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October 9, 2009

Interview with The Icarus Line 2008 – Part 1

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Here is the first part of my exclusive interview with Jason, Joe and Wade from The Icarus Line when the band came over to London in 2008.  Check back soon for the second part to that interview.

Before their recent “secret” show at Old Blue Last in London, I was lucky enough to catch up with The Icarus Line for what transpired to be a meeting with a few individuals who are often misunderstood and misrepresented in the mainstream media. Here is what took place:

Hi, this is Az with Joe (Cardamone) from The Icarus Line.

Joe: Hello

How’s the tour going?

Joe: Tour’s going pretty good. We started off in Scandinavia. Stockholm was the best by far and last night was great in London.

Yeah, I saw you guys. It was almost like, you know when you’re at that stage in your life when you have something to prove. And it felt like that. It’s almost like you guys, with all the shit that’s going on in the background, it felt like you guys were all guns blazing, and more intense than usual.

Joe: Yeah, it didn’t feel any different to me. Except for that it was a really good crowd, and there were a lot of people and everyone seemed to enjoy it. And the good part was that we played a lot of new songs and there was a really good reaction to the new material. So…

How come the set was so short yesterday?

Joe: Um well, Wade was playing drums.

Yeah, how’s that going? I mean…

Joe: He only started playing drums with us three days before we left.

How’s he fitting in?

Joe: He’s fine man, he’s a really good person. So, he’s fitting in good.

Ok.

Joe: He’s easy to be with. And he plays hard. Harder than anyone I’ve ever played with.

Yeah I noticed that. He was really pounding the drums

Joe: He’s the hardest hitting drummer I’ve ever played with, and I’ve played with some hard hitting drummers. He’s pretty crazy. He’s pretty intense.

So where are you off to after tonight?

Joe: After tonight, we have a day off then we go home.

At this point, Jason Decorse enters the fray and is ecstatic to see everyone.

Los Angeles?

Joe: Yep.

See, that’s the thing. I was speaking about this to one of my friends where I work, because we had the hottest day of the year which was 28C in London about three weeks ago. I remember sauntering down Oxford Street and going “if this is Los Angeles every single day, every day, I’m a fan”. Because it’s just…

Joe: It gets hot.

Yeah, I wanted to go to New York a couple of years ago, partly because of the whole music scene. Moby’s from there as well as the whole New York hardcore scene. But as soon as I found out their winters are ten times worse than what we experience over here, I just thought “forget that”.

Joe: Yeah.

Jason: That’s why everyone wants to move to California. It’s all about the weather.

So what are your plans for when you get back to Los Angeles?

Joe: We’re going to make a new record immediately. That’s the first order of business.

And what about your plans for the DVD, how is that coming along?

Joe: The DVD has been done for a long time. We just haven’t released it because we’re still setting up the record label and we’re going to release it ourselves. So, the DVD’s been done. I have a copy, in the van actually. We just haven’t put it out yet.

Tell me more about your record label venture? How did you go about setting that up?

Joe: Well there’s nothing really to say except for it’s me and Annie (from Giant Drag) have gotten together to make a record label. “Smash Hit”.

Oh nice, we had a magazine called Smash Hits.

Joe: Nice. This is “Smash HIT”. Only one hit at a time.

Yeah, and Dave Sardey. Ultra-mega-producer Dave Sardey has done Jet, Oasis, Primal Scream, Marilyn Manson… He’s also a partner of the label. The three of us have gotten together to make a label so that all things Icarus Line and Giant Drag, side-projects, our friends, would have an avenue to put out music.

You got to hear some new songs last night…

I thought they were good. They were definitely… different.  I know that nobody likes change. And I remember reading this quote a couple of years ago that said if you ever want to instigate change you first of all have to be prepared to waste your time, because nobody is prepared to accept that. And secondly, you are looking for trouble.

Joe: Yeah

So from a marketing point of view, if you are always shifting your colours, how do you guys market yourself or get the word out?

Joe: I think there has been a common thread throughout all the records. I mean, you probably noticed the themes are similar. And my voice doesn’t really change too much throughout the records.

Travis (Keller) said something about that.

Joe: Yeah, my voice is pretty much the same throughout all the records.

And for the record, I’ve heard your voice live.  You doesn’t use Pro-Tools.

Joe: No, I don’t use Pro-Tools live. Actually, we recorded the whole last record on tape. So there were no computers involved on Black Lives. Everything was recorded on tape. It was our last major label record.

Was that with Dim Mak?

Joe: Well, it was with Dim Mak and V2.

How’s that panned out because I know that you’ve just said that you’ve set up your own record label, but how did that thing with Dim Mak pan out?

Joe: Dim Mak?!!? Dude, I’ve known Steve since he went to school in Santa Barbara. The Icarus Line used to play shows in his living room when we were young kids. So I’ve known him forever. Basically, we found ourselves without a label. His label was doing well and I was like “hey”.

There are quite a few NME orientated bands that are affiliated with the label.

Joe: Yeah, it’s a… trendy label. So why not put out a record with him?!!? It doesn’t change who we are. And he has finances, and he’s super-cool. He lets us do whatever we want, which was the main selling point. It’s like, he didn’t tell us to do anything.

What about V2? Did they also let you do what you wanted?

Joe: Oh yeah, definitely. We’ve never been in a situation where we couldn’t do what we want. Of course with V2, since there was more money involved, they would try to “persuade” us to do certain things – like when we toured with The Distillers. That wasn’t like, our idea.

How did that go? Wasn’t that the same time when she (Brody Dalle) was going off with Josh Homme and leaving Tim Armstrong?

Joe: It was.

How did that affect her or affect the band?

Joe: I don’t know. I barely talked to her at all. We had the tour relationship like “hi”, “bye”, “how’re you doing”?

It’s not my kind of music or anything. We did it for the record label. So that’s an example of a compromise we made, but those are small compromises. Creatively, we’ve never had to do it. Which is cool.

And now that you’re setting up your own record label, where do you see that, or how do you see your own DIY approach in terms of not only enabling you to…

Joe: Well the thing is, I’m not going to be releasing any on mine because there is an infrastructure. The distribution is through ADA which is a major label distribution in the United States, and then there is a company called Rocket Science who, it’s an ex-A&R guy from Geffen that started his company to become an infrastructure that basically has press, marketing, all these things “retail”, internet. All these sort of things in one company, and they run record labels for people – like Downtown that puts out Gnarls Barkley – they did that record. All we have to do is be creative. Send them art, those sorts of things and they handle the rest of it.

But the whole thing about how you are associated, and will have dealings in the future with people who have major distribution networks. How do you think that will impact on you, not only in terms of your punk-rock ethos, but also in terms of how people perceive you? For example Maximum Rock N Roll the magazine…

Joe: I don’t think Maximum Rock N Roll has been valid for ages. I don’t really care about any of that sort of who’s not boss stuff really. You know, whatever. We’ve never been into that shit.

Have they ever talked about you?

Joe: Maximum Rock N Roll? No, but they talked about my old band, Kanker Sores.

Oh, how did that go?

Joe: They gave us a good review.

There’s so little information on the net, or just through anything about Kanker Sores.

Joe: Well, it was just a high school punk band. We played, and sound like Operation Ivy or something. First wave ska and like, LA punk like The Germs and Black Flag.

I’ve got to admit, I only bought the “Damaged” album by Black Flag and I never liked it.

Joe: You should check out “My War” or “Slip It In”.

Is that Henry Rollins?

Joe: Yeah, and I don’t like Henry Rollins but they’re heavier and their guitar shit is better.

Wade: My War.

Joe: Yeah. My War. It’s cool guitar shit.

Even though your influences before were Operation Ivy, or more from say…

Joe: Yeah, when we were fourteen.

What would you say your influences are now?

Joe: A lot of black music. Anything from Sly Stallone to the most obscure thing that like, we’ve never even heard of. We’ve been listening to a lot of black compilations from the South of like, you know , bathtub funk records. Shit that people cooked up in their garage, they made one record and then broke up. Besides that, The Faces we’ve been listening to at my house. Todd Rundgren – he’s like the original glam. He’s a big influence on the new Angels of Light record. Angels of Light is what we’re listening to.

So how do you find out about his kind of music?

Joe: I don’t know. My girlfriend showed me The Angels of Light. Just, however you find out about anything?

For me, it used to be Kerrang. But they’re not very good any more.

Joe: It’s all garbage dude.

Wade: What do you like?

Me? Um, I’m listening to a band right now called Zico Chain. Them, as well as a band called Leya. I bought The Drips for £1. I haven’t heard it yet.
Wade: The new Icarus Line album is going to fucking rule!!!



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