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"Carpenter and the Cougar"

“Mid-’90s hardcore is the music that changed our lives,” says Daniel Sioui, guitarist and vocalist for Vancouver’s Carpenter. “So I remember talking to friends when this band started and telling them that John Cougar was my biggest influence at the time, and they would stare at me in disbelief. Or they’d outright tell me it was going to be terrible.” A veteran of bands like the under-appreciated All State Champion (“Super angular, no repeated parts”), Sioui returned from a 2005 tour with Sparta to find his current band broken and bloody. Then he found Mellencamp’s American Fool, booked some studio time, and decided to make a new band. “I purposely wanted to write these pop-rock songs that were more straightforward,” he says. “Listening to Bob Mould’s stuff with Sugar, and John Cougar, those songs are timeless.”

By bringing together former members of West coast punk and hardcore heavyweights like By a Thread and Daggermouth, Sioui's vision wasn’t likely to end up being American Fool 2.0. “I wanted to be able to take that, and translate it into a different version,” says Sioui. “We play John Cougar before we go on at every one of our shows. At our last show, some promoter friends of ours bought us this huge backdrop with ‘John Cougar is God’ on it and a huge picture of his face. It’s crazy, dude! It's ten by ten!” Carpenter’s outrageously earnest enthusiasm for a guy that’s low on the cool-to-name-check list (as opposed to Springsteen, punk’s dude de jour) is matched by an equal dedication to the roots of’90s post-hardcore and early emo. As much Avail as Mellencamp crops up in the band’s anthemic, driving tunes, and Sioui's upper-range holler connects as clearly to Piebald as Tom Petty. But Carpenter has taken more from Mellencamp than just his backdrop likeness. His dedication to supporting struggling small farms has rubbed off on Sioui in a big way.

“In terms of the punk and hardcore community, I don't know how many bands are down with farming,” Sioui says. “Agriculture is fundamental to everyone and yet no one talks about it. There’s a lot of information on our CD, and we’ve been working with some different groups in town to help promote their work and their message. I want to be a farmer — that's what I want to do with my life.” That themes of agricultural struggle run through the band's debut full-length is no surprise. Law of the Land, recorded with no label, management, or support to speak of, is a huge, bombastic statement that straddles genre lines without flaunting its uniqueness. And people are taking notice.

“It just seems like finally we're getting some help,” says Sioui, whose band now boasts the support of Smallman Records and Underground Operations Booking Agency. “Everyone in the band, in my mind, has paid their dues. These guys have slugged it out for years, done a lot of really hard tours. I think we’re just really appreciative of what's happening to us right now. It’s one thing to have word of mouth in your town, but to get emails from all over is surprising. We hoped we would get some help, but we were planning to do this all ourselves. We just really believe in this so much, and I think that comes across.” - Exclaim

"Canadians Excel at Americana Rock."

“Carpenter's Law of the Land reminds me a lot of Attack in Black's lauded 2007 effort, Marriage. Like Attack in Black, Carpenter combine the emotion of great punk influences from the past 15 years with the bold, brash feel of Americana rock”

"Romantic Rock N Roll."

Many of our Canadian neighbors seem to be taking part in a burgeoning scene, one that takes the countrified indie of fellow Canucks, the Weakerthans, and mixes it with the currently popular American folk-punk sound. Following in the footsteps of a band like Attack in Black, Carpenter mixes gruff vocals, big guitars and punk's driving energy with Americana's penchant for detailed picking, storytelling and a romantic yet downtrodden perspective. This combination makes for an honest and powerful sound full of big rock moments, not big rock egos.
- Cleveland Free Times
- Cleveland Free Times

"Carpenter EP review"

It’s great when you get a record and you know it’s good. Even if you can’t quite put your finger on what makes it so good, you just know. Carpenter’s The Country Mile E.P. is one of those albums. Sure, there are the similarities to Hot Water Music side-project Unitas, and you might even be able to hear some Avail somewhere in there, but all it comes down to is that this is a really good record. If there’s one pervasive theme throughout it’s a sense of nostalgia. From the refrain of “I won’t sell, I won’t sell, It’s all I’ve got” in “Best Place” to the booming, joyous call of “wake up!” in the song of the same name, it’s all about having a good time and relishing in your surroundings. There’s something special about a band that celebrate their culture and roots, turning away from the cynicism and anger found in most modern rock-based music. Carpenter do that very well. -Exclaim - Exclaim

"Lions Roar Of The Basement"

With his Corey Hart pout, intensely sensitive gaze, and powerfully emotive voice, I always thought Daniel Sioui would take his postpunk outfit, All State Champion, all the way. Or at least to the top of CanCon indie-emo charts. It never happened, but it still could with his latest project, Carpenter. Musically, the Vancouver singer-guitarist is only taking a step sideways with this new lineup, but he's kicked up the energy level a few notches, which is refreshing.

As I've learned from previous rock revivals at the Pic, trying to recapture a little of that turn-of-the-millennium glory can be a messy business. All too many former bad boys of rock return to the stage bloated, bitter, and winded. Not Sioui. He's harder, faster, and thinner.

Playing third on an all-local, four-band bill at the Media Club, Sioui and Carpenter kicked off their set with "Brightest Stars", an uncompromising emo rocker. The front man continued to spastically crank out songs from the band's The Country Mile EP with the impassioned sincerity and showmanship of a warrior who just needs the right hit to achieve Juno-level fame. There was nothing extraneous about this set. It was tight all the way. - The Georgia Straight

"Carpenter: A Solid First Effort."

Recommended if You LikeHot Water Music, Texas is the Reason, The Promise Ring. 83%
- Absolute Punk

"A Little Ditty About Punk Rock N Roots"

A little ditty ’bout punk rock and roots
Vancouver’s Carpenter find inspiration in John Cougar Mellencamp
Published June 26, 2008 by Keith Carman in Music Previews • Comments (0)

Find It...

How much influence has American singer-songwriter John Cougar Mellencamp had on the current state of punk rock?

It sounds like the start of a bad joke, yet for Vancouver’s Carpenter (guitarist-singer Daniel Sioui, bassist Kelly Burnham, guitarist Ryan Howlett and drummer J.J. Heath), it’s no laughing matter. As Sioui relates, The Coug is fully responsible for the sound and style of the band’s debut full-length, Law of the Land.

“Punk is deeply ingrained in us, but when I started telling people the greatest inspiration for these songs was John Cougar Mellencamp, every reaction — good or bad — was very strong,” he admits. “They were shocked that I could go from a post-punk band to something influenced by him. He’s not the coolest influence to have these days, but we’re working to change that.”

Suffice it to say that Carpenter sounds nothing like All State Champion, Daggermouth, By a Thread or Speaking of Heroes, the punk and hardcore acts these gentlemen formerly spent time with. That’s kind of the point, though. Driven by acoustic guitars and maintaining a grassroots musical mentality while still allowing their inherent punk essence to shine, Carpenter — and by default Law of the Land — pay respect to some of the unsung heroes most punk rockers adore yet are too embarrassed to acknowledge.

“[We] don’t sound like punk, but it’s our roots and intensity that classifies us as punk,” Sioui explains. “The songs themselves are classic rock song structures and quite melodic. There’s singing involved, not just bellowing. Not that I’m against screaming, but there are a lot of Alexisonfire clones we’ve been exposed to and the vast majority are pretty painful to hear. We’re just trying to write good rock songs people can sing along to. I want people to hear these songs and hum them afterwards. That’s the biggest compliment and I’ve been fortunate to have that. It’s inspiring to have those memorable hooks or lines people respond to.”

Sioui is getting plenty of response. Whether in appreciation for the band’s anthemic tunes, their unabashed adoration for over-the-hill singers or their quasi-political opinions, they get a reaction. While Sioui and crew are unafraid to bring attention to their folk roots and penchant for saccharine singalongs on Law of the Land, they have also established themselves as champions of other, far more important underdogs: farmers. Law of the Land is teeming with opinions about the difficult situation faced by North America’s food providers. The band’s participated in a number of international grower awareness campaigns and has been approached by Farm Aid with a request for their musical assistance to North America’s independent farmers. Proud as he is of this achievement, Sioui still insists that Carpenter is far from a political act.

“We aren’t political people or a political band, but the reaction people get when you have a message about something is that you get classified as being political,” he says. “For us, it’s about bringing awareness. I just want more conscience out there. People talk about the [high] price of gas and how that’s the end of the world, but forget there’s a food shortage. Gas is a luxury. Food is an essential for everyone. Why are we putting so much emphasis on one thing, not the other? We aren’t trying to jam a message down your throat, but if someone’s interest is piqued, I’m all for that.”


Town & Country E.P. - 2005 (Goldstock Records)
Country Mile E.P. - 2006 (Goldstock Records)
Law Of The Land LP - 2008 (Smallman Records/CANADA)
(Sugoi Records/JAPAN)(Shock Records/AUSTRALIA)




In early 2005, Daniel Sioui's band Vancouver post punk heroes All State Champion, had gotten back from a US tour with Sparta and imploded. Disgusted with the rise of fashion-based and overproduced punk and hardcore music, he chose to abandon the genre entirely. Later that spring to combat his writer's block, Daniel booked time at the Hive Studios (Black Mountain, Pride Tiger) with no songs and no band. Around that same time he became obsessed with the 1982 classic American Fool by John Cougar Mellencamp. It would be this album that would become the muse for Carpenter and the development of a whole new sound.

Enlisting some of Vancouver's finest players Kelly Burnham (BASS-ex By A Thread), Ryan Howlett (LEAD GUITAR-ex Speaking of Heroes) and J.J. Heath (DRUMS ex Daggermouth) Carpenter was born, and has since flourished. Focusing on a rootsy, rock feel while retaining the intensity of their punk/hardcore roots, Carpenter has built a substantial fan base across Western Canada with compelling lyrics, a devastating live show and the ability to appeal to listeners of all ages and musical styles. Recently, they've shared the stage with Minus the Bear, Attack In Black, No Means No and The Living End among others.

Lyrically, Carpenter paints pictures of the Canadian rural landscape and hi-lights the struggles of the independent farmer. The band is a vehement messenger against the corporate based Agribusiness industry and promotes sustainable farming practices and the support of organizations such as Canadian Organic Growers and Farm Folk City Folk. It was this dedication and commitment to a rural lifestyle that propelled Carpenter into the sights of the Jack Daniels Distillery who featured the band in a 2007/2008 ad campaign across the U.S. Carpenter were also part of Vancouver’s Live Earth concert hi-lighting the devastating effects of climate change. Most recently, the band has been approached by Farm Aid and is in negotiations to perform at their 2009 concert alongside Willie Nelson, Neil Young and … John Mellencamp.

In the fall of 2007, Carpenter entered the legendary Mushroom Studios (Led Zeppelin, Heart, Sam Roberts) in Vancouver to record their first full length album "Law Of The Land". Co-produced and engineered by Shawn Penner and Aaron Nordean (Bend Sinister, The Februarys, Three Inches of Blood) it’s 10 new songs of anthemic rock n roll music with a message that is sure to catapult the band to the next level.

Carpenter was asked to perform along Strike Anywhere on this summer's Two Thousand Voices tour across Canada. They have also recently signed sponsorship deals with Atticus Clothing Co. and Converse.

This past fall/winter Carpenter toured Western Canada with friends Living With Lions and Aspirations to rave reviews.