Turn it Up Loud: An Interview with Joe Cardamone from The Icarus Line

Rock music has often been described as the love child of the blues and country music. Some people like labels, or rather, they like the safety that putting labels on something allows them to feel. When you can compartmentalize various musical genres, it gives you a sense of belonging. We've all been there: identified ourselves as rockers, metalheads, grunge, glam rockers...the list goes on and on. My first listen to "Slave Vows", the 5th full length album from post-hardcore Los Angeles band The Icarus Line left me feeling confused - in a good way. I was forced to step away from the labels I've been so used to organizing my playlists by. I heard the blues. I heard punk. I heard hard rock. I heard unique sounds that I hadn't heard in any other place. And these are all good things. I had the opportunity to interview Joe Cardamone, one of the founding members of The Icarus Line, about the album as well as the current rock music scene. Here's what he had to say.
 
Photo By Ward Robinson
 
Playing With Chaos (PWC): Your band has been around since 1998 but has experienced various line-up changes. How does the current line-up approach the songwriting/recording  process?
 
Joe Cardamone (JC):  I think one thing band leaders often overlook when writing is writing towards their players specific strengths.  Hopefully that notion has often informed The Icarus Line's records. The members of our gang are very talented people in very specific ways. Playing up to the individual just seems like a good idea to help the entire frame have thrust. So every time we get into a writing phase I am strongly influenced by the energies of the people around me. If I wasn't I wouldn't want them there. I don't really relate to just finding "good" players to play parts that have been written for them. For me, It has to be much more than that.
 
 
PWC: Listening to “Slave Vows”, the track “Dark Circles” is primarily instrumental until it gets to the last third of the song, and it differs from the rest of the album in that regard. How did this song come about?
 
JC: There's really only two parts to this track and if I remember correctly they were written unattached initially. It's just one of those things when all the parts that are going to make a record are floating out in front of you and then one day you see them snap together. Why those two parts were fused I couldn't tell you. One day it just was the right thing to do. After that it stuck.
 
PWC: Your song “Marathon Man” has a distinctive blues sound. What bands/artists influenced you as you became a musician?
 
JC: Yes it is a blues tune. I guess to me it may relate back to those Howling Wolf or Muddy records that they did near the end of the 60's with a psyche band backing them up. I think might have been Marshal Chess's idea to make them sound current and sell to youngsters at the time. The donkey schlong rhythm with guitars that rip your eyes out sound relevant to me even today. So when you wanna talk to people sometimes you have to preach the blues. 
 
 
PWC: Your latest offering “Slave Vows” has some pretty unique guitar sounds. What kind of studio/live rigs does the band use to achieve their sounds? 
 
JC: My rig for recording Slave Vows was this: Gretsch CVT / Eastwood Coronado > Maestro Mu Tron > Colorsound Overdrive > Some kind of Fuzz(too many custom fuzzes to name) > WAH > Zvex Trem > Dan Electro Spring King > Tweed Bassman (modded out)
 
Really It would have sounded like that through almost anything though. Its more about the way you play the gear than the actual gear but having things you like laying around doesn't hurt the feeling. We all have very modest gear that may be tweaked slightly to fit what we are going after. Almost nothing is exactly stock or used for its intended purpose. 
 
Photo by Ward Robinson
PWC: What are your plans in terms of touring in the upcoming months?
 
JC: We are doing some local shows here in LA until October. October / November is a tour of the west coast and then the UK and Europe after that. Then we will probably come back here and do the entire country and back again. The plan as it stands now is to tour until the wheels fall off.
 
 
PWC: What do you think of the current state of rock music in North America? 
 
JC: Well that's a big question. Now that we're back at it things are a whole lot better. Is that what I'm supposed to say?  Look I don't even know what is rock these days? Is it the Foo Fighters? Is it Wolf Eyes? Is it OFF!?!? Is it Kanye West? Is it Deafheaven? Is it The Icarus LIne?  There are so many sub genres that if you subscribe to them then you are almost guaranteed a job. It's like if you have the modern hipster hesher look and only think a certain sound defines you and the 300 other bands that sound and look like you then that's rock to you or metal or whatever. There's nothing wrong with genre music cliques I guess; it just doesn't seem so bold to me. Safety in numbers I suppose. What did Frank Black say? I don't conform, I wear a different uniform. It seems like there is a grip of sub packs that rule the indie rock scene and by that I just mean everything not signed to a major label. You don't even want to hear me talk about mainstream rock music 'cause its pointless and mean.  What if some emo band reads this? Mainstream rock is the worst it has ever been in history flat out.
 
 
PWC: If you had to describe your music to someone who has never heard it before, what would you tell them?
 
JC: You probably won't like it but turn it up really loud and see how long you last
 
The Icarus Line's new LP Slave Vows is now available on iTunes. If you want something new and edgy to help you break out of your "categorized" rock playlists, grab yourself a copy. In the words of Cardamone himself, "see how long you last". I'm guessing you just might like where the music takes you. Check out the bands' Facebook page for upcoming shows and make sure to give them a "like".