The Carousel Interview
Pittsburgh’s Carousel has exceeded already high expectations for their sophomore LP release last week. The group’s highly revered debut EP, “Jeweler’s Daughter,” got them noticed in 2013; and since, they’ve become fondly recognized for their mellow, bluesy vibe. According to many, the group has embodied the spirit of old school classic rock at its finest.
“2113” was released on August 28 via TeePee Records, having already garnered rave reviews after dropping four of the nine songs on the album–including the title track, “2113.” Coincidentally, it’s their first body of work that features Philly-based guitarist, Matt Goldsborough, who toured and played with the legendary rock outfit, Pentagram, and continues to play guitar for doom metal band, The Skull.
Recently, we had the chance to chat with Jake Leger (drums) and Dave Wheeler (guitar/vocals) before their release show in Pittsburgh this Friday. Below is what transpired:
Shayna: What is the significance behind the number 2113?
Jake Leger: 2113 Murray Avenue. It’s the current Pittsburgh residence of Jim and Dave from the band, but I used to live there, too. It has a long history as a band house and a place where people like the Jesus Lizard and Guided By Voices would crash on the couch back when they were new bands. It’s a little dilapidated now–even when I lived there (which was over a decade ago), we would call it the “flop house”
Dave Wheeler: It’s the street number of the apartment I share with Jim. Jake used to live there back in the day, as well. A lot of Pittsburgh musicians/artists etc. have lived and partied here over the past 20 years or so; it holds some degree of significance in Pittsburgh lore.
S: What goal or goals did you guys have in mind for this album?
JL : Well, obviously, we are a band that writes songs that are interpretations of our influences, but I think our influences are pretty broad. We are all very passionate listeners and record collectors, and speaking for myself, my record collection has everything from the heaviest of metal to every Donovan record I could ever find. So when we write, I think everything is on the table, but we have a general consensus of what we want the band to sound like.
DW: Every time I sit down to work on a song, I’m trying to write the greatest song ever written; so, I guess I wanted that for the album, as well. In terms of more realistic goals, I think the idea was just to keep moving forward and to challenge ourselves as songwriters and performers. And to just follow the song wherever it may lead.
S: So, now that it’s completed, how would you both describe the overall feel of “2113”?
JL: We met Matt when he was playing with Pentagram (which he is now, again, by the way) but he took us in, what I would say, was an unexpected direction. He put acoustic guitar on almost every song on the album! I expected the heaviest of heavy influences, but he brought out a lighter side of the band that I hope fans will like. His songwriting is really starting to mesh with Dave’s, and I’m really excited for that to keep developing. Those guys are such great guitar players; the sky is the limit.
DW: It’s kind of like if the restaurant Applebee’s was a rock album.
S: Do you guys feel any pressure for this album after the success of your debut?
JL: Oh yeah, there is always pressure. I had two days to track drums and we recorded to tape. This album had the most minimal editing or studio trickery, and that’s something that I’m really proud of as a drummer. Your average song that you hear on the radio today–those drums have a click track and Pro Tools and are heavily manipulated… A lot of times it’s not even the drummer in the band; it’s a studio guy. So, the pressure to create a great organic record quickly is very real. I am seeing much better press and great reviews, so, I think we followed up nicely… But the pressure is always on to write and record a new record. I have heard a saying that goes: “You have forever to write your first record, and six months to write your second.” And there is a lot of truth to that. It took us way more than six months, but I like to think that we beat the Sophomore Slump.
DW: When you have an album that moved as many units as Jeweler’s Daughter did, you can’t realistically replicate its success. I mean, Def Leppard followed the success of Pyromania with Hysteria, which was even bigger. But what do you do when you debut with Hysteria? That’s where we’re at.
S: It seems that the reviews speak nothing but praise! So, with four of the nine songs released to public previously – as well as the option of buying the album before the release date – what can people who haven’t heard the album yet expect from the other five songs?
JL: I think “Highway Strut” is going to be a great one for people to hear; it’s our stab at a more catchy, hooky song. It almost has a southern rock vibe. I personally like the B-side tracks as favorites, but I am excited to see what listeners think.
DW: Lots of auto-tune.
After chatting with Dave and Jake, we got a chance to pick Matt Goldsborough’s brain and discover how he’s sacrificed his life in the name of rock music:
Shayna: How do you manage your time between both Carousel & The Skull?
Matt Goldsborough: I think I’m actually kind of terrible at it. My wife makes me keep a calendar so I can keep track of where and when I’m supposed to be places and doing things. It helps, but only as long as I remember to keep it updated. I’ve learned that as long as I get a few days at home between tours or whatever, I’m okay. I just need enough time to walk my dog a few times, get some donuts from the place up the street, have a nice breakfast with my wife, and spend at least one night sitting on my porch with a few beers and some friends just bullshitting. If I’m lucky, I get to squeeze in a dinner with my mom and my sisters, as well. If I’m really lucky, I might get a night to practice the songs for whichever band has the next show on the calendar. If I’m really, REALLY lucky, I might get a day with nothing at all to do… I usually just hang out with my dog and play guitar until my wife gets home from work, then make some steaks or chicken on the grill and fall asleep on the couch way too early. I guess what I’m saying is that when I get really busy and I’m traveling a lot and bouncing around, I’ve learned that a few days at home with nothing to do is really all it takes to sort of re-charge and be ready to go back out again.
S: What spurred you to join Carousel despite maintaining membership in The Skull?
MG: Actually, when I first joined Carousel, I didn’t really have the intention of sticking with them for very long. I think it was about a year ago when I saw they were looking for a guitar player and I got in touch with Dave. I think I told him that if they needed someone to get them through the next couple months of shows, then I’d love to jam with them. We had all met and played some shows together about a year before that, and the band really made an impression on me. Besides the fact that they had some great songs and were great players, I thought they really more than held their own as a live band. I very clearly remember thinking: Any band that – as an opening act – closed its set with a 10-minute version of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock” must have some pretty big balls.
Carousel will celebrate the release of “2113” with a show at Spirit (21+) along with rockers Cruces and Mansion on Friday, September 4, starting at 9PM. Additionally, an art show featuring the works of Joe Mruk will begin at 7PM before progressing into the musical selections of Carousel and friends. Tickets are $8 at the door.