AND THE BROTHERHOOD BEHiND THE BANDhttp://www.rockwired.com/carbon9.jpg
It was only a matter of time before the Ďconceptí album made its way to my mailbox. The Los Angeles-based metal band CARBON 9 are one those acts that have me at a disadvantage. Much of the buzz surrounding these lads revolves around their stunning live show that allegedly resembles more performance art than your four-to-the-floor rock n roll. I have not witnessed their show myself so all Iíve got to go on is the bandís third release ĎTHE BULLí(WORLDSOUND) Ė a gloriously sequenced streak of heavy metal thunder complete with slick power chords and the best intentions weíve seen in metal since QUEENSRYCHEís ĎOPERATION: MINDCRIMEí(though you might have to twist lead singer/producer STACEY QUINEALTYís arm to get him to notice the comparison). The albumí theme of humanity losing itself to technology is as epic in scope as the entire run of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and certainly more engaging than MR. ROBOTO, but itís the musicianship of the band and QUINEALTYís musical direction that steal the show. Aside from a curious cover of DANZIGís ĎMOTHERí, ĎTHE BULLí is as sturdy and resilient as its title suggests.

ROCKWIRED spoke with STACEY QUINEALTY over the phone. Here is how it went.

The CD has a curious title Ė ĎTHE BULLí. Where does that come from?<
This album is really about strength and moving forward and trying to overcome and we kind of thought that was the best title. We do a live theatrical show with all of these synchronized videos and props and all of this sort of wacky stuff. There is a whole big storyline to it throughout the progression of our album about technology bringing about he decline of humanity. This is our third album and itís all about overcoming. The bull seems to be that one animal that you can prod and stab and cut and slice and get thorns in him and he just keeps moving and charging. We just wanted something simple instead of something all deep and wacky like our other albums.

It seems a little like QUEENSRYCHE or something like that.
Maybe so. I love QUEENSRYCHE but I donít feel itís really anything like them, but I could see where some would make that comparison.

Bare in mind that the only QUEENSRYCHE album that I own is OPERATION: MIND CRIME so Iím no real expert. I was making a comparison as to how that album has a beginning middle and an end and tells a story.
I could see that. This album really isnít as conceptual as MINDCRIME is as much as our albums together are. Together, all of our albums kind of make up this whole story.

Talk about your live shows. Personally, I have no real visual reference on how all of that comes together. How easy or difficult is that to stage?
Itís a lot of work. When we play venues like KNITTING FACTORY, THE WHISKEY, THE ROXY, or THE KEY CLUB, we have limited amount of space and a limited amount set up time. The hardest thing is to try to coordinate everything, get all of the stuff set up and to have it all make sense. Itís also a challenge to stage a show that doesnít take anything away from the band itself. That is challenging but we seem to be able to pull it of pretty well.

How have audiences responded to it?
The audience response is incredible. Youíve got to see a show to believe it. What weíre doing is unlike anything that anybody has ever seen especially on the L.A. scene. Our crowd response is always incredible. We sold out the KNITTING FACTORY the other night. Itís amazing! We have the best fans in the world.

How did music begin for you?
I was always a music fan but I never really knew it because my family didnít really support it. Iím originally from the South so it was all about football and baseball. One day, my sisterís boyfriend played me some old OZZY Ė BLIZZARD IN OZ. It had songs like REVELATION: OTHER EARTH. It had such a visual element to it. There was so much imagery just in listening to this music. I had never experienced that before and that was it I was hooked. I knew that this was where I had to go.

At what point did the listener become the singer and songwriter?
I played drums in rock band sin high school. We were going to do the talent show one year and the guy that was singing was just terrible. One day I was singing this song and the band was like ĎYou have got to sing it! Weíve got another drummer so why donít you sing it?í So I did and it kind of shot off from there. I took voice really seriously and started studying. I really loved producing so I started learning all of the instruments. I learned a little bit of guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and vocals. I kind of developed myself as a musician as well as a singer and then I studied Opera in college and moved to Los Angeles and went to the MUSICIANíS INSTITUTE and studied voice. When I discovered the voice - that was just my thing.

How do your parents feel about what you do now?
I think itís always been hard for them to accept. Where I come from people work in the oil fields and work in the refineries for the oil industry so for me to leave Louisiana and come out toe L.A. was a real shock but Iíve been successful in the entertainment industry. Iíve traveled the world and I certainly canít complain at all. I think they respect it now but it took many, many years to prove that point.

How did CARBON 9 begin?
We were all professional performers at Universal Studios Hollywood. I played FRANKENSTEIN in the BEETLEJUICE show - which is guitar and singing. We had a drumming show called the BOOM OPERATORS - which was all street percussion, so several of us did that. We were all just a variety of performers at Universal and we met up and I said to them that I had been working on this music for years and that I was looking for a band to start doing this stuff so we put the project together and weíve been at it ever since.

Talk about your band mates. Who are they and what is it that each of them brings to the table creatively and personality Ėwise?
MATTY MILANI is the drummer and he brings a lot to the table. I think the best thing about him is that heís got a sense of complex energy that he brings into the band and it takes us to another place. It is something that I really appreciate and really, really feel. Heís also been a great friend. Weíre all very tight and close-knit so that helps a lot. OMAR BRANCATO is the bass player brings a strong sense of musicality to the band. Heís a brilliant arranger and he gets on the same plane that I do and it really helps a lot to be able to work things through. Heís another great friend. Even when we are away fro the band we end up spending a lot of time together and itís fantastic. DARWIN DEVITIS is the guitarist is an avid music listener. He listens to a lot of it and studies what is going and what is not going on. He really brings a real heavy edge to the band. DANNY CISTONE sings back up with me and does the performance art stuff. He is one of my ultimate people to connect with on creative level. Nobody gets me like he does. We all work on many projects together outside of the band as well and itís fun. Itís a small circle.

How does songwriting get accomplished in this band?
There are two ways to go about it. Generally, I will start with sequences. Iím really big into sequencing because I love it. It really brings a vibe and it gives uniqueness to CARBON 9 unlike any other band. We have this way of doing things. I like to create a vibe through sequencing. If itís an upbeat tempo then Iíll start with that and work it to where I am happy with it. Once it starts to feel a certain way, then we will bring guitars in. Once guitars are in, we can kind of construct a whole song and then bring the rest of the guys in. Sometimes itís backwards. Sometimes, DARWIN will have a guitar riff or a part of a song and we will build it up that way.

In sticking with the songwriting theme here, what songs or song off of this album came easily?
Wow, thatís a good question! No one has ever asked me that before.

I would have to say that MY FRIEND. Itís the one song that is doing very well for us actually. It was the one song that we actually constructed as a band in rehearsal, which we are not very good at because we are more of a production band. It was the one song in the history of the band that came naturally to everybody and didnít stray far from where it had originally started. And it is the song that is doing the best.

What was the most challenging?
I think the song called IíM ON MY OWN was the most challenging. Itís a slow song but itís a very passionate song. Itís really in your face and itís a really unique arrangement. That song just had to be right or else it wasnít going to work.

The albumís got some very nice cover art. Who designed it?
DARWIN - our guitarist. He does all of the graphics for the band. DANNY (backing vocalist) creates a lot of the graphics but the album art in particular came from DARWIN.

What is the idea behind the imagery?
We had a bunch of different concepts. The band has a certain mystique to it and the label really wanted a graphic that echoed that mysteriousness. All of our albums are about technology overcoming humanity. With all of the e-mailing and texting, humanity is really breaking down and is losing its ability to communicate and socialize. We do everything with texting and typed words. The philosophy behind our work is about the absence of the innate nature of the human being and where we are going. Are we becoming machines? What are we becoming? Because the name of the album was THE BULL, we thought it would be very fitting to have these guys in suits with these bullheads to represent individuals that have no identity.

This is a question that I usually ask at the top of the interview. Now that the CD is out there for people to hear, how do you feel about it?
Iím very proud of it. The response weíre getting across the country is just incredible. The response weíre getting from radio is incredible. I wrote the album and put it together and to see all of these great things happening with the band is just awesome. Itís nice to see things coming to fruition after all of the work, energy and effort.

Describe the band relationship with its label WORLDSOUND.
They are just great people. They used to manage us years ago. We ended up parting ways. There was nothing personal or anything. They were moving to Seattle and we were going through some transitions. We stayed in touch but we didnít do much. Then they got their label together and theyíve been doing really well. They are huge in the Hawaiian market and Hawaiian music but they really wanted to get back into rock n roll. Just by fate we crossed paths and we had just finished our new album. We sent it to them and they loved it and decided to get behind it. So they signed the band and they decided to give us a real strong push. So far, everything has been great.

Since the beginning of CARBON 9, what has been the biggest surprise for you? What didnít you expect?
There have been many along the way. I think the biggest surprise has been going to sound checks, setting up your gear, hanging out backstage and when you get on stage to do your show you realize the club is sold out with two hundred people in line outside the front door. That was a weird surprise because in L.A. itís very hard to get even twenty people to come to see your shows in general. That was a shock and it was just repeated over and over again. Finally you get used to it and certainly appreciate it but in the beginning it was a shock.

You produced this album. How easy or difficult is it to slip from producer mode to singer mode?
Itís easy for me. I have that internal switch Iím a perfectionist so whenever Iím in producer mode, everything has to be exactly right, and Iím sure I come off as an asshole sometimes but we really work hard. We really get it to certain level and everything has to be perfect within the songs. To do a live show, it is very easy to flip that switch. Iím not going to lie. A couple of cocktails certainly help. It speeds that switch up really quick.

What would you like a person to come away with after theyíve heard this CD?
I would like people to come away with an appreciation of art and an appreciation of the self. You canít just listen to one or two songs. Youíve got to listen to all of the songs on the album and I constantly get Ėmails from people that say that they get this whole experience out of listening to the album. It rally is a journey of emotions. Itís a journey of feelings and it says that itís okay in life to have these feelings and to have these thoughts but itís also important to move forward. Itís important to accept who you are and to get a sense of identity and get out there and tackle the world. It bothers me to constantly see beautiful lives getting thrown away. I had one guy call me and say that he was an alcoholic and drug addict for five years and that CRAWLING OVER ME was his strength song that he played every time he considered having another drink. There is so much music out there, especially hard rock, that is so aggressive and attacking and thatís not human nature. Weíre coming into a world of enlightenment where people are changing. Weíve elected a Black President and gay people are getting married. Things are changing and the best thing we can do accept ourselves, change with the times and find that part of yourself that has some value to it instead of being pissed off at everybody all of the time.