The Icarus Line
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June 18, 2017

Interview with Joe Cardamone

JC Holy War

JC Holy War

With The Icarus Line now effectively over, and with Joe Cardamone having since charted out new musical territory with his “Holy War” project, I spoke to the former frontman when he toured London (UK) in March about the dissolution of his band and what he hopes to achieve. Enjoy!

Joe, you’ve embarked on a solo career and released a press statement a few weeks ago via Drowned In Sound. Can you just elaborate on the status of The Icarus Line?

There’s not much to say. It’s over.

Finished?

Yeah, that’s the end.

When would you say The Icarus Line officially disbanded?

I don’t know. There wasn’t an official day. It kind of just dissolved after the last show we played.

Which was?

At the House of Blues. I don’t know the day.

Scott Weiland?

Yeah.

So that was like 2015?

Yeah.

He should’ve made it to 2016. That’s when all the Greats died…

Yeah, I know. Oh well.

Can you elaborate on what caused the dissolution of the band?

I would only really say that during the making of All Things Under Heaven, I kind of knew that was going to be the last record anyway. It felt like it was the final statement of that project. So even though I didn’t really know it all the way, it became painfully clear once we started trying to perform the material and stuff like that. I knew it was going to be over.

Is that partly because of Alvin’s health issues?

Yeah, that played a major role in it. Doing it without him just didn’t seem the right way for it. And doing it at all… it was a convergence of circumstances, basically. So that’s what led to the decision to kind of move on from doing that. It was done.

All Things Under Heaven was kind of the zenith of like… the intent of the project. I think that’s really why it was over. I knew that that was the most distilled realization of what it was going to be. There was no reason to keep doing it. It wouldn’t have been vital.

ATUH

Do you think maybe the pressure of trying to live up to that record maybe somehow caused…

No, no. You know, when you’re out of gas, you stop the car. That’s all it really was. It was like there is nothing left to say. That band had said what it needed to say. And that record was the end of being a young adult. That was it.

How do you think Ben Hallet, Kyle Spider, and John Bennett took the news?

John wasn’t in the band anymore, neither was Kyle. It was a bunch of fucking new guys, so… Ben didn’t… he wasn’t… We were all kind of let down that it wasn’t going to continue, but we all knew it had to stop. So we all had mixed emotions. Let’s put it that way.

What about Lance Arnao? I know he came back, and as far as I was concerned, that was almost like early-era The Icarus Line kind of like “reforming”…

Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure, it was. Yeah, he was in the group for a little while.

I know he let you down, so…

Yeah, it didn’t work out. I don’t have any hard feelings or anything. It didn’t work out. And then the band didn’t work out soon thereafter. So it’s all good.

What prompted the decision for you to go solo? What epiphany phase did you go through where…?

The band broke up… or I broke the band up. I mean I didn’t tell anyone. We just stopped doing it. It wasn’t really even… No one had a conversation about it. It was just “I’m not going to call you and remind you for practice”. You know what I mean? That kind of thing. But in my mind, I knew it was over, right? So at that point, when I knew it was over, I just looked at what I wanted to do with my life. 2016 was a big year. A lot of my heroes left Earth.

Scott Weiland…

Not Scott.

No?

No.

We can talk about that later…

Yeah, he’s not really on the list, but Bowie and Prince were two big ones for me. And losing them felt like I know that they are not going to be replaced. So I put it upon myself to kind of… I’m not trying to replace either of those guys – obviously, that’s not ever going to happen – but to do something that they’d be proud of, so something like that.

Now that you’ve gone solo… As part of the “Holy War” project which you’ve embarked on, and which you’ve announced via Drowned In Sound, you’ve announced that you’ve worked with a couple of notable individuals… Annie Hardy being one of them. I know that you’ve worked on various side projects and stuff – like with Don Devore on Souls She Said. Do you think you’ll ever maybe consider the possibility of working with ex-members in future?

Yeah, I’m not against anything. I see Alvin all the time. We work on stuff at the studio.

How is he anyway?

He’s alright. He’s feeling better.

His cancer’s receded?

I think so. I think he’s going to be okay. Yeah, I see Alvin. We work on music. He has some project with a friend and we work on that. What I’m doing now isn’t really about divorcing myself from anybody specifically or anything like that. It’s just about doing something economical that I can control. Something I want to do more than anything. Doing the music that I want to do. So that’s why I’m doing it.

I guess your decision was borne out of Prince’s and David Bowie’s death?

Yeah, in some respects. Maybe it just kind of like coalesced around that time. Maybe it just kind of… I think it’s a convergence of circumstances. Their deaths had an impact on me.

Going forward… you’ve labeled the entire project “Holy War”. What does that signify?

It’s basically a collection of songs that I made over the last 12 months. In our collection or clothing collection or something like that, it’s not an album because it’s more than an album. So it’s the Holy War collection. It’s a collection of songs, films, whatever…

Does that include merchandise like T-shirts?

I’ve got a couple of T-shirts. Yeah… But I made them with spray paint. Motörhead shirts were spray-painted.

Okay. Lemmy died as well…

Yeah, exactly.

Given that now you’ve gone solo, how do you think your solo activities differ from you being in a band? What’s the major shift in terms of how you work and how you operate?

I’m traveling alone. There’s no live music. So those are probably the two biggest shifts. I don’t really have to deal with anybody’s personalities. So that’s probably the biggest shift, I would say. Whatever I’m doing, I’m solely responsible for the outcome.

In what way do you think your solo album is going to differ from your previous band’s output? You’ve talked about songs and movies. Do you think you’ll be more of an auteur going forward?

Oh, yeah, for sure. It already has been.

Joe Cardamone presents Holy War from joe cardamone on Vimeo.

The first film was directed by you, wasn’t it?

Yeah.

Was it written by you as well?

Yeah. It’s a chance to not compromise. With the group, you always compromise. Sometimes it’s for better, sometimes for worst. This is a chance to have an uncompromised vision.

Does that mean that maybe you’ll probably go down the same route as your father (Pat Cardamone) by which you might decide to uphold your dad’s DNA by maybe having more of a focus on film-making?

Yeah, that’s all happening right now. I’m probably just as interested in film-making as I am in music at this point. Hopefully, when I get home, we can start directing the next film. I mean it’s not mainstream. It’s more like a Kenneth Anger fucking art film right now. But there are some ideas for full-length films. We made a movie called The Icarus Line Must Die.

The Icarus Line Must Die is the movie project where you were working with Michael Grodner. Can you tell me as to what the status of that movie is?

Not really. I don’t really know because I don’t really handle the business on it. So they’re in charge of it. They’re the ones that are trying to find distribution, whatever the fuck. I’m just kicking back on that one.

I know he is associated with Dirty Laundry. What was the reason for working with Michael Grodner specifically, as opposed to any of the other talented filmmakers out there that may have approached you for the project?

It was his idea. It wasn’t my idea really. He asked me a few times, “Would you want to do a movie based on your life?” And I was like, “Uh…” And then finally, I told him, “If I can score it, then I’ll do it.” That’s kind of how he sold me on it.

Coming in 2017 apparently...

Coming in 2017 apparently…

With your film-making endeavor, it’s almost like you’re writing, directing and scoring. I see you going down that road…

For me, it feels natural to make it a complete product instead of delegating too much out. But who knows? That might change.

The Icarus Line Must Die is obviously Michael Grodner’s pet project. But do you know as to what the aim of that movie is?

I think it’s kind of like a very… It’s really just a slice of life more than anything. That’s really what the deal is with that. It’s kind of a look into whatever someone goes through to kind of survive on a daily basis as an artist today. So that’s really all it is. It doesn’t really challenge anything besides that. That’s the idea.

Okay. Going back to Scott Weiland… I know that Alvin’s illness was one of the reasons as to why The Icarus Line left the Scott Weiland tour. Can you tell me as to how Scott Weiland was with you guys? Was he always…

I didn’t have much interaction with him honestly. I talked to him once. I didn’t really… He was on his own trip. I didn’t really try to… We were really on it for like five shows or something. I kept to myself.

In your press release, you talk about how you were dismayed… And you’ve stated your opinions about this on loads of occasions about the state of the music industry. About how the whole download culture has ruined the ability for musicians to make a living. But you also talked about how the rock audience and community came to anticipate performance failures as well as successes. Do you think that’s how people came to perceive Scott Weiland, together with how how Alvin DeGuzman was faring? Was what contributed towards your…?

Yeah, it was a perfect tornado of just like, “I don’t want to do this.” That’s it. It was just like “I don’t really want to”… It wasn’t the right place anymore. It was an almost instinctual reaction, to be honest.

You’ve carved out a bit of a name for yourself as a producer now. You’ve worked with the band Queen Kwong which is associated with Limp Bizkit’s Wes Borland. What was it like producing their album with Wes Borland – especially given yours, The Icarus Line’s and Buddyhead’s previous history with Limp Bizkit and where you guys were always popping shots at them for what they stood for in terms of them representing the musical establishment? How did that come about?

I haven’t really worked with Wes Borland. That’s the thing. His wife is my ex girlfriend.

Is that her band?

Yeah.

Oh, I’m so sorry.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Are they married?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve worked with her on music, but he doesn’t play on the records. Yeah, I play on the records. Maybe he plays on the new one a little bit; I don’t know. But honestly, we’ve never worked in the studio together. He is in her band live. So it’s kind of like an indirect working relationship, I guess. But he seems like a nice guy.

So he hasn’t said anything about both bands’ past?

I don’t think he gives a shit.

Okay… The Icarus Line started out in 1998. I assume Kanker Sores started in 1996 or something. So you’ve have been in the industry for at least 20 years. How do you think you’ve evolved as a musician over the period?

Just the same as anyone evolves as a human. You grow like a fucking… you know. That’s a lot of time, man. That’s a long period. So life changes you. I’ve just gotten better. That’s all I know.

What would you say have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the time?

To just kind of trust my instincts. That’s probably the biggest one.

When we younger, we’re often idealists. And The Icarus Line certainly espoused those values when the band was first starting out as you waged a relentless war against the establishment at the time as well as what you deemed to be boring bands – like Limp Bizkit and The Strokes. What do you think the band stood for in 1998 when the band started, and how do you think the band has evolved since? What do you think the band stood for by the end when the band dissolved in 2015? How do you think the band changed over the period?

I think the band was pretty much a blind, fucking… like a blind fit of young thugs with no hope at the beginning. But we were fucking East-Side shithead kids that loved punk rock and wanted to burn everything. And I don’t think it’s much different. Maybe it was channeled into some kind of spiritual warfare there at the end. It’s the same sentiment but channeled into a different shape.

During your entire time in The Icarus Line, what were the band’s biggest achievements and proudest moments? How would you like The Icarus Line to be remembered?

I don’t even fucking care how the band is remembered, honestly. That’s not for me to say. What difference does it make what I think? We’ll see. You put out a record and then it’s not yours anymore. So that’s how I feel about the whole thing. I said what I said. The rest is for everybody else to chew on.

We’ll ask this question again in 30 years…

Exactly.

As a solo artist, what are your goals now? Going forward, what do you want to achieve?

I don’t really have goals besides to make the truest sort of art that I can at this moment. I don’t think my goals are much different besides the fact that this is kind of allowing for some sort of a wider collaboration because I’m not really tied into a gang mentality on this. I’m by myself. So I guess one goal is to be able to collaborate with different artists and experience new things and go to new places because I’m all by myself, so I can travel easily.

Who would you like to most work with going forward?

I don’t know… Gucci Mane.

Last question. For all the people out there that have followed you since the very beginning, now that you’ve forged a solo career, what can they expect from the new material?

For the new shit?

Yeah.

I don’t really know. I would say it’s related to everything I’ve done. So I don’t think anyone is going to be completely shocked, but it’s definitely an evolution in the new direction.

I think that’s it.

Cheers.

Note: Since this interview was conducted, Alvin Deguzman’s cancer has returned with a vengeance. You can find out more about his situation, as well assist in his fight with the disease, by going to his GoFundMe page.



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