I N T E R V I E W
Carb on Carb
It's an early winter Friday evening and here at HUP HQ, the females of the house are transfixed to Gilmore Girls as I sit in the corner pretending not to watch while thinking of good questions to put to James and Nicole a.k.a. Carb on Carb, who, this very morn, released their first single in quite a long time. They are currently mid-tour, taking a jaunt around Aotearoa with shannengeorgiapetersen - the wheels of all things Carb seem to be well and truly back in motion so there should be lots of things to ask about...
Kia ora Kōrua! How are you both? How has the last 18 months been, were you stuck in Tāmaki Makaurau the whole time? Did anything good come out of the lockdowns for you - rest/opportunities for writing/recording etc?
We are good but also hectically busy! Nicole is studying full-time and I am working full-time and we're still doing all the music/label/Girls Rock stuff. Last year was a good reset for us to stay at home and reassess things. We did dive into writing in the all the bizarreness of the first lockdown and got heaps done, but then lost it after that haha.
Huge congrats on the new single 'Here Comes The Best Bit' it's a real banger and reminds me of the songs on your first LP (2015's 'Carb on Carb" LP) more than 2018's 'For Ages' and I don't think it's just the 'best your worst' lyrical reference. Is that a conscious thing or just how it turned out?
Nah it wasn't a conscious move back towards the first album - although I wouldn't be surprised if the new album ends up somewhere between the self-titled and For Ages in terms of vibe.
It seems to be a reflective song on your previous experiences as a band - 'painted sheets for backdrops', 'take a breath between the sets' - is there a yearning for something that once was? And if so, do you feel it's gone forever or is it something that's temporarily on hold?
It's definitely us reflecting on highlights of the band so far. At the time we were having a lot of discussions about what the next steps of the band would be, would we should aim for and what we should forget about. And we kept coming back to the DIY community and house shows as the most special parts. It's something that has been temporarily on hold over the past year, but it's been back on and it was an absolute treat to play that recent run of three shows.
How has your songwriting process changed since 2015 and what is the process? I seem to remember something about there being a strict 'no jam' policy in the band. Is that still in place?
You remember right haha. It has definitely changed, now for almost every song we write the guitars together first, then Nicole works on a vocal and we add drums last and adjust.
Where did you record the new music? Is there an EP or LP to follow?
At The Stomach in Palmerston North. I (James) have recorded other projects there in the past. Our friend Harry Lilley took over a few years back and has transformed it from being a friendly and adequate community studio to one of the best in the country. Here Comes the Best Bit, and the next single Be My Mirror, (coming out at the end of July), are the first two songs we have finished in writing for the next album. So that's in the works - out 2022.
Hurrah! Tell us about the shows with shannengeorgiapetersen - how did they come to be?
We really wanted to tour NZ this year and it happened that this was the best timing for it. Then I was invited to play in shannengeorgiapetersen and they wanted to tour and they're great friends so I wanted to tour with them anyway so it was a done deal from the start.
You've toured quite a bit in the past, are you hoping to head overseas to play anytime in the next year or so?
We've decided with all the uncertainty and also with the album to be finished we'll focus on NZ and the album this year and then look overseas for the album release tour in 2022.
I noticed the other day that Nicole is playing in Deb5000 - tell us about that.
Yeah, she's loving it! She's enjoying just playing bass - not having to worry about songwriting or carrying that burden of it being your creation - just rocking out! They played a Halloween show last year where the band was made up of a giant cockroach, Edward Cullen, Mr. Bean and Dave Grohl - it was out of it haha. They're putting out an EP this coming Friday too!
James, any more plans to do more Capsul or How Get music/shows?
Capsul...nah I'm letting that one lie. How Get on the other hand is coming back - we have an EP recorded which we are going to release and play some shows around. All of the lyrics are in Te Reo which is an exciting new journey for me. Has been delayed due to an injury but expect that the second half of the year.
A bit more light-hearted stuff if you're up for it...what have you guys been listening to lately, anything we absolutely need to be listening to?
My highlights of the year so far have been Babyteeth's EP, the EP from Canadians Arm's Length and the Kudaranai 1nichi/Anorak! split.
Which of you is the best cook and what's the speciality?
Ooh...definitely used to be me but I have gotten a bit lazy. Nicole makes a vegan butter chicken that is quite renowned.
Who is the sportiest Carb?
I don't think either of us would qualify as sporty, but we're both pretty into tramping now.
What's the best show you've played?
I thought this was a very hard question, thinking of my favourite, but actually its easy because its the objective best rather than my favourite - its gotta be Camp A Low Hum! We weren't even very good back then haha but damn what a festival.
And same question but the weirdest gigs (if it's not playing HUPs first show that afternoon in 2015 to very young kids I'll be amazed!)
Haha that was funny show to be sure, definitely in the top 10. Perhaps our show in Changsha, China - at that point (and maybe still) the biggest venue with the craziest light show we've ever played, with an audience of just the staff. Our cardinal rule was broken that night, we jammed on stage with God Bows to Math (the band we were touring with) and the sound guy who was just standing on stage doing the sound on an ipad. Pretty fun though.
Last one - if you could arrange a show anywhere in the world which three bands would play, where would it be and what would are we all drinking?
Ok...this is a fun question....its in Canberra...with The Hotelier and Attic Sky's and we are drinking Cole's Express coffee.