Los Angeles hellions Icarus Line released their fifth studio album, Slave Vows, on July 22nd via Agitated. Joe Cardamone (frenetic frontman and owner of Valley Recording Co.) waxes about robbing banks, bloody steaks, and weeding out the pussies. The Icarus Line prepare to embark on an intense tour cycle beginning this weekend, October 13th, at The Fonda with Primal Scream. Check out their new record Slave Vows, which Pitchfork called “…feral and uncompromising…burdened, discordant blooze…every instrument is being physically wrestled and beaten into submission like rabid dogs…” Interview by Jacquelinne Cingolani
How’s Valley Recording going? ( note: Joe owns a studio in Burbank that has had many visitors ranging from Pink Mountaintops, Jay Mascis, and Annie Hardy and the Psychos (Annie Hardy from Giant Drag) Is it weird to balance the studio, touring, and making records?
Joe Cardamone: Yeah sometimes I feel like I’m robbing one or the other of attention. Sometimes it’s tough, sometimes it’s easy, but I never make money. I don’t know man, sometimes I think I should just burn this place to the fucking ground.
Haha, buyers remorse? Well, on a positive note, you released the new record Slave Vows through Agitated (UK label), are you guys getting ready to roam the European cities?
Well, it’s like nothing is gonna happen for me anywhere. Ya know? It’s like nothing is gonna happen if I just sit in London and well…you know try and make this thing happen. I’m not so career driven. It doesn’t really matter to me. I don’t really care half the time what happens. I live here. I don’t wanna go anywhere. It’s like I’ll go over there, play a show and then go home. If people buy our records and come to the shows that’d be awesome but if they don’t then I really don’t care, I’m still going to do this.
I think that’s the whole grand irony, it’s almost as if the more you don’t give a shit about it, the more it just keeps knocking. It works the direct opposite of other things which I find really funny.
Well, you have to do it for yourself ya know? If you’re not concerned with exciting yourself and reaching your own bar then you’re not doing anything. There’s just no rewards in pleasing other people when it comes to art.
Is that something that you learned?
I’ve always been like that. I mean, I’ve learned it maybe in the few instances that I’ve compromised for money or for pleasing other people and the few times I’ve ever done it I was like, “Oh, this is pointless.” But, I’ve always been under the train of thought that I really wanna fuck with people and that’s why I do this. There is one main goal here and that is to freak people out and have a good time.
Speaking of the devil, you guys played at Taix the night before The Roxy recently. That was amazing. I was telling your girlfriend Charlotte how nervous I was seeing you hop from table to table and throw lit candles off the tables like some crazed loon. We both were worried you were going to fall! How was the Roxy?
Yeah that was weird. That part of town sucks as everyone knows but we got a lot of money to play there and we really need to buy a van.
Were you not feeling it?
It was cool but a struggle. It’s like OH GOD! Everything on that part of town is a struggle. You have to overcome so much to be there…ya know? That’s just the nature of it. But, I’ve been doing this a long time and really all I want to do is be up there with those guys and enjoy the moment. Because at the end of the day if you can’t do that then you have nothing really.
But what if you aren’t feeling it?
That’s the only thing I’m in the mood for. Even if I’m not in the mood ten seconds before we play, as soon as we start playing I’m in the mood. I always pretty much feel like this could be it, I could be dead or loose my hand, or whatever horrible thing could happen. I need to enjoy it ya know. It’s like I never know if I’m going to be able to play again.
So just live in the moment?
Yeah that is the rare instance where I am liberated from worrying about the future, worrying about money, worrying about the bullshit in life. When I’m up there I don’t even remember anything that happens when I’m up there. I’m not even there, it’s awesome, it’s better than any drugs.
So no poisoning yourself before you go on stage? I know you don’t drink and you quit using hard drugs so what do you do to prepare before you play a show?
I’ve never drank. It’s never been that good of a drug for me. It doesn’t have any positive benefits. I always liked street drugs that altered me in a productive way. Drinking alcohol doesn’t make me sing better and actually it makes everyone tone deaf. You know the one thing I do to get ready when I can is eat steak.
I know! You’ve said that to me before! And super rare right?
Yeah, I always do that if I can. Something about red meat protein makes me feel like I have fuel inside. I can literally eat a steak, rob a bank, and get shot a hundred times and feel fucking great. That was the advice from the only vocal coach I have ever had. It was a coach paid for by a major label and it’s the only thing he taught me that I remember. I had a steak before the Taix show, that’s for sure.
I didn’t even know you guys were playing!
I didn’t even tell anyone.
I got a text from my old neighbor telling me my friend was playing and I had to come down. You guys blew his mind. It was cool to see someone so excited.
That’s the way it should be man. I still walk into places and hope I’m gonna see something like The Cramps.
Have you walked into anything recently that wowed you?
Swans at The Fonda blew my brains out! They were one of the best bands I have ever seen in my life. They played the same three notes on these giant chimes for twenty five minutes while they weeded out all the pussies in the room. They pummeled people for about an hour and a half. There is not a lot of stuff out there like that. It was so fucking loud when they were playing the chimes! It was like going through my fucking skull!
So then what is the problem? Solve it for me JC! Why aren’t there experiences like that happening all the time?
The problem is there are too many people in bands that have no business being in bands. It’s like if this is a hobby please keep it to yourself. They don’t need to smear their fecal, middle of the road garbage in our faces. It’s like if you are going to be in a band you better be better than you think you are.
So is that the formula?
What the hell do I know? I’m not a huge success so, what do I know about anything except annihilate everybody.
Yeah, then what is success really? I think you had it in your opening statement. You have to do it for yourself first and foremost. That always rings the most truth.
I define success as an emotional thing more than anything you can quantize in numbers.” That’s why I love the studio (Valley Recording). It allows me to open people’s minds to new music or help a band explore other parts of their sound. It’s so rewarding. That’s what I don’t understand. Why do people do this unless doing it is enough? The reward is being able to do this at all. Having the experience of moving people’s bodies with sound. It’s like that is the sacrament, that is the holiday.