I like mixed bills. It often seems that shows are catered to one genre in particular, regardless of how much musical overlap that fans and musicians may have with other kinds of music. The majority of people like more than one style of music. For some reason or another, though, mixed bills are the exception rather than the rule. One band, however, sticks out as working as being the non-hardcore band at hardcore shows around Chicago and theNorthwestern Indiana area. That band is Carbonleak.
Carbonleak plays in a slower-tempo shoegaze style influenced by many bands from the 80s and 90s, as well as the hardcore background that the band comes from. The band boasts members previously from bands like Raw Nerve, Sea of Shit, Dastard, and Erfert. The band has released a couple of tapes so far in their history, though they have played a lot of shows with artists like Destruction Unit, Waxahatchee, Nervosas, Swearin', and more. Tommy, Joe, and Mike have all been active, accomplished musicians for many years and Carbonleak is a reflection of that, albeit in a different musical guise from what is typical.
I don't want to spoil too much of what's in their future, but 2014 seems like a great year for the band, for reasons they illuminate below.
Check the band out on their bandcamp page, give 'em a "like" on Facebook and for G-d's sake, catch them at a show where they really shine!
Jordan: It seems like NWI is home to a ton of really incredible bands like Big Zit, Carbonleak, Public Assault, and more. There's a lot of overlap between NWI and Chicago, but do you think there's anything that makes NWI bands different?
Tommy: We have always been very proud to come from and be involved with the NWI scene. It’s historically been just slightly different and more off-kilter than what happens in Chicago. The bands are weirder and the crowds tend do usually go off and be silly more than in Chicago. I think the difference is obvious in that in the suburbs and in Indiana there is just not as much to do and things aren’t as accessible in rural areas so punk becomes a little more than just something to do.
J: What bands do you guys play in?
Mike: Currently only Carbonleak
Tommy: Currently Joey is the only member that is playing with other bands. He plays drums in Big Zit and is filling in at Ooze shows but I think that might be permanent now? He might even be playing with other bands that I am drawing a blank now! Oh yeah! He also plays in Pukeoid still. And a couple other bands that are on extended hiatus. Joey has always been in a handful of bands at the same time. It’s pretty rad. Mike and Joey used to be in a band called Dastard and they played a lot with my old band called Erfert. We have all been in a lot of bands over the years tho.
Joe: Yeah Tommy covers a current list. I tend to be play in numerous bands at once. I don't necessarily prefer to do that honestly. It just happens, haha. At one time when I was younger and had more free time I was in 8 different bands at once. I can't balance all of that anymore at all or I'd go insane.
J: Carbonleak seems to be a bit different than some of the more punk-rock oriented bands that you guys play in. Why make a slower shoegazier band?
M: For almost ten years I had been in and out of power violence bands. After leaving Sea of Shit I was ready for a change. Also, Joey and I were in a fuzzed out power-pop band called Dastard. After that band fizzled out Carbonleak kind of picked up where it left off.
T: We are all fans of many types of different music, as most people are. There are a lot of bands that the 3 of us really like that were more on the shoegaze or whatever side of things and it strayed away from our more punk and hardcore past. We were talking about doing a band together in this vein for a very long time and there was actually a couple times in the past that we got together to start it and it just never really took off. But I am really happy that it finally did.
J: Yeah. We definitely listen to a ton of different types of music. The slower shoegazier stuff has always been a part of what we listen to while at the same time listening to the more punk-oriented stuff. Punk, and really I just mean hardcore when I say this, has always been very secondary for me even though I primarily played in more aggressive bands in the past and to this day. Punk can mean a million things now. You know, like, we're a punk band because of how we go about doing things for our band but we don't sound like a punk band, haha. Don't get me wrong, I love playing in the other bands I'm currently in but I've been playing drums for a very long time now and once I picked up bass to play in Pukeoid and kept at it, Carbonleak is where I have more of a creative input and I really love that. Also, Mike and Tommy are older than I am but we've all sort of grown up together. I've wanted to be in a band with these guys since I was like 17 or 18. Now we are and it’s the most tuned in band I've ever been in.
J: Are there any bands that you think influenced the Carbonleak sound?
M: I think we're all pretty eclectic in our musical influences but personally I take a huge amount of influence from certain bands: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr, MBV, Swirlies, Swervedriver, Sonic Youth... just to name a few. I think they're all pretty obvious. We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel. We just want to have fun.
T: Tons of bands influence us and I think we would all probably have a different list of bands to answer this question. Personally, when we started I actually imagined this band to be even more chill than it is now. I was listened to stuff like Duster a lot and I know when we started that was a big influence that I had in my head. The songs ended up being more driving and louder than that kind of stuff. I think our history of being in more aggressive bands totally shows and I think it lends for a pretty cool combination. I think we are also very influenced by our friends bands a lot also.
J: Like Tommy and Mike explain we're all extremely eclectic. Aside from the obvious bands that Mike states, and Tommy's mention of Duster and preconceived thought of being more chilled out, which we all had, he also mentioned we are influenced by our friends a lot and that is definitely true. Really I think Carbonleak goes back a little further than we even knew. Mike and I were in a band called dastard together and we played in Appleton, WI one day where Tenement was supposed to play but they dropped. This was like 6 or 7 years ago. Anyway their other band, which had Amos on drums, Harlequin Kid played and our jaws were on floor. They sounded like Dinosaur Jr. and the fucking Swirlies but heavy. So long story short I suppose Harlequin Kid is kind of what got the wheels turning in me and Mike's heads and once Dastard stopped and we hooked up with Tommy finally it worked out into what we are now.
J: I know that you guys have a demo out from 2012 - have you guys written many songs since the demo?
T: The first demo that we released actually came out in 2013. Since then we have written a lot and recorded a couple times. We recorded for a 7inch a long time ago now and have been working on it forever. It should be out by the fall, after many delays. We have a handful more songs that are ready to record again but we are just trying to figure out how we want to release them. First idea is to record it all and split it up for a couple different releases, or we could stock pile them awhile more and do a full length. Since its been so long since the demo came out we decided to do another tape of demos that we released on a weekend tour we did. To keep things fresh and to have new music at shows we also have another tape that will be out soon that is live recordings from a show that we did at township.
M: Yeah, we're almost done with a 4 song 7" EP that should be out in the fall. We've posted rough mixes of two of those songs on our bandcamp - Windows and Short Chain. There's also an acoustic version of Underneath and a 4 track demo version of Hey Alice. They were released under the title Identity Aversions #1. Which was available on cassette for a limited time. We probably sold like 20 of 50. We lost the other 30 or so when Tommys van was stolen a few weeks back. In addition to that we've written about 5 other songs. Our live set usually on consists of 1 or 2 songs from the demo.
J: Are there any plans to put out some of your new songs?
T: The plan right now is to put out a 7inch on our friends label called “Mudcat Records” Before that sees the light of day we will have another tape out that will have a live set of songs. I think the plan after that is to keep writing for a full length and find a sucker to put it out for us.
M: I think we plan on doing a couple of splits or another EP after this upcoming EP. I'm hoping to have all of it released before the end of the year.
J: I've seen you guys a couple times, but only in NWI and Chicago. Have you guys ever toured or considered touring?
T: To date we have not done any extensive touring yet. We have played outside of Chicago a decent amount though. In January we did a weekend of shows with our good friends in the band Cloakroom, And in April we did another weekend of out of town shows with Waxahatchee. And every chance we get we like to get out of town. In September we are doing a string of shows with our pals in the band Darto from WA. We have considered doing a longer tour in the fall or around when the 7 inch comes out. We don’t really want to go out for an extended period of time without a record out. But soon!
M: We did a long weekend with with Cloakroom back in January and we did a few dates with Waxahatchee in April. We don't have a tour booked yet but I imagine we would in support of our upcoming release.
J: What all is in the future for Carbonleak?
M: More shows, releases, maybe an additional member...
T: The future of Carbonleak includes a lot more shows, songs and stuff. We are all very busy people with a lot of other shit going on but we all care a lot for this band and there is definitely a lot more in store
J: Who's your favorite superhero?
M: I don't know much about superheroes or comics but based on the amount of Justice League Unlimited that I've been watching I'd say Martian Manhunter
J: Not much of a superhero guy. I like horror movies. Not much room for superheroes there.
T:The Chinese Redbud Woman
J: Are there too many Marvel movies now?
T: There are too many movies and forms of entertainment in general.
J: Agreed with Tommy. Too much everything.
J: Anything else you'd like to say?
T: Thanks for the interview
J: Thanks Jordan.