The Edison Carter Project
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The Edison Carter Project

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SXSW Source, by Parry Gettelman
Friday, March 16, 2007 12:10 PM

What was that little van doing, parked in front of the fountain at Sixth and Colorado streets, its canopy glowing with white Christmas lights? The sign said "itchy fingers? Stop and play" on one side, and "You're a musician, aren't you? Stop and play," on the other.

The first time I walked by, there were no takers. I asked one of the van's proprietors, David Weinberg, "Are you in a band?" because clearly, there must be some kind of agenda. "No," he replied. "We're in a van."

When I passed that way half an hour later, one guy was sitting in a folding chair playing the acoustic guitar while Weinberg plunked on a barely audible keyboard. The guitarist took off for a show, leaving the chair and guitar to Austinite Errol Siegel, who accompanied his friend Edison Carter as he sang a fairly impressive rendition of Matthew Sweet's "Girlfriend." Weinberg took up a cheap drum machine at their behest, while the van's other proprietor, Molly Manewal, provided additional percussion. - Austin American-Statesman


The online issue is still only available in Portugese, but there is a translation below. The English link on their site should be up soon. If you'd like to see what it looks like anyway, (and it will load slowly, it's Flash, with the page-turning lower-corner interface thing), go ahead -

http://www.salapulp.com.br/numerozero/


"Messing With Texas"

What happens when Edison Carter – American musician, kung-Fu fighter, and latin-dancing extra in a scene with Sigourney Weaver in the movie "Infamous" – meets Errol Siegel – computer programmer, rocket engineer, and guitarist in his spare time? Simple: an alternative eclectic rock project with very well played guitars, nice vocal ranges and electronic effects frequently used for old school industrial rock bands.

The Edison Carter Project was formed in Austin, Texas (US), and has been going strong since 2003. In various other performing groups these two guys have already played at one of the biggest American music festivals, the South By South West Music Festival.

In this interview for Zero, Edison Carter talks about the indie rock scene back in Austin, how he works on his songs, his experience with nuclear accidents, and life on Phobos, one of the two moons of Mars.

When was The Edison Carter Project started?

Around 2003, I think. Basically I decided to start my own project after I was in many bands, and they all blew up, but not in a good way. You know… Bands break up. Or have fights, drugs, women. I sent my first successful band to play at SXSW in 2001 and made a record with an independent label in California, but that failed because the band was tired! I can't even tell you a glamorous, crazy story. There were no drugs, or women, or sex, or fights, that led to the downfall of that band. They were just tired. How lame is that?

Austin is known as one of the finest place to live in US. Is it also a good place to play? How is the alternative scene back there?

Austin is a great place to live, except for the allergies. They are here making people miserable all year! Some places are very nice to play in, but others are not, like many cities. Right now alternative music is much more popular, here than it has been previously. Austin has been known more for being a blues and rootsy-rock kind of city. But many people have moved here since I've been here, which is a few years now, and of course a lot of people stayed here after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. A lot of people did not want to go back.

How is your composing process? How do you make your songs? The programming process…

I wish that it came naturally to me, but it does not. I like to perform much more than write, but since nobody volunteered to do it for me when I started the project, I decided to give it a shot. I went to the University of Michigan School of Music, so I took some classes there in composition as well as performance – not that you need to go to school to learn how to write, but if you are not a strong writer, classes can definitely help. Usually I write lyrics about something I've seen or done. I try to slowly weed out the good ones, and throw away the rest. Then I'll have a song say, about.... I don't know, how you hate your friend's dog. The words usually give me a feeling, and then I create a song using those words. However, recently, I have tried writing music first, using loops and small melodies on my computer, and then putting words to it. Either way, it takes a long time for me.

What programs do you use?

I use Pro Tools LE, which a lot of musicians use these days because it is finally affordable, as well as Reason and Ableton Live. If you aren't familiar with those – Pro Tools is like the main recording program, of the audio, the singing, guitars. Reason is a giant software sequencer, which has lots of synthesizers & sound effects in it... Ableton I mostly use to create crazy drum effects. I am a huge Nine Inch Nails fan, and I suspect he uses that a lot, as well. But I also have this little keyboard that helps me... A guy I found on internet makes these kit projects – he calls himself "Tablebeast". And I have one of his creations. Basically, a few years ago or so, some people started popularizing gadgets on the internet which they would make by altering old electronic devices so that they would sound different from how they started. This one that I have is one of the first really cheap keyboards that could do sampling. The earliest keyboards that did sampling were very expensive. The fun part about this one is: all these weird jacks on the side that mess up the sound, you have no idea what you will get! And sometimes, you cannot recreate that first sound no matter how hard you try So you have to record it to the computer right away! Anyway, yes, fun things you can make to insert into songs. Nobody would guess some of those sounds were originally my voice. Now sure, you can use computers to do that sort of thing but they don't quite get the same effect.

Your songs frequently sound like NIN. And the guitars sometimes remind me of Thin Lizzy.

Yes. My guitar player is pretty good. Much better than me. I met Errol, who plays fancy guitar parts for me, in 1991. He is the one who convinced me to move to Austin.

He has a heavy-metal background, right?

No! I just make him play all these things that are totally not what he usually plays in bands. Errol is influenced by a lot of things, but his background is in jazz, and alternative country rock like Slobberbone and Social Distortion, as well as progressive rock things like Rush. He is very skilled, and willing to put up with the things I do, which I feel are like a mix between things from the 80's and things like NIN. I love synthesizer sounds and things that are catchy. But I also like things like the early Foo Fighters. And Weezer. So when you mix together all these things, that's what we get.

Does Errol really throw flames during the shows, like a special feature?

Not yet. I hear Rammstein has a guy who shoots flaming arrows into the audience!

People can hear your work on REVERBNATION – http://www.reverbnation.com/edisoncarter . There is some really interesting information about you. How is the weather on Phobos right now? And a nuclear incident? Can you tell us about it?

Indeed. Phobos is not well known, generally, although with the internet rising in popularity all over the world, more people are getting familiar with it. It's pretty cloudy right now... in fact the clouds are bright orange, and it is kind of like fog. It is very difficult to see more than 3 feet in front of your face outside, and driving is hell. The nuclear incident: I lost my super powers when a soda machine exploded. Ordinarily, soda machines are not known for being radioactive, but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I always suspected Mountain Dew was bad for you but I didn't know HOW bad. - Numero Zero, Brasil


Discography

also at:

www.reverbnation.com/edisoncarter
www.myspace.com/edisoncarter
www.edisoncarter.net

1st full length nearly done

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Bio

Edison Carter and his crack musical assault team hail from all over the USA. He and his crew have performed in bands that have shared the stage with The Smashing Pumpkins, Verve Pipe, Ian Moore, Rod Stewart, and the Honeydogs. Janeane Garofalo once asked Edison to help make a human pyramid for a SXSW segment on MTV's "House of Style."

ECP standings: 2008, interviewed for Brazilian webmag Numero Zero; 2007 Finalist, NYC Artist's Forum Electronic Music Competition - Alternative/Rock Category; selected for Tunetank 2006 MIDEM compilation; selected for 2006 Heart Of Texas Quadruple Bypass Music Festival.