BANDSPEAK, Music, Upcoming Boston Hassle Shows

Interview with Kassie Carlson of Guerilla Toss

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In November, chaotic Boston band Guerilla Toss released their new Album, Smack the Brick. Frontwomen Kassie Carlson talked to us by email this week about New York City, wild live shows, and what about the Grateful Dead the band would like to imitate.

Catch Guerilla Toss tonight (8/28) at the First Baptist Church in JP along with The
Lentils, Grape Room, and Gracie. All ages, show starts at 8pm.

Boston Hassle: How is New York treating you all? We miss you!

Kassie Carlson: We miss you too! NYC is awesome. There’s always so much to look at. The shows are really fun and we have a great practice space we can jam out at all the time.

BH: I know you play classical violin. Was that your first instrument? Has your classical training influenced Guerilla Toss?

Kassie: Yes violin is my first instrument. I guess doing that taught me some of the framework of how music works, but mainly the impressionistic and emotive translation of a song. Often slurring notes like one would on a bow, is similar to how words would be in a conversation. Kind of like using your whole body to convey some sort of mathematical idea.

BH: What were your musical projects before Guerilla Toss?

Kassie: I have a lot of solo recordings, so I guess I started off there. When I met Guerilla Toss in a different form, I was in a punk/hardcore band. Also, for years I played with Colby Nathan in Hyena and other projects of his which was awesome.

BH: You are known for your chaotic live shows. Is that integral to the music itself or is it a byproduct of the personalities and chemistry of the band members?

Kassie: Maybe a little bit of both? The music is little bits of everyone’s personality and experience. The songs are a little less heavy nowadays, more funky, and perhaps that is a reflection of where we are all at.

BH: It seems to me that recently you’ve been writing longer tracks. Is that right? Or is is just the fluidity of the different songs performed live? How has your song-writing process changed over the past few years?

Kassie: Our songs have always been pretty long, but recently we have been trying to string them together and have a little more improv and “jamming” between songs. Eventually, we would like to get to the point where every set is different and an individual experience, that particular night only, similar to the Grateful Dead and bands like that. We play a lot of shows and it’s important to keep things fresh and different.

BH: How much improvisation is involved when the band writes songs? How about in the live setting?

Kassie: Up until the last couple months, we haven’t had much improvisation at all. All the songs are pretty much composed. It is sort of a challenge to do large amounts of improvisation live with this type of music and really make it work. Especially because we are all really picky (in a good way). I am really stoked to be doing that type of thing now.

BH: What do you think is unique about the Boston music scene? Do you think of yourselves as a product of the Boston scene, or could Guerilla Toss have started somewhere else?

Kassie: Boston has always been a great incubator for Guerilla Toss and many other bands, that I feel is specific to the area. A lot of bands don’t have the opportunities and ease of connections that one has in Boston. Support is all over the place. People really listen to the music and dance which is great.

BH: What is the group up to this fall? When should we check back in?

Kassie: We are releasing a new EP this fall and an album early next year with DFA Records. Two separate little tours are also planned with Zebu! and Buck Gooter. Lots of shows coming in the next couple months. I am very excited about these two new albums. I think they are our best yet.

BH: Any last words?

Kassie: Come to our show this Friday at the JP Church on Centre Street! We are playing with Gracie, The Lentils, and Grape Room. The show has to be over at 11pm so get there early! We are playing a bunch of new material. The last words of this interview will be Chow Chow.

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