Kool Kat of the Week: One Will Burn’s Todd Caras Tears Apart Famous Pub with a Joy Division Tribute Night

Posted on: Jun 28th, 2012 By:

A free Joy Division Tribute Night this Friday June 29 at 9 p.m. at Famous Pub & Sports Bar in Toco Hills?! Being an old-school, heavy duty acolyte of Joy Division, who at one time drew my nose up even at New Order in loyalty to the ghost of Ian Curtis, ATLRetro had to prick up my ears. Turns out 1WB, aka One Will Burn, is a very recent entry to the Atlanta music scene (they played their first gig May 7, 2012!), but is made up of some seasoned Atlanta musicians, including vocalist Ross Henderson and bassist Todd Caras (Methods of Espionage), guitarist Michael Church and drummer David Goodwin (Other Voices, Candy Apple Black). Sleep The Owls and The Flannels also are on the bill as opening acts. In sum, the idea of a band dedicated to keeping Curtis’s ghost alive in the 21st century was so compelling that it just seemed to make perfectly unnatural sense to make Todd Kool Kat of the Week if only to find out why?

ATLRetro: Why a Joy Division tribute band in 2012?

Todd Caras: Like many who collect music or perform in band, I have personally experienced/seen a wide generational gap in what bands/sounds influence today’s 20-somethings. My generation – I’m nearly 40 – were influenced by bands like Joy Division, The Smiths, etc., and developed a connection with contemporary bands such as Interpol, The Doves and Suede not so long ago, etc. who draw directly from the same influences. Today’s 20-somethings are listening to bands who are influenced by bands who were influenced by the early 4AD/Rough Trade post-punk groups; there’s practically three to four generations of distance and separation leaving us with some very watered-down hints of what used to be. Nothing wrong with it. It’s inevitable, natural, but ultimately sad.  I personally feel that bands of Joy Division’s ilk were the last major movement in music from a creative standpoint. Yes, you had the shoe-gazers in the early ‘90s, and then grunge, and later the garage rock revival of the early 2000s; but they all drew from a warmed-over idea.

I understand One Will Burn was founded somewhat by accident. What’s the story?

One Will Burn was hastily formed by members of a few local bands in town to play a show and fill in for a band that couldn’t make it out. Our front man Ross and I belong to the band Methods of Espionage and were asked to fill a slot at a local venue, but two members of our band were out of town. Still wanting to play the show and help a friend -plus we wanted to help a struggling local venue, THE MUSIC ROOM – we pushed forward and reached out to drummer David Goodwin of Other Voices and Candy Apple Black. The trio decided to play a Joy Division tribute set since they had listened to the legends for years and knew the songs already. One Will Burn played the show and were so well received they decided to pursue the project seriously, since adding guitarist Michael Church.

Todd Caras of 1WB. Photo courtesy of 1WB.

How did you decide on the name?

After a one-night practice session with less than 24 hours before the show, we came up with 1WB – a name we came up with in two minutes from a lyric in Joy Division’s “Heart and Soul” – “One Will Burn.” I personally like it because it is enigmatic, looks like a British postal code, a license plate number, etc.  It [also] gives us the opportunity to use this moniker, should we turn into an original material band, which may be in the cards.

When/how did you discover Joy Division and what does JD mean personally to you?

I discovered them by accident in high school. I had a collection of cassette tapes – yes, cassette tapes – some belonged to others, some from my sister’s numerous boyfriends, etc. I was looking through them one evening and came across Joy Division’s “Still,” which contains live performance material. It made me sick to hear it! I hated it! I couldn’t stand the overuse of chorus effect all the time. The recording was old – 1979/1980? – so I’m sure that the original taping source was speeding up and slowing down – and you can hear it. Joy Division was playing sloppy, ferocious and fast as usual. Ian was bumming his notes every so often. Bernard had mistakenly left the pitch bender on his keyboard in the “on” position during “Decades” which created horrible sounds. Hook’s bass was too low, etc. etc. etc. I hated it! And kept returning to it, listening to it to see just how much I hated it.

I was trying to picture the way their singer (Ian) looked, based on his vocals; in my mind I kept seeing an older Bob Mould type. Obviously, I was dead wrong.  After discovering – pre-Internet days, mind you – what they looked like [and] spending many hours at Tower Records, pouring over “fanzines” for images and information, I discovered an immediate connection as they appeared to be “nobodies” from a “nobody” town with plain clothing – kind of like The Smiths. It was an image completely separate from punk or heavy metal. It is what you would see in the mirror.

Being a blossoming – horrible – musician at the time (bass, keyboards, drums), their music was easy to play (not easy to write, however) and accessible to a novice like myself – yet, their sounds created imagery. They spoke before the lyrics. After discovering the darker – unfortunate – background surrounding Joy Division, my intrigue was permanent. I learned to like them because they provided me a more “butch,” tough,” “dodgy” set of heroes to worship, apart from “nice heroes” like Depeche Mode.

Being a suburban sports bar, Famous Pub seems an odd location for a dark proto-industrial/goth band tribute show. Tell me why it’ll be perfect.

As the story goes, Joy Division started out in a bar/venue completely unsuited to their style of music, whatever it was at the time. I’m sure it was an odd place for such a gathering. Perhaps, today, playing such music at a place like the Famous Pub is almost as fitting in a way. We also anticipate that many of the old school fans of Joy Division have moved away from the city and started families, etc. Perhaps this venue is accessible to them given its proximity between the city and the ‘burbs. On the other hand, perhaps we can encourage the goth/industrial types to take this place over!!!! And, lastly……….it was available.

Anything special planned for the show?

Other than trying to look the part and sound the part, we will keep the theatrics to a minimum and stick to presenting the music as close to the way it was originally presented as possible – including some of the early, low-tech, outdate, electronic blips and synth sounds of Joy Division’s era. The set list is loaded with all of the popular and not so popular Joy division tracks. We are most proud to present some of the more obscure songs.   More importantly, there are some songs that Joy Division never properly played live in the first place. There was always some technical difficulty or reason why the song was always “butchered” live. Now is our time to rectify that, I hope?

What’s next for One Will Burn?

In the immediate future, our next show will be July 28 at Kavarna in the Oakhurst neighborhood of Decatur. It’s a fitting set of scenery and architecture for the music we are playing, we think.  Overall we plan to enjoy this project some more, play more shows, attract more audience who want to celebrate Joy Division, etc. However, given how the four of us click well musically, I imagine 1WB becoming an original band. All four of us write original song material; it’s no accident that we all found each other.

What else do you do when you’re not resurrecting Joy Division?  

I play in an original post-punk band called Methods of Espionage. During the day, I am an executive headhunter, providing companies/clients with highly sought-after, niche, talent for mission-critical roles within their organizations.  I get to put people to work – I like that! On occasion, I get to bump around from time to time with people who make a difference in the professional world in Atlanta, which is highly rewarding. I’m happily married; my wife and I called Northwest Atlanta home – for better or for worse.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Getting the Third Degree from The District Attorneys’ Drew Beskin on Their First Album and Their Next Gig with Modern Skirts and Tedo Stone at The Earl This Saturday Jan. 14

Posted on: Jan 10th, 2012 By:

The District Attorneys. Photo courtesy of Drew Beskin.

The temps are supposed to be dropping again by the weekend. So when we heard several reviewers peg The District Attorneys’ sound as summery and that they were opening for Modern Skirts along with Tedo Stone at The Earl this Saturday Jan. 14, it was easy to warm us up to interrogating lead singer/guitarist Drew Beskin as the first Kool Kat of 2012.

True, the Athens-based quintet only have been around since 2009, but they’ve been turning a lot of heads and getting some rave reviews for their first two EPs. Atlanta Music Guide’s Eileen Tilson even suggested that the seven songs on their debut EP, ORDER FROM (2010), “would easily make them an appropriate opener for The Rolling Stones circa 1963.” As for WAITING ON THE CALM DOWN:THE BASEMENT SESSIONS (2011), Eric Chavez, also in Atlanta Music Guide, effused that “With southern rock riffs mixed in with some dreamy pedal steel and a touch of surfer vibes soaked in reverb, these guys make you want to chillax on the porch with an ice cold Lone Star and reminisce about the good ‘ole days.” The District Attorneys also just finished recording their first full LP produced by Drew Vandenberg (The Whigs, Drive By Truckers, Deerhunter, Futurebirds, Modern Skirts), due out around March. And hey, Drew lists The Replacements, Jesus and Mary Chain and The Smiths as the band’s biggest influences.

Enough back story already. Download their first two EPs for free here, and while you’re chilling and listening, let Drew fill you in on how the DAs got started, some more 20th century musicians he and the band dig and why you need to come out to The Earl Saturday!

What’s the secret origin story of The District Attorneys and what’s in the name?

The band started when me and Chris (Wilson, drummer) decided to form a band after I graduated and he was still at UGA. After that, we acquired a few friends to play with us until it became the line-up that it is today. The District Attorneys became something real when we discovered Frank Keith IV (bass) who is basically Love Potion #9 in human form and has been the main reason we’ve been able to get cool shows to play on. The band name is a tribute to the Bob Dylan song “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” as well as a love for bands like Interpol and The Police.

Your Facebook page describes your sound as Americana and rock, and reviewers have likened you to California country rock and described your EPs as summer music. How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard you and what song should they listen to first?

I would def be confident in my answer if the new record was already out. The first two EPs were just as much about finding out our strengths and weaknesses as well as rushing to get something out there to show people we have our own original material that isn’t awful. I’m cool with the summer music vibe, but I think one of my favorite things about this band is that our songs are starting to get very different with each song. Some are fast and rockin’ 2-minute pop songs and some are like the California summer rock stuff. I think if you check out “California Fire” and “Slowburner” from the most recent EP of demos (WAITING ON THE CALM DOWN: THE BASEMENT SESSIONS), you can hear a big difference in style. I always really liked “Sweetheart All Reckless And Humble” from the first EP as well, which reminds me more of a Cure/Jesus and Mary Chain song than anything else.

Can you name a few 20th century musicians who have been key influences and inspirations for you and the band, and why?

I’ll just mention the first few that come to me…um…I always say The Replacements, The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Smiths. I probably say that because I love their guitar tones and how soundtrack-like they sound. I love those bands and I def try to add some of that to our stuff. I will always be obsessed with Elton John and Prince, but I don’t think I have found a good way to showcase those influences in the band…yet.

How do you approach songwriting and select which tunes make it onto your recordings?

I don’t really have a formula for songwriting. It happens differently every time, but I have noticed that it’s usually not the stereotypical sitting down at the keyboard or guitar and writing. I usually come up with something in [my] head or the start of something in my head, and then I bring it to an instrument to accompany whatever new random idea I might have. When bringing new songs to band, I like to play two or three of them at a time and then have the band pick which one they are most eager to add their own ideas to. If it sucks, we can just move on to another one. The new record started out as an 18-song record, but after some options were thrown out, we recorded 14 good songs but ended up ditching two of them because they didn’t fit the vibe we were going for.

What can you tell us about your first full-length album and when will it be available?

The album will be 12 tracks. We are close to deciding what the name of the record will be ,so I don’t want to say just yet. It was produced by Drew Vandenberg at Chase Park Transduction in Athens and will be released hopefully in March, if not a little sooner. We will be releasing it through This is American Music which is a label that houses one of our favorite artists ever, Glossary.

Will we hear any of those new cuts at the Earl on Saturday night?

I’m pretty confident that 97% of the material we play on Saturday will be from the new record. We have been living with these songs for the album for a good while now so we actually are pretty eager to start bringing out some brand new and unrecorded material. But we will try and wait a little bit before we do that.

What else can you tell us about the show and playing alongside the Modern Skirts and Tedo Stone?

The Earl is one of my favorite venues to see shows at. I’ve seen The Tallest Man on Earth, AA Bondy and most recently the Diamond Rugs show [there], which was an eye-opening experience. The venue and all the bands playing this Saturday night will make it a very fulfilling night of music. Modern Skirts are incredible, and we are so excited to share the stage with them. Tedo Stone is a pretty new band with some of the best music I have heard in awhile.

How did you first get into making music? Is this a passion that goes back to when you were a kid?

I always wanted to be a drummer, but I was given a guitar at age 13 because drums would have been too noisy for my rents. At first I just wanted to learn the riffs to “Day Tripper,” “Crazy Train” and “Heartbreaker,” and then I wanted to get all the way through “All Apologies.” After about three years of that, I wanted to start writing my own songs to see what I could come up with.

What did you do musically before the DAs?

Everyone in the band has a colorful musical past, but before The DAs I spent most of my time writing songs by myself, occasionally playing open mic nights in Bloomington, Indiana, when I was at Indiana University. I also played bass for a local art-punk band while I was up there, but mainly I just wanted to work on my songwriting and demo as much as possible.

What do you do when you’re not writing and/or playing music?

We are all working or in school at the moment so whenever we aren’t focusing on The DAs or other musical projects we are busy with that not-so-fun stuff.

Any other news you’d like to share about what’s coming up in 2012 for the District Attorneys?

We are hoping to get to Austin for SXSW and tour more behind this record and hopefully get it in the ears of many new listeners. We have some exciting local shows coming up and hopefully a CD release gig sometime in the spring. We can’t wait for everyone to hear the record, and then we can’t wait to start working on the next one and any EPs in-between.

What question do you wish a reporter would ask you but they never do? And what is the answer? 

Let’s see, no one ever asks me what my favorite John Travolta/Nicolas Cage movie is. It is FACE/OFF (1997). Thanks for asking finally!

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