THE CONTORTIONIST’S JON CARPENTER ON BAND’S NEWFOUND SUCCESS IN METALSUCKS INTERVIEW
Indiana Sumeriancore rippers The Contortionist just released their debut full-length Exoplanet for Good Fight Entertainment (we’ve got the track “Advent” streaming here) and they’re about to head out on tour with The Acacia Strain, The Red Chord, Terror and Gaza. For a band that’s only been together for a little under two years they’re pretty far along in the game, and vocalist Jon Carpenter — who himself has only been in the band for a few months — was audibly excited about the band’s prospects when I chatted with him on the phone a couple of weeks ago. Peep our chat about how the band’s record deal came about, how he came into the fold, their new record, and naturally what he thinks of the term “Sumeriancore” after the jump.
What’s going on? Are you guys out on tour or what are you up to?
Not at the moment. We’re in-between touring right now. We just work normal jobs during the day to try and get some more gear.
You guys have actually been a band for a little while before you signed with Good Fight, and you had an EP out.
Correct, yeah. The band had released an EP back in the Fall of last year called Apparition. That was recorded at a studio here in Indianapolis called Voltaic, and it was all done by the band DIY up until this past Spring when they signed to Good Fight. I joined the band in the past couple of months.
Oh, okay. I got you. So did you join the band after they signed?
Correct. Yes. Midway through production on Exoplanet there was a lineup change. Basically from there on out, I had to rewrite things and go from there.
How did you come to be involved with the band?
Well, we had been playing shows and [there were] other forms of this band. They had been under a different name before and had a different vocalist before and a different sound as well. I had played with them and other bands that I had been in at local shows and such. I’ve just been friends with them for the past three or fouryears. Then whenever anything that’s been going on this past year . . . like on Apparition I was there for most of the recording and all of the sessions and everything. I’ve just been kind of helping them out with a lot of production stuff in the meantime. Everything just kind of fell into place as far as the lineup change. I just got lucky to be honest.
Well I’m sure that you’re pretty psyched about it being on a real record label and all. That’s a pretty cool situation to walk into.
Oh yeah. I’m stoked. Yeah, it’s been sick.
Do you know anything about what led to the lineup changes?
Um, yeah. The old vocalist had some personal issues that he had to attend to. It wasn’t anything that was a choice of the band or him (obviously). It was just something that [made him unable] to continue in the band unfortunately.
Got you. Is he a guy that you have a relationship with?
Oh yeah. Absolutely. I’ve probably known him a little bit longer than I’ve known the rest of the guys in the band, to be honest with you. I’ve been friends with him for about 4 or 5 years. We’ve played shows together a lot over the years. Dave is a good friend of mine. There’s definitely no hard feelings or anything. It definitely was a situational thing. I’ve talked to him since and everything is great.
Well we did songs from Apparition that were redone on Exoplanet. Up until I was doing anything, they were the same lyrics that were on the EP, but when I came to the situation and started writing, it just wasn’t going to make sense. It was going to be way too complicated with everything to try and do part of one writer’s material and try to mix it with another one. So we just took it from a clean slate and started writing from there. I just kind of took what I thought my vision was for the sci-fi element of the story.
Can you talk about that sci-fi element of the story a bit?
Basically all of us in the band are pretty big nerds. We really get into a lot of scientific based facts of outer space and all that. We really think that stuff is cool. That’s kind of what we think about and what we’re into. The album is an approach to describe the genesis of the human race off this planet. In the future, this is way off, it’s years from now — it’s basically a sci-fi story of what that would be like.
And so, excuse me if I wasn’t really clear on what you said before, you had a part in writing the lyrics for that or some of them were already written?
Oh, all of the lyrics on the album as it stands now are absolutely all my lyrics. I was just saying that as the album started to be produced, the older songs did still have the original lyrics. When I came in as the new vocalist, literally everything was rewritten.
That must feel good from your standpoint having participated in the recording and now getting to perform those songs live.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. It’s been great seeing it go from us sitting around writing in a room together on a laptop to seeing people in the crowd say it to you. It’s an awesome feeling for sure.
You guys in particular really seem to be a band that has gained popularity in large part through the Internet. Do you have any comments or thoughts about how that happened and what it means?
Well, it’s an interesting idea because, to be honest with you, for all these past three years, they really haven’t been that active and going around and trying to add people. Everybody that’s in communication with them online really are people who added them because they wanted to and stuff when it comes to social networking sites. Otherwise, I think it’s just been good buzz. They always had a killer live show. Dave was always a sick vocalist live, and the rest of them were always really energetic. I think there was a lot of buzz from shows as well.
Are you feeling it now going out and playing shows (I know you weren’t in the band before, but being friends with the guys and probably being at their shows) are you feeling the increase in popularity?
Hmm. Well, I would say that I’ve been only on one tour so far but judging from what I’ve always seen people enjoying them at shows, I would say yeah. Everybody’s been ecstatic about everything and they’ve been really into it. I’ve had lots of people come up to me after shows and tell me what they think of everything. It’s great to hear that. I like hearing people embrace the newer, more progressive sound and everything. I’m real excited for everybody to hear how much more progressive it’s going to get.
Oh yeah. I am beyond stoked for that tour. They’ve been one of my favorite metal bands for five or six years now. It’s surreal to be honest with you to think of me going out on tour with them. It’s great. I can’t wait.
I just realized I said “The Red Chord” which should give you a hint of where my brain is at. I think the Acacia Strain are actually headlining that one.
Oh yeah, yeah, you’re actually right. That’s going to be sick too because that band has always been sick since The Dead Walk. That’s my personal favorite of their stuff. It’s going to be fun jamming out to that every night. It’s going to be sweet.
How has your experience been so far of being a signed band? Does it feel different than it was before in any of the other bands you’ve been in?
Yeah. There’s a change of feel because on one hand there are a lot of things that you don’t have to worry about anymore that you always had to take care of before. Yet, there’s a whole new host of problems that you have to stay on top of. There are a lot of things that you have to ignore to be honest with you. I would say that I like it so far. It’s just been great to feel like I have a team of people working at the label and management to help us, and they believe in what we’re trying to make here. It feels awesome. It definitely feels great after years and years of being in local bands and such.
What do you think of the term “Sumeriancore” and do you think it applies to you guys?
[Laughs] I didn’t even know that was a real term that anybody would use in like editing and stuff on an actual publication site. I never even thought that was a real term. I don’t even know what to say except I think maybe they’re getting that from the guitar production is kind of tight and it has that in-your-face sound. My only comment would be that I just don’t see much likeness in us to any bands that happen to be on that label. Not saying that there is anything wrong with it. I like Born of Osiris, I like Veil of Maya — there are a lot of bands on that label that I do like. I just don’t see the likeness to be honest with you.
Well that’s cool. I was just wondering seeing as I guess that we, in part, invented that term. And helped with the spread of it. It sounds like you’re pretty psyched on shit in general and you’re just pumped to be in this band, having an album out that you’re about to start touring on pretty heavily.
Oh yeah. Absolutely.
Is there anything planned for after this next tour?
Well, as of right now, I’m not aware of any serious plans in the Spring or anything like that. Everybody at the Kenmore Agency is working hard and booking really awesome shows for us. I trust that the Spring will be just as sick as the Fall.