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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‘Tis the Season To Be Bono: Yacht Rock Revue Kicks Off St. Patrick’s Day Early at Park Tavern and Muses on Stepping Into the Shoes of So Many Rock Icons

Posted on: Mar 1st, 2012 By:

Photo courtesy of Yacht Rock Revue.

Shamrock with Yacht Rock Revue kicks off Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans early this year with the ultimate U2 tribute experience on Sat. March 3 at Park Tavern at Piedmont Park. The event, featuring one of Atlanta’s most popular classic rock cover bands, kicks off at 2 p.m. and live music starts at 4 p.m. with special guests Saturday Night Beaver presenting a glamorous stage show that celebrates the artists that brought sex appeal to popular music such as Rick James, Rod Stewart and George Michael. Then U2 tribute band Uno Dos Tres Catorce performs followed by two sets by Yacht Rock Revue. Drink and eat up with an ultimate Bloody Mary bar, green beer and plenty of hearty fare. ATLRetro caught up with two of the six members of Yacht Rock Revue, Nick Niespodziani and Peter Olson to find out more about the Gaelic goings on and what it’s like to step into the shoes of so many classic rock icons.

What do you have planned for March 3? Will it be an all-U2 show?

Our plan starts with Irish Car Bombs. Then Uno Dos Tres Catorce – starring Bueno and the Wedges. I play Bueno, everyone else is a version of the Wedge. Then it’s a long block of soft rock in our Yacht Rock Revue persona. Actually two long blocks. That’s a lot of music, especially after doing Led Zeppelin IV and Dark Side [of the Moon] last night at the 40 Watt and Sgt. Pepper’s tonight at Smith’s.

Yacht Rock Revue does so many specialty shows from Beatles tributes to Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon played in sync with WIZARD OF OZ at the Strand last fall. Fans of different bands can have high levels of scrutiny, so what do you do to prepare in general for gigs that focus on a specific band? And what will you be doing to prepare for stepping into the shoes of Bono and The Edge?

Each of the shows requires a totally different approach. It’s a lot like being an actor in the theater. Led Zeppelin is the guns-blazing action star. Yacht Rock is the like-able bad guy in an ’80s movie. How do you play Prince and MJ without coming off as a perverted prick who can’t dance as well as those guys? How do you pay tribute to the Beatles without coming off as a smarmy mop-top wanna-be? These are the questions that challenge us at our job.

U2 is the unironic one-dimensional sci-fi hero.  It’s not much of a stretch for me to play the self-righteous, self-aggrandizing social activist role of Bono…  since it’s basically who I am in real life, without the religion and millions. Their music definitely gets your adrenaline pumping. Vocally, it’s a real workout. So I’ve been increasing my throat push-up regimen in preparation.

Photo courtesy of Yacht Rock Revue.

Is there a particular U2 song you are especially looking forward to playing live?

We’ve never done “Pride” before, and we’re trying it this year.  It’s impossible to sing, so we’ll see how it goes. It seems especially appropriate to play it in the home city of MLK.

What’s your favorite tribute show you’ve done so far?

Purple Rain and Thriller was pretty epic last year – we had a 25-person choir in purple robes singing all of the backing vocals. We’re all big Prince fans, so taking on that album for the first time was a very fulfilling challenge. And then we played Thriller in Storm Trooper outfits.

What’s been your most challenging gig? 

The most challenging gigs are the ones where the music isn’t the reason people are there.  We’re spoiled, in that every time we play a show in public we get so much positive energy back from the audience.  When we get into some (not all) of these corporate event situations and we don’t get that vibe back from the crowd, it becomes a lot more difficult to do our job.

Is there a tribute show you’re really dying to do but haven’t had the opportunity yet?

Queen’s “Night at the Opera” versus Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814.”  Also, some of our guys have a project called “Dwight Snake” that re-envisions White Snake’s best tunes through the lens of Dwight Yoakam.  I can’t wait for that show.

How do stay fresh while working with classic cover material?

We always try to put some of our own stank on the tunes – it’s the only way to make it happen.  The key is not to treat the music with kid gloves, you’ve got to smack it around and roll with it in the dirt.  We treat these tunes irreverently, as if they’re our own songs.  That’s the attitude that makes the music and the show compelling.

What are your parameters in terms of what qualifies as a Yacht Rock Revue song?

Whatever we say goes.  And it can’t be written by Jimmy Buffett.

What’s the story behind how Yacht Rock Revue get started?

We were doing a variety show at the 10 High called the Surprise Party where we did a different show every week, including classic albums, comedy, our own original material, etc.  We thought a ’70s AM Gold Show would be hilarious.  It was spearheaded by our drummer Mark and our guitarist Mark.  I didn’t even know half of the songs.  And now it’s the joke that keeps on giving, as the saying doesn’t go.

St. Paddy’s Day is still coming, so do you have plans for any more U2-inspired shows?

Not this year – Park Tavern is the only one.  So catch it whilst thou can.

What else does Yacht Rock Revue have planned for this spring?

We’re recording a studio album, mixing a live album, planning more national-scale tours, launching another Summer Series at the Park Tavern, and cloning ourselves.

What question do you wish someone would ask you but nobody ever does? And what’s the answer?

Q:  Where’d you get your boots?  A:  I’ll never tell.

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