Joe Cardamone (Icarus Line) – The Collapse Board Interview
My other mentor, Mike Mussmano from New York, who produced the previous two records came out and helped me set up the studio. He gave me shove in the right direction. I don’t have any formal training, anything at all. A lot of this record was trial and experimentation as far as trying to make something that sounds like an Icarus Line record. I had big shoes to fill because the other records were mixed by Dave Sardy, Alan Moulder — really famous rock’n’roll engineers and mixers. I was definitely intimidated by the prospect of “OK, I have to figure out how to do this and make it stack up to our other records and that I have to learn how all this shit works now and record a record, write it and do it all myself right now”. It was pretty daunting going into this one. After a lot of blood, sweat and tears though I feel I now know what I’m doing and I feel better because of it but, I don’t want to record myself anymore though [laughs].
Did you find that while recording you’d made mistakes that you ended up leaving in there because they ended up being awesome?
All the time! Like at the beginning of ‘We Want More’ I plugged something in wrong and all of a sudden my ears were bleeding and I’m like, “I’m going to hit record!” So I recorded it. Almost every turn turned into either a terrible mistake where I was like “Oh god what did I do?” or a happy accident I’d use. The record has a wealth of spontaneous moments of me either learning something or unlearning something, it’s pretty crazy like that. A lot of the record is me reaching out in the dark basically.
It’s nice to teach yourself things though because you don’t have a base to work from, someone else’s structure, you find your own way.
You just have to develop your own structure.
That makes it unique.
I think that’s true. The only blueprint that I had were other records, records I loved that I’d listen to and trying to find a way like … how did Sly Stone make There’s A Riot Goin’ On sound like that? I’d try to do it my own way; it would end up sounding nothing like that but feels like it.
The feeling of things to me is one of the most important things; music evokes emotions and ideas in people and moves them.
Totally! To move yourself more importantly.
What were the albums you were referencing while mixing?
There were a couple that were on my desk to check mixes ’cause sometimes it’s good to do that. Definitely the Angels Of Light record We Are Him. I was referencing against those mixes because sonically it wasn’t far from where we were and I felt it was a good contemporary sounding record. Roxy Music’s Manifesto was another one in the studio at that time or David Bowie’s Low.
Ariel Pink and Annie guest on the record?
That’s true. Ariel came by and I played him a piece of a song I was working on and he said ‘I have an idea, set up a mic’ and I recorded him real quick. He made some noises, went home and it stayed on the record. As far as Annie goes she’s been around for years and we’ve been tight for a long time, she’s always involved in things I do. She’s a major sounding board for me. I often bounce my work off her brain and she’ll tell me what she thinks. She’s usually pretty honest about it while being supportive of it. She’s always very close to what the band is doing. She’s definitely candid about how she feels.
Is there anything you learn from working so close with her?
Yeah definitely, she’s probably one of the most natural born songwriters I’ve ever met. She doesn’t have to try or anything to write a song, they just come out of her. She just picks up a guitar and can write a song in seconds and it will be a good one — not even some bullshit. She’ll write something amazing right there on the spot. She’s definitely influenced me in the sense of simplifying things and maybe condensing them down to the point a little bit more. The whole innocence of her songwriting is something that I have always been in awe of. She’s influenced me quite a bit.
I like how her songs have a lot of space but then they have a full sound at the same time if that makes sense?
Yeah it does, it really does. Her new record is crazy. It’s beautiful.
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I believe in thoughtful in-depth interviews! My blog Conversations with Bianca is my love letter to the universe. I am the 2011 Australian Zine Maker of the Year. My Conversations With Punx Project won an award for Best Zine Produced in Australia (as a series). Marky Ramone once told me “Your heart is in the right place.”