A Conversation With:


By Bryce Roper and Michael Haddad

Today Bryce Roper (Music Director @ WUVT-FM) and Michael Haddad (Woove Editor-in-Chief @ WUVT) are joined by the band caroline, who has a self-titled debut album out at midnight February 25. We are having a brief conversation about the album inspiration and their work together as a band, and are joined by the three members, Mike (guitar), Casper (guitar), and Jasper (cello, drums, vocals), all of whom are deeply involved in the composition of the songs on the upcoming album.

WUVT: What is caroline? How did y’all get started and how did the name come around?

Casper: We started playing together in 2017, me and Jasper were playing as a two piece (it wasn’t that good!) and we got Mike involved in 2017, started playing together quite casually for a year or two and gradually started adding members. In terms of the name – actually Mike you know that story intimately

Mike: Our friends in Manchester had a band called “Cowlung”, actually Oliver who plays violin in caroline was in that band, but I never saw it written down and I always thought they were called caroline because, I don’t know why, that’s just how I heard it when people said Cowlung. We wanted to play our first show before we were called caroline but we realized we couldn’t really book anything until we came up with a name. And I think me and Jasper were talking on the phone and I said “it’s a shame that caroline is taken because I always liked that as a band name” but then it turns out it wasn’t taken because he was like “they’re not called caroline they called Cowlung! That’s why they have a t-shirt that says ‘do you believe in life after lung!’ “, which I hadn’t understood. So yeah, then we took it, the name. I still like the name, but it especially fit the music we were making at that particular time, which was more guitar-y emo college rock

WUVT: I have a habit of judging books by their covers, and I have to say that one of the first things that caught my eye with the upcoming album was the cover art. Do you have anything to offer on the process for making that and whether it has a meaning for the group?

Jasper: We wanted to do something that was in line with the other two single arts, and there was a kind of formula of sorts that was natural settings or backdrops with foreign objects that aren’t from that place hanging in the scene with some movement and action, something quite minimal and we wanted to something in line with that. We liked the idea of them being a sett, the dark blue, skydiving, and album cover to be a sort of set and we knew about this site on the Isle of Sheppey which is near London in Kent. We knew about it because a friend of mine who is a performance artist did a performance artist. It’s like an old world war II fortification, so we just went there in the summer and camped there and took photos at sunrise. Yeah, it’s good and came out really well. We took so many pictures and it took ages to decide what we were going to use!

Mike: It was a fun trip!

Jasper: Yeah it was a very fun trip!

WUVT: There’s a lot of you in the band – eight members to be precise. How does songwriting work with this many members. Is it more of an improvisational group project, or does someone usually bring something to a session and then everyone works on their parts off of that?

Casper: The initial of ideas for compositions come from us as three. We then bring them to the rest of the band with part ideas for them, but they’ll kind of improvise and expand on those ideas and make parts their own. Generally, that’s how it’s done but I think there’s definitely room to change that process in terms of using free improvisation and playing together to generate ideas.

Jasper: In terms of the overall design of a piece, that is something that we would normally do as a three. It’s what we would decide on in the end, I suppose. In the creative process other members would have input

Mike: I guess often when we write, when we have an idea for the parts for the other instruments its not always what they’re actually going to play but its more like “this is when violins would come in” but that is kind of open. The songs are often pre-arranged, but the actual content is – [we’re] all content creators

WUVT: I know y’all just announced three US tour dates. How does that work into your live show. You played a 5-hour set earlier this year – how do you balance the improvisation that playing sets requires with the structure of the songs you’ve written?

Casper: We saw that show as a different kind of thing to our normal sets in that it was fully improvised, and obviously we practiced together and practiced improving together, and nothing was prewritten really for the set

Jasper: Nothing at all, no

Casper: You’re right you’re right

Jasper: Did you prewrite—

Casper: [joking] I prewrote all my parts! I just like played them

Mike: Like “how did you think of that!”

Casper: But yeah obviously, our normal sets will be songs we composed, they’re not always directly honest to the recorded version, but they’re in the same vein

Jasper: We definitely like to integrate the two things into one another, especially when we’re touring. I think having sets where we decide on playing a couple of songs over the course of the time, but in between the songs was big sections of improvisation for 10 minutes at a time would be really interesting. I feel like it doesn’t have to be a choice between really extreme totally free improvisation for like 5 hours or just playing the set, it can be combined and quite interesting. Especially when we’re doing a lot of dates and we can’t just play those six songs every night.

Mike: Yeah, we’re going to the states in October. I guess as time goes on it will probably evolve into doing that more. I think that only works when we’re touring because we don’t play together that often when we don’t have shows at the moment. We don’t really have the time at the moment, but it only really works if you’ve been playing together day upon day and you start to be able to do that with each other a bit more sympathetically

Jasper: Yeah, and we could always expand bits of certain songs as well

WUVT: Is it nice to be getting back into live music and touring just for the ability to be able to do that?

Casper: Yeah! I’m really excited to be able to go around Europe and come to America in October. That’s like an incredible perk of the job, to just be able to go all of these places even just for a night. Like, I’ve never been to LA!

Jasper: And I’ve never been to Chicago either, but I’ve been to New York once

Casper: I think we’re all excited to be able to do that. Apart from mike, he’s done it all before a million times – he’s a seasoned touring artist

Mike: No, no. I’ve only been to the states a few times, but I’ve only been to outside of New York once

Jasper + Casper: The truth comes out!!

WUVT: The tracks on the album play a lot with balance – gliding between massive piles of instruments with maybe the entire 8 piece all at once and glide into these more fragile sounding moments like IWR with choral sounding vocals backed only by guitar. How do you navigate finding this balance in your music – deciding when to push and to pull back on your music?

Jasper: I think we kind of do it on an impulse. We don’t have a particular philosophy, its more like on a case by case basis where maybe we’re playing something in a certain way and it gets to the point where maybe we feel like there needs to be a change and how does the texture need to change and then we make a decision about what seems appropriate. Maybe that’s just what everyone does but it’s kind of just whatever’s interesting. And that sometimes feeds into juxtapositions, sometimes quite extreme ones.

Mike: It also helps to be playing around with recording and just play around with that afterwards. You can play around with orders of layers where you can’t just get everyone in a room for hours and hours and necessarily do that. So I feel like a lot of composing happened through multi tracking software as well as being re-played in the way that it would have been composed through ~the digital world~

Jasper: I think also, we try to be, because there are a lot us. I was thinking about this the other day – I think there’s something about a large group of people focusing a lot and not doing very much that is quite intense

Mike: What – as in not playing much?

Jasper: Yes, quite a large group of people all like focusing on and maybe one or two of them having small interjections. It’s the time in between when the attention is being held by that group of people. If we were in a band with just us three, and had these massive gaps it wouldn’t have the same – it wouldn’t be held in that same tense way as 8 people waiting in a big pause. A crowd of people in silence is a very powerful thing, where one person in silence isn’t. I think that, in kind of a performative way, that’s part of the band.

---silence, nobody talks---

Jasper: What are you laughing at?

Mike: Nothing – just this pause!

WUVT: In your music there’s a lot of different influences from emo to folk to some minimalism – how do you work all of that into your music and what are you influenced by?

Casper: I suppose people do do this, but when you are influenced by certain genres you often don’t think consciously about that. It happens to be things you listen to in periods like before you start playing together or its something you’ve liked since you were young. It’s not something that’s conscious

Jasper: Or it’s a specific thing in a genre like one aspect of that type of music you’re interested in, not like a whole genre as a tag

Mike: Yeah, it’s like emo music or something. I’m always like “that’s a nice chord” I heard when I was younger, and I always kind of liked how that chord sounds. And it only extends that far

Jasper: Yeah we’re not trying to take “hey here’s emo music in all its facets, lets combine it with minimalism in all its dimensions” it’s just like things inspire you. For me it’s repetition from things like minimalism or broken repeated rhythms for something. Yeah, we never try to replicate it. We chat about it and why it’s interesting and it comes into what we’re playing.

WUVT: The bio that I was reading had an intense statement “caroline (self titled) is merely the first step” which is –

Jasper: We didn’t write it!

WUVT: Yeah it’s definitely a big statement to make. I wanted to ask – is the afternoon before this first step too early to ask whats next for you all?

Casper: Writing more music, basically I think. Pursuing certain ideas and concepts which we kind of reached towards the end of writing this album and pushing certain things and ideas and ways of playing and relating to another via music. I think that’s what we want to do, I imagine.

Mike: I think we know what we’re interested in doing at least. But it’s hard to sum it up and maybe its nice to not

Jasper: The songs that were written more recently, such as Natural Death and Engine (eavesdropping). Those were the most recent compositions we put together, and more in the vein of that. We’re interested in more extreme juxtaposition, improvisation extending to how different sections relate to one other outside just the playing. We also just don’t know yet.

Mike: It’s a bit early to say, yeah.

Jasper: We were talking about the other day, how we were like. It’s really exciting what we think we could make. We were saying how as soon as you actually immerse yourself in trying to create something it will inevitably change. Things will emerge that we like, and we’ll be like that’s good – it may not fit into this whole design we’ve got

Mike: You’ve got to start with a sort of plan, be open to tangents

Jasper: You have to be excited

Mike: You have to be open to tangents

Jasper: Yeah.

WUVT: The band has three US tour dates (and a very active twitter):

Mike:   October 5th at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan, NY,

October 8th the Constellation in Chicago, Illinoise

(Casper, quietly: Illinoise? Isn’t it just Illinois)

WUVT: I think Illinoise is that Sufjan Stevens album

Mike:   OH RIGHT! Illinoise is it called? Sorry I’m from London, I’m from London, and

October 13th the Lodge Room, Los Angeles, CA

Casper: Were there any others beyond that?

Mike: I think there may be others, but they are yet to be confirmed or announced – so look out!

WUVT: I like to end every interview I do by asking – what are y’all listening to right now?

Mike: Clair Rousay, Clarissa Connelly, Able Noise

Casper: Yeah Able Noise is supporting us on our UK tour! Check them out on this label called GLARC, they’re based in Glasgow and have really good stuff

Mike: Still House Plants just put out a record

Jasper: Big Thief

Mike: What are you both listening to?

WUVT: Me too! I’m going to like four of their shows, also listening Black Country, New Road

Jasper: It was very good

WUVT: Thank you all for joining us! Extremely excited for the rest of the world to hear the debut album. WUVT got it early so it’ll be added right away tomorrow. Thank you all for joining us, and the album releases tonight. Listen for it on the air on WUVT, purchase the album on caroline’s bandcamp or stream on major platforms, linked below.

You can purchase “caroline” on bandcamp, or stream it on Spotify or Apple Music.