Confessions of a Musical Masochist - Carson Pace Details The Callous Daoboys' Ambitious Forthcoming Full-Length Album
He’s the spastic, sarcastic, and highly charismatic lead vocalist of one of the Atlanta scene’s most important heavy acts. He’s also its primary songwriter and composer. But what’s more, Carson Pace of The Callous Daoboys is a dear friend with whom I’ve had the privilege of sharing many a stage over the years, and on whom I know I can always depend for insightful, constructive feedback regarding my own creative endeavors. To put it plainly, we go way back. And I’m rather proud of that.
It was a humid Thursday night when we met in Cumming, GA. As we sat down for drinks, the atmosphere was like that of a family reunion of sorts. It having been several months since we’d spoken, there was much to catch up on. However, after something like half an hour of trading gig stories, discussing family matters, and rambling on about new releases from our favorite bands, we got down to business, to discuss all the latest thrilling developments in the Daoboys camp.
Carson, it’s good to see you again, thanks for meeting with me.
You’re very welcome. It’s always nice to issue a canned response to an interview question.
First off, you guys just got back from Mathcore Index Fest in New York not too long ago. I kept up with the social media posts and it looked like you had a blast up there. Would you mind telling me a bit about that whole experience?
Sure. Mathcore Index Fest was really a very “niche” kind of experience that was all about taking this wildly extreme and generally just unlistenable genre and packing in two full days of it. It was really cool to have our name on a fest poster like that. It was even cooler to see some bands that I’ve admired for years, like Inside the Beehive and Car Bomb, and then to hear them say that they enjoyed my band, which was just amazing...
I think most of the merch we sold was to members of other bands. I mean, that was just kind of the vibe. Everyone was happy to be there. We loved playing. We loved attending. I think we gave a performance that we’re all really proud of - actually, there should be some footage of our set out in a few weeks - and yeah, it was just kind of crazy to say that we got to play a fest in New York. It was a great experience for all of us, and it also proved that we can survive in a car with each other for fifteen straight hours. [laughs]
How were you received? Good crowd response?
You know, we were on a little earlier on day two, but we had a pit for every song, which was cool. We weren’t super well known, so I just hope people were...digesting the music, if you will. But yeah, overall it was as good as we could ask for. They reacted like most of the crowds we play to, which was great. And I mean, I was attending something that I wanted to be at anyway, and my band just happened to get to play, too. That in and of itself made it a lot of fun.
Do you think you’ll be returning in the near future?
I would hope so.
Cool. Now let’s talk about the biggest Daoboys-related news right now – your first ever full-length. You’ve been working on it for quite some time prior to hitting the studio, correct? Developing the songs and whatnot?
Yes. I’d say that there’s probably been about a year of lead up to this - up to recording. I’ve rewritten this album more than anything else I’ve ever done. Every song has gone through its fifth or sixth iteration. And we have all, as a band, probably learned every iteration at one point or another, and I just keep rewriting it. For example, there’s one track called “Absolute Barnstormer” that I think is on its tenth version...I started working on it in July of last year, so it’s gone through a lot of changes. But its final version is something I’m really proud of. I feel like it needed it.
The thing is, this is the third full-fledged LP I’ve written for any band. This is the first, though, that’s made it to the process of actually being made. We’re too far in for it not to come out, and once it is out - once we hit release time - it will be the first full-length that I’ve ever finished, which is a really big deal for me. The anxiety that went into saying, “let’s make a full record” was tremendous. Like...I didn’t even want to say it. I just wanted to say that we’d do seven song EPs until the end of our career. That’s so much easier to envision. So to go in and say, “let’s do twelve songs” - which is double anything we’ve ever done before - that was scary, but everything that’s come out of it so far is something I’m so extremely proud of. The anxiety was needless, but every time I’ve done it previously, I’ve been burned, either by myself or by others, so I was naturally a bit on edge, and it felt right to take our time.
We were originally supposed to record in May, and I just felt that it wasn’t going to work. We needed to all feel ready, and at the time, we weren’t. And the changes that went into the songs - and the changes that were going on within the band - between May and June made a world of difference. There are different drum patterns, additional guitar parts, new basslines - Jackie’s a lot like me in that they’ll will rewrite all over the place - so it was cool to hear everything come together in its final form and feel like there’s nothing left that I can change, and that there’s no going back. Once we got to that point, we started tracking. And as we’ve been tracking, any changes we’ve made are just in-studio things - cleaning up a part, working in “happy accidents” - those mistakes that end up sounding good - stuff like that.
One thing we had discussed previously regarding the album, just in passing a while back, was a sort of concept or general theme that was developing at the time. Is the LP still headed in that sort of direction? And if there is a concept or overall idea at work, would you care to elaborate on it?
Sure. The direction follows a narrative that is sort of non-linear. The lyrics do tell a story, but you have to put it together yourself. And that’s something I’m a big fan of, particularly within the context of something like ‘Deloused In the Comatorium’ by The Mars Volta, which they didn’t elaborate on until years after the release. So naturally, I’m very protective of the “mystery” - which sounds extremely pretentious - but basically it’s a story of confusion. It’s about self-identity within a space that you previously felt comfortable. That’s what I’d say it revolves around.
There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation building around this LP. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Do you have an estimate as to when it will be done, and a general timeframe you’re aiming to release it in?
“Out never” is what we’re saying, currently. [laughs] No...this is the biggest project I’ve ever been a part of, musically or otherwise. This is the most money I’ve ever spent on a project, and making sure we get it right is what’s most important to me. For it to be to the scale that I want it to be, it can’t be rushed. It could come out in 2025 and I could spend a lot more to make it happen and I’d be happy, if that’s what it needs. You don’t want a ‘Chinese Democracy’ situation, but yeah.
With all that being said, right now, tentatively, it’s looking like the album will head to mixing in late September or early October, with a single coming out early next year, and the full record arriving sometime in March. That probably sounds like it’s a long ways off, but I’ve rushed a lot of creative projects before, just because I wanted them to be over and done with, and I’m not rushing this one, because I care so much about it.
From your first EP to your second, Animal Tetris, and then to the most recent single, “The Great Multi-Stage Rocket Robbery”, there seems, to me, to be a clear progression towards ever more complex and interesting compositions, and toward a more eclectic, blended kind of sound as well. Can fans expect that trend to continue with the forthcoming album?
Oh, absolutely. When I decided I was going to start the Daoboys, I just wanted an outlet for me to say things. Previously, I’d written for other singers. I’d never been the front person. I wanted an outlet - whether or not it stayed together, I wanted it to exist. When It started, I was ripping off other artists poorly. I was listening to other bands and saying, “yeah this is good enough. I can carbon copy this.” And it wasn’t even a carbon copy, actually, I just copied the easiest part. As time has gone on, though, the process has gotten more interesting.
I started with the lyrics on the first EP, then reversed that and did the music first with the second, and then the first thing I wrote for “Rocket” [“The Great Multi-Stage Rocket Robbery”] was the spoken word part. I was like, “I love these lyrics”, but I didn’t know where to put them. They didn’t fit on the album. So I wrote this shuffley beat, which I knew I couldn’t scream over, it had to be spoken, and went from there. In that way, I wrote “Rocket” kind of inversely - middle to ends.
When I went in with the full-length, it was like, “what part isn’t going to be metal?” which was interesting to me, because, I mean, genre-bending is something a lot of bands play with, but I don’t know how often it works, so I was like, “can I put ten seconds of a jazz part here? Can I do five seconds of something here, and a weird violin solo here?” Then I took the metal riffs I’d written and figured out what works with what.
So yes, the music’s definitely getting more polarizing and genre-bending. I think when people listen to this album, they won’t say, “that’s a metalcore record”. They’ll say, “it’s weird and loud”, and I’d much rather hear that.
Expect jazz. Lots of jazz.
Who have been your personal influences lately? Have you come across any new music (or music that’s at least new to you) that’s piqued your interest and inspired you?
My biggest influence lately has been listening to records that more or less failed...weird as that sounds. I’ve been listening to flops lately, and seeing where things went wrong. Because at this point, we’re on our third release, and looking back at what I used to do, I’m just kind of saying, “fuck that”, and seeing what I can do that’s absolutely nothing like that. The albums that I’ve been listening to a lot lately have been Radiohead’s ‘The King of Limbs’, as well as Metallica and Lou Reed’s ‘Lulu’...and ‘St. Anger’, too, oddly enough. I don’t think they’re good...but I’ve been listening to them as an act of self torture, I guess, and to see whether or not I can make something better than a much bigger band’s complete flop, and avoid their mistakes.
You’re such a masochist.
Oh, Absolutely. You know, I’ve been watching “Chasing Cameron” on Netflix. It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen, but I do find it very funny that I’m putting myself through it.
Do you and the Daoboys draw from any particular influences, as a whole, on the new album?
I think what we’re doing is taking our previous collective influences - bands like Every Time I Die, Daughters, Dillinger Escape Plan, and so on - and kind of asking ourselves what they’ve done, what they haven’t done, and what they did do that didn’t work - which goes back to the whole ‘listening to flops’ thing, I suppose. Personally, I’ve just been trying to make something that no one’s heard before - something that I’d enjoy listening to. That being said, I’ve had four or five moments where I’ll look in the mirror and just think, “I’m a complete hack”. [laughs]
You’ve been working with Corey Bautista for this LP. What’s that been like, and how has he impacted the process for you?
Corey is the unspoken seventh member of the band at the moment. He didn’t help write the music or anything like that, but Corey can kind of read my mind whenever I want something, and at this point, I’ve stopped telling him, “I’ve got this idea”, because I assume he knows it. And he does. It’s producer telepathy. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever work with another producer for the rest of my life.
Let’s talk long-term. What do you hope to accomplish after the record is out – do you have any tentative goals or plans?
Um, yes. I want to tour with Kero Kero Bonito. [pauses] That’s mostly a joke, but I mean, I still want to tour with them.
No, I mean...for one, I want people to sing the lyrics along with me. That’s one of the main goals. There’s a lot of sing-along parts, which we didn’t do on ‘Animal Tetris’. And of course, by “sing-along”, I mean shout-along.
And of course, the experience of writing an LP has been challenging for me, and for the band, too, and technical difficulties and personal difficulties have gotten in the way at times...but I think I definitely want to do it a couple more times. And I’d like to see us develop into something completely different. I’d like to make two more records that sound nothing like this one, basically - not only because I think I can do it better, but I think I can figure out the science of making full records, if there is one. I hope there is! Because that’d make it a lot easier...
I do expect us to have another release out soon after the album. Probably not in the same year, but I would like us to have a consistent release schedule.
You can also expect us to be doing a lot more little weekend tours.
What do you hope people get out of the album, and the Daoboys’ music in general? Is there a message or mission that drives you, and the band as a unit?
I think the mission of this record, at least, is to be very loud and be very comfortable to the listener. The message, overall, of the Callous Daoboys, is to be uncompromisingly bombastic, whenever you want to be.
Fantastic. Now, I’ve saved the hardest-hitting questions for last. Are you ready?
Yes I am.
What’s the best Godspeed You! Black Emperor album?
[Sighs] You know, some days I think it’s ‘Yanqui’ [‘Yanqui U.X.O.’]. Some days I think it’s ‘F# A# Infinity’, but the album that I’ll put on all the time, always is, yeah, ‘Yanqui’. Steve Albini’s production is amazing...it’s just great all around.
Is nu-metal making a comeback?
I hope not. Really the only reason I listen to nu-metal is for nostalgia. But no, we need to be advancing heavy music, not looking back. I kind of hate looking back at a riff that sounds “2001”. Writing something that hasn’t been heard is something that’s much more satisfying to me.
Does pineapple go on pizza?
Anvils go on pizza.
How do you feel about Jim Carrey being cast as Doctor Robotnik in the coming Sonic the Hedgehog movie?
I was never a Sonic fan...but I do love Jim Carrey, and he clearly needs a paycheck, so I hope he enjoys himself.
Will AI result in humanity’s enslavement, annihilation, or collective evolution?
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
Thanks Carson. I think that about sums up all my questions. Best of luck with the album. Take care, and see you soon!
Photo credit: AK Photography.