New York tech metallers Car Bomb have been tearing up the UK in support of Code Orange and Gojira. We sat down with guitarist Greg Kubacki and bassist Jon Modell (along with a brief appearance from vocalist Michael Dafferner), to discuss everything from tours to click tracks, along with their latest album, Meta.
You previously played a one off date with Meshuggah, but this is your first UK tour, how have the UK fans taken to you so far?
Greg: Yeah, it’s been amazing. Especially in London, like you said we played London 2 years ago and it was fun but we didn’t feel like we represented ourselves really well, so this time it felt right and all the UK dates have been great.
Jon: Yeah Derby we played in like an off date on a Monday night, and we were kind of a little worried-
Michael: And we headlined it!
Jon: Yeah we headlined it, it was our first headlining UK show and we were very worried on a Monday night in a small city that no one would come out but there was like 200 kids there and they were all freaking out about us so it was very-
Jon: Yeah bonerific, like that.
Greg: We had other great bands open for us, and everyone there was really cool and we hung out with them for hours after the show, it was a lot of fun.
So are there any plans for a UK headlining tour in the future?
Greg: Sure yeah, eventually. Hopefully!
Jon: We need to get a little bigger I think first, before we can do headlining tours. If we could do even more support slots, we’re doing the opening slot on the Gojira tour so maybe move up one and take it from there.
What about festival dates?
Jon: Yeah 100%, we’re really looking forward to those. We’re doing Euroblast which just got announced yesterday, and for 2018 we’re really pushing to get on Download, Glastonbury, Hellfest, any of that stuff that we could jump on would be amazing for us.
So you’re here with Gojira, and Joe Duplantier produced your last album and has done guest vocals for you on your last two records. Do you have a strong relationship with the band now?
Jon: Yeah we’ve been friends with Joe for like a decade now, he’s a close friend of mine and he’s just been amazing to the band in general. He lives in New York now and we all live in New York, he’s like family.
So can you see yourselves working with Gojira again in the future?
Jon: Yeah absolutely, 100%.
Greg: We’re probably gonna ask him to produce again because it worked out so well and it was so relaxing. He just compliments us so well because we’re all techheads, we all do computer stuff for work and we’re very caught up in the technical part of it. He’s more about how things feel and how they sound and it’s nice to have that at the top making sure everything is going in the right direction.
Jon: This is our third tour with Gojira, I could see us having a fourth and a fifth. Clearly they like us, and us them obviously!
Your latest album Meta came out last October, what kind of response have you been getting to it so far?
Greg: It’s been big so far. We do everything independently. All of the merch, Jonny does that out of his house, and we still can’t believe we’re even getting MP3 orders. It’s been really exciting for us, even that one show in Derby, we had no idea that all these people would show up and know all the words to the songs and stuff, it’s been really cool.
So you mentioned that you do all of this independently, is that your own personal choice and has it benefitted you?
Greg: Yeah I would think it has.
Jon: It’s a fine line, there’s a lot of stuff that a label can do for us that we can’t really do for ourselves. The distribution, the reach that they have, working with a lot of PR people, magazines or YouTube even. We’re not awful with social media but we’re not great at it either, but we’re getting better at it. A label can really help with that but it comes at a price. We’re very control freaky and like to really hold onto everything. This is our second independent release and personally I think it’s the right way to go. Maybe a non-traditional deal with a label would be interesting for us, something where they can sort of fill in the gaps but we retain the creative control. I like doing the business side of this!
Greg: He loves going to the post office every day! But yeah, we were a band when the record industry was just behind its peak, everything’s still new even to bands that are up and coming. Look at Periphery, they’ve made it on YouTube videos and playthrough videos. I think its stuff in the air how to make it as a band with the tools that are available right now. We’re not sure if there’s even something else that we’re not thinking of that could help us!
You’ve had some unorthodox methods of promoting yourself, particularly when you released From the Dust of This Planet in 5 second segments and allowed the fans to piece it together. How did that idea come about?
Jon: Yeah I had this weird idea, what was the album it came from, Boards of Canada?
Greg: Yeah, Boards of Canada – Tomorrows Harvest, they did something where they teased the shit out of their fans. They would hide images in their banner heads and fan sites, and have these weird ambiguous commercials at 3 in the morning. Since they’re such a great band we thought, maybe we can do something like that!
Jon: So I had the idea of this puzzle, where I wanted to chop up the song into equal segments and just send the pieces out into the world and see if the people would put it back together. Then Greg had the idea to put a piece of artwork that correlates to the piece of the puzzle and just send it out and not say what it is. We were just sitting back watching and it started coming together. Just seeing the experiment, just seeing if it would work was fascinating, it was so cool to see if they would put it all together and get it.
So did you have anyone go completely wrong with it?
Greg: Some people actually made unique artwork with which I wasn’t expecting so that was really cool, but musically they pretty much nailed it.
You’ve got a very technical style, you’ve kind of thrown standard time signatures out the window. When you’re writing do you push yourselves to write something more technical or does it just come naturally to you?
Greg: It depends, I think it comes naturally but you can get carried away with it really easily. You can start having millions of notes and it just sounds like a blur. We have a formula where we’ll just record everything on our phones, and then months later we’ll listen back to it and if anything sticks out we’ll sort of massage that idea and see if we can make a song out of it.
That technical style of music has really grown in popularity with bands like Meshuggah, Gojira and Animals As Leaders to name a few. Do you think that some fans are now looking to almost challenge themselves now with more technical music?
Greg: I don’t know, because there’s so much technical stuff that’s already been done!
Jon: People are still pushing it though. Even with us as fans, like when I heard the new Meshuggah I just got very excited because it’s these crazy complex rhythms that I just want to dissect.
Greg: But it also has this cohesion to it, there’s faster more complicated things that they’ve done, but it just sounds more exciting because of how they’ve recorded it. I think it’s more than making it more technical, it’s like adding more of a human element to it. Like Gojira as well, they’ve added this Pink Floyd kind of atmosphere to it and it’s working really well.
Jon: I do think fans though have kind of raised the bar with what they’re expecting. They do prefer the trickier stuff instead of just being spoon fed this kind of 4/4 time signature, we’re hoping at least!
On that note, we heard a rumour going round that you guys never play to a click track, can you explain that?
Greg: That’s correct! Elliot is physically incapable of playing to a click track, we’ve tried many times! Plus the rhythms are weird enough and when you add a little bit of things slowing down and speeding up it just makes it its own thing.
Jon: It just screws him up! Plus it’s challenging every night, something always fucks up and you just never know what’s gonna go wrong! It’s kind of fun to pick that apart, you never know when we’re just gonna totally collapse!
You’ve had fairly long gaps between your album releases, are you planning to get back into the studio right away or are you focused on supporting Meta right now?
Greg: Not the studio but we have close to 4 tracks written already as far as the music goes, we have a bunch of leftover riffs from Meta that didn’t make it that we’ll revisit and see if there’s anything there. We’re actually really anxious to get something out by some time next year, so hopefully it won’t be another 4 years. And since we have a formula with a producer we like to work with, a mixing engineer we like to work with, we have access to a great studio at Silver Cord studios in Brooklyn, I think it’ll be way easier this time to crank something out.
Finally, you’ve toured with some huge names already, what other bands out there would you love to work with?
Jon: Yeah, Tool! Deftones, Soundgarden for me now that they’re touring again.
Greg: We almost did something with Animals As Leaders, that would be a great tour. Periphery would be awesome too.
Jon: I really wanna do Meshuggah in the states too, we only did those six shows with them in Europe but it was incredible, it just wet my whistle. I just wanna play more and more with those guys, they’re so awesome as people and watching them play every night is just spectacular!
Meta is available now.