MUSICIAN LUKE CARR PUSHES SOME BOUNDARIES AROUND
Lucas Carr’s Storming the Beaches With Logos in Hand storms the Railyard Performance Center
Storming the Beaches With Logos in Hand is an eight-member band with five drummers. It is also the name of the first album recorded by the band, and it is the story being told on the album in the form of a sci-fi rock opera. According to songwriter and bandleader Luke Carr, the concept is a “re-hypothesized future” in which Native Americans retained control of what we know as the United States — called the Native Union, or the Northern Grace — and Europeans settled New Europe in what we know as Mexico. In this future, Santa Fe is a coastal region. Ecological and military concerns prompt a boy and his father to flee New Europe for the Northern Grace, and the album’s subtitle, Southwick Howls, is the moniker Carr has assigned to their journey, the first episode of a much longer story. “It gets weirder. There are witches and ancient creatures,” Carr told Pasatiempo in advance of the release party for the album on Friday, April 24, at the Railyard Performance Center. It will be a raucous, multimedia event, with projected images of Scout — a video produced by Carr that debuted last June at Santa Fe’s Currents 2014 new media festival — and plenty of dancing. No shoes are allowed.
The phrase “storming the beaches with logos in hand” originally came to Carr in a dream. He used it in a poem, which he subsequently forgot about, running across it a couple of years later and forming a story around it. “I wasn’t sure what it meant. I feel like a lot of my art is letting things happen and then decoding it all later,” he said. “The first meaning of the ‘logos’ in the title for me was the corporate ideal, and branding, but in the sense of domination.” The associations with a more classical meaning of “logos” — reason, judgment, or the word of God — are strong as well. The cover art for the vinyl LP (CDs are also available for purchase) shows a figure in a gas mask and military fatigues, walking from the sea into a desert landscape and carrying a staff with the band’s logo as its top. It calls to mind a branding iron, a lightning rod, or a mace. The music is heavy on percussion, producing a rousing, layered sound that ebbs and flows, while Carr’s voice is joined by the ululations of Caitlin Brothers. Though the album’s narrative works independently of the science-fiction story, taken together they seem inspired by the books of Maurice Sendak as translated for film by Terry Gilliam.
The music itself doesn’t resemble any one band or style. Many of the riffs were written over years. “It was an accumulation of tons of parts that I thought one day would be part of something,” Carr said. He grew up on the East Coast and moved to Santa Fe about seven years ago. He gravitates to a driving, post-punk sound and cites his strongest musical influences as At the Drive-In, an El Paso band that was the precursor to the Mars Volta, and Fugazi, the post-hardcore band from Washington, D.C., that formed in the late 1980s. Another favorite band is Deerhoof.“They’re unbelievable,” Carr said. “They’d been my favorite band for years, and who knows how the stars aligned, but I got to work with one of the members on my last CD, Pigrow.” Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich, who lives in Albuquerque, helped Carr produce his wellreceived solo album in 2013. Soon after that, Carr played South by Southwest in Austin.
“I was performing all the instruments myself, playing guitar and a drum kit, singing, and looping things at the same time. And it was just a really lame show. It felt so generic in that setting — here’s another guy with a guitar doing this thing. I swore I was never going to perform solo again. I’ve always had much bigger sounds and ideas in my head. So I decided to throw myself into this idea I had to create a really big band with tons of drums.”
The current lineup of Storming the Beaches features Carr on guitar, percussion, and vocals; Brothers on percussion and vocals; Will Dyar on drum kit; Peter Duggan on electric bass; Andrew Tumason on percussion and vocals; and Max Kluger-Bell, Leticia Gonzales, and Adam Marshall Cook on percussion. Several other accomplished local musicians play on the album as well, including Char Rothschild on trumpet, Fred Simpson on djembe and log drum, and Chris Jonas on saxophone. “The whole idea when I started this was that it was a celebration, although that kind of contradicts the story, which is kind of depressing. Maybe the celebration is in the chaos of the situation.”
In addition to its current incarnation as an album, the recording of which was partially funded by an online Kickstarter campaign, Carr envisions a version of Storming the Beaches With
Logos in Hand as a graphic novel, though he’s not sure when that would happen. Talking about the story is a perplexing activity for him because it contains so many components — which he sees evolving over time. Some parts are more fleshed out than others. For instance, how did Native Americans come to control the Northern Grace? Was a war fought and won during Manifest Destiny? Or did early European exploration simply happen differently?
“When I was writing the prologue, I identified a few moments in history that could have been the turning points, and then I decided that it wasn’t necessary. I wanted to give the story more time,” he said. “The music alone was so much work.” Carr, thirty, turns pensive when considering the magnitude of the project he has created for himself.
“I keep thinking I’m a young musician, and that one day I’m going to make this thing. And then I hear about bands on the East Coast that are young, and who saw my band play when I was in high school — and they were so influenced that now they’re touring Europe.” Storming the Beaches plans to tour this summer, beginning in July with a trip to the Underground Music Showcase in Denver and then on to the East Coast. “There’s always going to be a next step,” he said. “I’m excited, because I’m starting to think about the next episode. You know how you can embed genres in iTunes? Well, I don’t know what was happening when we did that, but somehow we’re called ‘post-primal.’ I don’t really know what that means, but I think it’s kind of starting in the mud — and it’s going to get wilder.”
The whole idea when I started this was that it was a celebration, although that kind of contradicts the story, which is kind of depressing. Maybe the celebration
is in the chaos of the situation. — Luke Carr