Sometimes life gets in the way of making art — even when that life is making art. Just ask the members of Carrollhood.
By our count, the Tampa-based trio has released eight songs in five years, and while it’s been a joy to hear vocoders, darker production and an increasing interest in electronics get folded into the anthemic, almost radio-friendly indie rock the Tampa band made on a debut 2012 EP Afraid, outsiders might think that a pair of EPs (Carrollhood released Violence, another three-song effort, in 2013) just isn’t enough output to stay invested.
Yes, that’s Grammy-nominated outfit Underoath, Winter Haven band gone global Anberlin and the Say Anything led by pop-songwriting genius Max Bemis. There’s not a lot of the post-hardcore, alt-rock or punk sound of those bands in Carrollhood’s music, but Underoath guitarist Tim McTague plus drummers Nathan Young (Anberlin) and Reed Murray (who just ended a four-year run with Say Anything in September) — all longtime friends and Tampa lifers — get to explore different musical ideas at their own pace.
Add that to the fact that Young and McTague have been busy with Tampa roaster King State coffee, and what you have are some pretty valid excuses for being slow with the output.
The boys have never been able to spend too much time in front of each other, but passing files online seems to have worked, and it’s the order of the day on a forthcoming release engineered and produced at Seminole Heights’ Feral Sound studios.
“ I don’t think that we were in the studio together more than once or twice the whole time we were writing and recording,” McTague told CL in a message. “Owning our own studio helps a ton so we can constantly work in random bursts and pockets and aren’t on a time crunch. I think in the end there might be a better way to do it, but this is the only way we know how.”
Grammy-nominated engineer Chad Howat is mixing the effort, which includes songs like “Stranger” and “Leader.” The cuts have 808s spliced in, and are prime examples of the trio’s willingness to explore sounds that don’t necessarily fit into the U/O, Anberlin or Say Anything wheelhouse.
“We all listen to so many different elements that I think the band really feels almost genre agnostic at times,” McTague said. “We pull from so much and there aren’t any rules. Whatever we are feeling that day is what we chase.”
Seeing the band live has felt like a chase, too, and Carrollhood’s February 2016, sold-out live debut at New World Brewery’s now-shuttered Ybor location was the last time they appeared.
That changes on January 12 when Carrollhood plays Crowbar in Ybor City. Joining the band will be CL favorites Brother Cephus, Loose Talk (featuring members of Anberlin) and The Lulls in Traffic (which features Copeland’s Aaron Marsh).
BEST LOCAL ALBUMS OF 2017
Brother Cephus' Not That Important is a modern snapshot of being young, confused and American
Featuring Florida bands was paramount to Young, McTague and Reed, who’ve all decided to stay in Florida instead of jumping ship for other cities.
“Tampa is home and the driving force of Carrollhood is to be part of a stronger community in our music scene,” Murray said. “Lulls, Loose Talk, and Brother Cephus consist of so many people we all know, love, and respect. I consider it a privilege to be a part of this scene in Tampa and I want to do whatever we can to help it grow.”
BOYS IN THE HOOD
A Q&A with Carrollhood
“We think TPA is underrated on so many levels and we aren’t moving to some random ‘hip’ city where the culture is baked in,” McTague added. “Before Portland or Philly or Seattle were those places they were just cities. Then a group of creative dreamers made it special. We want to play a part in the birth of TPA becoming among those and we aren’t leaving until we get there.”
Read our full Q&A with Carrollhood here, and get more information on the show via local.cltampa.com.