by Chris Fox
Raunchy, heavy, and made for your rebellious intellect, Carbellion brings a new brand of hard rock to the scene. Cameron Kellenberger (Lead Vocals), Peter Ruesch (Lead Guitar/backing vocals), Steve Richgruber (Bass/backing vocals), Brandon Bauer (Rhythm Guitar/backing vocals), and Jamie Damrow (Drums and Percussion) make up this band of five musical veterans with a guttural passion for their music. This quintet knows their crowd, knows their roots, and they’re staying true to their fiery sound, with their newest EP, “Headliner”, which dropped just this last month. We had the privilege and opportunity to sit down with Carbellion before the Skull to the Road Tour 2013, kicking off in mid to late March.
Maximum Ink: How would you define the sound of Carbellion?
Cameron Kellenberger: Our sound comes from the combination of influences that we collectively have with Classic Rock, Grunge, and Metal carrying the most weight. Big riffs, big vocals, big drums, and big volume. Go big or go home, right?
MI: Where does your name come from? What does it mean?
CK: I could tell you a story about a Spanish ghost ship… maybe a famed bullfighter… a mythic hot rod… or I could tell you that some of us were previously in a band called Carbon Parlor and others in a band called Whisky Rebellion. Buy me too many drinks and I’ll tell you all kinds of truths. Regardless, it has come to mean American Heavy Rock.
MI: Who are your influences?
CK: Our influences range pretty widely from big hitters like Alice in Chains, Black Sabbath, Metallica, and Clutch to slightly lesser mainstream artists like Butch Walker, Only Living Witness, Rival Sons, and Graveyard. The answer to this gets longer and more complicated everyday as all of us can’t get our hands and ears on enough music.
MI: What do you draw inspiration from for your lyrics? And/or the music in general?
CK: Lyrically, the inspiration for many of the songs come from personal experiences and the feelings they invoke. A touch of sarcasm as well as social commentary are not rarities in CARBELLION lyrics, as well. Songs that make you think have always been more important to me as the primary lyricist for the band, versus songs that make you forget that music used to matter. In regards to the music, being in the band room as the music gets written, I can’t help but acknowledge that the four other members of this band have frequent moments in their lives that make them want to express intense feelings through their instruments.
MI: As a musician, what is your philosophy, if anything?
CK: Nothing comes for free. Hard work and creativity are required for any degree of success as a musician. What you put into Rock n’ Roll is what you get in return. It is just that simple.
MI: What are the hardest things about playing the local and regional scenes?
JD: I think the hardest part about playing locally is that everyone wants to hear cover songs, and we are pretty much all original, with a few tributes. Regionally, it is so hard to build a following. You have to keep going back to the places that put enough fuel in the gas tank and hit a couple new ones on the way to try to turn them into those better stops. It all comes down to selling drinks and filling seats.
MI: Any favorite venues?
BB: Lots of favorite venues! There are so many different styles of clubs these days, it’s hard to boil down - from huge rock venues, to a corner bar that just kicks ass. The HOB clubs are always cool, The Deadhorse in San Angelo, Texas is great. The Frequency and The High Noon in Madison are cool clubs. The Speak Easy in our hometown of Sheboygan is a kick-ass place and rocks like hell. The Rave Hall is always fun to play and The Ben Hur Bar in central Texas is one I’m sure the band will NEVER forget. But that is just scratching the surface of badass venues around the states. I could talk all day about places we’ve played.
MI: Do you think coming out of Wisconsin is reflected in your music?
CK: It is safe to say that Carbellion doesn’t typically write happy songs. Six months of Wisconsin winter’s cold and grey skies have a lot to do with that.
MI: Everybody has a pinnacle band or musician, who is yours?
PR: Between all of us, I would have to say that Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters is the pinnacle. He has achieved massive success in two groups playing different instruments while not compromising what he does and staying true to his roots. The man writes great songs, works hard, and doesn’t sacrifice who he is. Grohl has a tremendous work ethic matched with a ‘Do It Yourself’ attitude, and that is something every musician can admire. Sure, he was in Nirvana when they were mega famous, but prior to that he had been in punk rock bands that toured in vans and worked relentlessly to get ahead.
MI: As a musician, what keeps you up at night?
BB: Shitty music making money. I could expand on this more but I’m sure readers of this magazine know how crap is all over the top 40 and billboard charts, while there are TONS of amazing bands from all over the world that scrape by to even keep going. Honestly, it sickens me.
MI: What is the most rewarding thing about being a musician?
PR: I would have to say that putting out recordings is the most rewarding thing. Getting to write music, record it, and then release it is the best.
JD: Playing live and playing live!!! The feeling of us against the world, recording, being creative and productive, and lastly, having a great group of musicians and our families around us makes what we do possible.
Carbellion is performing in March along with label-mates Outshine from Sweden for the Skull to the Road Tour 2013 with dates in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin in support of their new EP titled “Headliner” on Indie 500 Records/Dead Tree Music.(4179) Page Views Carbellion Online:
CD: Headliner Record Label: Indie 500 Records