We're stoked to present to you our interview with the excellent dudes from Cara Neir, a vicious black metal/hardcore/sludge outfit based in Dallas, Texas. Their latest album Portals to a Better, Dead World was a huge hit at the TZEEEAC Xmas Party last year and it even made Volo's best of 2013 list. Now, Garry (guitars, bass, drum programming, samples, backing vocals) and Chris (vocals, lyrics) are here to talk about their music influences, Mexican food, the albums they're most excited for in 2014 and cats, naturally. Keep reading, you dorks!
1. Hey there! We’re stoked to be talking to you, thanks for agreeing to take part in this friendly chit-chat. Please make sure you are wearing sweatpants and a comfy t-shirt before we proceed.
First and foremost, we really appreciate you guys reaching out to us to be apart of this interview! We’ll approach most of the questions individually.
2. We’ve been wondering for a while now what does Cara Neir mean and how the band came to be. Was the two-man formula something you were set on from the beginning or did it just happen from lack of alternatives?
Chris: Cara Neir translates to "dear dream." Garry sent me the instrumentals to a track over instant messaging one evening and asked me what I thought, and if I'd be interested in hopping on-board. I was immediately drawn to the track's simultaneous sombre/pleasing tone. The two-man formula is something we've always sort of adhered to. Garry and I were in a few projects that were just the two of us prior to Cara Neir, it's always seemed to work out for us. Since Cara Neir, we have however welcomed multiple guest appearances from friends and other groups.
Garry: The name comes from a loose translation of “dear dream” or “beloved dream” -- “cara” is the singular feminine form of the latin word “carus”, which means “dear” or “beloved” -- “neir” originates from the greek word “oneiro”, which means “dream”. The idea behind the name is an existential longing to be in a permanent dream state or to be nostalgic of one's dreams. No particular reason why we chose the form “cara” or “neir” from their respective origins; it just rolled off the tongue better. We definitely started the project with the intent of sticking to our two-man formula, which is something I think we thrive the most in. However, we’ll always ask friends for guest appearances!
3. You wear your influences on your sleeves: Darkthrone, Bathory, Converge, Alpinist, Funeral Diner – one can definitely hear all of these bands make a heavy influence on your music. How did you get into black metal and hardcore? Was it from a young age or was it a slow build up from Metallica and Iron Maiden to listening to woeful black metal about creeping in the forest at night?
Garry: It was definitely a transition getting into black metal and hardcore, as I was introduced to more traditional metal bands at a young age. When I was 13-14, I developed an interest in digging deeper into extreme metal and subgenres with especially harsher vocals on my own accord, specifically black metal. I would say I’m relatively a newcomer to hardcore punk in the last 6-7 years, as far as really getting into it just as much as black metal, if not more. I was into more of the offspring stylings of hardcore in the form of grind, screamo, and powerviolence before I delved into the roots of it. It definitely shows in our musical progression that we do wear those various influences on our sleeves, picking up new inspirations along the way, and just creating music that we both like.
Chris: I was into metal from the start being that "rock n' roll" runs in my family, so I suppose it was the woeful transition for me. Black metal and hardcore specifically, I started listening to at very different times in my life. Actually, I wasn't equipped in the hardcore genres until sometime after Cara Neir's first full-length release, which I think is very apparent in our sound.
4. You released a split with Horseback, Njiqahdda and Venowl a while back, which to me sounds like a dream line-up of extremely creative and unique bands. Tell us more about this split. Did you get to meet Jenks Miller or the dudes from Njiqahdda (hardest band name to spell ever, I swear, gah!) or was it a strictly online affair? What are your favorite albums from each of these bands?
Chris: Not sure about Garry, but I was only in communication with the guys from Venowl during and after the recording of that 4-way monster. Njiqahdda are ridiculous, I couldn't believe that it took me as long as it did to hear of the guys, and the first time was when Garry told me about the split. To hear that Horseback and our buddies in Venowl would be on it also was fucking sweet.
Garry: I’m no stranger to the Venowl guys as I’ve known them for 7-8 years online. I’ve had the pleasure of mixing/mastering a lot of Venowl’s material over the years. In person, I had a strange/awesome brodude hangout with them when they traveled to Texas in the summer of 2010 for the HARSH NOISE WALL festival in Houston. They drove up to the Dallas area after the fest and needed a place to stay for a night and I happily welcomed them. We stayed up drinking a shared bottle of Purple Haze, shared music via hard drives, and showed each other upcoming material from our respective bands. I’d like to hang out with them again. I have not met Jenks Miller, but he’s an insanely good musician and songwriter. The same goes for the exceedingly prolific Njiqahdda guys, which I’ve yet to completely listen through their vast discography! I’m honored to have been a part of that 4-way split. As far as favorite releases go from each of them: Gnawed Gristle and Bone from Venowl, Horseback’s Half Blood, and Njiqahdda’s The Path of Liberation from Birth and Death.
5. There’s a long love affair between metal musicians and cats. Probably because cats are the most metal animals ever except maybe sharks, but you can’t keep pet sharks because you’d be eaten alive. Do you have any cats?
Garry: First, I’ll just say that it may be an irrational fear, but I am afraid of sharks. Maybe it’s not irrational -- have you seen JAWS? Well...then again, when am I ever going to be in the situation where a shark wants to eat me? It’s irrational. I’m also deathly afraid of the ocean for that matter. I love cats. I don’t own one at the moment, but I want a big fuzzy black cat with yellow eyes.
Chris: Indeed! My wife and I have two cats, as well as a bearded dragon. Cats are obviously metal. I enjoy the company of all creatures that aren't human, though.
6. Individual questions time! Garry, you seem to be a pretty young dude. When on earth did you have time to learn to play EVERY instrument? What is your favorite instrument to record? Chris, your lyrics are fantastic! Any modern musicians you appreciate and whose lyrics have made an impact on you? I’m a sucker for Pig Destroyer lyrics, myself.
Garry: Thank you for the kinds words. I wish to learn more, especially playing drums as they’re my favorite instrument to listen to on a recording. My favorite instrument to record is bass, which is my primary instrument and the one I have been playing the most.
Chris: Well, thanks! I agree and think that Hayes has written some of the most haunting work I've seen in music. There are those like JR Hayes, Shawn Hache, the two madmen from Rune, and Luc Lemay who have REALLY had an impact on what I've written, honestly though I'm more directly influenced by literature and other media.
7. We’re always asking bands to talk about food, especially bands from countries or cities where we know there’s awesome stuff to be eaten via watching too many episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Man vs. Food. Texas seems like a prime spot to stuff your face with delicious food. Take us through your Tex-Mex game. Or are you steak men?
Garry: I’m vegan, so that excludes me from having a typical Tex-Mex game. However, I LOVE burritos, especially with black beans, rice, and guacamole. I recommend Freebirds if you or anyone is ever in Texas and are craving burritos. My friend Alden once referred to me as “you mean that guy who loves burritos?” when one of our mutual friends was talking about me.
Chris: The key to enjoying good Mexican foodstuffs down here is to take yourself to a taqueria. The tex-mex joints are simply that, mediocre tex-mex, and you're hard-pressed to find a genuine Mexican restaurant anywhere that isn't close to the border. I myself am a meat and breakfast man. Burgers and pancakes, please.
8. Do you plan on performing on stage or are you content with being a kickass studio-only band? Also, are there any exciting releases in the pipeline?
Garry: We just need to dig out the time to fill the roles for a live situation and rehearse material that’s practical. Two local friends (who are in Flesh Born) have expressed interest in helping out in the future. It’s possible that another friend could handle second guitar duties as well. We’ll see what happens this year, but we would like to play some live shows.
Chris: I'm always bugging the shit out of Garry on doing some live events here in the relative future. The problem isn't with us, it's that we would really like to have somebody take over the duties of guitars so that we could have more of a righteous ensemble, and we can't seem to find said individual.
9. Last question is list question: what are the five albums you’re most looking forward to in 2014?
4. SUNN O))) & Ulver even though the album is already out this year.
3. Inventions (psyched for this ambient duo formed by Matthew cooper of Eluvium and Mark Smith of Explosions In The sky)
2. Plebeian Grandstand (been too long since their masterpiece How Hate Is Hard to Define)
Chris: I don't know of five albums yet that I'm super stoked for, so I'll give you my five albums of 2013 that kicked ass.
5. Rotten Sound - Species at War
4. Psychofagist - Songs of Faint and Distortion
3. Cleric - Gratum Inferno
2. jesu - Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came
1. Gorguts - Colored Sands
10. Nothing left to do but wait in cold bitterness, while hot dogs are slowly boiling. We leave the final words up to you, boys.
We have a lot of stuff coming out this year. Prepare for unforeseen consequences.