddad - Make It Go Away (with headphones on and in a darkened room on a rainy day)
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