Hello! Welcome to “Under 1000”, a new column highlighting artists with under 1000 likes on their official Facebook pages. Each piece will profile and interview an artist we feel is worthy of your “like”, with the hope of spreading their sound and getting them that all important fourth digit. Thanks for checking it out!
Artist: Mr. Carnivore
Facebook likes (at the time this was written): 224
“You had your hopes and I had mine” croons Cleveland duo Mr. Carnivore on their debut single “Knees”. If your hopes were for a breezy, mid-tempo jam that you’ll want to re-play as soon as it’s finished, you’re in luck.
Mr. Carnivore is the brainchild of Mike Pappas and Pat LaGuardia, rounded out by Kevin Hannah and Joe LaGuardia – lifelong friends and collaborators blending elements of classic rock and folk with today’s wave of indie cool. “Knees” is the perfect introduction – well-structured, catchy and vibrant but with enough edge to let it thrive within today’s indiesphere. The track grooves along with sincerity and confidence, an easy-to-relate air that instantly rubs off on the listener.
“Knees” is the first track off Mr. Carnivore’s self-titled debut, due out later this year. We chatted about the single, their upcoming debut album, and what to eat next time you’re in the Cleveland area. Check out out full conversation below.
MEB: First and foremost – why do you make music?
Joe: I’m sure there are slightly different reasons that everyone individually makes music in Mr. Carnivore. I can say we have collectively talked about what we want making music as Mr. Carnivore to mean. We all really enjoy the process of creating music. Everything from the formation of a song idea to the nitty gritty details added in the recording process. On a more macro level, we are interested in making music that connects with real people. Being as candid as possible with lyrics and the music, we believe, will help to make this connection. We want our music to be something that people can rally around and enjoy together.
Pat: My answer feels more selfish, but for me it is one of the only things I can do anymore where the rest of the world kind of melts away. When I am writing a song, practicing with the band or recording the album I don’t feel like I need to check my phone or make sure I know what time I need to be up the next day. It is definitely a form of therapy for me.
MEB: What is it about “Knees” that made you realize it was the first single?
Joe: As we were getting close to making the decision about what song we wanted to be our first single, it wasn’t totally clear what the right decision would be. We are currently working on putting a larger collection of songs together. We narrowed that group down to four songs. At that point, it is really hard to be perfectly objective about what qualities of the songs cater to being a single. We brought together a small group of people around us whose opinions we trust and gave everyone a vote. After tallying the votes, “Knees” was the clear winner. I personally really enjoyed this method of selecting the single. I felt that it held true to the idea of wanting our music to be about the people that listen. So many decisions about being in a band can become insular and that can make you blind to what the listener really wants. You can hypothesis about this all you want, but why not just ask the listener directly?
Pat: Looking back on how we allowed people that are close to us to vote on the first single feels really cool. It really embodies the idea that we want to be part of a collective movement style of music with the people around us.
MEB: How does the track fit into the sound and themes of the full album?
Joe: It has been a very interesting process working with this first round of songs. Having two solid songwriters in the band gives us a lot of options. We spent a lot of time focusing on making sure the songs that we are putting together make sense with each other. The overarching theme of this collection of songs would be love and loss.
Mike: “Knees” is about being in a tough relationship. You love each other, but you hurt each other. You try to make it work but you come up short. It ends with “when the rain washes off the pain of your love”. The love is there, or was there, but it was always with pain – kind of a tortured love song disguised in pretty wrapping paper.
Pat: I think “Knees” will lyrically be on the serious side of the album. While the songs are mostly about serious topics like love and loss I am personally trying to keep it lighter in the delivery of the words and concepts. We all face heavy situations in life, but whether those situations spark positive or negative emotions there is usually value in being able to laugh at them and realize they aren’t the end of the world. Unless they are the end of the world… that would be rough.
MEB: What other Cleveland-based artists should we be paying attention to right now?
There are so many talented musicians working in Cleveland right now, it is really hard to pin anyone down. M. Moody has just released a single off his upcoming album. Frontman Matt Miller of this group and been supportive of Mr. Carnivore as we are making our first push into the public. We have been paying attention to what Matt has been doing over the last year and think it is something worth checking out. This guy can sing!
MEB: Tell me about the first song you ever wrote.
Pat: When I was very young, pre-teen years, I used to get in trouble for stealing my Dads work computer and recording songs on it that I wrote trying to mimic Dave Matthew’s scat vocals. At the age of 10 I admittedly was not as good as Dave.
MEB: What is your “rock star fantasy”?
Joe: I really feel that making Mr. Carnivore and making music full time would bring a considerable amount of happiness. It is so incredibly hard to try to make the art and the business of a musician support each other. Being able to focus our whole energy into this would be a dream come true.
Pat: I totally have a fantasy of being on NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series. I have seen just about every one of them.
MEB: What is the one thing you hope people take away from listening to Mr. Carnivore?
Joe: We really hope that people are able to feel the love and dedication that goes into writing, producing, and publishing these songs. At the end of the day, we really love doing this and hope that people can feel a little bit of the same passion that we do.
Pat: Joe said that really well. I just hope it spreads some form of happiness. Making and playing music is one of the few things these days that allows me to truly disconnect from troubles and stress of everyday life. If we can allow other people to disconnect from their troubles, even if it’s only for the time it takes to listen to a song on their headphones, I will feel like we have been successful.
Stream “Knees” below via Spotify. If you like what you hear, be sure to give them a fancy ol’ “Like” over at Facebook.