(November 11, 2007)
Q: Hey guys, how’s life been treating you?
TERRY: Life is good. We have been touring our butts of for the last 4 years or so and are now taking a little time to stay home and write some new tunes. Hopefully we’ll ht the studio sometime soon.
JORDAN: Good, I’ve been enjoying lots of time with my lovely wife Lisa and two kids with the occasional mini 2-3 day tour…
Q: First off all, can you give us a short introduction of who Carbon Leaf are?
TERRY: Carbon Leaf is a 5 (sometimes 6) piece rock band from Richmond, VA.
JORDAN: I’ll leave that one up to Terry.
Q: Last year, Carbon Leaf released Love Loss Hope Repeat, your 6th studio album. How would you describe this album?
TERRY: LLHR is a little bit poppier than our earlier albums, definitely focusing on tighter arrangements. Lyrically, it is very relationship oriented which is reflected by the title and the endless cycle of Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat.
JORDAN: This album is a good representation of us having a very limited time to write, record and release an album. It sounds great for what it is, though maybe could’ve used a little more time to develop… but then again, we say that about every album whether it takes 3 weeks or 3 years…
Q: Love Loss Hope Repeat is the 2nd album released on Vanguard Records, after Indian Summer in 2004. These two latest albums have a slightly more mainstream sound than the previous albums. Was this a deliberate choice or did the music just evolve this way?
TERRY: I think that the music just evolved that way. Indian Summer was actually finished before we signed with Vanguard and they were fairly hands-off as far as the music was concerned on LLHR. We get bored easily, so we tend to write a lot of different styles of songs. Some might be poppier or more mainstream, while some might have a more rootsy sound.
JORDAN: I think as you become a more mature musician, your music naturally becomes more mature as well. No one wants to stay at the same level of musicianship or songwriting forever. The music has to change and evolve or it becomes stagnant. The question is whether fans will enjoy your evolution or not… So, to answer your question, no, it wasn’t deliberate, that’s just the way it happened…
Q: What song off Love Loss Hope Repeat is the most fun to play live?
TERRY: My two favorites are Love Loss Hope Repeat because it has such a great groove and The War Was In Color because it has some of Barry’s most powerful lyrics. It’s hard to play that song and not picture the scenes in your head.
JORDAN: I’d say International Airport, but we never play it live, so I guess that doesn’t count. So, my second choice would be Love Loss Hope Repeat.
Q: What do you prefer, the creative process of writing, making, recording, producing an album, or bringing it out on the road for everyone to hear live?
TERRY: I like it all! I’m kind of a recording / gear nerd and I really get into the process of making CDs. That said, I’m not a terribly confident guitar player, so I do enjoy recording somebody else more than I like being recorded. Playing live is a lot more forgiving and it’s a great feeling to trade energy with an audience. Nothing really compares to the feeling of having people sing along with one of your songs.
JORDAN: I guess I’m a grass is greener kinda guy. If we’re in the studio, I can’t wait to play stuff live and on the road I can’t wait to get back in the studio and write some more.
Q: Who would you consider the biggest influences on your sound & songwriting?
TERRY: Neil Young is probably my biggest influence… others are R.E.M., AC/DC, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Jane’s Addiction, Uncle Tupelo, U2…
JORDAN: R.E.M, Guster, anything I hear on satellite radio
Q: If you could pick one band or musician in the world that you could tour with, who would you pick, and why?
TERRY: Neil Young or U2!!!! Why? They are Neil Young and U2!
JORDAN: Probably U2. I always played along to Boy, War, Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree & Rattle & Hum when I was a kid learning bass. With or Without You is the first bass line I learned. I’ve always been a big fan (minus the Pop era)…
Q: And if you could perform anywhere in the world, where would you really want to go?
TERRY: We have never been over seas… it would be amazing to tour in Europe.
JORDAN: Alaska…I love the cold! And my wife and I have always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise…
Q: Who writes most of the songs? And what is it that inspires you? Where do you get the ideas for the songs?
TERRY: Carter, Jordan and I all write music on our own and we also collaborate as a band and just jam until we come up with something. We then record the musical idea and then give it to Barry, our singer, and he writes the lyrics and vocal melodies. After Barry has something then we all get together and flush out an arrangement. At the moment he has a couple hundred unfinished tunes on his ipod…
JORDAN: We all write songs. Barry inspires us by constantly saying “Keep Writing” or “I Need More Songs”. Ideas come from everyday life…
Q: What lyric that you wrote are you particularly proud of?
TERRY: Barry has written several songs that I think have amazing lyrics: The War Was In Color, Let Your Troubles Roll By, What About Everything? and November (Makebelieve) come immediately to mind.
JORDAN: I haven’t written one yet, but when I do, I’ll get back to you...
Q: Is there a song by another band/artist that you wish you would’ve written? If so, what song, and why?
TERRY: Sugar Mountain by Neil Young is one of the best songs ever. So simple and perfect.
JORDAN: How long can this article be? Let’s see…recently Keep The Car Running by Arcade Fire, what a cool sound with an 80’s dance vibe. Others include Rains In Asia by Jump Little Children and Please Forgive Me by David Gray
Q: What is the best thing about being a musician, and what is the worst thing?
TERRY: Being a musician is my dream job. This is definitely what I have wanted to be all of my life…. I can’t imagine doing anything else at this point. The tough part is being away from home fo so long when we are on tour. Being gone for 3 months is definitely tough on a marriage!
JORDAN: Best Thing: the ability to express yourself and be creative. Worst Thing: Realizing you’ll never be as good as Jaco or Victor Wooten.
Q: If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would you change?
TERRY: hmmmm…. that’s a tough one. The industry seems to be all about who you know – it would be great to know more people!
JORDAN: The Music Industry.
Q: Okay a few random questions now.
Q: Day or night?
JORDAN: Day, I can’t go to the park with my kids at night.
Q: Club venue or arena venue?
TERRY: Never played one, but I’ll have to go with arena.
JORDAN: Right now I’ll say arena venue because I’ve only played like 2 and still want to play more.
Q: CDs or digital music?
TERRY: Higher quality digital with no DRM
JORDAN: CDs. I’m a child of the 80s and 90s…plus I’ve had too many hard drive crashes to not have a hard copy somewhere.
Q: Okay, final question. What are your thoughts on people downloading music, both legally & illegally?
TERRY: I’m all for downloading music. It’s incredible that people all over the world can listen to our music now.
JORDAN: Obviously legally downloading stuff is great…instant gratification, instant ability to play something wherever you go. Illegally I’m torn, because as an artist of course I want to be able to make a living but at the same time, in our society you have to give a sample before people will buy something. So, if someone who has bought a CD burns a copy for a friend, we stand a better chance of making a sale down the road than had the first person never burned a copy for their friend. It’s the way music is spread now…
Thank you Carbon Leaf for doing this interview. It is very much appreciated!