The sound of the nineties… the raw, rough-and-tumble, ultra-defiant and overly-angsty sound of the nineties…is more than alive in Eugene, Oregon.
It is here that garage/alternative quartet Sol Riot has taken shape, going on to take the entire Eugene scene by storm. Recently, the band has released a fresh EP, entitled Start a Riot. Recording right now with Justin Pizzoferrato (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.), the group also expects to release its first full-length album, which is without a title as of yet.
The four guys from Sol Riot were kind enough to sit down to a 17 minute-long over-the-phone interview with me last Monday in order to shed some more light on what (and who) the group really is.
Interviewer: Alright, so… First, I’ll just ask you guys to name yourselves and your respective instruments.
Cameron Carter: Alright, I’m Cameron Carter… I’m the lead singer, and the rhythm guitarist, on the side.
Brent Long: I’m Brent Long, and I am the lead guitarist/regular guitarist/backup vocalist/guitarist. [laughs]
Jarryd Bishop: My name’s Jared Bishop, and I play drums…and other percussion.
Isaac Stout: I’m Isaac Stout, and I play the… bass.
Cameron: You play the bass…alright. [laughs]
Interviewer: Well, now that THAT’s settled… How did you guys go about forming? I mean, was it accidental, or…?
Cameron: It was mostly accidental. We actually went the Craigslist route, which is actually really rare for bands to actually work… I mean, I know the band Little Hurricanes did that… I mean, they met on Craigslist, too, and I was like, ‘well, shoot… We might as well look…’ So… Isaac and I have been playing for a while, and Brent and Jarryd had been playing for awhile, so we were just like, ‘Screw it! Let’s go for it!’ and then, uh… They came over to play one night, and Brent lights up his amp and it was like, ‘oh, shit… We may want to keep this going for a while…’ I mean, we had the cops there just about every freakin’ day, but that’s alright…
Interviewer: Yeah, I know, that’s crazy! A few of my friends have tried the Craigslist route and it doesn’t seem to usually work all that well, but…
Isaac: I mean, we all hate each other…
Cameron: Oh yeah, yeah… I’m gonna light Isaac’s bed on fire tonight. [laughs]. That’s how much we hate each other, you know? [laughs]
Isaac: It’s a constant battle.
Cameron: It’s like… Have you ever seen Step Brothers, when they’re out in the yard fighting, you know, and one dude’s got a bike, and the other guy’s got a… Well, it’s that crazy.
Interviewer: Oh, it’s that crazy up in [Oregon], is it?
Cameron: That’s how it is up in Eugene, yeah.
Interviewer: Well, that’s intense… We don’t really have that out here in California. We just fight with like… Lame things like words, and…
Isaac: Yeah, we noticed that when we went to Los Angeles.
Cameron: We did, actually.
Isaac: They fight with words quite often.
Interviewer: Yes…and horns, if you’re in a car.
Cameron: We actually got in a wreck on the day we were playing the Roxy… I ran into a Toyota Prius on the way to the show…
Interviewer: Oooh, I’m sorry!
Cameron: Yeah… And all our crap flew when we hit the Prius, but it was a two for one shot… I got two Priuses in one hit, so…
Interviewer: Hah. Two for one. Good job…
In any case, how did you guys arrive at SolRiot?
Isaac: We wanted to make music that was so powerful that it was like the sun, of rioting… It was like the power of the sun channelled into a riot… I mean, people are up in arms over some bullshit and, uh… We figured the whole metaphor for churning the fire…
Jarryd: We just figured that it [the sun] would be us.
Cameron: Yeah, us flying through the galaxy.
Jarryd: We had a bunch of names before that…. It was a long, arduous process, but we ended up sort of combining two.
Cameron: We were once the Aphrodisiacs, and the Zombie Surfers… In my opinion, we’re still looking for names, but we’ve got the one we’re on for now, so…
Interviewer: Oh yeah, that’s pretty cool… That’s interesting. And you wanted the metaphor of the sun, but why did you want it in Spanish?
Cameron: I don’t know…
Brent: It’s also in French, just so you know… If it were just Sun Riot, it wouldn’t sound as cool.
Cameron: Yeah, but… what ends up happening with our freakin’ name is that someone’s like, ‘oh, what’s your band’s name?’ and you say, ‘oh, it’s SolRiot’, they’re like, ‘oh, So Right?’ or, ‘oh, It’s Alright?’… So, you have to spell it every single time, and that’s kind of a problem, but…
Interviewer: Oh yeah, or they’ll hear, ‘Soul Riot’, like s-o-u-l instead of…
Cameron: Right, right, right… Or, they’ll think we’re like a reggae/ska band…
Isaac: There are actually a few other bands in Eugene that start with Sol S-O-L, so… They copied us. [laughs]
Interviewer: Just from your EP, I can tell one of your influences is definitely Sonic Youth, but… What are some of your other influences? Like, I mean… I know it’s a typical question, but… I mean, I really want to know.
Cameron: Right, right… Well, we have many influences, like Nickelback… [laughs]
Interviewer: Oh, God… [laughs]
Brent: Lady Gaga…
Cameron: Oh yeah, Lady Gaga, we LOVE her. [laughs]
Interviewer: I can imagine.
Jarryd: Well, seriously, just from the drummer’s perspective, Jeremiah Green from Modest Mouse, and … I like Led Zeppelin, too… I mean, John Bonham…
Interviewer: Oh yeah, Bonham? Yes. I agree with you there.
Jarryd: Yeah… I have influences in percussion skill from them, along with other things, too… Classical music even, for me… I mean, I go to school for music, so that’s what I play, also, but… so, for me, that’s what it is.
Brent: He’s one of the top symphonic band percussionists at Lake Meade (?) College, so… Yeah. I mean, the future is just crazy now… I mean, he may have to leave, because he has a full-time job now…
Isaac: The future is badgering him.
Brent: Anyways… From the lead guitarist’s perspective, my influences include, uh… All sorts of things, really. I’ve listened to a lot of Hendrix… Jimi Hendrix Experience… a lot of Black Sabbath, a lot of Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth… I mean, music of all eras, pretty much… Studying jazz right now, so I’m listening to a lot of Miles Davis and the Second Great Quintet… I listen to basically anything I can… it doesn’t even have to be guitar music; it can just be anything. Music is great.
Cameron: Oh, and Brent plays drums too, by the way, too…
Brent: Yeah, I play drums… Like, a little bit better than Jarryd…
Jarryd: Yeah, yeah, right… [laughs]
Isaac: And Jarryd plays guitar better than him.
Brent: Yeah, that’s right, too. [laughs] We should just switch rolls.
Cameron: Yeah, I don’t know… I think my… Hi I’m Cameron, and I like to party… [laughs] I think my favorite bands, or at least influences, as far as recent bands go, have to be Cage the Elephant, but my style of music is much older… I mean, like the Doors, Jimi, Janis Joplin, Santana… I can get down to Santana…
And then obviously the Chili Peppers, too… But yeah, that’s me.
Influences could go on forever.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s so true… I mean, as a musician, I know if someone asked this question of me, I’d have SUCH a hard time naming only a few bands, so… Sorry, I had to ask this one.
Isaac: Yeah… I suppose my biggest influences, as a bassist, would have to be Nirvana, uh… I really like Chris’s style on bass, and I like Pavement, the Chili Peppers… Flea is awesome… and then like Dinosaur Jr. is really cool, I like his work too on the bass… I really like a lot. Or like, uh… Silversun Pickups, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Cameron: Up here in the Northwest, in Eugene, Oregon, it’s always freakin’ raining, so there’s tons of time to listen… I mean, you’re always indoors listening. So basically, I mean, I personally have music going on 24 hours a day… I sleep with it blasting; sometimes, I put headphones on before I sleep and just…blast it.
Cameron: But yeah… Our influences are definitely very diverse, but it’s mostly rock… Garage rock is kind of the general theme, I would say.
Interviewer: Yeah, I definitely got that from your EP, too… Speaking of, what are your expectations for this new album, and who are you recording with, again?
Cameron: Yeah, so, um… We’re recording with Justin Pizzoferrato, up in North Hampton, Massachussets, at the end of summer or early fall… He’s building a new studio, and he’s done the last few Dinosaur Jr. albums, and uh… Sonic Youth… That’s where that scene kind of came out of, you know… The Pixies and Sonic Youth’s stuff… You know, East Coast… So, I think that’s where we’ll be pretty set. He just worked with a band called California X, who’s got some pretty cool stuff… It’s a pretty cool scene out there, so we’re pretty excited to go check it out and record our new stuff.
Interviewer: Sweet! So, do you have any new gigs coming up? I mean, are you planning on playing anywhere soon?
Cameron: Yeah, we’ve got a benefit show coming up here in Eugene… We kind of play all over the place. I don’t really think we’re gonna hit the festival lineup though this year because we’re just trying to get ready for this recording…
But yeah, so, pretty much, we play all around the Northwest, we just went down to L.A., I’m from Colorado so we might go out there… It just all depends.
Interviewer: So wait, how long have you guys been together, like… as a band?
Cameron: Just about a year now… I mean, we’ve been together since last February, so… I suppose we’re getting closer to just about a year and a half now, but… But yeah.
Interviewer: Cool, cool… and, I think… Well, are there any closing things you’d like to say before I end the interview? Anything you’d like to announce to your fans?
Cameron: Yeah, um… We’ll be launching a site by the end of the month, but… For now, our Bandcamp site is probably the best to go to. You can find everything there, and… I mean, we’re hopefully going to be… We’re always looking for shows, so… If anyone is looking to book, we’re always open for the West Coast, so…
Brent: We’re on Facebook, too, and we’ve got our music up there, and… We’re always posting random stuff, like… when we’re playing shows, and we’ll post stuff that we’ve recorded but don’t plan to put on any albums or EPs… So, if anyone’s interested in listening to stuff we’ve done outside our professional material, we’ll be posting that stuff on Facebook.
Cameron: Yeah, and when we recorded out EP, we recorded like 15 or 17 songs, but a lot of those didn’t make it because we ended up throwing them out, so… A lot of the songs we had to write the same day we recorded them, which made it kind of a challenge but also made it really fresh and exciting, too…
But yeah, now we’re recording a bunch of demo stuff and getting geared up, so we’ve got a LOT of new material.
Interviewer: Alrighty! Well, that’s all the questions I have right now so… Thanks for talking to me!
(Later, Cameron added):
I hope that as a band, we can create music that reflects images and sounds from present times, with a mirror made up of what we love from 60s and 90s music bouncing the sound back; into something that is both fresh and nostalgic at the same time! All this over-produced shit that the 13-25 demographic has been conditioned to find enjoyable has taken music in the wrong direction, and luckily there are a lot of young bands that have had enough, and want to bring “real” music back. Shout out to bands; Milk Music, the Growlers, California X, Speedy Ortiz, Screaming Females, the Men, White Dress, and Natural Child… But Our top few influences as a band are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and Black Sabbath.
We are stoked to be recording our upcoming project in analog, to tape.. instead of digital. It should keep things raw and real.. and hopefully we can have enough success to tour with another solid band! Our goal for 2012 is to record a sweet album, and tour with other cool bands. Ultimately, by years end, we want to get help from an independent label for our follow-up full release in 2013!
Sol Riot’s new EP, Start a Riot, has but five of the sixteen or seventeen songs originally written; however, it is a great taste of the band.
Bleeding the 90s in raw bursts of distorted but harmonically-accurate riffs and melodies( Mr. Cameron Carter himself admitted that the “late 80s/90s sound is going to come out of [him] if [he] makes music”), the EP is definitely worth more than one listen. With lyrics reminiscent of the Beat generation in bold, emphatic statements and seemingly clandestine meanings, SolRiot will not disappoint.
Cameron Carter’s vocals have the despairing, compelling air of Thurston Moore’s in the throes of underground success with Sonic Youth; he definitely reflects the emphatic qualities found in vocalists like Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) and Bob Marley (Bob Marley and the Wailers), while still keeping the raw, poetic feel of vocalists like Jim Morrison, whom he lists as a HUGE inspiration (along with Marley and Cobain), having played his 1967 Doors vinyl album so much that it now hisses and whines as soon as the needle hits it.
That being said, Brent Long compliments Carter’s voice, seeming to play a musical game of chase in which Long is not quite harmonizing with Carter, but not quite singing the melody in the same way, either. Long’s riffs are quite compelling, also, screaming out with pinch harmonics during breaks and moulding the entire sound of the band into one collective wall of sound during choruses and verses. As the backbone of the band, bassist Isaac Stout and drummer Jarryd Bishop are both exceptionally intuitive at what they do, seeming to play along with each other without much effort, looping in and out of tempo changes with ease and keeping the band on track.
My personal favourite track off of Start a Riot is “Down”. The track seems to listen like an ode to head-over-heels, stuck-in-their-wake, kind of obsession at first sight, maintaining a constant aura of defiant and infectious grunge love. Due to its storytelling nature, the movie-in-your-mind phenomenon seems to happen without any effort whatsoever, and the song is just sticky and short enough to make you crave more. Trust me; you will crave more.
I highly recommend going to get to know the band better by seeing them live. Quite honestly, they are a middle finger to the horribly popular mainstream media of today, having seemingly been plucked straight from the nineties in order to thrive in a generation of kids still craving a sound they so narrowly missed.
If you haven’t already, head on over to Sol Riot’s Bandcamp site to download their EP or offer them a spot at you venue; this group of guys, with their Pixies-esque hap-hazard brilliance and all of the paradoxical precision of Sonic Youth, cannot disappoint.