with Indie Rock Band, Carnival Seasons
Summer (July/August 2014) Edition
MusicSUBMIT Weekly Music Series
by Isaac Davis Junior, BGS, MBA
Photo Provided by Carnival Seasons
We had the great pleasure to speak via online to the Indie Rock Band Carnival Seasons about their highly energetic, super-charged, and aggressively crafted rock/metal sound that makes them stand apart from others in the Indie Music Scene. We were delighted to learn from members Nick Reese (Singer/Songwriter), Danathan Nguyen (Lead Guitar), Andrew Melancon (Rhythm Guitar), Daniel Kristoff (Bass, Drums, and Keys), and Alex Stoll (Drums and Bass) on how the band works perfectly together to blend all of their influences into a sound that is creating a nice buzz in the Indie Music Circuit. One of the best parts to the band’s music consists of Nick Reese’s amazingly strong Rock Voice that adds to the magnificent flavor of the band’s signature sound. Here in this in-depth spotlight, we get the 411 on exactly who are the Carnival Seasons.
Isaac: It is a pleasure to speak with you via this important online conversation. I have a chance to review your press kit, and I am must say that I am impressed, excited, and thrilled about your music. What do you think you will add to the Indie Music Genre that will set your music apart from others?
Alex: It’s funny, because our music has a little twist of so many different genres and styles. A combination of Daniel’s jazz inspired bass groove, Andrew’s aggressive metal/rock influence, Danthan’s blues style influence, Nick’s versatile vocal range, and my own take on the drums, it really becomes something different, you know?
Nick: Thank you, I am glad you liked it. Our energy and edge. We hail back to the old days of rock music and I think it really shows.
Andrew: I believe that we can give a tougher side to an indie scene, which, to me, is kind of lacking in that area.
Daniel: I think that with a lot of the bands shifting towards a more electronic sound, that being centered on more of an organic rock sound does set us apart from others.
Danathan: I think we place a focus on an older rock sound that isn’t the first thing people would think of when they hear the word “indie”. At the same time, we’ve touched upon the more pop side of things.
Isaac: What has been your inspiration for pursuing a music career?
Alex: When I watched the 2005 Green Day Live in Milton Keynes’ show, It really got me inspired to play music. It really made me want to be in a band and play for people. Tre Cool and Travis Barker are my idols! Tre for his cool fills and Travis for his smooth speed, But recently with twenty one pilots coming into the industry, their drummer inspired me to smack the heck out of my drums, really give it all I got you know?
Nick: It all really started when I was transferred to another school in my freshman year. Everyone there played instruments, and sang. It really opened up the world of music to me, and would cause me to buy my first guitar.
Andrew: Well it started when I first got into rock and roll. I thought about how much fun it would be to play up on stage in front of thousands of people. I really was inspired by the music.
Daniel: The first time I started playing music I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do I’d rather try and find a way to do what I love than do something I regret doing.
Danathan: Being able to make music with my friends and perform in front of people has been my inspiration.
Isaac: Why is music important to you?
Alex: Music is important to me, because it shows the true character I am, not as a performer, but as an actual human being. It teaches me how to express my emotions and my creativity. If I’m playing just some same old simple beat with no expression, or just standing in one place, not moving around, people aren’t going to think much of me. Music is my best way to tell and share myself with other people. What your own life was like or how personal something was to you. It helps you step out of your comfort zone and go above and beyond!
Photo Provided by Carnival Seasons
Nick: It’s important to me because it fuels the culture of our world. A song heard in England can bring out certain emotions, that same song heard in China will garner those same emotions. It’s the language of the world.
Andrew: It is inspiring. It is moving. I can’t think of any other art form that has connected people the same way music has. I can’t live without it.
Daniel: I think music is important to me because I can convey what I want to convey when words aren’t enough It has allowed me to connect more with the people who like the music I play.
Danathan: Music is important to me in many ways, but the most significant for me is that it speaks to me in a way nothing else can. Some things can only be expressed through music.
Isaac: How has the whole experience of being on stage performing for what you love to do help you grow as an artist?
Alex: It’s helped me be more confident as a both a musician and as a person.
Andrew: Well, for starters, I’m not really nervous in front of crowds anymore. The more I play, the more comfortable I am. Also, I’ve learned to not beat myself up for little things that go wrong. I guess you can say I’ve grown more relaxed.
Daniel: I try to not draw attention to them also I never stop playing and then fix it later.
Nick: It made me come out of my shell. I used to be so afraid to be myself, always thinking that people wouldn’t like me. Once I got on stage for the first time I realized that I could truly be myself, be happy.
Danathan: It’s definitely taught me how to take more control over my instrument and to have more confidence in how I play, which is something I’m always working on.
Isaac: How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Alex: Just shake it off and keep playing what you are playing, don’t let it throw off your entire performance as well as the rest of the group’s performance as well.
Andrew: Like I said, if it’s little, I’ll generally brush it off. But if it’s a recurring mistake, even if it’s miniscule, I’ll take a step back, work on my playing, and fix it. I generally don’t get nervous, but if I am, I’ll just try to relax. Let go of my surroundings, and focus on the performance.
Nick: I take them in stride. I can’t always be perfect, but I do my best to bring a certain quality to the performance. If I make a mistake, I can usually pick up on it before it happens, feel it coming almost. I just work around it.
Danathan: I just move on, keep playing, and not think about it… until after the shows over.
Isaac: Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition? If so, what do you do to overcome your fears?
Alex: I do indeed. I find it normal to become nervous before I play. If you’re too cocky and over confident, you may go out too relaxed. Being too relaxed could mean you could make a lot of mistakes. You have to be focused. In order to overcome my nerves, I escape my own reality, and just focus on what I’m playing, locking in with the others surrounding me.
Andrew: I’m not really nervous in front of crowds anymore. The more I play, the more comfortable I am.
Nick: I wouldn’t say nervous and much as I’d say excited or anxious. I am incredibly impatient when I’m excited and it only fuels my fire to perform. I can’t really remedy them, I guess sort of distract myself to pass the time. A game of Tetris or something like that.
Daniel: Yes, there are times when I get nervous but I feel that my passion for what I play and a strong drive to give the fans what they want and what I think they will enjoy overcome that nervousness.
Danathan: I do get nervous on certain levels. I don’t think I’d want to continue doing this if I didn’t have the same feeling every time before hitting the stage; it’s the thrill that makes it so much fun. Playing the first song or two usually helps me overcome that.
Isaac: Do you ever experience writer’s block when you are writing new songs? I can imagine this would be particularly annoying if you were in a collaborative situation. If you have in the past, what do you do to get over it?
Alex: You’d really have to ask Nick about that. I handle mostly the drum aspect but I do sometimes help Nick brainstorm when he gets stuck.
Andrew: That’s a question for Nick.
Daniel: Usually lyrics flow pretty naturally when I’m in the right mood.
Nick: Of course. I get it all the time, but what I usually do in that situation is just write anything. You know keep the gears turning even if it isn’t something I will actually use. I write songs every day, most of them I will never use for anything.
Danathan: I do. I like to take a break from it and come back to it later. When you leave it alone for a while, you usually return with a new mindset and ideas.
Isaac: What advice have you received from mentors about pursuing a music career?
Alex: Really get the feel and understanding of your instrument and that it’s not just an inanimate object, but your companion. Always strive to be better then you are.
Andrew: Don’t expect anything. There are no guarantees. Don’t think that someone’s gonna have to hand you a record deal or whatever just because you’ve got an album out. You’ve gotta’ put in work. It’s tough, but if you persevere, it’s worth it.
Nick: Try to learn from those who have already done it. That’s how I got an edge above many of the other musicians around here. Knowledge is power!
Daniel: The music business is probably one of the toughest businesses to get into but with enough passion hard work and a plan you will eventually find a niche for yourself in the music business.
Danathan: I’ve never received any advice about pursuing a career in music.
Isaac: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous about pursuing a music career?
Andrew: Don’t immediately try to pursue a career. Just have fun. If you and your band are good enough, see where it takes you. Bottom line is, if you’re not having fun at the start, you’re not gonna have fun in the end.
Alex: Have fun. Don’t let the negative things said by others impair you. Prove them wrong, also know that sometimes they are actually giving you that push or strive you need to show them who’s boss.
Nick: To be smart about it. Always understand every aspect possible, because if you don’t you will encounter situations that will leave you baffled, and scratching your head in confusion. Expect something and nothing at the same time. That way you will always feel surprised.
Daniel: I would tell them that if you plan on pursuing a music career you need to find people that you work well with in and out of music.
Danathan: Write good songs and hone your craft. Do what makes you happy.
Isaac: With so much diverse music currently out, do you feel that your type of music is still relevant or important in today’s music industry? What do you feel makes your music stand out for the rest?
Andrew: I’d say our music stands out because it’s diverse. We all come from different backgrounds, and it shows in our music. Well go from heavy hard rock to progressive rock to punk and then rap it all up with a soft/alternative jam.
Daniel: I think that there are certain genres of music that will always remain popular and I feel that the genre I play will always be relevant to the music industry.
Alex: Of course. I feel as if we are one of the very few bands in our area that has stayed relevant or have stuck together, no matter the problems we ran into. Many of the bands we’ve played with barely lasted 6 months, because they felt that it wasn’t working out for them anymore. No matter the issues we’ve faced, we managed to pull it off, keep doing what we love doing, and showed everyone that we won’t stop for anything. For us, our music isn’t just that same punk rock beat with the same 3 to 4 power chords. Each song is unique in its own way. Different tones. Different beats. Different rhythms. If you listen to our music you will notice that they have little to no similarity to each other.
Danathan: I think our type of music is definitely relevant. There are so many great rock bands out there. I think our music stands out from the rest because our songs don’t all have one particular sound and one song may be surprisingly different from another.
Isaac: How does music affect you and the world around you?
Andrew: Music is always around me. I’m always hearing the music amidst the dissonance of daily life. Music is my life and I can’t go without it.
Daniel: When I listen to a song, I really like I usually I can’t stop smiling for the rest of the day. Music can take your thought process anywhere depending on the type of music.
Nick: It takes me out of it when I need to, or highlights it into something better.
Danathan: Music connects everyone; it’s a universal language and that’s something important in a world of so much diversity. It’s how I’ve made many of my friends.
Alex: It can bring people together and I love that.
Isaac: Do you believe music is something that everyone should enjoy?
Andrew: Because everyone can enjoy it. Because it’s entertaining. Because it evokes different emotions. Music is a part of every culture and is a product of human creativity. Music is, well, music.
Daniel: I believe that music is something everyone should enjoy because there are different types of music for different types of people.
Nick: I think it is incredibly important, especially right now. Music is becoming so soulless, contrived, drained, and bland. We are trying to develop the sounds of old with a new take on it. People are actually saying Rock is dead, and that may be true but it’s not because people are uninterested, but because people just aren’t bringing anything to the table.
Danathan: Most definitely.
Isaac: What do you think about downloading music online?
Alex: I think bands should be happy that people are willing to give their music a shot. They just want to be able to listen to it before anyone else could get a hold of it.
Danathan: I prefer having a tangible copy of my music. I still buy CDs when I can. That being said, I’m neutral about downloading. People should be able to listen to music conveniently and whenever they want, and at the same time, musicians should be compensated for their work.
Nick: I am honestly against it for obvious reasons. People tell me “Well how will I know I like them if I can’t hear it first for free?” That’s what live shows are for! Get into the band that way. There are too many excuses for why people download.
Alex: Music is like telling a story from your life. You want to embrace it, show the world what you are made of, and the struggles you’ve been through. Some of the more popular songs on the radio today just feel slapped together and emotionless.
Andrew: Well. No matter what laws are put in place, piracy is piracy and it will always be around. Am I against downloading, No. Will it stop anytime soon? No.
Isaac: Do you find that your songs typically touch people as much as they touch you?
Daniel: I think most people enjoy the music I play but when someone feels the same way I do about the music I play I feel that’s more of a special occasion at the moment.
Alex: I find a lot of the songs touch me deeply. But I feel as if in order to be touched by the song, the audience has to feel it first. When the audience feels touched by the songs, that’s when you know you’ve done well.
Danathan: I hope they do. I’ve had people tell me that one of our songs, “Dry”, speaks to them. Whether people think one of our songs is catchy or they emotionally connect to one, it means the world to me.
Nick: I’d like to think so.
Isaac: When you are in songwriting mode, who are you thinking about when gathering your thoughts for your lyrics?
Daniel: When I’m in songwriting mode usually the lyrics flow naturally but when I find it harder to wright lyrics sometimes I think about experiences in my life.
Danathan: You’d have to ask Nick that question.
Nick: So far I love to write conjoined stories. This record we put out follows the same young man through every song. A crucial time in his life is performed for you on the album. I base him off myself, people I know, or I have met. Even with that album out of the way I find myself creating a new protagonist/antagonist for my songs, there is no doubt the next record will be a story as well.
Isaac: How prolific are you with respect to your songwriting skills? Do you believe it is a meticulous process to create your lyrics or do the lyrics flow naturally?
Danathan: Anything I do in respect to songwriting usually will come in the form of a bridge or small ideas. Again, you’d have to ask Nick that.
Alex: I pretty much focus on the drum side of things. You’d have to ask
Nick for real details.
Nick: I prefer to not have an opinion of myself. I let my bandmates decide for me regularly. If they like it, I know I am on the right path. But there are times where I go with my gut and tell them to trust me, because I’ll have something I want to come across as is. I am a mixture of both really, it could be a process or it could be right then and there. It really all depends.
Daniel: I try to let it flow naturally I don’t really have an opinion of myself as a songwriter yet.
Isaac: What skills/personal attributes are most important to being successful in this music business? How do you promote your music and shows?
Alex: Being able to bring it both in the studio and especially live. That’s where people really get to form an opinion of you. We promote mostly over the internet and word of mouth.
Nick: Like I said before. Knowledge is power. I learn everything about the music industry, because it gives me a more than significant edge over the average musician. We use Facebook and good old fashioned word of mouth.
Andrew: I think I bring sturdiness to the live shows over all sound, and good energy. But I am still learning.
Danathan: I believe success is subjective. Success for me was releasing our first album. This came from a lot of patience, hard work, and persistence and I think those things are crucial to achieving any goal. We promote by using our Facebook and personally asking people to check out and share our music and come to our shows.
Daniel: I think being business savvy, hardworking, and creative leads to success.
Isaac: If you had an opportunity to work with one of today’s hottest artists or group, who would it be and why?
Nick: I really love what Young The Giant is doing right now, their second record is honestly just as, if not more amazing than their first. I’d also like to work with The Black Keys or Jack White. They are doing some incredible things right now and to be honest I would probably listen to what they have to say, rather than actually contribute haha.
Alex: Hmmm. Probably Taking Back Sunday or Panic At The Disco. I would sure love to be involved in their energy and how much passion they put into the lyrics, songs, and instruments.
Andrew: Surprisingly, Daft Punk. They’re both very talented, and I really enjoy their music. I’d be interested to see what we can create together, and what I can learn from them.
Danathan: I’d love to work with The Black Keys. They have such a cool vibe with each of their songs and their groove is great.
Isaac: Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?
Andrew: Jimmy Page was my first guitar hero, Hetfield is my inspiration for rhythm guitar, Guthrie Govan is one of the best and one of the most versatile guitarists around, Abasi, is one of the most innovative guitarists around, and he’s a pretty nice guy (yes, I’ve met him), and Petrucci is my favorite guitarist, because I love his music.
Alex: Travis barker from Blink 182. Josh Dunn from Twenty One Pilots, Mark O’Connell, and Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday. I don’t have a favorite album in particular, I’m open to a lot and each album is unique in its own way.
Nick: Brian Setzer from The Stray Cats has always been a favorite of mine. Ah so many to choose from Jack White, Albert Hammond Jr, Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Dave Abrussee, Eddie Vedder, Julian Casablancas, I could go on forever. The Strokes, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Muse, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The White Stripes, The Shins, Smashing Pumpkins, again I could go on. I’ll keep this one my 8 favorites. Pearl Jam – Ten, Led Zeppelin – Zeppelin 2, CCR – Green River, The Killers – Hot Fuss, The Strokes – Is This It, The White Stripes – The White Stripes, AC/DC – Back In Black, and AC/DC Highway To Hell.
Danathan: Some of my favorite musicians and groups are John Mayer, Taking Back Sunday, Radiohead, Eric Clapton, and Switchfoot. A band I wish that was still around is The Academy Is… My favorite records include Continuum by John Mayer, Santi by The Academy Is…, Disraeli Gears by Cream, In Rainbows by Radiohead, The Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot, and Louder Now by Taking Back Sunday. I could really go on but those are the first that come to mind.
Isaac: Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Alex: Definitely Travis barker, Not only is he a talented musician who gives 110% in what we he does, but he is also a great father to his kids. Always picking them up from school, taking them on his tours, etc. He is a hard worker and a very humble person. He inspires me to be the best that I can be.
Andrew: Guitarists: John Petrucci, Jimmy Page, Guthrie Govan, James Hetfield, and Tosin Abasi. Groups: Dream Theater, Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Metallica, Rush. Albums: Metropolis PT. 2 Scenes From A Memory, Dark Side of the Moon, Zeppelin 2, Octavarium, Master of Puppets.
Nick: I admire Jack White because of his connection with the old blues. He keeps it alive in his music, but only a trained ear will hear it I suppose. B.B. Kind is amazing that man, is almost 90 and plays 100 shows a year! Dave Grohl is one of my all-time heroes; the guy just persevered through the fame of Nirvana and created his own just as creditable project. Eddie Vedder because of how honest he is as an artist and songwriter, I always felt a sort of kinship with the man, maybe it’s a shared love of the ocean?
Danathan: I admire John Mayer because he’s not only a great songwriter but also a very skilled guitarist. I have many other influences but to talk about them all would take a while.
Isaac: The Internet plays an integral role with artists getting their music out to the masses. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?
Alex: We use our Facebook page as our website mostly.
Nick: We use our Facebook page as our home base I guess you could say.
They will find all things Carnival Seasons there Music, Photos, Merchandise, Videos, Etc.
Andrew: Facebook, word of mouth. Skills: luck.
Danathan: We don’t have a website yet, but you can find us on Facebook.
Isaac: At the end of the day, are you happy with where you are at professionally?
Alex: I am truly happy as of before and now. Could never be happier knowing that everything is slowly graduating and increasing. I see many good things happening in future. No doubt.
Daniel: Not yet.
Andrew: Not yet.
Nick: Not really there is far too much to be done for me to be happy just yet.
Danathan: I am. However, I’d love to have more people hear our music.
Isaac: Who would you like to dedicate this interview to and why?
Alex: Definitely to my mom and the rest of the band. Without all of them, I wouldn’t be pushing myself to do what I love doing to this day, stepping out of my comfort zone and having so much more confidence than I’ve ever had in my whole 21 years.
Nick: I’d like to dedicate this interview to everyone who has supported us throughout our 3 year life as a band. My appreciation for them is unparalleled.
Andrew: To anyone who ever doubted me.
Danathan: I dedicate this interview to my friends, especially the ones that have listened to our music or have come out to shows. They’re the people that make it seem worth it at the end of the day.
Daniel: I dedicate this interview to all of my loved ones.
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